Friday, April 29, 2016

Send A Memorial Day Letter To The Vietnam Veterans Wall In Wash DC


Photo credit: Meutia Chaerani - Indradi Soemardjan - Own work Indrani, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=779984
My life has been touched by the suffering of Vietnam veterans since I was a teenager. My first lover was a Vietnam veteran who eventually killed himself. 

I began to fall in love with my husband when I heard him tell a military age young man why he had risked his own health to avoid the draft during the Vietnam war: he knew that his government was lying to him.

My friends in the current antiwar movement often are veterans of Vietnam who have sustained the moral injuries of combat and who struggle with depression and despair. Many family members of students I've taught have suffered from PTSD, substance abuse, cancer and other health effects of being Vietnam vets. This continues to put stress on families down through the generations.
"Heavily bandaged woman with a tag attached to her arm
which reads 'VNC Female' meaning Vietnamese civilian"

Photo credit: By Philip Jones Griffiths - National Library of WalesThe National Library of Wales, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=38576244
The above is my response to this invitation from Veterans for Peace co-founder Doug Rawlings:

AMERICA NEEDS TO HEAR FROM YOU

If you have suffered through the Vietnam war, either as a military veteran or as a resister or as a partner of a veteran or a child or a sibling of a veteran or just as a caring citizen of this country, you need to know that your voice is needed. 

On Memorial Day, May 30th, we will be delivering letters to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (The Wall) with heartfelt messages to those young men and women whose names are on The Wall. Please join us. 

Your note can be one paragraph long or many paragraphs. It can be written to a specific name on The Wall or just as a general cry out against war. Last year we laid 151 letters and 32 postcards at the foot of The Wall in a ceremony that not only profoundly affected us but also those who read the letters as they passed by. Rest assured that your letter will be treated with the respect and caring it deserves -- this ceremony is not a political action. It is an act of remembrance and grief. 

But it also is more than a reaching out to the past. It is a message to the future.  You who have firsthand knowledge of that war need to have your voices heard. For the next ten years we will be witnessing a series of fifty year commemorations that will mark the Viet Nam War in the minds of many young people. They need to know more than the "official" story of that war. They need to know the many truths that only you can tell. Please join us.

You have until MAY 14TH to write your letter and send it either as an email message to rawlings@maine.edu or as a handwritten letter to Doug Rawlings, 13 Soper Road, Chesterville, Maine 04938. 

I will guarantee that your letter will be placed in a business envelope, opened at the top, with the words "PLEASE READ ME" emblazoned on the front flap, and then placed at the foot of The Wall at 10:30am, Memorial Day, May 30th.   

Last year, the National Park Service collected all of our letters and then asked if they could place the letters in a special display. We agreed. Our voices continue to be heard. Please put your voice alongside ours.

Doug Rawlings
Veterans For Peace

Thursday, April 28, 2016

More Troops To #Syria, More Refugees Fleeing U.S. Imperial Violence

Image source: Organizing Notes

Can you find Syria on this map? Can you find the Aegean Sea where toddlers are drowning when boats of refugees capsize fleeing war in Syria? Most in the U.S. could find neither if the map weren't clearly labeled.




When President Obama announces he will send more troops into Syria, do his constituents care? He already sent B-52 bombers to drop weapons of mass destruction this month and there was hardly a peep. People in the U.S. are too busy being super excited about the presidential election which will change nothing in the march toward a third world war.

Liberal Democrats are being outflanked by far right Republicans when it comes to criticizing U.S. imperial expansion abroad. Probably because the project of empire is seen as tremendously expensive and ultimately unsustainable by fiscal conservatives. Some of the criticism is nativist as in "let them kill each other, it's none of our business" which exhibits a deep ignorance of the history of colonialism.

Japan is effectively a U.S. colony and has been since the end of the second world war. Yesterday President Obama threatened North Korea with bellicose rhetoric, saying "the U.S. could destroy" that country. As reported by Reuters via the Huffington Post:
Separately, President Barack Obama said the United States is working on defending itself and its allies against potential threats from what he called an “erratic” country with an “irresponsible” leader. 
On April 15, the North failed to launch what was likely a Musudan missile, with a range of more than 3,000 km (1,800 miles), meaning it could, if launched successfully, hit Japan and also theoretically put the U.S. territory of Guam within range.
Here's the question corporate news has trained the taxpayers who support all these wars never to ask: why would Guam be a U.S. territory? There must be actual human beings on Guam who have the right to govern themselves.

Here's another one: why is the U.S. funding terrorist groups like ISIS on the one hand and bombing them on the other? Don't ask Obama. Ask the CEOs of General Dynamics, Boeing, Lockheed and other "defense" contractors.

I vote we return to calling the Department of "Defense" the Department of War. In this age of information control and euphemisms, this will not happen. In the meantime, I will continue to call out the Pentagon for its crimes against humanity and the environment.

Toddlers will keep drowning, the charade of two corporate parties running against one another will continue to entertain, and the super rich will get even super richer as we escalate the unwinnable "war on terror." If history is any indication, none of this will end well.

What to do? Use the internet while you still have it and use your networks to find real information. Lift up your voice and share some truth.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Odessa Massacre By Neo-Nazis 2nd Anniversary Statement of Solidarity With Victims

Photo sourced from Organizing Notes "The U.S.-NATO Created Mess in Ukraine"

‘Statement of Solidarity’ with 2nd anniversary May 2 memorial in Odessa delivered to Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, D.C., followed by press conference

Report by the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC)

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 25

Today Ana Edwards, representing the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC), and Ray McGovern, a former CIA analyst and now prominent peace activist, delivered a Statement of Solidarity with Odessa to the Embassy of Ukraine in Washington, D.C.

The statement calls on the governments of Ukraine, the United States and the city of Odessa to ensure the civic rights of the people of Odessa to hold a memorial program this coming May 2 to mark the second anniversary of the massacre of 46 pro-federation activists in that city at the hands of rightwing extremists. The memorial is being organized by the Mothers' Committee for May 2, comprised of family members, friends and supporters of the murdered activists.
Photos sourced from Organizing Notes Some of the 46 who were burned alive inside the Odessa Trade Union hall
The Solidarity Statement, signed by 139 human rights organizations and activists from 20 countries in North America, Europe, Africa and Asia, also supports the Mothers' Committee public call for the United Nations Human Rights Committee to arrange an impartial investigation into the events of May 2, 2014. Although the attack was videoed by numerous participants and passersby, to date not one of the perpetrators has been brought to justice.
Photo source: Organizing Notes
Neo-Nazis burning the Trades Hall in Odessa, Ukraine on May 2, 2014. 
The massacre killed well over 50 people.
The Solidarity Statement also announced that UNAC is sending a delegation of U.S. human rights activists to monitor the May 2 memorial program in Odessa. Other delegations will be present from France, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Poland, Bulgaria, Italy, Spain, Israel and Sweden.

The Solidarity Statement was received by an embassy staff member on behalf of the Ukrainian ambassador.

Immediately after, Edwards and McGovern held a press conference outside the embassy at which they read the solidarity statement and answered questions from reporters. Media present included Tass News Agency of Russia, RT (Russia Today) America, Channel One Russian TV and RTRTV, a Russian language television station whose audience includes 50,000 subscribers in the New York City area. The Russian language is spoken by an estimated 171 million people in 17 countries.

While no major Western media were present, it is expected that the broad news coverage by major Russian media will put pressure on other media outlets to cover the story of the May 2 memorial, the international solidarity campaign and the international delegations that will be in Odessa on May 2 to monitor the memorial program.

Ana Edwards is a founding member of UNAC and chairs the Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project of the Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality in Richmond, Va.

Ray McGovern is a former analyst with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), a prominent member of Veterans for Peace and Cofounder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.

The United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC) is a broad alliance of U.S. justice and peace organizations founded in 2010. www.UNACpeace.org

For more information, contact UNAC CoCoordinator Joe Lombardo at:UNACpeace@gmail.com or 518-227-6947.
 
To add your name/organization to the statement please click on https://www.unacpeace.org/ukrainepetition.html

Statement of Solidarity Endorsers
 
as of 4/24/16
 
U.S.
 
Ramsey Clark - Former U.S. Attorney General; Human Rights Activist
 
Bernadette Ellorin - Chairperson, Bayan USA
 
Rep. Jeffrey Evangelos - Maine House of Representatives
 
Bruce Gagnon - International Coordinator, Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
 
Margaret Kimberley - Editor and Senior Columnist, Black Agenda Report
 
Cynthia McKinney, Ph.D - Former Member, U.S. Congress; 2008 Green Party U.S. Presidential Candidate
 
Ray McGovern - Former CIA Analyst; Co-Founder, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity
 
Joe Lombardo and Marilyn Levin, UNAC Co-coordinators
 
International Action Center
 
U.S. Peace Council
 
United National Antiwar Coalition
 
Beth Adams - Hancock Drone Resisters, San Francisco, California
 
Elliott Adams - Veterans For Peace, Sharon Springs, New York
 
Abayomi Azikiwe - Editor, Pan-African News Wire; Organizer, MECAWI, Detroit, Michigan
 
Roger Batchelder - OPENER, San Diego, California *
 
Mike Beilstein - City Councilor, Corvallis, Oregon
 
Judith Bello - Founding Member, Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones & End the Wars, New York
 
Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace - New York
 
​Judy Collins & Jim Allen - Vine & Fig Tree, Lanett, Alabama
 
Paul Cunningham - South Portland, Maine
 
William Crain - Peace and Justice *, Billings, Montana
 
Bob Dale - Veterans for Peace, Brunswick, Maine
 
George Dardess - Rochester Peace Action & Education *
 
Nicolas J.S. Davies - Author, “Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq”
 
Jacqui Deveneau - Maine Green Independent Party, Portland, Maine
 
Catherine Donaghy - Western Mass TroopsOutNow! Coalition, Massachusetts *
 
Chantal Dothey, MD - Cleveland, Ohio
 
Tim Duda - American Federation of Teachers, San Antonio, Texas
 
Nancy Eberg - Greater New Haven Peace Council *
 
Ana Edwards - Chair, Virginia Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project, Richmond, Virginia
 
Anthony Ehrlich - West Volusians for Peace & Justice, Barberville, Florida
 
Kristna Evans - Vintage Quaker Books, Friends Community of New England, Bath, Maine
 
Sara Flounders - Co-Director, International Action Center, New York, New York
 
Freedom Road Socialist Organization
 
Roberta Frye - Faith in Action, Unitarian Universalists of Santa Monica *, Culver City, California
Ronald Fujiyoshi - Ohara Ho'opakele, Hilo, Hawaii
 
Terry & Tom Fusco - Maine Progressive Party, Brunswick, Maine
 
Genesee Valley Citizens for Peace - Geneseo, New York
 
Starr C. Gilmartin - Peace & Justice of Eastern Maine, Trenton, Maine
 
Ellen Grady - Ithaca Catholic Worker, Ithaca, New York
 
Peter Gunther - Progressive Archivists
 
Joseph F. Hancock - Los Angeles Peace Council, Los Angeles, California
 
David Hartsough - PEACEWORKERS, San Francisco, California
 
Marilyn Hoff - Peace Action, New Mexico
 
Herbert J. Hoffman, Ph.D. - Albuquerque Veterans For Peace, Albuquerque, New Mexico
 
Connie Jenkins - Pax Christi, Maine, Orono, Maine
 
Mack Johnson - Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, Silverdale, Washington
 
Ann Joseph - United Church of Christ, Chicago, Illinois *
 
Matt Kelly - Petersburgh, New York
 
Mick Kelly - Editor, Fight Back!
 
Ed Kinane - Upstate Drone Action, New York
 
Bob Kinsey - Colorado Coalition for the Prevention of Nuclear War *
 
Heather Koponen - Alaska Peace Center, Veterans for Peace, Fairbanks, Alaska
 
David Laibman - Editor, Science & Society, Brooklyn, New York
 
Barbara Laxon - Miramar, Florida
 
Mickie Lynn - Women Against War *, Delmar, New York
 
Jeff Mackler - Director, Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, Oakland, California
 
Kevin Martin - Executive Director, Peace Action, Silver Spring, Maryland
 
Natasha Mayers - Union of Maine Visual Artists, Whitefield, Maine
 
Rob Mulford - Veterans For Peace, Fairbanks, Alaska
 
Meryl Nass MD - Ellsworth Maine
 
Doug Noble - Metro Justice *, Rochester
 
Jon Olsen - Green Party, Jefferson, Maine
 
Tatyana Olson - Diplomatic School, Washington D.C.
 
Dr. Lewis E. Patrie - Western N.N. Physicians for Social Responsibility, Asheville, North Carolina
 
Rosalie Paul - Greater Brunswick PeaceWorks, Maine
 
Patricia Patterson - Retired International Mission Executive, United Methodist Church, Claremont, California
 
Tina Phillips - Brunswick, Maine
 
Charles R. Powell - President, Veterans For Peace, Albuquerque, New Mexico 
 
Brian Noyes Pulling, M.Div. - Minister, Social Worker,Peace & Social Justice Organizer, South Carolina
 
Megan Rice SHCJ - Transform Now Plowshares, Washington, D.C.
 
Coleen Rowley - Retired FBI agent, former Legal Counsel, Minneapolis Division, Minnesota  
 
Lisa Savage - Maine Natural Guard, Solon, Maine
 
Adria Scharf - Richmond Peace Education Center, Richmond, Virginia
 
Richard D. Seifert - Fairbanks Peace Center, Fairbanks, Alaska
 
Diane Shammas, Ph.D - Shammas Group, Laguna Beach, California
 
Ruth Sheridan - Anchorage, Alaska
 
Alice Slater - Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, New York, New York
 
Gar Smith - Co-founder, Environmentalists Against War; Director, Academic Publishing, California
 
Jean Sommer - Peace Action, Cleveland, Ohio
 
J. Michael Springmann - "Visas for Al Qaeda: CIA Handouts That Rocked The World *,  “Washington, D.C.
 
Mary Beth Sullivan - Greater Brunswick PeaceWorks, Bath, Maine
 
David Swanson - Director, WorldBeyondWar.org; Author, "War Is A Lie," Charlottesville, Virginia
 
Wil Van Natta - Reality News Radio, Riviera Beach, Florida
 
Virginia People’s Assembly for Jobs, Peace & Justice - Virginia
 
Steve Wagner - Lake Merritt Neighbors Organized for Peace *, Oakland, California
 
Karen Wainberg - Great Brunswick PeaceWorks, Maine
 
William H. Warrick III, MD - Veterans for Peace, Gainesville, Florida
 
Dave Welsh - Delegate, San Francisco Labor Council, San Francisco, California
 
Phil Wilayto - Editor, The Virginia Defender, Richmond, Virginia
 
Mike Wisniewski - Los Angeles Catholic Worker, California
 
Rowan Wolf - Uncommon Thought Journal, Portland, Oregon
 
Kristina Wolff - Veterans for Peace, Maine
 
Women Against Military Madness (WAMM) - Minneapolis, Minnesota
 
Russell Wray - Citizens Opposing Active Sonar Threats (COAST), Hancock, Maine
 
Sandra Yeager - Millersville University *, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
 
 
 
AUSTRIA
 
Christl Meyer - Amnesty International *, Vienna
 
 
 
CANADA
 
Tamara Lorincz - Canadian Voice of Women for Peace, Saanichton, British Columbia
 
Hamilton Coalition To Stop The War - Hamilton
 
Roza Husseini - Student of PACE at University of Winnipeg, Manitoba
 
Rev.  Wm. J. Hutton - Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
 
Amir M. Maasoumi - Palestinians & Jews United for Peace & Against Occupation (PAJU), Montreal, Quebec
 
Mobilization Against War & Occupation (MAWO) - Vancouver, British Columbia
 
Nicolas Royer-Artuso - Laval University *, Montreal, Quebec
 
Marguerite Warner - Peace Alliance Winnipeg, Manitoba
 
 
 
CZECH REPUBLIC
 
Vaclav Exner - KSČM, Alterantiva zdola, Praha
 
 
 
FINLAND
 
Ernst Mecke, Ph.D. - Helsinki, Finland
 
 
 
FRANCE
 
Csizmazia Alexis - Université Paris Est Creteil, Paris
 
Arlette Cavillon - Mouvement de la Paix *
 
Oranus Ravar - Aix-en-Provence
 
Guenter Schenk - CJACP, Strasbourg
 
 
 
GERMANY
 
 Judith Dellheim - Zukunftskonvent, Berlin
 
Dr. Henry Stahl - Bund für Soziale Verteidigung, Eschwege, Hessen
 
 
 
INDIA
 
J. Narayana Rao - All India Peace & Solidarity Organization, Nagpur
 
 
 
IRELAND
 
John Kelly - Mullingar, County Westmeath
 
June Kelly - County Westmeath
 
 
 
ITALY
 
Arrigo Colombo - Movimento per la società di giustizia, Lecce, Puglia
 
U.S. Citizens Against War - Florence
 
 
 
JAPAN
 
Yasuaki - Matsumoto *, Japan
 
Akira Asada - Takarzuka, Hyougo, Japan
 
 
 
MEXICO
 
Ethelia Ruiz Medrano - National Institute of Anthropology and History, Mexico *, Mexico
 
 
 
NETHERLANDS
 
Khalid Ahmed Chaudry - Ambassador & Deputy Chairman, Supreme Council of the International Human Rights Commission *, The Hague
 
 
 
SOUTH AFRICA
 
Dewald Wilhelm Scholtz - Pretoria, Gauteng Province
 
 
 
SOUTH KOREA
 
Choi Sung-Hee - Gangjeong Village International Team, Jeju Island
 
Regina Pyon Yeon-shik - Korean House for International Solidarity, Seoul
 
 
 
SWITZERLAND
 
Oriane Peschoux - UN, Geneva
 
 
 
NEW ZEALAND
 
Julie Webb-Pullman - Independent Journalist and Activist
 
Kay Weir - Editor, Pacific Ecologist, Pacific Institute of Resource Management, Wellington
 
Wellington Zapatista Support Group
 
 
 
RUSSIA
 
Alexander Ionov & Anastasia Promskaya - The Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia
 
 
 
SWEDEN
 
Agneta Norberg - Swedish Peace Council, Stockholm
 
Einar Schlereth - Retired Journalist / Translator / Writer, Klavreström, Kronoberg
 
Aaron Tovish - Executive Adviser, Mayors for Peace, Stockholm
 
 
 
UNITED KINGDOM
 
Allen L. Jasson - RightOfChoice.com, Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire
 
John Pilger - Two-time winner of Britain's Journalist of the Year Award
 
Angie Zelter - Reforest the Earth


*Organizations listed for identification purposes only

Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Costs of War: Crumbling Infrastructure, Moral Injuries #GDAMS

Photo source: Portland Press Herald
Martha Spiess produced this video of speakers at Portland, Maine's Global Day of Action Against Military Spending (GDAMS) on April 19, 2016.



The final speaker, Bruce Gagnon from Bath, talks about an action at General Dynamics' Bath Iron Works shipyard on June 18 where yet another destroyer will be launched. Bruce also mentions the crumbling infrastructure in Maine that does not get fixed with the money flowing to the Navy to build more and more costly weapons of mass destruction. (He also subsequently issued this correction: In my words I made one factual mistake.  I said space technology is costing $100 million per year, I meant to say $100 billion per year.)

A particularly relevant point as the crumbling infrastructure in Bath recently caused a vehicle driven by a mother carrying her 12 year old son to plunge through a deficient guardrail on an viaduct near the BIW shipyards. The SUV fell and crushed a pickup truck on the street below. 

Miraculously, no one died.

Maine has a lot of days when weather events make our roadways slippery, and April 4 was one of them. Dennis Hoey reported in the Portland Press Herald:
After the accident, the Maine Department of Transportation closed the viaduct to all traffic for about two hours. The department said its road crew had salted the road just a few minutes before the crash because snow was falling. “We don’t know yet if speed was a factor. We don’t know if roadway surface was a factor,” Field said. He said alcohol does not appear to have been a factor.
Now the state's Department of Transportation (DOT) is being investigated for its failure to respond to two dire warnings by its own inspectors about the state of the guardrails on the viaduct. Initially, the DOT insisted the guardrails were in fine condition but digging by actual investigative journalist Matt Byrne turned up a scandal. From his April 22 report in the PPH:
State failed to act on inspector’s call for repairs to Bath bridge where SUV fell 40 feet
Dozens of railing bolts were broken or missing nuts on the viaduct where the SUV carrying a mother and child from Windham broke through the barrier on April 4.
Photo source: Portland Press Herald
What does all this have to do with war taxes paid to the federal government?

As I note in the video above, Maine taxpayers sent $148 Billion to the Pentagon for its base budget in Fiscal Year 2015, plus an additional $88 Million to the Overseas Contingency Fund to continue its many ongoing wars. How many viaduct bolts and crews to install them would that have funded? 

The roadway in question is within sight of the BIW shipyards, and its workers are among the 18,000 vehicles traveling over it every day.

The state and the town of Bath both give massive tax relief to General Dynamics, an out of state Pentagon contractor that builds weapons of mass destruction at great profit to its shareholders each year.

As Rosie Paul says in her introduction in the video above, people pay their taxes in the belief that they are contributing to the common good: roads, schools, health care and the like.

As polls indicate time and again, taxpayers would prefer to spend money on things like viaduct bolts and not on things like another mansion for the owners of General Dynamics. 

Its current CEO formerly worked for the CIA and while working for General Dynamics was married to a staffer on the House defense appropriations subcommittee. This is  typical of the revolving door between government and the private sector. So much for democracy. So much for the common good.


Photo credit: National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Mainers Protest The Pentagon Budget And Environmental Costs Of Militarism #GDAMS


Federal income taxes were due on April 19 this year in the U.S., so organizers Martha Spiess and Rosalie Tyler Paul organized a rally on the day with speakers including myself for the Maine Natural Guard, Ginny Schneider for War Tax Resisters League, Bruce Gagnon for Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, Richard Clement for Veterans for Peace and Michelle Fournier for 350.org Maine.
All day tabling by Ginny Schneider for the War Tax Resisters Resource Center included a penny poll for people to indicate where they would like to see their taxes spent.
Coverage by WCSH Channel 6 t.v. showed many ways of understanding the true costs of militarism, from dollars spent in Fiscal Year 2015 -- $598.5 BILLION, representing a 54% slice of the discretionary budget pie -- to environmental destruction from wars and weapons. Coverage by Maine Public Broadcasting Network was the first mainstream media mention of the Maine Natural Guard campaign. Yay!
It was great to have an environmental group ably represented by Michelle's remarks on the intersectionality of the struggles to overcome racism, materialism and militarism. She also provided context on the Pentagon's gargantuan carbon boot print around the planet, saying it is the largest institutional consumer of fossil fuels in the world.

I am continuously amazed at how many environmental groups and individual activists ignore this issue. Maybe the tide is turning as young people like Michelle realize that if you're not including the military in the carbon and other pollution equations, you are not really talking about the problem.
To order your organic cotton t-shirt, leave a comment on this blog with name and your size. Cost is $20.
It's why I have been offering people the chance to join the Natural Guard campaign -- in Maine or wherever they are. Many dedicated activists have come forward to take the pledge to bring up environmental harm when "security" is being discussed (generally as a pretext for more bombing -- as of this week, U.S. taxpayers are sending B-52s to bomb Syria). The second part of the pledge is to bring up the Pentagon in discussions about responding to climate change.

Burning fossil fuels to secure corporate access to more fossil fuels around the planet is a dead end game. Ditto ramping up nuclear weapons under Obama's administration in order to threaten competitors for dwindling resources. The radioactive pollution created by those weapons of mass destruction is an environmental cost that will be paid for generations to come.


Thursday, April 14, 2016

Join Global Days Of Action Against Military Spending #GDAMS April 5 - 18, 2016


Today I'm sharing a guest post from my friend Jason Rawn who is in South Korea with the Gangjeong Village resistance to destruction of their Jeju Island coastline by creeping militarism. You can read more about their struggle here. Their GDAMS action was on April 12.

I will be participating as a speaker at a GDAMS rally in Congress Square, Portland, Maine on Tuesday, April 18, 2016 at 11 am.

TEXT FOR A FLYER FOR GLOBAL DAYS AGAINST MILITARY SPENDING (GDAMS) April 5-18, 2016

Due to human-caused climate change, we must make huge changes in how we live very soon. The US military and its allies use the most fossil fuels and have the largest Carbon bootprint on the planet. 

Most of these fossil fuels are used in pursuit of more fossil fuels. There are also nuclear, biological, space, and conventional weapons, torture, surveillance, and many other harmful aspects of militarism to consider.

Activists around the world are organizing the Global Days of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS) from April 5-18. In 2015, 127 actions were held in 20 different countries. GDAMS is part of the International Peace Bureau's Global Campaign on Military Spending. The central question is, "Money for War...Or Human Need?" 

Here in Gangjeong, our action is to speak out and picket during our daily blockade of the navy base here. We will also conduct a poll to discover how local people would like to invest their hard-earned tax money. We ask people to examine their priorities and the long-term well-being of the planet and then use stickers to indicate  what types of projects and programs they value and want to fund. This is an adaptation of the "Penny Poll," a fun activity used by peace activists in the US to start conversations on the subject of divesting from war. 

These are the categories of projects and programs: 
  • Peace: disarmament, conflict prevention and resolution, human security
  • Sustainable development and anti-poverty programs
  • Climate change and biodiversity loss - for mitigation, adaptation, bioremediation
  • Public services/social justice, human rights, gender equality, and green job creation
  • Humanitarian programs to support the most vulnerable groups

War Resisters League (WRL) calculates that the US will spend $1.357 trillion ($1,357,000,000,000) on war in 2017. WRL includes money spent on past war, including veterans' benefits and interest paid on debts from war spending. Other calculations are based solely on the annual federal budget and result in much smaller figures: $600 billion ($600,000,000,000), for example.

Precedents

There are numerous organizations around the world working to decrease the amount of tax money that is spent on war. These are a few of them: 

National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee (nwtrcc.org)
National Priorities Project (nationalpriorities.org)
Voices for Creative Nonviolence (vcnv.org)
CODEPINK (CODEPINK.org)
Peaceworkers (peaceworkersus.org)

One of the biggest lies that governments and corporations tell is that war is good for the economy, that it creates jobs. While war does create some jobs, investing in peace creates far more jobs. 

According to a study by the Political Economy Research Institute at UMASS Amherst, investing in clean energy projects, healthcare, and education produces 50-138% more  jobs per billion dollars. And these are sustainable jobs that support long-term prosperity and regeneration, not short-term exploitation of people and planet.

By redirecting our tax money away from war and into human needs, we can make changes and create a world of dreams, not nightmares.