Category Archives: American Politics

Veterans’ and GIs’ appeal to National Guard: 
”Stand with Ferguson protesters, not the police!”


From my brothers and sisters at MarchForward…

To our brothers and sisters in the Missouri National Guard

We are writing to you as active-duty U.S. service members and veterans, most of us having served in the Iraq war.

You have a choice you can make right now.

The whole world is watching the Ferguson police with disgust. They killed an unarmed, college-bound Black youth in broad daylight, and subsequently responded to peaceful, constitutionally-protected protests with extreme violence and repression.

Countless constitutional and human rights violations by these police have been documented over the course of the Ferguson protests; from attacking and threatening journalists, to using tear gas against peaceful protesters, including children.

Now, Governor Nixon is deploying you to serve under the command of those same police forces. But you don’t have to follow their orders—you can stand with the protesters instead.

Our true duty.

When we signed up, we swore an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States.

The police in Ferguson are violating that Constitution.

The First Amendment guarantees the right to free speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of the press.

These laws are, as we are taught our entire lives, our most cherished Constitutional rights—the whole basis for the “freedom” we are told makes us the greatest country on Earth.

It is undeniable that the Ferguson police have been using extreme violence against peaceful protesters, suppressing the right of the people to free speech and the freedom to assemble. They have attacked crowds, with children in them, with rubber bullets, sound cannons and tear gas. People have been mass arrested for simply being at the protest.

The police have also begun sweeping houses door to door; a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment, protecting our right to have our home entered and searched without a warrant.

Freedom of the press has also been severely infringed upon by Ferguson police. Journalists have been arrested; photo evidence shows riot police firing tear gas directly at reporters and tearing down their camera equipment; Ferguson police have been caught on video threatening journalists with violence if they don’t leave, and declaring that they are not allowed in the protest area.

With such important and dramatic events unfolding, the right of the people in the United States to have the truth covered by the press is essential to any so-called democratic society.

The people have the right to protest. If we were truly honoring our oath, we would be in Ferguson to protect the protesters against the repression of their rights by the police.

We don’t just have a legal obligation, but a moral one.

Clearly, we would be within our legal rights to refuse to help the Ferguson police unconstitutionally suppress these protests. But beyond the constitutional case, we have a moral obligation to refuse to participate.



The Ferguson police are treating this like a war. And we know that not all wars are just.



These protests have done something very important in our society: they have raised the deep issues we face of inequality, poverty, racism and police misconduct onto a national stage. It has turned public consciousness to these real problems that plague our society.



Do you really want to be part of suppressing those civilians raising all these important issues on the national stage?



Racist police brutality is a real issue in America



The autopsy of Michael Brown confirms at least five eye-witness accounts that the young man—who was not even suspected of any crime—was shot while he had his hands in the air.



Those of us in the military—especially with combat experience—knows that this flies in the face of any Rules of Engagement, and we know that it is completely ridiculous to believe that Officer Darren Wilson feared for his life in anyway whatsoever.



Increasingly, the issue of rampant police brutality in America—most frequently by white officers against people of color—is garnering more and more attention on a national and international scale.



History is unfolding, with the whole world watching. You have a decision to make on which side of history to be on.



You will make history, one way or the other

.

If you take part in the suppression of the protests for Michael Brown, we will be enshrined in history just as the National Guard soldiers who followed their orders to attack and repress civil rights actions, union pickets and anti-war protests. History has not looked kindly on them.



But you have the chance to make a different kind of history.



Imagine the powerful impact it would have if you abandoned your posts and marched with the protesters.



That single action could have the biggest possible effect on the crisis in Ferguson and the larger issues it represents in the entire country. It could be a major turning point in the fight against racism, inequality and police abuse.



You wouldn’t be alone. There is a whole community of service members, veterans and civilian supporters who would defend your right to do so. And now, in this critical moment, we are urging you to exercise that right.



This appeal is supported by organizations and individuals who are dedicated and trained to help service members who refuse orders. Sign the appeal here and someone will contact you with more information, or email us at info@marchforward.org.

If you are a veteran or active-duty service member, click here to sign this public appeal to the National Guard!



This appeal was initially signed by:

  • Kourtney Mitchell, US Army, 2011-present
  • Monique Salhab, US Army, 1997-2007 (Iraq war veteran)
  • Mike Prysner, US Army, 2001-2005 (Iraq war veteran)
  • Margaret Stevens, US Army, 1997-2004
  • Anonymous Air Force Technical Sergeant, 2000-present (Afghanistan war veteran)
  • Alynn McLellan, US Army, 2008-2012 (Iraq war veteran)
  • Adam Fuentes, US Navy, 2007-2012
  • Ryan Endicott, US Marines, 2004-2008 (Iraq war veteran)
  • William Griffin, US Army, 2004-2010 (Iraq war veteran)
  • Jason Cardenas, US Army, 2002-2007 (Iraq war veteran)
  • Hart Viges, US Army, 2001-2004 (Iraq war veteran)
  • Ross Caputi, US Marines, 2003-2006 (Iraq war veteran)
  • Camillo Mejia, US Army, 1995-2010 (Iraq war veteran)
  • James Circello, US Army, 2001-2008 (Iraq war veteran)
  • Jayel Aheram, US Marines, 2006-2010 (Iraq war veteran)
  • Miguel Colon, US Marines, 2001-2006 (Iraq war veteran)
  • Wendy Barranco, US Army, 2003-2006 (Iraq war veteran)

More veterans and service members are signing this public appeal.

Click here to add your name.

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La Copa Mundial y la Masacre Israelí en Gaza: Un Dilema Moral

Hago la pregunta de si es o no un acto de negligencia moral el invertir tanta energía emocional en la copa mundial mientras el ejercito israelí bombardea despiadadamente al pueblo palestino en Gaza.

Es una pregunta que me hice este pasado miércoles, mientras en compañía de amigos y de mi hija Samantha, veíamos con gran ansiedad el partido entre Holanda y Argentina. El restaurante en el que nos hallábamos estaba repleto de la hinchada albiceleste, la cual, entre sorbos de cerveza Quilmes, tamborazos, y canciones populares, palidecía con genuino terror cada vez que los holandeses se acercaban a la portería argentina, a pesar de que no se esperaba que hubiese ningún muerto, independientemente del resultado.

Los palestinos también aman el fútbol.

Mientras observábamos absortos el partido, el gobierno israelí bombardeaba a Gaza. Un grupo de palestinos, en medio del horror del bombardeo y unidos al resto de nosotros en su amor al deporte, fue atacado mientras veían el mismo partido en un café; nueve de ellos murieron; quince fueron heridos.

Sé que algunas personas sancionan la ofensiva israelí, que empezó este pasado martes, alegando como justificación el secuestro y asesinato de los tres jóvenes judíos desaparecidos, y aduciendo que Israel solamente se está defendiendo. Pero la verdad es que los recientes acontecimientos representan apenas un capitulo más en una larga historia de desplazamiento y exterminación de palestinos por el gobierno israelí. Consideren el marcador macabro de esta barbarie desde que empezó el bombardeo: 0 muertos israelíes; 88 muertos palestinos.

Seguramente algunas personas harán la pregunta de si los mismos palestinos están siguiendo el mundial ¿Por qué no nosotros? Es una pregunta válida. Creo que no tiene nada de malo ver los partidos, o incluso enmudecer y palidecer con pánico cuando nuestro equipo favorito se ve en peligro, saltar de alegría ante la victoria, llorar por la derrota, en fin, tomar un descanso de nuestro quehacer cotidiano para sumergirnos en el frenesí de la copa.

Creo que lo importante es recordar que mientras millones de nosotros hacemos pausa para ver el mundial, una lluvia de fuego y hierro cae sobre Gaza, aniquilando a decenas de palestinos, entre ellos niños, y en su mayoría civiles. La pregunta entonces es ¿Qué hacer al respecto? Creo que es importante no callar; no ignorar la masacre; asegurarnos de que la pausa que tomemos de nuestra vida cotidiana no nos prohiba condenar esta infamia israelí en contra del pueblo palestino.

Es probable que entre muchas personas que están siguiendo el mundial, y que también están siguiendo la situación en Palestina, prevalezca la frustración, la sensación impotente de “no poder hacer nada desde donde estamos.” Sugiero que es mucho lo que podemos hacer. Podemos pronunciarnos en contra de la masacre. Podemos usar parte del tiempo que usamos para escribir comentarios sobre la copa escribiendo comentarios sobre las atrocidades en Gaza, compartiendo información, o escribiendo cartas a periódicos, a políticos, o marchando, o de alguna manera, desde donde estamos, haciendo clara nuestra indignación y condena.

Consideren la siguiente pregunta: ¿Qué podemos hacer desde donde nos encontramos para que gane nuestro equipo favorito? ¿Podemos cambiar el resultado final de un partido? No ¿Podemos hacer que un referí cambie de parecer con nuestros gritos de indignación? No, tampoco. ¿Podemos hacer que uno de nuestros jugadores haga mejores pases a sus compañeros? No, no creo.

Entonces ¿Por qué lo hacemos!?

Lo hacemos porque tiene un gran valor el vernos unidos por un deseo común, y angustiarnos, y llorar, y patear, y gritar, y reírnos o enfurecernos ante una gran victoria o injusticia. Y es lindo hacer eso ante un duelo entre países que luchan con todo su cuerpo y alma. Y es lindo ser partícipes de esa rivalidad entre naciones, ser testigos de esa guerra mundial que ocurre cada cuatro años y que termina sin la destrucción de ciudades ni la masacre de millones de personas.

Voy a llorar lágrimas amargas si pierde Argentina este domingo… Dios quiera que eso no ocurra! Pero antes, durante, y después de ese partido crucial, voy a pronunciar mi condena ante el crimen israelí en contra del pueblo palestino… Voy a gritar, patear, marchar, escribir, y llorar por mi pueblo palestino! Porque aunque no podamos detener las bombas desde aquí, sí tiene un gran valor el condenar la barbarie, y unirnos y solidarizarnos con nuestros hermanos y hermanas palestinas, y enfurecernos ante la injusticia y la masacre.

Voy a pronunciarme porque quiero que algún día Palestina se enfrenten a Argentina, a Alemania, a Irán, a Chile, o a cualquier país, en una cancha, sin bombas. Porque es importante soñar con ese día en el que podamos protestar los excesos y la corrupta codicia de la FIFA ante la miseria de los pueblos, sin tener que protestar la matanza del pueblo palestino ni de ningún otro pueblo. Es importante soñar con poder protestar en contra de estadios, sin tener que protestar en contra de bombardeos. Es importante exigir y luchar por un mundo en el cual las naciones peleen a muerte, pero sin que nadie muera.

 Digo basta al silencio, y exijo un alto a la masacre… y pase lo que pase este domingo, estoy con vos, Palestina!

 

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Chaos in Iraq: The Untold Story

The reports we have been hearing from U.S. officials and members of the American media about the situation in Iraq are quite alarming. They tell us a group of Muslim extremists known as the Islamist State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, an al Qaeda split-off, has been murdering Shiite families and government collaborators in the most brutal way as they take city after city in Iraq; Their goal? To overthrow the government of Nouri al Maliki in order to establish a strict Islamist government run by Sharia Law. The barbarians, we are told, have already taken several cities in the north of Iraq, including Mosul and Tikrit, the country’s second biggest city and the home of the late Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, respectively. They continue to push towards Baghdad, spreading death and destruction in their path.

What we are not being told is that ISIS is only one element of several that have risen to fight against the government of Nouri al Maliki, which has been unpopular from the beginning, and is said to have used fraud and intimidation to stay in power after losing parliamentary elections in 2010. As reports become available from various different sources, a different picture unfolds before our eyes, a picture of not only a sectarian government that, while established by the United States, seems to answer to the government in Iran, but also of a movement of armed resistance that includes members of the former Awakening Councils, Tribal Leaders, and former members of Saddam’s military. ISIS, it seems, is able to move easily through the country because of the pacifying effect of the other elements of the rebellion, which are said to have resorted to nonviolent means in the past, but to no avail.

According to a group of prominent European politicians the conflict taking place in Iraq is a movement of armed popular resistance in response to the al Maliki government, which they said has resorted to the indiscriminate killing of civilians and missile strikes against members of the resistance to crush political dissent, all under the guidance of elite Iranian military forces. They portray the al Maliki government as sectarian and violent, and hold it responsible for the crisis. The group of politicians is called the European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA), and it is chaired by the President of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq.

Meanwhile the United States government finds itself in an interesting position. On one hand, Washington has recently financed ISIS in their efforts to overthrow the Assad government in Syria, but the group itself is so extreme and brutal that even al Qaeda wants nothing to do with it! On the other hand, the al Maliki government, which is calling for U.S. airstrikes against the rebels, is being strongly supported by Teheran, and it is part of an oil pipeline an alliance with Iran, Syria and Russia. The Persian pipeline would bypass and rival an Arab pipeline financed by U.S. allies, prominently Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Which means that at this moment any strong response by the White House could lead to charges of aiding the enemy, therefore the response has so far been to limit involvement to the protection of American interests in Iraq.

Perhaps the Obama administration has gotten this one right, at least for the moment, as it seems that the best response is to wait until there is more clarity around who might end up arising as the leader of Iraq. Once a clear leader emerges, a great opportunity might also emerge: the opportunity to work with Iran in order to support a political solution to a crisis that Washington created and Teheran exacerbated; Such solution would only work if the end objective is to allow the Iraqi people to establish an inclusive government by and for Iraqis. Supporting such a solution would require both the United States and Iran to set their differences aside, and to work together for a new, democratic and inclusive Iraq, a goal above and beyond their own individual interests.

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