Veterans For Peace, Linus Pauling Chapter, Mid-Valley, Oregon hosted a Tax Day event at Corvallis (OR) Riverfront Park on April 16, 2022.
Organizers asked the question, “The US will spend $800 billion this year on militarism. How would you spend $800 billion to make the world better?”
Twelve speakers and over 40 participants attended. Answers to this question fell into three major areas. First, three fourths of respondents emphasized one or more basic needs. Most noted were health care and housing. These were followed by education, food, child care, and student debt.
Righting injustices was the next theme with just over one third of respondents wanting to help the needy, pay reparations to indigenous and black people, plus supporting refugees and world peace. Just under a third had environmental concerns about renewable energy, stopping the use of fossil fuels, and developing better infrastructure for electricity and transportation. Many attendees volunteered to work on future actions to reduce taxes that support militarism.
If you would like to help on this campaign of public awareness, please share this post and contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org.
ALSO, please have a look at the letter to the editor in the April 12, 2022 GT/DH from our chapter president, Rick Staggenborg. He does a great job of laying out the issues regarding “opportunity costs” of Pentagon spending.
What would you rather spend our money on than militarism? Come join advocacy groups from around Corvallis to share how we can use our taxes to build a better world.
The individual income tax is the primary source of revenue for the federal government’s discretionary spending: for US militarism and human services, such as food and housing, health care, and education. Excluding Social Security and Medicare, we spend half our income tax money on militarism, which is bad for the earth, bad for the well-being of all of us, and bad for the US economy.
Income tax support for militarism and an unfair overall tax system prevent many people from meeting their needs and sap the productivity of the nation. We favor spending discretionary tax money to provide everyone with food and housing, health care, and education.
The unfolding tragedy in Ukraine provides a graphic illustration of the consequences of allowing diplomacy to fail. The stories and photos about the conflict have naturally stirred anger along with empathy for the victims.
That’s why it’s important to remember that the first casualty of war is the truth. We should never accept anything about foreign affairs reported in the mainstream media without considering the interests of US imperialists who have great influence over Western media and whose profits depend on continuous conflict and threats of war.
As lovers of peace we must try to understand both sides of these conflicts so that we can form a realistic picture of what factors have contributed to the war in Ukraine or anywhere else where the US claims to have “security” interests. This article by former Marine intelligence officer and weapons inspector Scott Ritter outlines some of the issues that are ignored or obfuscated by mainstream media sources.
— Rick Staggenborg, President, VFP Chapter 132, mid-Valley, Oregon
Pity the Nation
By Scott Ritter
Pity the nation whose people are sheep
And whose shepherds mislead them”
Pity the nation oh pity the people
Who allow their rights to erode
and their freedoms to be washed away
– Lawrence Ferlinghetti
In the past few months, the United States has undergone a kind of transformation that one only reads about in history books from a nation which imperfectly, yet stolidly, embraced the promise, if not principle, of freedom, especially when it came to that most basic of rights – the Freedom of Expression.
For organizations to endorse or become a co-sponsor go here.
The “Ban on Militarized Policing” resolution would prohibit the purchase or granting of various military hardware from the U.S. military or any other source. It would also prohibit the use of militarized “warrior” training for Corvallis Police Department (CPD) officers.
Breaking, 2/9/22: Sen. Ron Wyden and nine other senators call on President Biden to demilitarize the police. Story in the Corvallis Advocate and Sen. Wyden’s press release.
VFP has modeled the resolution wording on a resolution passed by the Charlottesville, Virginia city council at the urging of David Swanson of World Beyond War, other community groups, and the public (through a petition similar to ours). More information about this project can be found at the World Beyond War site here.
Our research of Defense Department data and a U.S. government grants data base indicates that Corvallis has never participated in the DoD 1003 program, which allots excess military hardware to local law enforcement requesting it. Former CPD Chief Jon Sassaman stated in a 2020 interview with the Corvallis Advocate that Corvallis does not participate in the 1033 program and did not have plans to do so. The current police chief, Nick Hurley, has reaffirmed that intent to us via email and phone.
So now is the perfect time to enact this ban; to cement current practice into formal guidance from the city council.
Two members of Veterans For Peace, Linus Pauling chapter 132, mid-Valley, Oregon, Leah & Bart Bolger, were on hand as the sailing vessel Golden Rule, the anti-nuclear war activism and education vessel, made a port call in Oceanside, California. Onboard was a third member of our chapter, Ren Jacob of Lincoln City, Oregon, who was crewing on the boat’s voyage from northern California to the Mexican Baja Peninsula.
Also on hand were former VFP national president Gerry Condon, his partner and Golden Rule project manager, Helen Jaccard, and several members of the San Diego VFP chapter.
The boat later continued on to San Diego, just a day-cruise away, to host more educational events. They will later be traveling to Ensenada, Mexico to meet up with members of VFP’s deported veterans chapter from Tijuana.
Here’s a story from the San Diego Union-Tribune (via Stars & Stripes) about the current voyage of the Golden Rule.
More information on the boat’s mission and schedule can be found at their website and Facebook page.
Here are a few photos taken during the Oceanside visit.
We think you’ll find Ralph’s questions probing and Erik and Garrett’s answers thought provoking and informative.
Ralph interviews two recent military veterans. First, Erik Edstrom, author of “Un-American: A Soldier’s Reckoning of Our Longest War” tells us about his awakening from West Point Army Ranger to peace advocate. Then, Garett Reppenhagen, a former sniper and now director of Veterans for Peace, tells us how that organization helps veterans put down their weapons and work for peace.
From the Radio Hour website.
If you’re short on time, Garrett’s interview starts at about 41:30. And the full program only goes about 55 minutes.
To mark the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, September 26, Veterans For Peace is publishing an Open Letter to President Biden: Just Say NO to Nuclear War! The letter calls on President Biden to step back from the brink of nuclear war by declaring and implementing a policy of No First Use and by taking nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert.
VFP also urges President Biden to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and to provide global leadership for the total elimination of nuclear weapons.
The full letter has been published on the VFP website and offered to mainstream newspapers and alternative news sites. A shorter version is being shared with VFP chapters and members who may wish to publish it in local newspapers, possibly as a letter-to-the-editor.
The Open Letter was prepared by members of the VFP Nuclear Abolition Working Group, which meets on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of every month at 6 pm Eastern, 5 pm Central, 3 pm Pacific. For more information, contact email@example.com.
This piece appeared in the San Diego Union Tribune on September 18, 2021.
Seventy-six years after the U.S. dropped atomic weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I am reminded of my own mindset during the Cuban missile crisis when American President John F. Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev were threatening a nuclear confrontation. I remember feeling that my life would soon end, clearly embracing a comprehensible existential threat even at the age of 7.
I now understand the weapons of mass destruction deployed against the Japanese in 1945 as the two most horrible “singular event war crimes” ever committed by a state actor.
Coming from and living in the most militarized culture of scale in history, I work to promote non-military careers for youth most susceptible to military recruitment offers.
I do so with much restraint to not alienate nervous school administrators, fearful teachers and clueless students and parents, which means that essential lessons surrounding cultural militarism are avoided or carefully negotiated in language and tone.
We sell military service to our youth in the name of defending freedom and developing leadership and good citizenship traits, but the reality of our wars, and nearly all wars historically, are that they are fought to gain advantage over natural resources needed to accumulate wealth for the “national interests” be that petroleum or, in contemporary times, the vast list of minerals that construct our industrial and now technological world that support our quality of life standards.
Over the last several decades, the Pentagon, conservative forces and corporations have been systematically working to expand their presence in the K-12 learning environment and in public universities.
The combined impact of the military, of conservative think tanks and foundations, and of corporatization of our public educational systems has eroded the basic democratic concept of civilian public education. It is a trend that, if allowed to continue, will weaken the primacy of civilian rule and, ultimately, our country’s commitment to democratic ideals.
The most aggressive outside effort to use the school system to teach an ideology with ominous long-term implications for society comes from the military establishment.
Over the last two decades, with relatively little media coverage or public outcry, the Pentagon’s involvement in schools and students’ lives has grown exponentially.
Now, for example:
Every school day, at least half a million high school students attend Junior ROTC classes to receive instruction from retired officers who are handpicked by the Pentagon to teach its own version of history and civics.
These students are assigned “ranks” and conditioned to believe that military and civilian values are similar, with the implication that unquestioning obedience to authority is therefore a feature of good citizenship. Armed forces academies are being established in some public schools where all students are given a heavy dose of military culture and values; Chicago now has eight of them.
A network of military-related programs is spreading in hundreds of elementary and middle schools. Examples are the Young Marines and Starbase programs, and military programs that sneak into schools under the cloak of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.
Our statecraft manipulates public opinion to justify these endless wars, and to secure public financing for the enormous matrix of industries, universities and private organizations that support the global U.S. military footprint in the name of security.
That security is now at a crossroads with our planet facing human affected ecological decline, our civilian society in economic crisis from a global pandemic, and a flailing democracy that really only represents those corporate interests that determine domestic and foreign policy.
By any practical definition, for the majority of us, we now live in a military, industrial and technological plantation, where all our collective surplus goes to feed the continuation of that militarized complex, now extending into the space that surrounds the planet and beyond.
The very apparatuses that construct our security, now including another imminent nuclear arms race with competing economies, are the very machinations that threaten the survival of the planet that gives and sustains our lives.
The essential lesson we should be learning from Hiroshima, even 76 years too late, is that we have become the enemy that we portended to protect ourselves from.
Robert Oppenheimer, who led the Manhattan Project for the development of the atomic bomb, understood the monster he helped create.