Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. A generous donor is matching all donations of $100 or more! So please donate now to double your punch!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Unexpected Allies, Unsung Heroes

Among the most eloquent voices at the Augusta, Maine peace rally I attended October 26th was Dud Hendrick, board member of the Maine Chapter of Veterans for Peace and a Vietnam vet. His staccato litany of the myriad abuses of international trust that the Bush cabal has perpetrated in just twenty-one months brought a spontaneous roar from the crowd. His description of his own coming-to-terms with what he saw and participated in as a sailor in Vietnam was equally inspiring. He should be running for office.

Many other veterans attended the event. I spoke with several and noticed others in the march and at the rally; in the rain-drenched shadow of the State Capitol Dome (picture 3,000 protesters of all persuasions, gathered in a downpour, determined and attentive), a couple of elderly gentlemen held up a large Veterans for Peace banner. They looked like they could be retired accountants, or school principals…likely WWII vets.

When we think about protesters who are veterans, the stereotype of the Vietnam era–unruly hair, screaming at the barricades with an Apocalypse Now-look in his eye–is often the image that we reflexively conjure in our minds. Well, folks, it’s time to toss that one out. If you want to get a good handle on the Armed Services member (retired or active)–or Defense Department employee–who is fed up with the Powers That Be and who isn’t ashamed to make his or her feelings public, you best go read (are you sitting down?) Stars and Stripes! That’s right, the official journal of the United States Armed Services.

Since this Spring, their letters-to-the-editor feature has become so jammed with anti-Bush epistles that a few days ago a frantic “W” fan felt compelled to post the following (in the October 28th edition): “…’Stop the madness.’ I’m extremely weary of the tired and ill-conceived arguments made against President Bush and his administration in the letters to the editor. Nearly every day I read a letter or two that critiques and demonizes the president because of erroneous information accepted as fact.” What is the “erroneous information” that this writer is referring to? Well, the list is pretty daunting. Click on this link, www.estripes.com/article.asp?section=125&article=11241 and http://www.estripes.com/article.asp?section=125&article=11366 to read the last two weeks’ offerings (or click on the “letters” feature at www.estripes.com and look at any recent week’s batch of letters).

Some pretty strong stuff, no? The Bush-backers are definitely on the defensive. Some of the damning information presented there (error is in the eye of the beholder, as usual) may be news to even the faithful readers of this site. Intra-military disputes undoubtedly qualify for that distinction, and they comprise a category of hot campaign talking points for any Democrat with a military base in his or her district. A few of the more incendiary of these topics are:

outsourcing of base-support work to the cost-plus benefit of Cheney’s Halliburton subsidiary, Kellogg, Brown & Root–while sidelining service personnel who could do the job cheaper and with more dedication; Army Secretary Thomas “Enron” White’s proposal to greatly expand “unaccompanied tours”–meaning that spouses and children have to stay stateside–a hardship that European Army troops don’t have to endure currently (and a distinctly anti-“family-values” ploy); White House undermining of “concurrent receipt”, a move to deny retired disabled vets benefits for their service-related injuries…benefits which non-career vets already enjoy. This is in order to help pay for “more pressing needs,” like smart bombs, the occupation of conqured states, and pay raises for acitve troops (some of whom in turn will be injured in the next war and subsequently be denied their benefits…Joseph Heller would be proud); underfunded base daycare facilities, another “more pressing needs” casualty; underhanded, bureaucratic discouragement of the use of the VA health system, aimed at disadvantaged vets; and “stop/loss”, the practice of extending a soldier’s enlistment, involuntarily, beyond what he or she signed up for.

This last outrage, which is designed to save training money at the expense of experienced GIs, is no doubt being implemented in anticipation of a war on Iraq. To compound the outrage, re-enlistment bonuses have been slashed. In the letters found at the link above, there is one that eloquently covers this topic (and other subjects more familiar to readersof this site) , from a particularly brave individual, one Spc. Adam Redgrave, based in Kosovo. His bold missive, nothing short of a blazing excoriation of the President and his policies, is likely to get him into hot water at the very least–a good dressing-down and/or hazardous duty, for example–or at worst, he could be court-martialed for insubordination. He deserves our full support. Any readers out there who are military-connected in any way, or who have relatives who are, please consider writing a letter of support for this guy to the editor of Stars and Stripes.

Among the many other anti-Bush controversies covered in the Stripes forum: the “Chickenhawk” phenomenon; the folly of invading Iraq; even the “under God” controversy has had a good airing. And many are sticking their necks out. When one is immersed in a military environment, standing up openly and publicly for progressive ideals is about as far from comfortable as a foxhole is from a sofa. Among the many Stripes letter-writers who have abandoned their comfort zones are: a VFW post commander; DOD civilians; spouses of those on active duty; several other enlisted personnel; and even a few officers…unsung heroes, all.

This is all very heartening. While the mainstream media stateside continues to marginalize the burgeoning Peace/anti-Bush movement, this traditionally most conservative of publications has stepped in to partially fill the breach by allowing an unfettered exchange among its readers. More importantly, such an extreme level of distrust for the current administration, coming openly as it does from the ranks of its most steadfast constituency (remember that the Florida overseas ballots allegedly put Bush over the top in 2000), is a welcome harbinger of profound–and immanent–political change.

Maybe we are farther ahead in this fight than we give ourselves credit for. We should not let up now, not even a little bit.

BRUCE F. COLE is a carpenter, songwriter and political activist living in Maine. He can be reached at bccpcole@earthlink.net

 

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
October 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jason Hirthler
The Pieties of the Liberal Class
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Day in My Life at CounterPunch
Paul Street
“Male Energy,” Authoritarian Whiteness and Creeping Fascism in the Age of Trump
Nick Pemberton
Reflections on Chomsky’s Voting Strategy: Why The Democratic Party Can’t Be Saved
John Davis
The Last History of the United States
Yigal Bronner
The Road to Khan al-Akhmar
Robert Hunziker
The Negan Syndrome
Andrew Levine
Democrats Ahead: Progressives Beware
Rannie Amiri
There is No “Proxy War” in Yemen
David Rosen
America’s Lost Souls: the 21st Century Lumpen-Proletariat?
Joseph Natoli
The Age of Misrepresentations
Ron Jacobs
History Is Not Kind
John Laforge
White House Radiation: Weakened Regulations Would Save Industry Billions
Ramzy Baroud
The UN ‘Sheriff’: Nikki Haley Elevated Israel, Damaged US Standing
Robert Fantina
Trump, Human Rights and the Middle East
Anthony Pahnke – Jim Goodman
NAFTA 2.0 Will Help Corporations More Than Farmers
Jill Richardson
Identity Crisis: Elizabeth Warren’s Claims Cherokee Heritage
Sam Husseini
The Most Strategic Midterm Race: Elder Challenges Hoyer
Maria Foscarinis – John Tharp
The Criminalization of Homelessness
Robert Fisk
The Story of the Armenian Legion: a Dark Tale of Anger and Revenge
Jacques R. Pauwels
Dinner With Marx in the House of the Swan
Dave Lindorff
US ‘Outrage’ over Slaying of US Residents Depends on the Nation Responsible
Ricardo Vaz
How Many Yemenis is a DC Pundit Worth?
Elliot Sperber
Build More Gardens, Phase out Cars
Chris Gilbert
In the Wake of Nepal’s Incomplete Revolution: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian 
Muhammad Othman
Let Us Bray
Gerry Brown
Are Chinese Municipal $6 Trillion (40 Trillion Yuan) Hidden Debts Posing Titanic Risks?
Rev. William Alberts
Judge Kavanaugh’s Defenders Doth Protest Too Much
Ralph Nader
Unmasking Phony Values Campaigns by the Corporatists
Victor Grossman
A Big Rally and a Bavarian Vote
James Bovard
Groped at the Airport: Congress Must End TSA’s Sexual Assaults on Women
Jeff Roby
Florida After Hurricane Michael: the Sad State of the Unheeded Planner
Wim Laven
Intentional or Incompetence—Voter Suppression Where We Live
Bradley Kaye
The Policy of Policing
Wim Laven
The Catholic Church Fails Sexual Abuse Victims
Kevin Cashman
One Year After Hurricane Maria: Employment in Puerto Rico is Down by 26,000
Dr. Hakim Young
Nonviolent Afghans Bring a Breath of Fresh Air
Karl Grossman
Irving Like vs. Big Nuke
Dan Corjescu
The New Politics of Climate Change
John Carter
The Plight of the Pyrenees: the Abandoned Guard Dogs of the West
Ted Rall
Brett Kavanaugh and the Politics of Emotion-Shaming
Graham Peebles
Sharing is Key to a New Economic and Democratic Order
Ed Rampell
The Advocates
Louis Proyect
The Education Business
David Yearsley
Shock-and-Awe Inside Oracle Arena
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail