My notes from America – on Veterans for Peace, anti-war action, New Priorities, and War Horse – the play.
I was in LA staying at the wonderful Venice Beach, enjoying the warm summer day, walking the boardwalk,listening to the country blues and jazz music, mixing with all the beautiful people – the skaters, bikers, hippies, yuppies, artists, stalls of the alternative, homeless, crazies, gays, medical marijuana,’It was an Inside Job’ stall, muscle builders, families, tourists and politicos. I walk to the Pier.
North of the Pier are the Veterans for Peace at the Arlington West Beach War Memorial. With veterans from WW11, Vietnam, Korea, Gulf, Central and South America, Iraq and Afganistan wars they campaign to explain the true meanings and costs of war and consequences at home to assist veterans for justice and consequences abroad of US militarism and seek alternative peaceful means and end the arms race.
“The Arlington West Mission Statement is to remember the fallen and wounded, to provide a place to grieve, to acknowledge the human cost of war, to encourage dialogue among people with varied points of view, to educate the public about the needs of those returning from war.”
The weekly display on the beach – “To take in the full expanse of crosses, one stands breathless at the enormity of what one sees. Each cross, carefully positioned in the sand with a uniformity appropriate a memorial for this purpose, represents all American military personnel who’ve lost their lives in the US war and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. Upon deeper reflection, Arlington West also powerfully represents the path our country has embarked upon.
When one visits the Arlington West Memorial at Santa Monica, one will see mementos placed on some of the crosses, many with fresh cut flowers. Arlington West also represents those who’ve lost their loved one or close friend.”
See their website here
In between them engaging interested citizens looking at their displays, taking pamphlets and photographing the crosses on the beach, I talked to some Vietnam veterans and from Iraq and Afganistan about their anti-war actions.
They are from Veterans for Peace LA
I asked about a US Veteran for Peace touring Australia and it is possible in the new year, after the elections, but needs serious organisation.
One of their banners is Free Bradley Manning. I received an update on Bradley Manning’s continuous slow-moving ‘trial’ where he you will remember he allegedly shared the “Collateral Murder” video of the US helicopter attack on 11 innocent civilians and children published on the Wikileaks website. The US army argues this warcrime is justified and now say exposing the massacre is criminal! If he did it then he is a courageous whistleblower. Blowing the whistle on war crimes is not a crime. Daniel Elsberg from the Pentagon papers era is very active.
See here for many actions
I discovered many are active on exposing the Bradley Manning lies.
We exchanged information on the latest on Julian Assange.
They did not know of Australians protesting as well.
“A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead. This quote is on the their t-shirts.I buy one.
Woody Guthrie: “If we would just take the profit out of war there wouldn’t be any.”
I learn about Courage to Resist assisting soldiers refusing to fight.
Here is a link to why one soldier refused to fight.
I agree that compliant Australian troops could be as well encouraged to have the courage to resist to fight the politicians’ wars.
I learnt of the National Lawyers Guild Military Law Task Force that includes attorneys, legal workers, law students and “Barracks lawyers” interested in draft, military and veterans issues. It is an standing project of the National Lawyers Guild.
‘MLTF assists those working on military law issues as well as military law counselors working directly with GIs. It trains and mentors counselors and beginning military law attorneys in all aspects of military law through training materials and direct communication. It updates changes in military law and policy.
The Task Force publishes ON WATCH, produces interim mailings on legal and political issues for Task Force members, sponsors seminars and workshops on draft, military and veterans law, produces educational materials on these issues, and provides support for members on particular cases or projects. It sponsors legal and educational work on military dissent, the rights of servicemembers, and challenges to oppressive military policies.’
See their activities here
I informed the Veterans of Obama coming to Darwin (nobody has heard of Darwin, so I urge the Google map) with the US military machine and Austalia’s role in the military containment of and war with China – see my earlier posts on Basewatch and analysis of Australian support for US militarism rather than Australian independence and peace.
The conversation turns to heightened fears of nuclear war. A number of groups are campaigning for nuclear disarmament, with initially some optimism about Obama moving for cut-backs.
Global Zero is one establishment group dedicated to ridding the world of nuclear weapons and currently lobbying the
US Senate – read of their activities here:
I hear about some returned soldiers being active in Occupy Wall St.
The Veterans show me the independent community newspaper called ChangeLinks with 1% v 99% local articles and listings of alternative events – I see it in the Santa Monica area I am staying in : see http://www.change-links.org
Then the conversation on what to do about the “Batman” massacre. And always in the US “I support the carrying of guns for my families’ defence and do, yes, of course I have a number of guns” but… agreement here is on restrictions on that assault military weapon, but no belief in the government moving to do so, particularly during this election.
I hear about the spike in gun sales as corporate marketing taps into fear abd uncertainty after the “Batman” massacre – arm up now in case the government moves for a form of control.
The increased gun sales to young women are going particularly strong and this targeted marketing works.
Those few politicians arguing for gun restrictions are indeed regarded as brave. Increduality is their response to my statement that all political parties in Australia supported taking away arms from citizens after our Port Arthur massacre! No, no-one believes that is possible in the US.
Later in SF. I have posted before about US Labor Against War USLAW and when in San Francisco I had a good discussion with their SF organiser. One of their continuing issues is the immense anti-union and violent pressure on workers and unions organising in Iraq. Here you can follow some information and read about an author on a book tour on the politics of oil in occupied iraq.
USLAW works with the New Priorities Network on why the Pentagon Budget must be cut.
“New Priorities is a US national network of groups that seek to fund urgently needed jobs and restore vital public services by ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and substantially cutting the core Pentagon budget.
Cross-constituency coalitions around the country have already formed to “move the money” from military to local programs and to help our struggling states, cities and communites. Many are led by the people hardest hit in communities of color and low-income communities.” Look at the website here -
From Martin Luther King:”A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defence than on programmes of social uplift is approaching spiritual death”
Here is an article from Progressive Democrats of America on the excesses of military spending.
And meanwhile the Pentagon increases investment in drones. read one article here
In San Francisco at the SF Curran theatre we loved “War Horse – on stage.” It is coming soon to Australia and not to be missed.
“War Horse” is a great theatrical experience, with brilliant horse puppetry, exciting, moving, fast paced, well acted, stirring music and singing -this performance lived up to its reputation. My mention does no justice to how good the production and direction is and the brilliance of the horses as puppets. The positive reception goes to its anti-war content, for me when the working classes on both sides on behalf of our rulers fight the wars. This play is popular at a time again when our ruling elites push for war such as the US fanning war with Iran and China.
Woody Guthrie: “I would like to see every single soldier on every single side just take off your helmet unbuckle your kit lay down your rifle and set down on the side of some shady lane and say nope,
I aint going kill no more. Plenty of rich folks wants to fight. Give them the guns.”
I sress don’t see Steven Spielberg’s film war Horse – pathetic pap.
Meanwhile in the election… Romney tries to be slightly more hawkish, more supportive of the Israel miltarists, more interventionist for war with Iran, more military spending, more supportive of the miltary corporations in relation to Obama who is characterised as ‘soft’- despite the majority public polling against the wars.
Much of the above was posted on my Facebook.
I argue for our anti-war groups to connect more closely with the US anti-war groups.