SDVFP Featured on Fox 5 San Diego: “Memorial Remembers Servicemembers Killed in Iraq, Afghanistan”

From Fox 5 San Diego

A veteran’s group held a somber name-reading ceremony on Veterans Day to remember the sacrifice of local service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

San Diego Veterans for Peace dozens of symbolic tombstones in the grassy park next the the USS Midway Museum on Friday. Members of the group tolled a bell and read the names of veterans from San Diego, Imperial, Orange and Los Angeles counties who were killed in combat.

The name reading continued all day long.

A Veteran’s Perspective on Memorial Day

by Barry Ladendorf, Veterans For Peace Board President

First published May 30, 2016 on BillMoyers.com.

As Americans mark Memorial Day, a holiday that invites us to reflect on the cost of war, we are reprinting these remarks that a leader of the Veterans for Peace made last week at Ralph Nader’s Breaking Through Power conference in Washington.

For 31 years, Veterans For Peace has been the only veterans organization that has rejected war, violence, nuclear weapons, the destruction of the environment created by war, the steady erosion of our civil liberties, the corporate greed that drives our wars and the systemic injustice it produces, here at home and abroad, all in the name of advancing the American empire.

As veterans, we refuse to accept the notion that, in order to protect the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic, the Constitution that we swore to support and defend can be ignored, shredded and cast aside as an inconvenient nuisance standing in the way of American hegemony.

It is abundantly clear that the threat to the Constitution does not come from some far-off land. It is not China or Russia or even ISIS that endangers the Constitution, but it is the enemy within the borders of our own country and right here in this city.

As members of Veterans For Peace, we bring to the peace movement our collective experience from our participation in every war from World War II up to and including the current wars in the Middle East. Our experience teaches that war and violence do not bring lasting peace. Therefore, our founders included in our Statement of Purpose a commitment that we would seek to end war, only by nonviolent means.

Many of our members come home from war broken down, physically, mentally, emotionally and morally. But we work to transform and heal ourselves from soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen trained to wage war to men and women committed to becoming non violent peacemakers.

We pledge to not give in to war and violence and the injustice it brings to all living things but to continue to work for peace with all likeminded people.

Agent Orange: Terrible Legacy of the Vietnam War

By Marjorie Cohn and Published on Truthout

Mai Giang Vu was exposed to Agent Orange while serving in the Army of South Vietnam from 1968 to 1974. He carried barrels of chemicals to spray in the jungle. His sons were born in 1974 and 1975. They were unable to walk or function normally. Their limbs gradually “curled up” and they could only crawl. By age 18, they were bedridden. One died at age 23; the other at age 25.

Nga Tran is a French Vietnamese woman who worked in Vietnam as a war correspondent. She was there when the US military began spraying chemical defoliants. A big cloud of the agent enveloped her. Shortly after her daughter was born, the child’s skin began shedding. She could not bear to have physical contact with anyone. The child never grew. She remained 6.6 pounds – her birth weight – until her death at the age of 17 months. Tran’s second daughter suffers from alpha thalassemia, a genetic blood disorder rarely seen in Asia. Tran saw a woman who gave birth to a “ball” with no human form. Many children are born without brains; others make inhuman sounds, Tran said. There are victims who have never stood up. They creep and barely lift their heads.

Rosemarie Hohn Mizo is the widow of George Mizo, who fought for the US Army in Vietnam in 1967. After he refused to serve a third tour, Mizo was court-martialed, spent two and a half years in prison and received a dishonorable discharge. Before his death from Agent Orange-related illnesses, Mizo helped found the Friendship Village where Vietnamese victims live in a supportive environment.

Dr. Jeanne Stellman, who wrote the seminal Agent Orange article in Nature, said, “This is the largest unstudied [unnatural] environmental disaster in the world.”

Dr. Jean Grassman, from Brooklyn College at the City University of New York, stated that dioxin (the active ingredient in Agent Orange) is a potent cellular disregulator that alters several pathways and disrupts many bodily systems. She said children are very sensitive to dioxin, and the intrauterine or postnatal exposure to dioxin may result in altered immune, neurobehavioral and hormonal functioning. Women pass their exposure to their children both in utero and through the excretion of dioxin in breast milk.

These were five of the 27 witnesses who testified at the International Peoples’ Tribunal of Conscience in Support of the Vietnamese Victims of Agent Orange, which was held in Paris in 2009. I served as one of seven judges from three continents. We heard two days of testimony from Vietnamese and US victims of Agent Orange, witnesses and scientists, including the five witnesses cited above. We saw firsthand horribly disfigured individuals who had been exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.

The panel of judges found the following:

  • From 1961 to 1971, the US military sprayed chemical products that contained large quantities of dioxin in order to defoliate the trees for military objectives.
  • The chemical products caused:
-direct damage to those exposed to dioxin, including cancers, skin disorders, liver damage, pulmonary and heart diseases, defects to reproductive capacity, and nervous disorders;
-indirect damage to the children of those exposed to dioxin, including severe physical deformities, mental and physical disabilities, diseases, and shortened life spans;
-damage to the land and forests, water supply, and communities of Vietnam, some of which may be permanent. This includes the extinction of animals that once inhabited the forests and jungles of Vietnam, disrupting communities that depended on them; and
-erosion and desertification that will change the environment, contributing to the warming of the planet and dislocation of crop and animal life. The damage to the environment of Vietnam is “ecocide.”

After examining the evidence, the panel determined that the US government and the chemical manufacturers knew that dioxin, one of the most dangerous chemicals known to humans, was present in one of the components of Agent Orange. Yet they continued to use it and in fact suppressed the 1965 Bionetics study that showed dioxin caused many birth defects in experimental animals. It was not until the results of that study were leaked that the use of Agent Orange was stopped.

The panel also concluded that the US war in Vietnam was an illegal war of aggression (crime against peace) against a country seeking national liberation, in violation of the United Nations Charter. It further decided that the use of dioxin was a war crime because it qualified as a poisoned weapon in violation of the Hague Convention and customary international law. Finally, the panel found that the use of dioxin was a crime against humanity, as it constituted an inhuman act perpetrated against a civilian population in connection with a crime against peace and war crimes.

Several international treaties provide the right to an effective remedy for violations of human rights law. They include the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The United States has ratified all of them.

Moreover, in the 1973 Paris Peace Accords, the Nixon administration promised to contribute $3 billion for compensation and postwar reconstruction of Vietnam. That promise remains unfulfilled.

Although US veterans of the Vietnam War have received some compensation for Agent Orange-related illnesses, the Vietnamese people have never seen a dime. The US government has funded the cleanup of dioxin at the Danang airport, only one of the 28 “hot spots” still contaminated by dioxin.

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-California) has introduced H.R. 2114, the Victims of Agent Orange Relief Act of 2015. If enacted, the bill would lead to the cleanup of dioxin and arsenic contamination still present in Vietnam. It would also provide assistance to the public health system in Vietnam directed at the 3 million Vietnamese affected by Agent Orange. It would extend assistance to the affected children of male US veterans who suffer the same set of birth defects covered for the children of female veterans. It would lead to research on the extent of Agent Orange-related diseases in the Vietnamese-American community, and provide them with assistance. Finally, it would lead to laboratory and epidemiological research on the effects of Agent Orange.

Following the 2009 Paris tribunal, I participated in a delegation to Vietnam to present our findings to President Nguyen Minh Triet of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. I told the president that it struck me that even as US bombs were dropping on the Vietnamese people, they distinguished between the US government and the US people. The president responded, “We fought the forces of aggression but we always reserved our love for the people of America … because we knew they always supported us.”

Now, 40 years after the end of the Vietnam War, we must support the Vietnamese people who continue to suffer some of the most horrific legacies of that war. Contact your representative and demand that he or she co-sponsor H.R. 2114.

By Marjorie Cohn and Published on Truthout

Preparing For War With Russia

Authored by Bruce K. Gagnon

I’ve been writing for many years about US-NATO efforts to militarily surround Russia. The oil-i-garchy wants to get ahold of the natural gas (the world’s largest supply) that sits on Russian territory. It also wants full control of the Arctic region now that climate change will make it possible to drill for oil there. Russia has a huge northern coastal border with the Arctic and thus stands in the way of western oil control.

Already the war drums are sounding after Russia moved more troops into Crimea to protect its Navy base and the large pro-Russian population in the region.

Writing yesterday in Foreign Policy Admiral James Stavridis (Ret) called for NATO to immediately increase “all intelligence-gathering functions through satellite, Predator unmanned vehicles, and especially cyber” and to sail “NATO maritime forces into the Black Sea and setting up contingency plans for their use.” This is full-blown war talk – with Russia. Admiral Stavridis was Supreme Allied Commander at NATO from 2009 to 2013. He is currently dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

If Stavridis is saying these things you can just imagine what plans are underway inside the Pentagon and at NATO HQ in Europe.

The Russians know that they are being set up. Reporting for Asia Times, Pepe Escobar wrote, “Even before neo-con Victoria ‘fuck the EU’ Nuland’s intercept, [Russian intelligence] had already identified the wider mechanics of the CIA-style coup – including Turkish intelligence financing Tatars in Crimea… And what will the Tatars in Crimea do? Stage a jihad? Wait: the ‘West’ will surely try to FINANCE THIS JIHAD.”

It’s Syria all over again, this time right on the Russian border.

Except this time the US-NATO are messing with a country that has the capability to fight back. This is how world wars get started. The Russians are not going to idly sit by and watch US-NATO set up a right-wing fascist state right on their border. Hitler tried that during WW II and at least 20 million died defending the Soviet Union. Ever since then the Russian people have been ‘sensitive’ about defending their immediate borders.

The decision adopted on March 1, by the Federation Council, upper house of the Russian parliament, which allows Putin to send troops to Crimea, an autonomy within neighboring Ukraine, aims to protect life and security, Irina Yarovaya, chair of the Security and Anti-Corruption Committee in the State Duma (lower house of parliament), said.

“Terrorism is the most dangerous crime around the world. But it is fascism and terrorism that have proclaimed their power in Ukraine and pose a real threat to the life and security of Russian citizens living in Ukraine and undoubtedly to the brotherly people of Ukraine,” she said.

“We have repeatedly warned the international community and the US against interfering in the internal affairs of Ukraine,” she said, adding “some European and US politicians bear direct responsibility for the crisis in Ukraine, for the bloodshed and for the coup.”

She believes that Obama’s latest statement on Russia “has fully exposed the US policy of brutal interference in the sovereign rights of other countries and aggressive imposition of its interests.”

Of course the Obama administration is saying that Russia is violating international law by moving more troops into Crimea. Obama is threatening Russia with “severe consequences”. And now you can be sure that NATO is indeed preparing ‘contingency plans’.

The open question is how will the American people react to all of this? They rightly opposed Obama’s desired cruise missile attack on Syria. Will they be as wise about planting the cancerous NATO flag on Crimean soil?

Clearly Putin and Russia have been thoroughly demonized in the passive minds of most American citizens. But will they shake the cobwebs from their brains and see the absurdity and sheer recklessness of US-NATO saber rattling on the doorstep of Mother Russia?

Now is the time for all peaceful people to speak out. Before the real shooting starts.

Authored by Bruce K. Gagnon