VFP Press Release on Gaza Freedom Flotilla Seizure

@GazaFFlotilla #GazaFreedomFlotilla

Press Release from Veterans For Peace     
1404 North Broadway St. Louis, MO 63102  (314) 725-6005

www.veteransforpeace.org  @VFPNational

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, July 2, 2015

For more information:

Ray McGovern, Participant, 2011 Freedom Flotilla, 703-994-1459
Michael T. McPhearson, VFP Executive Director, 973-666-4605

Veterans Call on Israel to Free International Flotilla,
End Siege of Gaza

U.S. State Department Should Demand Immediate Release of all Passengers

St. Louis, MOVeterans For Peace applauds the international Freedom Flotilla 3, including prominent VFP member, Colonel Ann Wright (USAR Retired), and the courage of all who attempted to break the Israeli siege of Gaza this week.

We deplore the Israeli government’s illegal seizure, in international waters, of the lead boat, the Marianne of Gothenburg from Sweden, and the illegal abduction of her crew and passengers. We call for the immediate release of the ship, along with its crew and passengers and all of their confiscated property including their video recording devices, tapes, disks cards and any other devices they used to record exactly what happened when and after the boat was commandeered.

We are also disturbed by credible reports now being heard that flotilla volunteers were subjected to unnecessary levels of violence from Israeli military personnel who reportedly tased four unarmed civilians.  At least 9 crew and passengers are currently detained. These actions of the Israeli government confirm Israel’s status as a true rogue state and demand a strong response from the United States Government.

In 1801 President Thomas Jefferson sent United States Naval ships to the Mediterranean Sea to protect U.S. ships from the danger of the Barbary Pirates.  More recently U.S. naval vessels were dispatched to the seas off the coast of Somalia to intervene against pirates from that country. Whether piracy is carried out by the Barbary Pirates, the pirates of Somalia or the Israeli navy, seizing a ship in international waters and abducting its crew and passengers is an act of piracy that flagrantly violates international maritime law.

Article 87(a) of the UN Convention on the Laws of the Seas provides for general freedom of navigation on the high seas, and Article 88 states: “The high seas shall be reserved for peaceful purposes.”  Article 89 states: “No State may validly purport to subject any part of the high seas to its sovereignty.”

We note the sharp contradiction between U.S. policy against piracy from 1801 through the present, supporting international maritime law, and the failure of our government to condemn or sanction acts of piracy by the Israeli government using boats, helicopters and weapons provided to Israel by the United States – even when that military assistance was used to murder nine Turkish civilians including a Turkish-American citizen in the previous Freedom Flotilla in 2010.

We therefore call upon the U.S. government to immediately cease military aid to Israel as required by the U.S. Arms Export Control Act and to refer any future Israeli crimes of piracy and abduction against American citizens to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Veterans For Peace wholeheartedly support the demands of the Freedom Flotilla. The Israeli siege of Gaza must end, as well as the ongoing Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, both of which are in clear violation of international laws including United Nations Security Resolution 242 – which calls for Israel to withdraw from the lands it seized in the 1967 War – and numerous requirements of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

We encourage our members to contact the Israeli Embassy at the telephone numbers below to demand the release of the Marianne, all of the currently imprisoned Freedom Flotilla activists and all of their possessions.
And to end the illegal siege of Gaza.

ISRAELI EMBASSY IN WASHINGTON, DC
Israel’s Ambassador to U.S. Ron Dermer
Tel: 202-364-5500,

Consular Services consular@washington.mfa.gov.il
General Information info@washington.mfa.gov.il

Press Office, E-mail: press@washington.mfa.gov.il
Tel: (202) 364-5538

Political Department
Ifat Reshef – Minister Counselor for Middle Eastern Affairs.
Ofer Moreno – Minister Counselor for Political Affairs.
Itai Bar-Dov – Counselor for Political Affairs.
Tel: 202-364-5510
Email: Info@washington.mfa.gov.il

Thank you for your immediate action!

Video from Electronic Intifanda shows Israeli military violently boarding the Marianne.
Commentary from Medea Benjamin Co-founder, CODEPINK: Women for Peace, Israel Didn’t Win.

Support Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) & Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) Campaigns!
http://www.bdsmovement.net/
http://www.WhoProfits.org
http://www.pacbi.org
Support Freedom Flotilla 3
http://www.gazaark.org/

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FreedomFlotilla3

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VFP UK Launches Powerful Media Campaign

Amazing stuff. Thank you, @VFPUK. Must see videos for Truth in Recruiting activists and VFP members and allies.

The best presentation of the Veterans For Peace mission statement ever:

IMG_0523

And…

Truth in Military Recruiting…if military recruiters target small children, counter-recruiters should complete the message:

“War Veterans’ film an internet hit in time for Armed Forces Day”

ActionManCoverMore details at: http://battlefieldcasualties.co.uk

 

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Making War on Everything is the American Way

VFP Linus Pauling Chapter:

Perhaps President Obama should have completed the 12-step addiction program before accepting the Nobel Peace Prize.
Our comments are entered at the bottom of Col. Aster’s blog post.

Originally posted on The Contrary Perspective:

When you're at war, even your own youth become potential enemies.  A sign after the Kent State shootings When you’re at war, even your own youth become potential enemies. A sign after the Kent State shootings (1970)

W.J. Astore

Here are a few excerpts from my latest article at TomDispatch.com.  I urge you to read the entire article here.  Thank you!

War on drugsWar on poverty. War in Afghanistan. War in Iraq. War on terror. The biggest mistake in American policy, foreign and domestic, is looking at everything as war. When a war mentality takes over, it chooses the weapons and tactics for you.  It limits the terms of debate before you even begin. It answers questions before they’re even asked.

When you define something as war, it dictates the use of the military (or militarized police forces, prisons, and other forms of coercion) as the primary instruments of policy.  Violence becomes the means of decision, total victory the goal.  Anyone who suggests…

View original 709 more words

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Thoughts on “The colonels speak out”

Two things occurred to us as we read Mr. Downing’s article (which follows below):

1) Early in our courses at the Naval War NICAPCollege, we learned from other mid-grade officers (our professors) that most wars are instigated by the guys in the “striped suits” rather than the uniformed Pentagon officials. Think McNamara, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld. There is a natural wariness about war-making decisions made by political appointees with little perceived “skin in the game.” … and …

2) There are many mid-grade officers who are freely outspoken in their opposition to needless wars, frivolous Pentagon spending and poor senior leadership…and know what they’re talking about. That’s because a) they have the experience derived from multiple and varied postings and occupations, so they know BS when they see it and b) they don’t have a lot to lose–as long as they don’t violate the UCMJ, they will likely be retained long enough to collect military retirement. They realize that due to their lack of political acumen (a.k.a. sucking up skills) or frankly, their own mediocre performance or enthusiasm for the mission, that they will never become generals or admirals and probably will advance no further than their current grade, so why not buck the system a bit? Mr. Downing suggests some may promote to senior grades and we hope that is true.

We must listen to these folks.

The colonels speak out

by Brian Downing via OpEd News

In recent testimony before congress, military head Martin Dempsey set limits on American troops in the continuing Iraq war. They will train Iraqi forces, provide air support, and conduct special forces raids. We will not, however, send regular combat troops into battle against ISIL.

Dempsey recognizes that US ground troops will do nothing to stiffen the spines of Iraqi troops, and that American combat troops would be a boon for ISIL and al Qaeda. Those groups will depict American combat troops as another effort to humiliate and control the Islamic world; recruits and money will increase.

Dempsey undoubtedly sees a resurgent Russia as a greater priority, but there are also institutional reasons for his statement: many mid-level officers are increasingly critical of recent wars. Owing to the estrangement between the American public and their soldiers, this has gone largely unnoticed.

There is growing skepticism within the military about the judgment of politicians on matters of war — more than those outside the military will realize. Leaders should have seen the injudiciousness of occupying and seeking to modernize landlocked Afghanistan, an undertaking bound to present daunting logistical and political problems; and of unseating a Sunni minority in Iraq, an undertaking bound to unleash sectarian hatreds and attract foreign jihadis.

General officers are not above reproach — or self-reproach. Retired General Daniel Bolger scores his colleagues for acquiescing to a pair of conflicts that grew into open-ended nation-building projects. (See A General’s Inside Account of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars.)

Disquiet is especially pronounced in the mid-levels of active-duty officers — the majors and colonels, or field grades, who have spent many of the last fourteen years on deployments in protracted, costly wars. They were not stationed in theater command centers and Pentagon corridors; they were out on patrols and supply convoys. Casualties were more than statistics.

Our wars, in their estimation, have not strengthened their nation’s security. Indeed, they have weakened it. Over the years, these majors and colonels have published articles in military journals presenting spirited criticism of superior officers for not objecting to the poorly thought out projects of politicians and think tanks.

Officers have also directed criticism of counterinsurgency doctrines. Once deemed a daring innovation that would revolutionize warfare and foreign policy, counterinsurgency is judged to be a false hope — one that threatens to become an ideological foundation for interventions around the world. (See Col Gian Gentile, Wrong Turn: America’s Deadly Embrace of Counterinsurgency.)

Col Gregory Daddis (a West Point instructor like Gentile), has written that the expectation of war has become ingrained in our culture — to the detriment of our support for diplomacy. The public is mostly detached from military service and less than critical in approaching wars that have no real cost to them. Americans are comfortable in the myths that war is ennobling and that their military can accomplish almost anything. Daddis decries the “relentless militarization afflicting our national mental health.” (See “America: Addicted to War, Afraid of Peace.”)

One of the more striking pieces of polling data in recent memory comes from a 2014 Military Times survey of active-duty troops which found that only 27% of respondents thought that senior military leaders have “their best interests at heart,” down sharply from a middling 53% in 2009. (See “America’s military: a force adrift.”)

The military is an institution governed by timeless traditions. It is not, however, above change. After the Vietnam War gravely damaged the military, mid-level officers, including Colin Powell, rebuilt their prized institution and vowed not to allow it to be sent off into ill-advised wars again. Over the last decade and a half, that generation grew old and was replaced by one whose wars (Grenada, Panama, and Gulf War One) were quick, almost costless, and successful.

In coming years, they will be replaced by today’s mid-level officers whose wars are none of those things. This change will be beneficial to a country committed to globalism but led by politicians more attuned to political pressures than to military realities and composed of people who don’t know any soldiers, save for an aging parent or grandparent.

2015 Brian M Downing

Brian M. Downing is a political-military analyst, and author of The Military Revolution and Political Change and The Paths of Glory: Social Change in America from the Great War to Vietnam.

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UNAC Conference 2015

“A National Antiwar & Social Justice Conference to Stop the Wars at Home & Abroad!”

The United National AntiWar Coalition (UNAC) hosted their 2015 conference, May 8-10 in Secaucus, New Jersey.

UNAC Conference 2015

UNAC Conference 2015

Speakers and panelists included a wide array of peace, social justice, and labor activists, many of whom you know from their writings and appearances in indy media. Veterans For Peace national vice president, Gerry Condon, represented VFP. Several other prominent VFP members, including Col. Ann Wright and Ray McGovern were also in attendance.

Their final report and action plan do an amazingly thorough and insightful job of witnessing the linkage between the wars at home and those the U.S. and its allies inflict on others abroad.

Here are two samples from the final report:

The theme of “Stop the Wars at Home & Abroad” was first used by UNAC at its founding conference in 2010 to oppose attacks on the Muslim community that were part of the phony U.S. “war on terror.” Today this war at home is increasingly impacting Black and Brown communities, working people and their unions and the civil liberties of everyone.
By featuring voices from communities under attack here at home, UNAC and the antiwar movement made an important political turn that solidly places us in the camp of those fighting the militarization of the police, mass incarceration, climate disaster and attacks on civil liberties, while drawing the connections between those struggles and the increasing U.S. wars and U.S. proxy wars abroad.

and

The Action Resolution passed at the final conference session included a call for coordinated antiwar and social justice actions in October; support for Black Lives Matter and other anti-racist, pro-women and pro-LGBTQ groups calling for actions on May 21; support for a call for a national presence on Sept. 19 in Richmond, Va., to defend slavery-related sites threatened by for-profit development; support for the “Fight for $15 and a Union” movement; support for international actions planned to protest the expected and tragic failure of the U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP 21 or Conference of Parties) set for Paris, France; and a resolution supporting Iran’s Red Crescent ship taking humanitarian supplies to challenge the U.S. and Saudi Arabian blockade of Yemen, among others.

Find UNAC on Facebook.

In our view, VFP needs to be even more closely linked and work in coordination with UNAC and other national peace and justice coalitions and organizations.

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The Global Peace Index

Latest results in the 2014 study from the Institute for Economics and Peace.

See the interactive map here. Fascinating stuff. And see the highlights video here.

Before you go, where do you think the United States ranks on the Global Peace Index? (low numbers are good; 162 countries were evaluated)

The correct answer should appear when you complete the poll. The U.S. Peace Index is here.

Global Peace Index Study Landing Page - click

Global Peace Index Study Landing Page – click “Continue” from here.

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Final Production for “Paying the Price for Peace: The Story of S. Brian Willson”

 Trailer (click below)WillsonClip

Support the Film (via the Indiegogo page)

It has taken three-years and we are in our final production stages for the documentary film, “Paying the Price for PeaceWe need your support to finish the film and spread the word to stop U.S. military aggression worldwide!

“Paying the Price for Peace” is a film made to open Americans’ eyes to the true costs of our continual military intervention around the world.

The film follows the story of S. Brian Willson, a Vietnam veteran and trained lawyer, whose wartime experiences transformed him into a revolutionary non-violent pacifist.  In 1986, Brian and several veterans fasted for more than 40-days on the east steps of the U.S. Capitol to protest against the war in Central America.

Then on September 1987, Brian and other Veterans Peace Action team members sat on the tracks to protest the Naval weapons train carrying missiles and bombs bound to be used against peaceful civilians in Central America.

 

Instead of the train slowing down for the protesters on the tracks, the conductor increased the speed of the train to three times its legal speed limit.. Brian tried to get off the tracks but the speeding train struck him, cracked his skull, and tore off both his legs.

 


Today, Brian continues his efforts to fight for peace on his prosthetic limbs. Please join him on his story and stop illegal American wars and other covert military actions waged against peaceful sovereign states and citizens internationally.

“Paying the Price for Peace” documents Brian’s journey and includes notable peace activists such as Daniel EllsbergFr. Roy BourgeoisBlase BonpaneMedea BenjaminRon KovicColonel Ann WrightCindy SheehanCamilo Mejia,  Maggie Martin, and other current outspoken anti-war US veterans. Please help us share their story.

We hope to complete the film by August 2015, in time to show it at the annual Veterans for Peace convention. Continue reading

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