The Endless War Machine’s Toll On Our Troops – Suicides Exceeded Combat Deaths Last Year

January 15, 2013

The Associated Press reported yesterday the Pentagon’s internal statistics show more U.S. troops committed suicide last year than died in combat in Afghanistan. The Pentagon noted the rate of suicides in the military is below the civilian population – is that supposed to be somehow comforting?

In addition to ending the war now, leaving no residual troops in Afghanistan, not starting any new wars against Iran or anyone else and ceasing drone strikes in countries we are not at war with, the troops need real support, not the platitudes one hears constantly on NFL telecasts. Our sisters and brothers at Iraq Veterans Against the War are providing leadership with their “Right to Heal” Operation Recovery campaign, to stop sending troops on repeated combat tours and get them the treatment and support they need and deserve. Help IVAW out, and spread the word to those you think really want to support the troops.


Afghanistan – The “Who Cares?” War

September 18, 2012

–Kevin Martin, Executive Director

Last week, veteran AP reporter Robert Burns wrote an interesting article on the 9/11 anniversary  titled “War Weary US is Numbed to Drumbeat of Troop Deaths.” Burns told moving stories of a few troops who recently died in Afghanistan, and interviewed some military brass about the supposed problem of the public “not caring” about the war. He quoted think tanker Max Boot of the Council on Foreign Relations calling Afghanistan the “Who Cares?” war.

The article got me to thinkin’, which was good, but I was troubled by some ironies and contradictions in this so-called problem of Americans “not caring” about the war. So I wrote a letter to Burns (he didn’t reply) raising some issues and questions that went beyond the scope of his article. Here it is, and I’m working on shaping this into an op-ed.

Dear Mr. Burns,

Thank you for your article about the “Who Cares?” war, as you quoted Max Boot on his moniker for it. I’ve enjoyed your reporting for some time now. I appreciate your focus on the cost of war in the human lives of our soldiers, but of course the toll for the people of Afghanistan is much, much worse.

I do think there are some ironies and contradictions re the Afghanistan war that go beyond the scope of your article, which I may well write about, and that I assume you have some views on.

I’m a peace activist, invariably opposed to this country’s many, many wars, but I care about the troops and returning vets (my brother is a psychologist at the VA hospital in the Bronx, meaning unfortunately he has a job for life dealing with the trauma our wars inflict on those who fight them), as do all the peace activists I know. I knew a wonderful young man, a Marine reservist named Gregory McDonald who died in Iraq. He was opposed to the war, but felt he had to go, that he couldn’t have claimed conscientious objector status (as I and others counseled him, and I believe he had a pretty good case). He felt he couldn’t let the others in his unit down, though he vehemently opposed the war. The military counts on that type of coercion or guilt to keep troops in line.

In terms of nobody “caring about the war,” there are many dynamics at play there. Polls show a solid majority of the US populace is now against the war, but there are no widespread or large protests (although I was proud to march in Chicago last May at the NATO protest with GWOT vets returning their medals to protest the wars). Certainly there is some partisan politics at play here, liberals not wanting to criticize Obama, or being “okay” with his promise to end the war by the end of 2014 (though a Foreign Policy article today speculates up to 25K troops may remain for a decade as part of an agreement with the Afghan govt.).

Additionally, it seems to me the Pentagon can’t have it both ways – they don’t want a draft, understandably, as they don’t want to deal with the hassles from soldiers who don’t want to be in the service. The poverty draft, especially in a week economy, suits them just fine. They get an endless supply of our tax dollars to fight their wars and maintain the largest military in human history. They want us to “care” more? Even with multiple “support the troops” programs and manifestations all over society (Michelle Obama and Jill Biden are constantly stressing this, as do many others)? (Which is not to disparage such efforts, we do need to support the troops, and the best way would be to get them home to their families ASAP and provide them the absolute best care we can).

And if there were a draft, the war would be over in a month, the public wouldn’t stand for it, because this war fails the definition of a just war miserably (the horse sense definition, not the Catholic Church’s official Just War theory). The real definition of a just war is one you’d send your kid to.

Thanks and Peace,

Kevin Martin

Executive Director

Peace Action


Come to Chicago: Meet with Afghans for Peace & Afghanistan war veterans

April 4, 2012

ImageIn May, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) will meet in Chicago to discuss the future of Afghanistan, the shared costs of the military alliance and the expansion of the so called missile defense system.

As NATO meets, Peace Action, and peace and justice activists, will also meet to map out an alternative path in a Counter-Summit for Peace and Economic Justice on May 18 – 19.

Today, the public debate over every new international crisis or national security issue is framed by how, not if, we should use military force. This is what we’re working to change. Read articles on NATO and the dangers of their new strategic direction here.

The 2-day Counter-Summit will have over 20 workshops to explore the alternatives, to wars and a US driven “arms race of one.” Register for the conference and join the dialogue.

Choices must be made between more funding for wars and newer weapons or funding human needs.

Join us in Chicago and hear speakers like Sarita Gupta, the executive director of Jobs with Justice, a national labor-community network.

She is organizing a movement which links the rights of domestic workers to quality medical care for our elders which depends on demilitarizing the federal budget.

Other speakers include: Suraia Sahar – Afghans for Peace, Tom Hayden, Vijay Prashad – Trinity College, Tobias Pflüger – former member of European Parliament, Joseph Gerson & Peter Lems – American Friends Service Committee, Kevin Martin – Peace Action, Phyllis Bennis – Institute for Policy Studies, Jackie Cabasso, Western States Legal Foundation, Reiner Braun – No to War, No to NATO (Germany) and many more.

Come to Chicago, to meet with Afghans for Peace and support Afghanistan war veterans on May 20 as they rally and march to the NATO Summit to return their military medals to the NATO Generals in a March for Justice and Reconciliation. 

Be the representatives of the 99% who suffer from the effects of a militarized federal budget and want an end to wars at the Counter-Summit for Peace and Economic Justice. 

Power to the Peaceful,
Judith Le Blanc
Peace Action Field Director

PS. Please join Peace Action on April 18 at 8 pm Central, 9 pm Eastern for a conference call briefing with Kathy Kelly of Voices for Creative Nonviolence who just returned from Afghanistan. Check our website for call-in information.

PA & IVAW At Hofstra: The Final Debate

November 10, 2008

As reported here and in our Action Alerts Peace Action has been on the front lines for Democracy with Iraq Veterans Against the War.  After the success at the Democratic National Convention members of IVAW and Peace Action New York State attempted to ask their questions about Veteran’s benefits during the debate.  At this peaceful protest Nick Morgan, a returning Veteran from Iraq, was trampled by a police horse.  His jaw was shattered and he may have damage to his eye.  He received medical care and is currently struggling in recovery.   Take action for these Vets, here. Below you’ll see video from DemocracyNow from that night.

Why we Protest

August 28, 2008

It works!  Our own Jonathan Williams – Peace Action’s SPAN Coordinator marched with IVAW and thousands of other protestors to block the way of Democratic delegates until they let an IVAW representative speak with the Obama camp.

From the IVAW website:

IVAW members in Denver on Wednesday where they led a march of ten thousand to the Democratic National Convention to deliver a message to Barack Obama calling on the Democratic nominee to endorse the three main goals of IVAW: Immediate withdrawal, full veterans benefits, and reparations for the Iraqi people.

Following a packed show at the Denver Coliseum where Rage Against the Machine and the Flobots encouraged the crowd to join IVAW’s march, two squads of 25 IVAW members each formed up outside the venue and began marching to the Pepsi center. The squads were led by members in dress uniforms and combat uniforms, with thousands of supporters marching behind them in support.

When they arrived at the DNC, representatives of IVAW asked to meet with Barack Obama to present their message. After negotiations with the

Former Texas Lt Governor Ben Barnes came out of the convention to accept a letter from the IVAW members. Jeff Key, a former Marine said the IVAW members intended to stay in place until a representative from Obama’s campaign came out to talk with them.

“I’m a patient man. I’m not going anywhere,” Key said.

Key, a former Marine from Salt Lake City, and Liam Madden, a former marine from Boston, were then escorted into the convention where they met with Phil Carter, head of veterans affairs for the Obama campaign. IVAW is now waiting for a formal response to their request address the delegates from the podium.

Lt. Vince Porter of the Denver Police Department said the department coordinated the meeting with the secret service and Obama’s office.

“The police in Denver have been exceptional and very, very supportive,” Key said. “This cannot be an easy job for them either, and they’ve just been incredible.”

Winter Soldier is happening this week

March 11, 2008


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