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Report on the Thursday Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) Fundraiser

Posted by libhom Saturday, February 23, 2008

Learning about what really happened in the Vietnam War and what is going on in Iraq is an unsettling experience, though a valuable one. This Thursday, I attended an IAVW fundraiser for their Winter Soldier project. The project is summarized as follows:

Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan will feature testimony from U.S. veterans who served in those occupations, giving an accurate account of what is really happening day in and day out, on the ground.

The four-day event will bring together veterans from across the country to testify about their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan - and present video and photographic evidence. In addition, there will be panels of scholars, veterans, journalists, and other specialists to give context to the testimony. These panels will cover everything from the history of the GI resistance movement to the fight for veterans' health benefits and support.

When: Thursday March 13 to Sunday March 16

The amount of education provided at the fundraiser was worth far more than the suggested donation of $20 (less for vets and military families). Some of the things I learned were:

- The US has 731 military bases throughout the world.

- In the attacks on Fallujah in 2004, over 12,000 Iraqis were killed and ID'd as “insurgents.”

- Although we usually hear the term “enemy combatant” in the context of the Gulag at Guantanamo, the phrase is commonly used by the military in Iraq to describe insurgents and people who get killed who may not be insurgents.

- Returning veterans from the Iraq War reported seeing no rebuilding of the country and that construction by contractors was limited to US military installations.

- National Guard members at Fort Dix in New Jersey have been trained to run over little children in the middle of the road on the grounds that they may have explosives strapped to their bodies.

- Soldiers in Vietnam were given no training regarding the treatments of civilians and prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions.

- Throwing Vietnamese people out of helicopters was so common that soldiers were ordered to do prisoner counts after the helicopters had landed, not before.

Over 150 people attended the event in Manhattan and saw a truly disturbing video from the Winter Soldier project. It started with horrific house and business destruction in Iraq by the US military, and then went on to the horribly mutilated bodies of people killed in bombing attacks ordered by the Bush regime. The video footage was shot by veterans when they were in Iraq.

One of the speakers at the event said, “We went easy with the video.” Yet, the images in the video were so repulsive and frightening that I had to keep forcing my eyes open. Psychological services were offered for veterans who might be traumatized by reliving what they saw in Iraq. I just don't know how our troops cope with the terrible things they see and are ordered to do in Iraq.

There was a group of chickenhawks protesting outside, misappropriating American flags for their pandering to Big Oil, corrupt mercenary companies, and defense contractors. They attempted to look intimidating, but they didn't harass me as I went in. (Being male and over 6 feet tall does have its advantages.) However, they did harass and try to intimidate an Iraqi woman who went in anyway. The vets running the fundraiser pointed out that none of the people outside were veterans.

3 comments

  1. Christopher Says:
  2. I'm sorry I didn't add you to my blogroll until today.

    I switched browsers and have add all sorts of problems to hammer out.

    I think you're on now.

    Peace.

     
  3. Lew Scannon Says:
  4. Too many chickenhawks think war is like a Rambo film, the bad guys are easily identified and the innocents always root for the American coming to save them with Burger King and Coca Cola. These sickos think it'd be fun to grease a bad guy, yet balk when actually given a chance to serve the corpocracy.

     
  5. Tom Harper Says:
  6. A lot of chickenhawks think war is another sporting event. I used to argue at rightwing blogs; I don't any more since it's pretty useless to be sitting there enraged with that fight-or-flight response when you're by yourself at the computer.

    But several times I asked the blogger which branch of the military he had served in. Mixed in with all the namecalling, they'd answer with "oh, so I can't cheer for my favorite team unless I used to play for them?"

    Those people are too pitiful for words.

     

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