I Ain’t Marching Anymore

It get misty around here, but welcome.

All rights to the estate of Phil Ochs, and the noble man who posted this Bitter End film on his Youtube channel.

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Working back from these notes, could you grok the story?

Here’s the current endnotes from the Vietnam chapter — including interviews with folks who have since died. Wondering if they make a narrative of themselves.

Alexa Gagosz, “MIT Professor Noam Chomsky, Vietnam resistors tell their stories.” Suffolk Journal, April 15, 2010.

United States v. Seeger, 380 U.S. 163 (1965)

Lawrence Baskir and William Strauss,   Chance and Circumstance: The Draft, the War, and the Vietnam Generation (Random House, 1978).GU_Library_Piles_of_Books_on_the_floor

Ron Kovic, Born on the Fourth of July (McGraw-Hill, 1976)  p.83.

 

Personal interview, Philadelphia, January 30, 2009.

William Short and Willa Seidenberg, A Matter of Conscience (Addison Gallery Press, 1991).

Telephone interview, January 6, 2009.

Margaret Butler, who served 1967-1969, In Memories of Navy Nursing: The Vietnam Era (Maryanne Gallagher Ibach, Ed). Material developed for the Vietnam Women’s Memorial, Washington, D.C.

“The military used all of the [TV] footage at my court martial — evidence I really was guilty. “Short and Seidenberg, Matter of Conscience.

“You Want a Real War Hero?” Vietnam GI, August 1969.

Vietnam GI, August 1968.

Leslie Gelb et al, “U.S. Ground Strategy and Force Deployments, 1965-1968.” Volume Four, The Pentagon Papers.

N. L. Zaroulis and Gerald Sullivan, Who Spoke Up? American Protest Against the War in Vietnam, 1963-1975 (Doubleday, 1984), p. 70.

Moser, The New Winter Soldiers: GI and Veteran Dissent During the Vietnam Era (Rutgers University Press, 1996), p.82.

The Oak’s prose would not have been out of place in the AVC Bulletin, the newspaper of the starry-eyed  New Dealers of the 1945 American Veterans Committee. “We at Oak Knoll feel it imperative that other members of the armed forces and civilians become aware of dissent within the military. Therefore, we decided to promulgate our views, situations, conditions through this newspaper.”

Short and Seidenberg.

       The Ally (Berkeley), August 19, 1968.

Andrew Hunt, The Turning: a History of Vietnam Veterans Against the War (NYU Press, 1990), p.30

Jack Hurst, “Viet Mother Warns GI – And Dies.”

William Perry, Testimony, Winter Soldier Hearings, February 1971

Interview, January 30, 2009.

From 1962 to 1971, the United States dumped nineteen million gallons of herbicides over Vietnam, destroying nearly five million acres of countryside as part of its defoliation campaign to deny enemy combatants protective cover.

The Old Mole, June 20-July 3, 1969, p. 2.

Bill Perry. Facebook photo caption, September 7, 2015.

William Sloane Coffin, Once to Every Man: A Memoir ( Athenaeum, 1977), p. 299.

The Moratorium event in England was at a safe-house for deserters.  run by an American World War II veteran named Clancy Sigal, at Number 56 Queen Anne Street. In Europe,  “there was a feeling that the Vietnam war was somehow a fascist war, and that anything to help American soldiers resist that war was good,” Sigal told me.  The overcrowded apartment was “a wonderful mix of AWOL soldiers, their girlfriends, and some lost souls,” he wrote years later for the London Review of Books. “Simply put, my new job was to smuggle American deserters in and out of the United Kingdom, help arrange false papers, find safe houses in the UK, ‘babysit’ our less stable ‘packages’ (AWOLs in transit), personally accompany those too shaky to travel alone.” By the end of 1968, the project had evolved “a classically English accommodation with the various secret services who kept tabs on us at one time or another.”

Elizabeth Kolbert et al, “Moratorium.” The New Yorker, October 25, 1969, p. 54.

 

Seymour Hersh, “Lieutenant Accused of Murdering 109 Civilians.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 13, 1969, p. A1.

“I got to like [McCarthy] a lot…He opposed the war, and he said as much.” Landau, Saul, “Seymour Hersh.” The Progressive, May 1998. Via The Free Library (October 1)(accessed March 07, 2009)

Testimony at the court martial of William Calley, 1971. Accessed via the University of Missouri: http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/mylai/Myl_hero.html#RON

Via Kendrick Oliver, The My Lai massacre in American history and memory (Manchester University Press, 2006), p. 47.

Seymour Hersh, “Ex-GI Tells of Killing Civilians at Pinkville.”

Duncan, op. cit.

Interview, Boston, MA, March 2007.

Charles C. Moskos and John Whiteclay Chambers, The New Conscientious Objection: From Sacred to Secular Resistance (Oxford University Press US, 1993), p. 43.

“GI Justice in Vietnam: An interview with the Lawyers Military Defense Committee.” Yale Review of Law and Social Action (2:1) Article 3 (1972) Yale Review of Law and Social Action, Vol. 2 [1972], Is. 1, Art.

Moser, p.107.

Quoted in Jean-Jacques Maurier (ed.), The Last Time I Dreamed About the War: Essays on the Life and Writing of W.D. Ehrhart (McFarland, 2014).

Stephen Pogust, “G.I. March is ‘Disgusting’ to N.J. Town.” Philadelphia Inquirer, Sept. 4, 1970.

FBI files,  Via Gerald Nicosia, “Veteran in Conflict.” LA Times, May 23, 2004. Accessed 12/2008 at http://www.baltimoresun.com/topic/la-tm-kerry21amay23,0,3459649,full.story.

Van Devanter, Home Before Morning: The Story of an Army Nurse in Vietnam (University Massachusetts Press), p. 231.

Anthony B. Herbert. https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/anthony-b-herbe-key-figure-in-vietnam-war-crimes-controversy-dies/2015/02/26/3e6ab864-bd05-11e4-bdfa-b8e8f594e6ee_story.html

Telephone interview, February 2009.

“ANTI WAR GROUP HEARS OF ‘CRIMES.’ “New York Times (1857-Current file); Dec 2, 1970; ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 – 2005), pg. 15.

Winter Soldier Testimony, read into Cong. Record. : “[soldiers] stabbed her in both breasts, spread-eagled her and shoved an E-tool up her vagina, an entrenching tool, and she was still asking for water.”

 

David Halbfinger, “Kerry’s Antiwar Past Is a Delicate Issue in His Campaign.” The New York Times, April 24, 2004.

Michael Kranish, Brian C. Mooney, Nina Easton, John F. Kerry: the complete biography by the Boston Globe reporters who know him best (Public Affairs, 2004). pp. 120-121 The sight of a clean-cut lieutenant speaking so, flanked by two nodding generals, put Kerry higher up on the commander-in-chief’s enemies list, with Nixon aides “expressing exasperation that more wasn’t being done to undermine Kerry and the other VVAW organizers.”

Michael Kranish et al, “With antiwar role, high visibility” Boston Globe, June 16. 2003.

“A thousand drug addicts camping out,” Bill Perry chuckled when asked what that week was like. “Honestly, there were maybe 200 guys really driving it politically — and a lot of them were drama queens, if you know what I mean. The rest of us……” Perry may have been at least partially right in his assessment, at least if the veterans’ drug use were anywhere near that of the troops they had been.  Even something as relatively gentle as marijuana might spread a haze over memories of the camp veterans set up on the Mall, cheered by sympathetic legislators from Bella Abzug to George McGovern and Edward Kennedy.

 

Robert Heinl, “The Collapse of the Armed Forces.” Armed Forces Journal, June 7, 1971. Accessed via reprint from Prof. Grover Furr, Montclair State University, Montclair, N.J.

For more on that predecessor, see Adolph Reed, “Fayettenam:1969 Tales from a G.I. Coffeehouse.” Originally in CCCO’s magazine The Objector in 1996, now included in Class notes : posing as politics and other thoughts on the American scene (New York: New Press, 2000)

Steve Hassna, “VVAW History: San Francisco Vets Day Parade 1972.” The Veteran, Spring 1997.

Memo July 1974, VVAW FBI Files, Swarthmore College Peace Collection.

Personal interview, August 7, 2009.

 

VVAW mag The Veteran. (That Arkansas VVAW member turned FBI informant who’d sparked the Gainesville trial was forgiven in later years because of his illness; he even had pasted to the wall of his office. “PVS Kills.”)

 

Ron Kovic, interview by Waldo Salt, November 8, 1974, transcript, Waldo Salt Papers, Research Library, University of California Los Angeles. Via Jerry Lembcke,From Oral History to Movie Script: The Vietnam Veteran Interviews for ‘Coming Home’.” The Oral History Review, 26: 2 (Summer – Autumn, 1999), p. 76. Accessed via http://www.jstor.org/stable/3675590

 

 

A Story and a Book

A piece I’m hoping to include in the summer issue of Democratic Left, whose working theme is “Building a Future Without the Gangsters of Capitalism.”

The War Resisters League Blog

by Matt Meyer

[This article was originally published on ‘New Clear Vision on February 15th, 2012.]

On the Nature of Violence and Nonviolence

Amidst a bombardment of Black Bloc commentary, questions about the militarized nature of tear-gas toting police, and the ever-frustrating all-too-abstract dialogues about the meanings of nonviolence, violence, strategy, tactics, and principles, comes a simple story (and a complicated book) straight out of Occu-politics. First, though, some defining of terms:

Nonviolence (a term some have called ‘a word seeking to describe something by saying what it is not’) is used in as wide a variety of ways as there are flavors of ice cream. For some, it is strategic and revolutionary, for others principled and philosophical; for some it is a way of life and for others a mere tactic. For most practitioners, it is an often-tantalizing combination of the above. Our story will…

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Are lefty milpods the next whistleblowers, or “fortresses on a hill?”

Newsies._LOC_nclc.03503(Photo, via Library of Congress; Some is of the “newsies,” the children peddling newspapers around city streets, when people still paid some money for words on paper.)

Maybe both.

As I write this I’m listening to Eyes Left, which explicitly IDs as a “Socialist Military Podcast.” Last night, I was catching up with Lions Led by Donkeys, claimed on Twitter as “the only podcast for laughing at the failures of military history. Hosted by  and  produced by  Speaking of Twitter, I’m explicitly chatting there with Fortress on a Hill, in response to the question I asked in the last post. I’m working to follow their advice, and focus on the most powerful experiences relayed by soldier-dissenters. But right now, I want to finish writing about this particular circle of e-griots, and why it’s hard to pull away.

  • Fortress on a Hill first caught my attention with their interview with Joe Kassabian, which was more informative than most I’d heard elsewhere. But what elevated them for me was this one, which first introduced me to Rosa del Duca:  The hard path of resistance” panel included some who reminded me of my first Hotline clients back in the day, young (mostly) men who had diverse ways of deciding that they needed AR 600-43 of the Universal Code of Military Justice. The episode also highlighted an ironic truth, re 9/11/01: for one of the panelists it was “the day my dad enlisted,” a date that was only an echo when he did. (Of course, being me, I wanted to reach out to every single one, including the one whose case is still waiting for approval before he can be released; “Can’t I find a place for JJ Rodriguez somewhere in the book?” but that way lies madness. )
  • Breaking Cadence, del Duca’s pod (on hold for awhile), is the one most specifically focused on CO stuff, and featured folks I remember from back in the day, like Vietnam veteran Gregory Ross or current GI Rights coordinator Siri Margerin. Her chat with attorney Steve Collier, on habeas corpus claims, brought back memories of working for him, while highlighting the too-often-forgotten story of Stephen Eagle Funk.
  • Also on the list of CO podcasters is the singular Logan Isaac, whose podcasts range from Red Letter Christians to Ponder XChange, and whose tagline is “Creating a Martial Hermeneutic.” I’ll write more about Isaac later, since podcasting’s only a fraction of what he’s doing now; but Ponder Xchange is good for those who need a basic education of what GI Rights are all about.
  • Joe Kassabian’s pod, named for the troops misled into fighting World War I, would be foe the gonzo-historian in me even if I didn’t know and admire him otherwise. I was fascinated by his War of 1812  series, though it intercepts only partly with my book’s sections on those same years. But as a J-school graduate, I was blown away by its explication of the 2014 Mahmudiyah murders, whose understanding shamed that of most civilian journos. I was therefore completely unsurprised by how Joe scooped entirely the corrupt operators in the hyper-lethal Yemen War, before the usually-reliable lefty media even thought to look there.
  • Which leads me to the tremendously addictive Hell of a Way to Die, which today featured Nate Bethea’s story of how he left the military just soon enough to keep his G.I. Bill and snagged an interview with the oft-mentioned-here Joe Haldeman. But it crosses over from interesting to essential listening when stuff like military’s white supremacy problem surfaces, as in last month’s “Bad News: The Coast Guard is Now Fash, Too.” I’ve listened to that episode three times, so I don’t forget everything noticed here.
  • But if you want to hear the most antifa stuff in a veteran-run podcast, Eyes Left is probably your first stop. Spencer Rapone, who made national headlines last year as the “Commie Cadet,” joins Mike Prysner, who many of us met at Winter Soldier 2008. It’s the perfect spot to explore the legacy of Vietnam-era OGG Andy Stapp,  and deconstruct the actually-fascist Trump border deployment. Prysner’s organization March Forward is focused on helping active-duty folk resist, so they were my first stop when the Venezuela coup started.

All of the above are worth your time, or at least mine. If, like me, you’re more the bookish sort, you might find yourself filling your shelf or Kindle with titles like Breaking Cadence, Kassabian’s Hooligans of Kandahar, Danny Sjursen’s Ghost Riders of Baghdad, or Matt Gallagher’s Kaboom after hearing some of these. Either way, these newsies are carrying gold, and deserve all the respect you have.

 

 

Cadences, voices, and the book’s final chapter

podcast movementThis week, I received in the mail Rosa del Duca’s book Breaking Cadence: One Woman’s War Against the War. My interest in Rosa’s story is kind of a no-brainer; I’ve been thinking of people like her even before I joined the staff of the Committee for Conscientious Objectors (link is to an archive of the org’s website during my last spring there, before it dissolved after 50+ years and handed its mission to the Center on Conscience and War). The photo on Del Duca’s website even reminds me of myself in those years: Bay Area tan-ish, with gym-toned arms and a wry smile (though I was never as pretty as she). I told the folks at Ooligan Press that I wanted to review it and talk to her, and I will; but right now I need to talk about how I found her, and how this generation of Forever War vets confounds my efforts to end this book.

I discovered del Duca first through her podcast, whose subtitle is Insights from a Modern-Day Conscientious  Objector — to distinguish her, perhaps, from Vietnam-era civilian COs or World War II figures like Desmond Doss (whose biopic Hacksaw Ridge has acquainted many with the whole concept of a military CO). Hers is among a circle of many that has served as my backdrop in recent days.

I’m usually surrounded by the voices of anti-war vets, as the book slouches toward the Bethlehem of publication. But these voices are all in a medium whose power has taken time to dawn on me (a form of radio invented by the iPod).My first podcasts were the usual liberal blather from Slate and the New Yorker, as well as my guilty pleasure West Wing Weekly. My journo friends all got retrained in how to podcast, and certainly the democratic-socialist world where I volunteer is brimming with pods. Which is how, of course,  I tumbled down this rabbit hole: I discovered the DSA Veterans Working Group, which includes some of the most cogent voices from this generation of vets.

@DSAVeterans led me to Joe Kassabian, first to his addictive and powerful memoir The Hooligans of Kandahar; I had to interview Joe then, and he told me about the “anti-war lefty veteran” network of podcasts. Not just Kassabian’s own Lions Led by Donkeys podcast, but the reliably hilarious A Hell of a Way to Die, from Nate Bethea and Francis Horton, or Fortress on a Hill, hosted by Iraq vets Chris Henriksen and Daniel Sjursen. Fortress is where I first heard of Del Duca and learned about her podcast, whose subtitle gives the game away: “Insights from a Modern-Day Conscientious Objector.”

In an upcoming post, I’ll write about each of these, and a few others they’ve turned me on to, such as  Eyes Left, hosted by already-celebrities Spencer Rapone and Mike Prysner. I’ll review/recommend episodes that I find particularly strong, and muse about pods’ connection to organizing and activism. But right this second, I’m wondering whether all these pods are just distracting me from writing that still needs to be done. Or are these forever-war vets helping me think more clearly about my final chapter?

This blog’s Drafts folder is littered with beginnings with titles like “The new generation os soldier-dissenters, wherein I riffed between Reality Winner and

the other drone veterans, who broke their silence to tell truth about the drone program – and who are still traumatized by it. As warfare has changed, the routes for dissent against it change to, some measured in bits and bytes.

Then there’s Will Griffin, who I met at a No Foreign Bases conference and whose Peace Report  has long been an essential source of news about that movement. Will moved to my town last year and is burning up the links offered for dissenting veterans here, including Warrior Writers.

Or the one called “The Forever War’s forever chapter,” about what I’m still doing while we get the rest of the book flat:

Working backwards, from this year to 2001, starts to feel as challenging as the dread Vietnam chapter.

Reality Winner, whose leaks weren’t about war — but who, like Snowden, was deeply affected by watching drone strikes in near-real time.  Will Griffin, the military brat who served in both Iraq and Afpak but flipped 200 degrees after he went to Okinawa for VFP; Griffin also was part of the short-lived Veterans Stand for Standing Rock, and now runs a video-journalism outfit called the Peace Report. Matt Hoh and Rory Fanning, Afghanistan veterans who came out the other side to pursue truth. Chelsea Manning, who contains multitudes (and is now running for Senate.) Brandon Bryant and Heather Linebaugh.

Those post-2008 figures don’t mean I’ve forgotten the earlier wave: Garret Reppenhagen, Stephen Funk, Aidan Delgado, Camilo Mejia, Jon Hutto, Dan Choi, Jennifer Hogg. All of whom I need to touch base with before including them now.

I swore to start every day freewriting for the book, but every sentence instead comes out like a query letter or status report.

 

I wrote those words nearly a year ago, and they’re still true. More so now, with Will’s video blog competing with those podcasts in my ears. And I’m not even talking about the books they’re all publishing, of which del Duca’s is only one. All still teaching me about their wars, and the many across the globe as I write this.

So what war does the chapter cover, anyway?

When I go back to my first “final draft” (the one first submitted to UC Press). I see a final chapter called “The New Winter Soldiers,’ which featured vets featured frequently here, people I’ve now known for over a decade. Though it started with words from elder statesman Philip Berrigan, and with the 2001 day that prompted so many to enlist:

On September 11, I watched appalled as the second tower of the World Trade Center came down. The guards called me out, took me to the lieutenant’s office, shackled and handcuffed me, and took me to solitary. I inquired several times as to why. One guard grunted, ‘Security!’ During twelve days in segregation, no further daylight was provided. One lieutenant came to announce, ‘No phone, no visitors!’ And no stamps. I was locked down ten days before mailing out letters. The result? Limbo-incommunicado.[i] Berrigan told that story to The Progressive after his wife, Liz McAllister, finally learned what the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) in Elkton, Ohio, had done with him. Berrigan’s detention was not for his own safety but the prison’s: the 77-year-old cleric, veteran of both World War II and a career of serial civil-disobedience, was considered trouble.

Berrigan, fighting in prison the cancer that would soon kill him, was heartened by the demonstrations against what seemed a certain war in Iraq. “The American people are, more and more, making their voices heard against Bush and his warrior clones,” he wrote in the last letter he wrote before he died, six weeks before the massive February 2003 demonstrations against the war. The night before those demonstrations, Coffin echoed Berrigan at Riverside: “It is not a patriotic thing to send our brave men and women into an unjust war. That is not patriotic. If you ask if you are willing to die for your country, you must also ask if you are willing to kill for your country….War is a coward’s escape from the possibility of peace.”

These words from turbulent World War II veteran/priests could have been read as a repudiation of the newest generation of young soldiers, many of whom had joined or rejoined after the towers went down. But it was also an invitation, if one offered more explicitly by Howard Zinn, who knew from Vietnam and his old friend Dan Ellsberg how powerful those younger voices could be. And just as protestors were flooding the streets, one tall young Army sniper was walking into an alternative bookstore in Manitou Springs, Colorado and being told that before going to Iraq, he had to read Zinn’s flagship work A People’s History of the United States.

That sniper was, of course, Garett Reppenhagen, who I met when he was president of Iraq Veterans Against the War and who’s now a coordinator for the VetVoice Foundation. Garett, Stephen Funk and Aidan Delgado are among those I know I want to keep in the chapter, but I don’t really want the book’s narrative to end with the end of the Bush Administration.

This last revision process is reminding me of so many other threads that need to resonate, and for which I am so far unprepared. How can the chapter include mostly White voices, even if their movement is not as multi-racial as the U.S. military? Or am I answering my own question here?

But if this latest dance with the podcasters is teaching me anything, it’s that this generation doesn’t need me to tell their story. They’re telling it every day, in every form of media that exists. It’s my job to put it all in context, and make their part of our story sing.

 

 

The Necessity of Moral Resistance in the Face of Militarism

Thanks, Matthew Hoh. I’m still sorry I missed this event, but hope this spreads the word.

Matthew Hoh

This past weekend I spoke as part of the Poor People’s Campaign event: The Necessity of Moral Resistance in the Face of Militarism. Reverend William Barber was, of course, the main speaker, and if you are uncertain as to how war and militarism play a role in the demands of the Poor People’s Campaign or in the way war and militarism have always played an oppressive and devastating role in our society, then please listen to Reverend Barber’s sermon as he clearly and definitively explains those two things. My talk, on the effect of war on veterans, is here below, while Reverend Barber’s sermon and the comments from Phyllis Bennis are in the Youtube clip below. Wage Peace.

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Veteran Suicide is More From Guilt Than From PTSD

I’ve been looking for this video since March, when Matthew Hoh and so many others we know here spoke at Berlin’s Elevate Festival.They even Skyped in Dan Ellsberg. And I love their panel tag: “40 Years of Whistleblowing, Friom Pentagon to Panama Papers.”

Matthew Hoh

It’s been almost five months since I’ve written anything, and this post is not going to contain much of my writing, but rather sharing with you a note RootsAction sent out to its vast membership containing a clip of me in a talk I gave in London at the end of February:

It should be noted that traumatic brain injury, which in some studies has been found to be present in more than 20% of Afghan and Iraq veterans, and from which I suffer from, also has a very real and significant link to suicide in veterans.

The full video of the talk in London is found below. That talk, titled: “War, Journalism and Whistleblowers — 15 years after Katharine Gun’s Truth Telling on the Verge of the Iraq War”, included Katharine Gun, Thomas Drake, Jesselyn Radack, Silkie Carlo, Norman Solomon and Duncan Campbell, all of whom are really incredible and brave…

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Monday morning Winner whispers: a looooong road to #Justice4Reality?

I’ve spent the week waiting for a ruling on the Miranda issue raised in that February hearing, but Reality Winner’s counsel has not been. On Good Friday, the same day all counsel met for a status conference call, the defense gave notice that they intend to subpoena basically everyone with jurisdiction over U.S. cybersecurity or elections.

I’m trying to turn this news, via Politico, into an assortment of tea leaves re the Miranda issue. But it does at least seem that an avalanche of discovery cases may be a gold mine for investigative  reporters looking into Russiagate and the 2016 election. And for those of us looking at the blurred lines between military and civilian justice.

Talk about a wake-up call.

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