Thursday, March 19, 2009

Iraq Veterans Against the War Commence "Operation Not Change" to Mark the 6th Anniversary of the Invasion

Because the real reason for being in Afghanistan, to gain control of access to natural resources did
Because maintaining non-combat troops in harmʼs way in Iraq to continue the subjugation of the
Iraqi people under the guise of a softer, friendlier occupation after SIX YEARS is
Because continuing the indiscriminate bombing of Afghanistan, which has led to countless
unnecessary civilian casualties, driving the Afghan people back to the Taliban is
Because escalating the occupation of Afghanistan when our soldiers are tired of STOPLOSS,
down time, to fight the same imperialist war on a different front is
Iraq Veterans Against the War is committed to the immediate withdrawal of all occupying
forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, reparations for the Iraqi and Afghan people,
and full veterans benefits for all returning soldiers, and that . . .

I had a great time today setting up and manning the towers for "Operation Not Change." My favorite raving pro-war blogger even stopped by to interview me. He had the courtesy of posting a good part of our exchange unedited. Normally, he just tries to make me look like an idiot, (he would say he needs not try) but he was surprisingly polite this time. It's true what he says in the beginning about being right behind me everywhere I go. It feels like I have a stalker! One more reason I'm glad to have moved to New Mexico.

An Open Letter to the Peace/Anti-War Movement from Iraq Veterans Against the War, Military Families Speak Out, and Veterans For Peace

After six years of war and the historic election of a new President, we as veterans, military and Gold Star families felt an urgent need to reach out to the larger peace/anti-war movements to make our position on Iraq clear during this time of political and economic uncertainty. Iraq Veterans Against the War, Military Families Speak Out and Veterans For Peace continue to stand together in our demand to Bring the Troops Home Now! We ask all those who have stood with us in the past to stay faithful to the cause.

President Obama has announced a plan to gradually reduce troop levels in Iraq. Many in the peace/anti-war movements are breathing a sigh of relief, and suggesting that it is time for us to scale back our efforts to bring an end to the occupation of Iraq. But for our troops on the ground, their families and the Iraqi people, the nightmare continues. They need all of us to stay in the struggle. IVAW, MFSO and VFP have been long united in our call for an immediate and complete end to the occupation of Iraq and will not shift our stance under any circumstances.

President Obama's plan will result in more casualties and suffering for U.S. troops, their families and Iraqis. To the American public facing hard times here at home, two and a half more years of occupation may not sound like that long — but for our troops and their families it means two and a half more years of fear, pain, and separation in a war and occupation based on lies. Hundreds of the troops deployed in the next two and a half years will not come home alive. Many more will return forever scarred by deep wounds to their bodies, minds, and spirits. Well over a million Iraqis have died as a result of this war — many more will be killed as the occupation continues.

We cannot afford the cost of empire. Today we are in the midst of the worst economic crisis most of us have seen in our lifetimes. Yet our government continues to allow the occupation to drain $10 billion a month from our nation's coffers. Meanwhile, veterans and military families struggle to put food on the table and get decent housing and adequate medical care. Women and men who risked their lives for this country are often forced to fight tooth and nail to get health care from an underfunded and overburdened Veterans Administration. Hundreds of thousands of veterans are homeless.

The occupation of Iraq is the source of the violence not the solution. Living under occupation the people of Iraq are held back from taking control of their own lives to determine their destiny. The continued U.S. military presence there is a cause of the violence they face, not its solution. U.S. continued interference contradicts the principles of democracy and self-determination our country was founded on.

IVAW, MFSO and VFP will continue to keep pressure on Congress and the President to bring all our troops home from Iraq NOW, ensure that veterans receive the care they need and deserve, and that the U.S. provides resources to rebuild a country we destroyed. But we cannot do that alone. We need your help to reach out to the vast majority of the American people who are completely isolated from the realities of this war. Please don't abandon this struggle or shift your position before the occupation is over and our veterans and the Iraqi people are on the path to healing.

— Signed by Iraq Veterans Against the War, Military Families Speak Out, and Veterans For Peace