Opinion: We have to promote non-military careers for our youth

A network of military-related programs is spreading in hundreds of elementary and middle schools.

By Gary Ghirardi, the communication staff person for the National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth (NNOMY).

NNOMY can be found on Facebook and at their website: https://nnomy.org/

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.

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KORC FM adds more VFP PSAs

Public Service Announcements (PSAs) are short blurbs broadcast between music cuts. They’re a clever way to engage the public on “civics” topics and make great conversation starters. Our VFP chapter members have worked with the station manager to create the announcements.

KORC-FM can be found at 105.9fm in Corvallis and streaming online here.

Check out the new PSAs at these links:

Freedom of the Press

Support the Troops

Fiscal Responsibility

AND… please make sure you’ve marked your calendar for the

KORC Community Celebration on September 25 at 1pm at Common Fields, 545 SW 3rd Street in Corvallis.


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A 9/11 message from Veterans For Peace…featuring Linus Pauling Chapter member Joel Inman and other post-9/11 veterans.

This is powerful.

Click the graphic
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Time for the US to give up dreams of empire and to repair the devastation US wars have caused

By Rick Staggenborg, President, VFP Linus Pauling Chapter 132, Mid-Valley, Oregon

This letter to the editor first appeared on September 11, 2021 in the Corvallis Gazette-Times and Albany Democrat-Herald.

“Watching the reaction of Americans to the tragedy befalling the people of Afghanistan, I can’t help wondering where their compassion and outrage were during the 30-year U.S. occupation.

Around 170,000 Afghans died as a direct result of war-related violence, and countless more succumbed to disease, famine, exposure, lack of clean water and other consequences of the destruction. Manning, Assange, Hale and others suffered imprisonment, bankruptcy and even torture for revealing the awful truths our government concealed from us. We should also weep for them and their devastated families.

What will be the lesson of Afghanistan? To listen to the pundits, it’s that we should have stayed there forever, despite the fact that the U.S. never succeeded in establishing a truly democratic government. Its precipitous fall was due to corruption and lack of popular support, a familiar story to anyone alive when the puppet government of Vietnam fell in 1975.

Meanwhile, the War on Terror continues unabated throughout the Mideast, Africa and Asia. Don’t kid yourself that the U.S. bears no responsibility for the violence in Libya, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere just because U.S. troops are not in those places in force. There are many ways to bring about regime change. Now we are turning toward confrontation with Russia, China and Iran while building a new Space Force.

Perhaps it’s time to think about giving up grandiose dreams of global empire and take care of the devastation that we’ve allowed to occur in the U.S. as we’ve been busy destroying other nations.”

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Corvallis Advocate: Corvallis honors victims of nuclear harm, footage available

by Emilie Ratcliff, August 28, 2021

“Footage from this month’s Hiroshima-Nagasaki commemoration, an annual event in which members of the Corvallis community gather to mourn and remember the devastating nuclear attacks on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, is now available to the public. The event, sponsored by the Women’s International League of Peace & Freedom (WILPF) and Veterans for Peace Linus Pauling Chapter (VFP), was held at the Riverfront Park on August 5 and featured a variety of speakers from within and beyond the Corvallis community. Live traditional koto music was provided by Masuma Timson, who teaches and records musical sessions from her home studio in Salem.  

Linda Richards, a member of the WILPF and VFP and an instructor at OSU’s School of History, Philosophy and Religion, remarked in her opening speech that those in attendance had gathered “as a type of ceremony to send healing” to all of those harmed by nuclear weapons, including the hibakusha — survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki — and the victims of radiation exposure.”  

Read the full story here.

And please support your local, fiercely independent media, The Corvallis Advocate, for more fine reporting like this.

Posted in Human War Toll, Linus Pauling Chapter Actions, Nuclear warfare, Peace Activism, War-Environment | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

KORC-FM launches PSAs and veteran interview series

Messages based on themes from supporting local groups to address civics issues.

VFP Linus Pauling Chapter is a founding sponsor of the Corvallis-area low-power FM station, KORC-FM. We recently offered several suggested themes to the station manager, John Ellis, to create some short public service announcements (PSAs).

Here is the first VFP PSA message scheduled to air occasionally.

KORC is also running interviews with members of affiliate organizations. Here’s one with our member, Joel Inman. When you visit the Podbean link for this interview, you’ll find another interview with our chapter President, Rick Staggenborg, and other interesting clips.

AND, please mark your calendar for the KORC Community Celebration, September 25, 1pm – 5pm at Common Fields, 545 SW 3rd St., Corvallis. It’s outside and we can social distance easily. SEE YOU THERE!

See the FB Event
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Corvallis Remembers Nuclear Attack Victims – a photo gallery

The local chapters of the Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom (WILPF) and Veterans For Peace hosted a commemoration for the victims of the United States attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, August 6 and 9, 1945, respectively.

The ceremony was held at the Riverfront Park in Corvallis, Oregon on August 5, 2021.

The full commemoration program is here.

Photo Gallery

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Hiroshima survivor visits Corvallis Peace Tree

On May 27, 2021, local Corvallis Hiroshima survivor June Ikuko Terasaka Moore, came to visit and bless (with her and her family’s presence) our Peace Tree.

The Peace Tree was planted April 11, 2019 at the Oregon State University (OSU) Asian & Pacific Cultural Center (APCC) with the help of local Veterans For Peace member, Dr. Linda Richards, OSU’s School of History, Philosophy and Religion and the APCC. The tree planting honors Ms. Hideko Tamura Snider, a Medford peace advocate and Hiroshima survivor.

To learn more about Ms. Snider’s history and peace activism and about the Hiroshima Peace Tree project in Oregon, see this link.

Dr. Linda Richards (kneeling with a jar of peace cranes folded for June’s family) visits with June Ikuko Terasaka Moore beside the APCC Peace Tree.

For more details about this project, please email Dr. Richards: atomiclinda[at]gmail.com.

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Resist US-Led War Movement Global Online Rally Against NATO, June 10

Online Rally, June 10, 10am PDT

Register here.

“…NATO seeks to launch its new strategic initiative “NATO 2030,” which identifies its principal security concerns as not only Russia, but also China, terrorism, cyber attacks and emerging disruptive technologies. This forebodes a dangerous expansion of NATO even further into the Asia Pacific region….”

On June 14, the US-led imperialist military pact, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), will hold its annual summit meeting in Brussels, Belgium. The Resist US-Led War Movement calls for Global Actions to Resist NATO and Build the People’s Movement for Just Peace!

Since its founding in 1949, NATO has acted as an armed wing of US-led war and imperialism, mobilizing its 29 member states in North America and Europe to unleash lethal military campaigns in the name of “collective defence, crisis management and cooperative security.” That is, in defense of the interests of US imperialism and its allies, threatened by its rivals or movements for genuine sovereignty and independence.

The truth is that NATO has been a prime actor in wars of aggression, the enforcement of sanctions, and military occupations that have caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in countries from Afghanistan, to Iraq, and Libya. As part of its policy to surround and contain Russia, NATO has built up its presence in the Black Sea and Mediterranean including US bases and use of bases in Greece and Cyprus. NATO continues to destabilize sovereign countries and prop up fascist governments across Europe, including in Poland, Ukraine, Turkey and Hungary. NATO gives unwavering support to Israel’s genocidal occupation of Palestine, and NATO member Turkey has initiated military aggression in North and East Syria and in South Kurdistan (Northern Iraq) in a brutal war to eliminate the Kurdish people, toward the goal of strengthening NATO in the Middle East. So-called humanitarian missions conducted by NATO place humanitarian aid in a military framework that prioritizes making regions secure for investment and geopolitical interests of its member states. Around the world, NATO states maintain an intricate network of military bases and military installations, which violate national sovereignty and cause environmental damage and social disruption.

To support its insatiable hunger for militarism, NATO continues to demand larger military budgets and greater military spending from each of its member states, leaving much-needed social services for working people chronically underfunded. NATO pushes the bogus line of nuclear deterrence, essentially supporting the nuclear build up of its nuclear-armed members and even preventing its members from signing the TPNW (Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons).

Now NATO seeks to launch its new strategic initiative “NATO 2030,” which identifies its principal security concerns as not only Russia, but also China, terrorism, cyber attacks and emerging disruptive technologies. This forebodes a dangerous expansion of NATO even further into the Asia Pacific region, as NATO increases its intelligence activities, investment in military readiness–including weapons, military exercises, bases and installations– and collaboration with repressive regimes in the region.

As the preeminent alliance of the most economically and politically powerful allies of the US, NATO is still the premier force bolstering US-led war today. Through NATO, the US has access to any military base, domestic or overseas, of any of its members. The US also is the primary decision-maker when it comes to NATO missions, meaning that all of the pooled resources of member countries are at the US’s fingertips to fund its destructive operations. Truly, the US would not be at the helm of the majority of wars of aggression today if it were not for the NATO alliance.

The people reject NATO as a tool of US-led war! NATO and its proponents will never achieve real peace and security for the masses of the world. The people can only attain a genuine just peace by organizing for justice and social equity and by forging solidarity amongst peoples, including the recognition of the right to self-determination, economic, and food sovereignty, and self-defense of nations and oppressed peoples from reactionary violence, including US and NATO-led aggression.

Resist US-Led War Movement calls for actions June 10-14, to coincide with the NATO summit in Brussels, to denounce NATO and build the grassroots people’s movement to oppose NATO and US-led war! Join our online rally on June 10 at http://bit.ly/notonatorally, join us at in-person actions in Brussels on June 13, or hold an action in your own city or town!

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Memorial Day: Honor ALL victims of war

Letter to the editor, mid-Valley newspapers, May 30, 2021

“This Memorial Day, honor the fallen U.S. war hero if you will.

But, where is the memorial day for victims of U.S. aggression? If you have studied the true history of the U.S. empire, you know that this country has waged war for empire or some perceived threat to U.S. interests since the country’s inception. We have created literally countless victims, including Native Americans. None of these victims will be memorialized this Memorial Day.

Many of those who joined the U.S. military had the best intentions. But how many were misled into combat service by politicians and their corporate backers? Some voice support for the “good” wars. But those too could have been avoided through savvy diplomacy and other actions short of war.

Some U.S. veterans and current military members have committed atrocities and even war crimes. This is well documented. Are we honoring them too? When you say “Thank you for your service,” do know whether the recipient served honorably? Do you care? Many veterans we know prefer not to be thanked, as that can trigger memories of the horrific destruction in which they took part.

As we honor the U.S. war dead, we must also acknowledge our longstanding militant foreign policy, and we must honor and mourn the victims of U.S. hegemony. These were fellow human beings routinely swept away silently and promptly from American consciousness and under the historical rug.

This Memorial Day, please honor all victims of war.”

Bart Bolger, Former president, Veterans for Peace, Mid-Valley Chapter, Corvallis

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