Wednesday, January 11, 2006

A Vet's Opinion

Statement for Feb 15, 2005 Peace Is Patriotic Rally
by Dr. Robert M. Bowman, Lt. Col., USAF, ret.
President, Institute for Space and Security Studies
National Advisor, Veterans For Peace
Presiding Archbishop, United Catholic Church

I'm here representing Veterans For Peace, an organization of thousands of combat veterans. All of us have put our life on the line for this country. And all of us are opposed to a war with Iraq.
Saddam Hussein is a bad guy. I don't know anyone who disagrees with that. He's a bad guy now. He was a bad guy in 1990 when April Glaspie of the State Department gave him the green light to invade Kuwait. He was a bad guy in the 1980s when Donald Rumsfeld sat down with him for a chat while he was gassing the Kurds. He was a bad guy in 1977 when Zbigniew Brzezinski met with him and proposed the invasion of Iran. And he was a bad guy in the 1960s when the CIA hired him to assassinate Iraqi leader Abdel Karim Qassim and then helped him take over Iraq. He's always been a bad guy. But he was always our bad guy. Right up to 1990, official DoD documents praised Saddam for vastly improving the education, medical care, and standard of living of his people. His regime was called one of the most enlightened, progressive governments in the region and it was.

But there was a problem. The Berlin wall had come down and the Soviet Union had collapsed. The first Bush White House had to find another bad guy -- fast. And they did -- Saddam Hussein. They suckered him into attacking Kuwait, and the first Gulf War was on.

This was the war the first Bush administration wanted, the war they planned for, the war they instigated, the war they salivated over, the war that Saddam's unconditional withdrawal wasn't going to deny them, the war that would show off our smart bombs better than a hundred trade shows, the war that would prove George wasn't a wimp, the war that would make billions for the future president George W. Bush, who had exclusive rights to offshore oil in the Gulf, the war that would kill the "loser" image from Vietnam once and for all.

Now the second President Bush wants his Gulf War too. Planning for it started long before 9/11, even before he became president. In September 1990, his advisers set "regime change" in Iraq as a primary objective of US foreign policy should Bush become president. They made it clear that the purpose of moving against Saddam is to set the stage for occupying the entire Middle East (and therefore controlling its oil, no matter who's in power, especially in Saudi Arabia).
The problems with starting a preemptive war against Iraq are several: (1) It would be immoral and would probably be judged illegal by the World Court. (2) It would be costly, in terms of American lives and in dollars. (3) It would require us to keep troops in Iraq indefinitely. (4) It would fracture NATO, split the United Nations, and come between us and our allies. (5) It would incense the Arab world, probably causing the downfall of friendly governments who cooperate with us (like Saudi Arabia and Turkey). (6) It would provide Osama bin Laden with thousands of new recruits ready to die in a Holy War against Americans. (7) It would therefore cause an enormous increase in the terrorist threat to Americans at home and abroad. It might even cause World War III. It would destroy our national security and further endanger the American people.

As a combat veteran, I will not stand idly by and watch our security destroyed by a president who went AWOL rather than fight in Vietnam. I say, "NO" to war against Iraq.
As one who has devoted his life to the security of this country, I will not stand by and watch an appointed president send our sons and daughters around the world to kill Arabs so the oil companies can sell the oil under their sand, making us the target of terrorists. I say, "NO" to war against Iraq.

I joined the Air Force to protect our borders and our people, not the financial interests of Folgers, Chiquita Banana, and Exxon. I say, "NO" to war against Iraq.
As a pilot who flew 101 combat missions in Vietnam, I can tell you that the best thing our government can do for its combat veterans is to quit making more of them. I say "NO" to war against Iraq.

Peace is patriotic; a preemptive war is immoral, illegal, unconstitutional, and a war crime. I swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States against all enemies -- foreign and domestic. That includes a renegade president. If this war happens, I will call for the impeachment of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and the whole oil mafia. I say "NO" to war against Iraq.

We are the people. We are sovereign. The whole world is with us. And we say, "NO!" "NO" to war! "NO" to preemptive war. "NO" to wars of aggression. "NO" to war against Iraq. "NO!" "NO!" "NO!"This war would be treason! PEACE is patriotic. God bless America! And God save us from George W. Bush! Thank you!

Saturday, January 07, 2006

From the flame file

I thought I'd share an email I got, regarding this website. I always welcome healthy discourse on any stance I take. Perhaps someone will bring an argument I hadn't thought of before. Even if neither of us changes our mind, it can be a rewarding experinece to have had the conversation. So without further ado, here is a letter from Mark



Hi,


Just wanted to pass along a quick note. I saw your

'peace is patrioc' knitting. Don't delude yourself.

It is NOT ok to not support the war and that's not a

form of support for the troops. You can't tell

someone 'I despise what you do but I really support

you'. It demoralizes our troops and undermines the

entire nation.


I hate knitters, but I really like you,

Marnie...whoops not very supportive is it?



Well, that's an interesting argument but I don't think it quite applies. Firstly, your implication is that I've stated that I hate soldiers as a whole but care for certain individuals. Nothing is further from the truth. I have the utmost respect for our soldiers and my wish is for their safe and healthy return. Is that unpatriotic? Is it delusional to think that wishing they'd be able to return their their families and their civilian life is anti soldier? But let's take your analogy a bit further. Can I hate McDonalds food and how it effects our society? Can I lament more and more children are becoming obese because of the food served there? Can I hate all of this and still respect and support the people who work there to pay their rent? Of course I can. I don't spend my money at McDonalds and I hope that Americans begin to move away from fast food and eat healthier, but most of the kids in my home town worked at one fast food restaurant or another and I supported their efforts fully.

Our soldiers are fighting for freedom for the Iraqis

and for our own security, while liberal whiners deride

their efforts and the war.



Perhaps now the soldiers are being told they are fighting for freedom, but that is not why they were sent to Iraq. They were sent to Iraq to find weapons of mass destruction and to avenge the attacks on September 11th. There are two huge problems with these goals. For one, the Iraqis and their government had nothing to do with 911. Osama Bin Laden was at fault and we have yet to bring him to justice. Furthermore, there were no WMDs. Evidence suggests that further investigations, had investigators been allowed to proceed, would have shown as much. In my mind, the loss of over 2000 of our soldiers and countless civilians in Iraq, is a sure sign that the ends do not justify the means. But let us say they do, why Iraq? Why have we chosen to send our troops to Iraq and not bring freedom to other countries? Why aren't we fighting the genocide in Darfur? Why aren't we properly dealing with the WMD in North Korea? What is our responsibility in the US to the world? How do we decide in which countries we should overthrow the oppressive government and which we should largely ignore? And further, why aren't we using the billions of dollars spent on the war to better help our own country. I think the recent hurricanes, Katrina and Rita, have shown we haven't properly invested in protecting our own citizens. What if even a tenth of the money spent on the war were used to better protect our citizens from hunger, natural disaster and lack of healthcare? If our government had been able to gather a compelling argument for war and enlist the help of other countries, we would all share the burden, our soldiers could have better armor, we wouldn't be tapping our reservists for the war and could, instead, have used those resources for our own plight back here on our own soil. I really think this argument could go on and on, but I'm not entirely sure you'll even take the time to read this far through my reply, so I'll move on.



Both of my sons have fought to free Iraq, and one was

seriously wounded. My younger boy told me before he

that hundreds of Iraqis have personally thanked him.

He did get spit on though, just once - by a Berkeley

student at SFO.



I have the greatest respect for your sons. They chose to enlist in the military, they have been brave and one was wounded in the process. He deserves every award he is offered and I think it's wonderful that he is home with his family. I want nothing but the safe return of every soldier and a peaceful resolution to the current conflict. I consider that very patriotic. You may judge that as you see fit. But I'm not some blind "liberal whiner" as you have dubbed me. My boyfriend served during the first gulf war and he opposes this war, and I count among my friends, quite a few people who have family serving abroad. The people I know concur with my feelings that it would be nice to have our soldiers back. It is disgusting that someone spit on your son. There are horrible people in this world. Don't lump every liberal in with that person, and I won't lump every soldier in with the few bad ones caught abusing Iraqis in Abu Ghraib.



This lack of support disgusts me, but spineless

Americans are nothing new. You opposed WW1, WW2, and

other conflicts that freed millions of people and

saved millions of lives. If it was up to you,

Saddam's torture, slaver, murder and genocide would

continue to this day.



That's interesting I hadn't realized that I opposed WW1 and WW2. It's a good thing I have you to read my mind. I guess since you are a republican, you opposed the Civil war and freeing the slaves. Shame on you. And hey, didn't we go to WW2 under a liberal president? Didn't he start that evil program, social security? It seems to me that you'd be more likely to oppose the second World War than I.


I think I've been clear about where I stand. I believe that Saddam did some horrible things. I believe there is a lot of horrible behavior in this world. My wish would be that there were never a need for war. I realize that is not always possible. What I do believe is that we'd have been able to do more, with less death if we had been able to get the support of the rest of the world. We burned our ties with almost all first and second world countries and we attacked Iraq unilaterally under false pretenses. Our soldiers and Iraqis have suffered for this, and we, at home have bared a huge burden. More and more of our soldiers suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, and have or will come home to families in huge financial turmoil from the lack of a second income. Our national deficit continues to rise and still there is no end to the war. It's not that I don't support the idea of bringing freedom to Iraq, it's that I feel we've done it all wrong. This has nothing to do with the soldiers, who follow orders, bravely and well. This has everything to do with how the government has approached the task.



Like most Americans, I support the war AND our troops.

And from all of us, here's a big fuck you.


Mark



It is clear from this closing that you are probably not looking to have a conversation on this, but I support your first amendment right to tell me what you think. Just as you have every right to support the war, I have every right not to. One of the beautiful things about our democracy is that we can agree to disagree. I really do appreciate the chance to discuss topics of some controversy. I learn a lot from it and I think people should be challenged on their stance. I do wish you had offered some more meaningful arguments and less ignorant hatred. Since you commented on the site, Peace is Patriotic, and it's a group blog, I'm going to post your comments and ask people to reply. Any civil discourse that arises will be enlightening. I hope you'll give your thoughts there. I won't speak for any of the other people on that blog, since they come from a variety of backgrounds. Some are liberal, some are more conservative, some have family serving in Iraq right now, this is just my reply to your email.


I'll sign off with a more civil closing than you've afforded me and wish you and your sons the best. I thank them sincerely for their service and hope they recover well.