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Stopping the War Machine: Military Recruiters Must Be Confronted

Posted on May 28, 2008
Kovic protest
AP Photo/Reed Saxon

Disabled Vietnam War veteran and antiwar activist Ron Kovic, subject of the film “Born on the Fourth Of July,” reaches out to touch fingers with an admirer during a massive protest against U.S. involvement in Iraq. The demonstration occurred in downtown Los Angeles in September 2005.

By Ron Kovic

As a former United States Marine Corps sergeant who was shot and paralyzed from my mid-chest down during my second tour of duty in Vietnam on Jan. 20, 1968, I am sending my complete support and admiration to all those now involved in the courageous struggle to stop military recruitment in Berkeley and across the country.

Not since the Vietnam War protests of the late 1960s has there been a cause more just than the one you are now engaged in. Who knows better the deep immorality and deception of military recruiters than those of us who, decades ago, entered those same recruiting offices with our fathers, believing in our hearts that we were being told the truth—only to discover later we had been deceived and terribly betrayed? Many of us paid for that deceit with our lives, years of suffering and bodies and minds that were never the same again. If only someone had warned us, if only someone had had the courage to speak out against the madness that we were being led into, if only someone could have protected us from the recruiters whose only wish was to make their quota, send us to boot camp and hide from us the dark secret of the nightmare which awaited us all.

Over the past five years, I have watched in horror the mirror image of another Vietnam unfolding in Iraq. So many similarities, so many things said that remind me of that war 30 years ago which left me paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair for life. Refusing to learn from the lessons of Vietnam, our government continues to pursue a policy of deception, distortion, manipulation and denial, doing everything it can to hide from the American people their true intentions and agenda in Iraq. As we pass the fifth anniversary of the start of this tragic and senseless war, I cannot help but think of the young men and women who have been wounded, nearly 30,000, flooding Walter Reed, Bethesda, Brooke Army Medical Center and veterans hospitals all across our country. Paraplegics, amputees, burn victims, the blinded, shocked and stunned, brain-damaged and psychologically stressed, a whole new generation of severely maimed men and women who were not even born when I came home wounded to the Bronx Veterans Hospital in New York in 1968.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which afflicted so many of us after Vietnam, is just now beginning to appear among soldiers recently returned from the current war. For some the agony and suffering, the sleepless nights, anxiety attacks and awful bouts of insomnia, alienation, anger and rage will last for decades—if not their whole lives. They will be trapped in a permanent nightmare of that war, of killing another man, a child, watching a friend die ... fighting against an enemy that can never be seen, while at any moment someone, a child, a woman, an old man—anyone—might kill them.

These traumas return home with us and we carry them, sometimes hidden, for agonizing decades. They deeply impact our daily lives, and the lives closest to us. To kill another human being, to take another life out of this world with one pull of a trigger, is something that never leaves you. It is as if a part of you dies with that person. If you choose to keep on living, there may be a healing, and even hope and happiness again, but that scar and memory and sorrow will be with you forever. Why did the recruiters never mention these things? This was never in the slick pamphlets they gave us.

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Some of these veterans are showing up at homeless shelters around our country, while others have begun to courageously speak out against the senselessness and insanity of this war and to demand answers from the leaders who sent them there. During the 2004 Democratic National Convention, returning soldiers formed a group called Iraq Veterans Against the War, just as we had marched in Miami in August of 1972 as Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Still others have refused deployment to Iraq, gone to Canada and begun resisting this immoral and illegal war. Like many other Americans, I have seen them on television or at the local veterans hospitals, but for the most part, they remain hidden like the flag-draped caskets of our dead returned to Dover Air Force Base in the dark of night, as this administration continues to pursue a policy of censorship, tightly controlling the images coming out of that war and rarely allowing the human cost of its policy to be seen.

Many of us promised ourselves long ago that we would never allow what happened to us in Vietnam to happen again. We had an obligation, a responsibility, as citizens, as Americans, as human beings, to raise our voices in protest. We could never forget the hospitals, the intensive-care wards, the wounded all around us fighting for their lives, those long and painful years after we came home, those lonely nights. There were lives to save on both sides, young men and women who would be disfigured and maimed, mothers and fathers who would lose their sons and daughters, wives and other loved ones who would suffer for decades to come if we did not do everything we could to stop the momentum of this madness.

Mario Savio once said, “There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part, you can’t even passively take part, and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus and you’ve got to make it stop! And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free the machine will be prevented from working at all.” 

It is time to stop the war machine. It is time for bold and daring action on the part of us all. Precious lives are at stake, both American and Iraqi, and military recruiters must be confronted at every turn, in every high school, every campus, every recruiting office, on every street corner, in every town and city across America. In no uncertain terms we must make it clear to them that by their actions they represent a threat to our community, to our children and all that we cherish. We must explain to them that condemning our young men and women to their death, setting them up to be horribly maimed, and psychologically damaged in a senseless and immoral war, is wrong and unpatriotic and will not be tolerated by Berkeley—or, for that matter, any town or city in the United States.

The days of deceiving, manipulating and victimizing our young people are over. We have had enough, and I strongly encourage all of you to use every means of creative, nonviolent civil disobedience to stop military recruitment all across our country. I stand with you in this important and courageous fight, and I am confident your actions in the days ahead will inspire countless others across our country to do everything they can to end this deeply immoral and illegal war.

(Note: This statement represents portions of several essays and writings I have done over the past five years.—R.K.)

Click here to view Truthdig’s Ron Kovic photo essay.


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By Bob, May 30, 2008 at 3:15 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Just say “no” to the recruiters.  However, if you really want to help, have the truthers stand right next to them handing out 9-11 Mysteries and Loose Change videos to everyone.  Education is the only way.

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By Conservative Yankee, May 30, 2008 at 12:18 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“They openly declared their intent to control the world.”

As we control the world now? Funny how language changes as people win and lose power battles.  The cold war was a myth created by Eisenhower’s “military-industrial complex” Boeing, Raytheon, Dow, GM and the rest are perfectly willing to have blood pay their stock-holders.

The Soviet Union bogeyman was just a precursor to the endless war on terror that all three of our current political lackeys support.  “terror” can never be combated because the word is a specter without form or substance. One person’s global terrorist is another person’s “freedon fighter”

For some “terror” is bankruptcy, poverty and ruin.  There is no war against that.  For some it is cold lonely homelessness, there is no war against that. There are millions upon billions of individual “terrors” from the simple monster-under-the-bed to the thought that your grandchildren, and great grandchildren will have to clean up a mess that this generation left behind. A mess we created by remaining on the sidelines when we should have taken a firmer stand.

Terror… what ever you want it to be.

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By mill, May 30, 2008 at 9:50 am Link to this comment

You couldn’t be more wrong about the military not defending the US since 1941.  You think the Soviet Union was a bunch of pacifists? They openly declared their intent to control the world. The Berlin Airlift was necessary because of their aggression, and that was just the start of it. You think the Cuban Missile Crisis just some fabrication that was our fault?  The Korean War just some ware of aggression by the US empire seekers?  You really are just plain wrong.

I agree with your nonviolent approach to informing potential recruits who go into recruitment centers.  Those physical centers are only part of the story - you could close every one via nonviolent protest, and recruiting would still keep churning along.

I disagree with those who want to hassle military recruiters directly (unless the recruiter is lying) or interfere with their legitimate 1st Amendment rights to solicit for our military.  Their free speech should - imho - be countered with free speech from the likes of you and me.  I have advised my son (age 22) to avoid military service since Mr. Bush won election - he didn’t need convincing.

I’m sad that all those patriotic military volunteers post-9/11 have been so horribly misused by president bush. 

Yawn away, but the poitical leaders have the actual authority to do what’s right.  military recruiters don’t have any such control, and they are under orders.

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By Paolo, May 30, 2008 at 8:07 am Link to this comment

Many have said we should not criticize military recruiters, but focus on political leaders, instead.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. Kovic is correct: military recruiters need to be ESPECIALLY criticized. They are the ones who recruit the cannon fodder that makes war possible.

Imagine how military recruitment would plummet if every downy-cheeked, clueless boy walking into an enslavement (recruitment) center was also given the other side of the story.

Targeting military recruitment centers could also have a snowball effect: the press would cover the events, leading to more and more TRUTH ACTIVITIES at more and more recruitment centers.

Focusing rage on political leaders evinces only a yawn.

Incidentally, no one advocates “attacking” military recruitment centers, in the sense of physical violence. I would only advocate people gathering in front, handing out factual, truthful leaflets to kids going in to get enslaved. No need for violence.

Don’t waste my time with empty-headed slogans about the military “keeping us free.” The military hasn’t defended America since 1941. Every war since then has been an undeclared war of aggression and the act of an emerging empire.

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By ImpeachTheCriminals, May 30, 2008 at 5:47 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Exactly right, Purple Girl. Please contact your congresscritter in the US House of Representatives and demand that impeachment hearings begin in the House Judiciary Committee. That single crime - deceiving the country into the War in Iraq - is a more impeachable offense than the entire Watergate scandal was. Cheney and Bush can be out of the White House before the end of July, IF the American people demand it strongly enough.

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By ImpeachTheCriminals, May 30, 2008 at 5:41 am Link to this comment
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I feel the key factor in deciding whether recruiters should be opposed is really a lot simpler than many people are saying.  If the war the US is currently engaged in is just, recruiters should not be opposed. If the war is unjust, they should be opposed. The current war in Iraq is unjust, so recruiters should be prevented from doing their jobs.

The last just war the US was involved in was the first few years of World War 2.  In about 1943, the US started bombing too many civilians in Germany and Japan and lost too much moral capital. After that, WW2 became a struggle between two evil empires (although the Axis empire was more evil than the Allied one).

Every US war since 1943 has been unnecessary, therefore unjust. Vietnam was a key example of a war of aggression by the US against an Asian peasant society. Eventually, when we were unable to win, we escalated the use of violence to near-genocidal levels. Stopping US recruiters during Vietnam became a moral imperative. The same situation exists now in the War in Iraq.

Anyone who enlists now is not fighting for our freedom or for democracy. They might think they are, but they are deceiving themselves. They are fighting to project illegitimate US power into the Middle East, to dominate the world’s last remaining reserves of cheap oil, to protect Cheney’s and Bush’s egos and political power, and to oppress the Iraqi people. It is no one’s duty to fight for such despicable causes as these. Stopping recruiters is a moral imperative today.

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By PoppinJ, May 29, 2008 at 8:59 pm Link to this comment

As an active duty Marine I found this post a bit hard to swallow. One of the things I have very much admired about America’s disposition during this war as opposed to the Vietnam War is the support of our armed forces. Don’t get me wrong, I still scoff whenever someone thanks me for protecting their freedom, and am very much opposed to the war, but attacking military recruiters is simply asinine. Lets not forget that in the Marine Corps many people are involuntarily selected for recruiting duty. Still others sign up for recruiters assistance immediately after boot camp simply to shore up some of the nostalgia caused by being away from home. Yes recruiters will hide the horrors of war from potential new sign ups. Does Wal-Mart have poster sized pictures of Malaysian children working in sweat shops posted at the entrance to their store? Why should we expect recruiters to go into gory detail of the woes of combat, or have graphic movies and pictures concerning the hardships of war? Besides, young people fresh out of high school have a completely different perception of war and would likely laugh at anyone who told them they aren’t bullet proof. It’s no secret that recruiters are obsessed with the quota they are forced to fill, but they have no less dedication to their job than is expected of anyone else. Sure some of the recruiting policies, such as mandating schools to procure a list of all students to recruiters or forfeit federal funding, is unscrupulous; however, is it the SSgt recruiter talking to your child that is the person responsible for instituting such a policy, or an administration desperate to meet military manning requirements and extrapolate bodies from a populous fed up with war?

I firmly believe that there is no more of a noble cause than serving your country. Service members should not be a scapegoat for the poor leadership and policies of the white house.

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By Notorious, May 29, 2008 at 11:52 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hello All,

    I’ve noticed in some posts that we’re starting to get to the heart of the problem. Government needs to be lobbied by US citizens to force an “Honest Recruiting Campaign”. When recruiting, teens/adults should be shown photographs of the worst-case scenarios that are possible once enlisted to be deployed into war. Aside from all the bs of pay, benefits, training, careers, or skills, the should have the option to view what they’re really being recruited for. This applies to tv commercials also because those are the most deceptive of all with the smiling faces, and laid-back attitudes, none of which correspond to day-to-day operations in a war situation. No matter what Human Resource department you go through in this country….job descriptions, and walk-throughs need to depict the actual work atmosphere, duties included, and any other tasks. These HR people also have to ask questions as to whether you can tolerate certain situations, or if you’re willing to go above and beyond what’s required of you, sometimes even having to tolerate situations which could possible become stressful. The military is no different, it needs to advise potential recruits of all the good aspects, as well as the bad so that recruits can get an accurate picture of what they’re getting themselves into. After all, we’re not training people to defend the US, we’re training people to fight wars abroad in countries where we don’t even belong. There’s a saying: “Not in my backyard”!!! In essence, unless you want to be attacked someday in your own backyard, stop attacking others in their own backyards. People who attack others deserve to be attacked. There are only 2 things you can do, change government, or prevent people from being brainwashed into enlisting, so they’re not sent into places where they don’t belong vs. defending the US here at home. If this keeps up, soldiers will keep dying overseas in vain, and when World gets sick of you, and decides to attack you, you won’t have any soldiers to defend you. It’s ironic, Germany had to be liberated by other countries, and it seems like history will have to repeat itself so that Americans can be liberated of their own terrorist government, which they support, and lack the courage to change. Stop joining/using the military for the wrong reasons…

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By Don Stivers, May 29, 2008 at 10:41 am Link to this comment

Just make the recruiters show pictures of the result of war.  Our own soldiers whose faces have been burned off.  The children with blood and brains of their parents whose car was shot into by our own frightened soldiers who are barely over 18 and put into such a situation. 

This war of occupation was started by a little nobody who was AWOL during his time of service and now wants to show how TOUGH he is by being a “WAR President”. He became a “War President” at a great cost and ordered our troops into harms way not for a defensive action but on a Preemptive / Offensive action.

As a youth, I learned to fly so I could fly Phantom jets off of aircraft carriers and drop bombs on the bad communists in Viet Nam.  After college I went to join the Navy and flunked my physical and was no good for the military.  I am now thankful for that because I could not live with myself if I had killed someone during a war that came to be because of a pack of lies by our own government.  Such is the case with this war.

Let’s admit our solders died in vain and bring the rest home NOW.  Let’s not let one more person die because of a lie by our own spineless president.

Let’s get the recruiters to tell the truth and stay away from campuses where people are young and ignorant.

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By Corinthia, May 28, 2008 at 8:38 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I am the mother of a teenager—whose school is subject to No child left behind.  The school must provide a space for recruiters or lose funding.  It must provide a list of each kid, and all their contact information.

There is no opt in option, only an opt out—that the school doesn’t have to provide, that parents find out on their own and turn into the school. 

NO, I don’t want my kid courted by recruiters from age 16, encouraged to believe its ok to go around their parents on this—actually the recruiters make that part of the attraction to kids to sign up.  And I’ve heard tons of stories of the kids not getting the training they thought they were signing up for. As fas as I’m concerned, if they are allowed on my kids school grounds to call us at home, undermining parental authority over a minor—then I can protest them all I want.

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By Notorious, May 28, 2008 at 7:50 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“But, Ga, they did sign on.  They weren’t drafted.  They volunteered to participate in a war of aggression.  Is that noble, in your opinion, and, if so, would you tell me why?

When did the US last fight a “war of defense?”

BTW, I too think it’s noble for a person to want to defend our country.  Libertarians believe that if a country can’t get enough volunteers to defend it in war, then it doesn’t deserve to survive. The operative word is “defend.””


Well said…

We live in a World where annexation, colonization, fascism, and communism need to come to an end, or the next World War could destroy Humanity. People are their own worst enemies. I guarantee you that if that doesn’t happen, Humans will become extinct like the Dinossaurs…God can only tolerate so much.

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By Notorious, May 28, 2008 at 7:30 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hello,

    I wasn’t trying to disrespect the people in the military, nor was I trying to undermine anyone, I was simply trying to make a point. We all know that there are good people who join the military, people who have good intentions for being there, especially when they’re involved in missions which truly help Humanity. My post is aimed at all the Soulless cowards who join for the wrong reasons, and then expose themselves, and this country to global backlash. When something goes against your own reason for living, your morals, or who you are as a person, you do have the option to change your mind vs. letting others make up your mind for you. Last I checked, the people being recruited aren’t children, they’re adults, and can make up their own minds. Recruiters don’t force them to join, they join of their own free will. The ultimate question is: “What’s in it for me?” If you know that a political terrorist is giving you orders, and you know that they lack any intelligence, yet the paycheck is more important, you’ve sacrificed your Soul, and you’re letting God know that your life has no value. You’ve now become as much a terrorist as the terrorist/s who bribed you with compensation to do their dirty deeds. I would personally have loved to see most people in the military tell Bushitler to go F himself, fight his own war, or to send his entire terrorist family over to serve, however, that would never happen. I’m referring to a family of cowards who love to tell everyone else what to do, were involved in the biggest conspiracy in this country’s history, put other peoples’ lives at risk for their own gain, yet they go around giving comforting speeches to crowds as if they understand loss of life. This evil family’s compound was struck by God at one time as a sign that they were on God’s shitlist, and they still haven’t learned. Trust me, if I had been a soldier prior to 9/11, and understood what really happened on 9/11 as I did when it happened, I would have been the first to leave a corrupt organization because I would know that the next step would involve me in something that would be against God’s will. A country’s leadersheep killing its own people to engage the military, and court Congress into going to war for oil, and corporate greed. However, there were many that allowed themselves to be brainwashed, were blinded by hate, and joined the military to go out and kill an enemy that never existed. It’s not God’s fault they allowed themselves to be dumbed down, and therefore, must accept the fate that they’ve been dealt of their own free will. Prior to joining any branch of military, one should use their intelligence to fully understand the history of the organization, its past events, pros and cons vs. one’s own morals, and what’s being asked of them. In essence, the whole point of my post is to make you aware that WE are responsible for our decisions, and we can’t just lay the blame on those who attempt to bribe, or brainwash us. In other words, many people are evil by nature, but God’s Chosen have the ability to root out the Good from the Bad, and separate themselves from them, especially when being bribed to sacrifice their Souls for a paycheck. There is a chance at redemption for ALL those people who feel that they were weak, lied to, or truly had good intentions…push the branches of military into exposing/investigating what really happened on 9/11 to separate themselves from the evil terrorists who’ve involved them in dishonorable acts of terrorism upon innocent peoples. It’s called IMPEACHMENT…NOW, not when the terrorists leave office. If there was any justice at all in this country, these terrorists would ultimately face Saddam’s fate in the hands of the American people.

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By Dr. Knowitall, PhD, PhD, May 28, 2008 at 6:39 pm Link to this comment

But, Ga, they did sign on.  They weren’t drafted.  They volunteered to participate in a war of aggression.  Is that noble, in your opinion, and, if so, would you tell me why?

When did the US last fight a “war of defense?”

BTW, I too think it’s noble for a person to want to defend our country.  Libertarians believe that if a country can’t get enough volunteers to defend it in war, then it doesn’t deserve to survive. The operative word is “defend.”

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By Dr. Knowitall, PhD, PhD, May 28, 2008 at 6:29 pm Link to this comment

You say, “It is very difficult for some to admit, but if it were not for our violence and our threat of ultimate violence, most of the world would pay no attention to us.”

I say, and so why do we need the rest of the world to pay attention to us?  The world runs on economics.  If you have something someone else wants or needs, they will pay attention to you, especially if you out-deal your competitors.  Much of the rest of the world did pay attention to America as a model of truth and freedom and then GW Bush and his neocon destructors came along and, in 8 short years, undid 200+ years of hard work by working class people and patriots. 

IMHO, you need a military to defend you or to honor commitments made to allies.  We don’t need to be spending 750 billion a year of taxpayer money to force our will onto others and to beat them out of their stuff in order to advance the cause of US corporations.  It’s immoral, unethical, and we can’t afford it.

But all this has been covered here ad naseum.

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By StepenL, May 28, 2008 at 4:52 pm Link to this comment

My brother served a life time.  They kept every single promise they made him.  I do not believe you when you say they don’t because I have seen that they do keep promises.

Stop fighting our military which is a noble service to our nation and deal with the politicians who make policy.

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By StepenL, May 28, 2008 at 4:49 pm Link to this comment

it’s no more noble than trying to do away with our firefighters, or police officers, or national guard.

If you oppose the policies of Washington, the way to oppose them is not to make a virtue out of the disgusting act of trying to undermine our military.

I don’t care if you served or not.  It doesn’t make your bad logic one bit more noble or sound.

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By Notorious, May 28, 2008 at 4:48 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hello All,

    I can say that since I’ve graduated high school in 1993, I’ve seen every branch of the military step up, and do whatever it takes to recruit people. This is the only country I’ve ever seen use such deceptive practices to get you to sign on the dotted line, and then reneg on all its promises, and attempt to keep you commited at all costs. I’m one to believe that the day the USA came under direct attack on our own soil, I would likely join to help defend this country. However, what I see is an industrial military complex that’s driven by the US corporate plantation, Republicans, the FED, and other investors to instigate not only its own wars, but to encourage, and support wars between other countries….it’s become a full-fledged business with no end in sight. Where else will you see military advertising on TV telling you that they’ll pay you, and educate you as long as you’re willing to enlist to learn how to kill people, colonize/destroy other countries? Of course, that’s what they won’t tell you. Instead, they’ll tell you you’re fighting for freedom, you’ll learn a valuable skill, and that you’ll be someone honorable. Honorable among who…the terrorists asking you to be a part of their group? I know that there’s no God in this entire Universe that would ever encourage you, protect you, or even save you if you decided to allow yourself to be brainwashed by intelligently inferior beings who pass themselves off as one of your brothers, and sisters. God’s Chosen stand alone in this fight, along with the other brave people who still have Souls, and are willing to stand up despite the dangers. If you allow yourselves to believe less inferior beings, and take up their terrorist causes, your life’s a waste, regardless of what perceived rewards you may find humanly appealing. Put it this way, if the military offered me 1 Million $$$ to enlist, I still wouldn’t do it. Why? I respect God, I respect Life, and I respect Freedom !!! When you enlist for the wrong reasons, you have no respect for God, you have no respect for Life, you definitely have no respect for Freedom, especially that of others, and you doom your own existence among the Souls that rule over this planet. There’s no such thing as fighting for your own freedom when you cowardly take up arms to invade someone else’s country, to destroy their country, to kill its people, and then colonize it for your own benefit. If that’s freedom, wait for the day that terrorists invade the US and claim that they’re doing it for their freedom. The only people fighting for freedom in Iraq are the Iraqis, who have to put up with American abuse at the hands of an occupier that has no intentions of leaving so that it can continue to rob Iraq of its oil, and to continue its endless funding to unkown sources. The US should have learned from Katrina, as China should have learned now from its terrible disaster. God works in mysterious ways, and humans have no control. When you play God, and you do things in the name of God, you not only bring bad karma upon yourselves for good, but this is the reson why the US is constantly under God’s wrath. There are at least 4 things that are going to keep God’s wrath upon you: Depleting the planet of Oil & its resources, a greedy US Corporate plantation that degrades the lives of millions, an industrial military complex that’s stepped beyond any honorable purpose (seeks to destroy/exploit vs. protect), and a government that works against the people. God doesn’t tolerate inferior beings justifying their terror actions, especially through religion, consultants, think tanks, or dellusional human rhetoric in general. God has no mercy when it comes to hypocrisy, double-standards, or attempts at dumbing down others. Life is just a test to sort out God’s Chosen from God’s bastards/rejects….whose side are you on???

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By Ga, May 28, 2008 at 4:44 pm Link to this comment

I think that it is noble of a person to want to join the military, potentially putting him or her self in a situation of defending our country—our constitution—from enemies both foreign and domestic.

Even though some men and women in the military may be neo-con, racist scum, I truly do not doubt that those are anything but a TINY MINORITY.

The tragedy of the Iraq War is that it was NOT a war of defense; our soldiers are not defending anything, but are participants in a war of aggression—but that is NOT THEIR FAULT.

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By thebeerdoctor, May 28, 2008 at 2:45 pm Link to this comment

To read the libretto of one of the greatest anti-war songs of the 20th century, Conservative Yankee, I am deeply moved. My only prayer is Thank You.

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By thebeerdoctor, May 28, 2008 at 2:39 pm Link to this comment

Dr. Knowitall, I just finished watching a video “conversation with history” interview with Robert Fisk, of The Independent of London. One thing that struck me about the conversation was when he talked about the western world no longer having faith, despite all the claims of our religious nature. George W. Bush claims to be a Christian, but is so afraid of the “evil ones” he clings to violence as the first and only solution. Would not their avatar Jesus say: how little faith you have.
It is very difficult for some to admit, but if it were not for our violence and our threat of ultimate violence, most of the world would pay no attention to us.
Some might ask, what global vision? How about clean water, breathable air, sustainable food as a way to relieve human suffering? Perhaps a strategic disengagement from the entire political process is necessary. Brew beer not bombs. Refuse to march lockstep with the Military Corporate Complex that denies the humanity of others. Choose to do the decent action, even when no one is watching.

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By Conservative Yankee, May 28, 2008 at 2:07 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is fairly straight forward.

He’s five feet two and he’s six feet four
He fights with missiles and with spears
He’s all of 31 and he’s only 17
He’s been a soldier for a thousand years

He’s a Catholic, a Hindu, an atheist, a Jain,
a Buddhist and a Baptist and a Jew
and he knows he shouldn’t kill
and he knows he always will
kill you for me my friend and me for you

And he’s fighting for Canada,
he’s fighting for France,
he’s fighting for the USA,
and he’s fighting for the Russians
and he’s fighting for Japan,
and he thinks we’ll put an end to war this way

And he’s fighting for Democracy
and fighting for the Reds
He says it’s for the peace of all
He’s the one who must decide
who’s to live and who’s to die
and he never sees the writing on the walls

But without him how would Hitler have
condemned him at Dachau
Without him Caesar would have stood alone
He’s the one who gives his body
as a weapon to a war
and without him all this killing can’t go on

He’s the universal soldier and he
really is to blame
His orders come from far away no more
They come from him, and you, and me
and brothers can’t you see
this is not the way we put an end to war.

Buffy Sainte-Marie
© Caleb Music-ASCAP

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By Conservative Yankee, May 28, 2008 at 2:05 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

He’s five feet two and he’s six feet four
He fights with missiles and with spears
He’s all of 31 and he’s only 17
He’s been a soldier for a thousand years

He’s a Catholic, a Hindu, an atheist, a Jain,
a Buddhist and a Baptist and a Jew
and he knows he shouldn’t kill
and he knows he always will
kill you for me my friend and me for you

And he’s fighting for Canada,
he’s fighting for France,
he’s fighting for the USA,
and he’s fighting for the Russians
and he’s fighting for Japan,
and he thinks we’ll put an end to war this way

And he’s fighting for Democracy
and fighting for the Reds
He says it’s for the peace of all
He’s the one who must decide
who’s to live and who’s to die
and he never sees the writing on the walls

But without him how would Hitler have
condemned him at Dachau
Without him Caesar would have stood alone
He’s the one who gives his body
as a weapon to a war
and without him all this killing can’t go on

He’s the universal soldier and he
really is to blame
His orders come from far away no more
They come from him, and you, and me
and brothers can’t you see
this is not the way we put an end to war.

Buffy Sainte-Marie
© Caleb Music-ASCAP

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By Not One More, May 28, 2008 at 1:34 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I don’t know what the recruiters tell the kids where I sometimes substitute teach, but I know they succeed in recruiting kids. We live in a depressed economic area and most of the kids who join are doing it for economic reasons.

Unfortunately, even some the the school staff have military spouses, so the model of joining the military to get out of Dodge is presented to the kids in a very favorable (though false) way.

Guns and uniforms are so cool, like video games, and unfortunately the kids are attracted to it like cats to radiator fluid (which attracts cats and kills them).

‘Not One Child Left Behind’ has specific language that actually forces schools to hand over personal information about kids to recruiters, otherwise they could lose federal funding. Talk about being beat over the head with the carrot.

The town of Arcata, CA is now trying to restrict recruiters from contacting kids under 18. They mentioned something about recruiting kids under 18 being against UN charter (I didn’t get the exact citation).

Mr. Kovic continuously speaks with a voice of reason on this important matter. Please continue, as there are so few.

peace, justice, human rights for all.

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By purplewolf, May 28, 2008 at 1:28 pm Link to this comment

Hippy Pam, Yes, many of us have noticed how it cuts down the population and maybe if these religious right christian conservative repukelican right winger freak jobs let women have the right to control their bodies reproduction- be it by birth control-or heaven forbid-abortion, we would not be making the cannon fodder, otherwise known as babies that grow up to become young adults to feed the government war machine. Wouldn’t that be a better way to maintain the population’s control than by the way we do it now? By declaring illegal wars? By never being born, they would not exist, therefore never to suffer at the hands of power hungry warmongers who have never spent any REALTIME in actual one-on-one combat for months if not years.

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By Dr. Knowitall, PhD, PhD, May 28, 2008 at 1:19 pm Link to this comment

What sense does it make for a person to “confront” a recruiter one day and “support our troops” on the next?  One of our country’s huge hypocrisies. 

There is no vision of global/social/peaceful co-existence in this country.  Never was, that I know of, and never will be, so long as the collective mindset is one of world dominance, power and wealth.  Unless and until this changes, like many here have said, we’re doomed. 

But, to the power mongers, it doesn’t matter.  They have what they want and will protect it, at all costs to the other guy.

It’s the rule by arrogance and divine right I find so troublesome.  It trumps any chance of this country ever acquiring a moral and ethical vision because it takes humility to acquire that and America is not humble.  America is RIGHT!

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By thebeerdoctor, May 28, 2008 at 12:42 pm Link to this comment

Mr. Kovic’s statements point to action: stop accepting the insane premises that define this predicament. Ask yourself this: why does the United States think it has the right to tell another country what to do? Is our authority to dominate others simply an excuse to perpetrate the weapons business?
You hear it in all of the presidential candidates, where their main differences are in approach, but they all want to push other nations around. As Frida Berrigan recently stated about the mega-pentagon: “It is an institution that has escaped the checks and balances of the nation.”
So does anybody really believe that McCain, or Clinton, or Obama will do anything about this? Everyone of them wants to push somebody around. That is the premise that is at the root, and it is rotten.
Voting creates the illusion that an ordinary citizen has some say in all of this. Most of the people in the rest of the world are not so naive. You are living in a locked down military state, and you are not aware of it.

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By mill, May 28, 2008 at 11:06 am Link to this comment

Thank you for your service, Mr. Kovic

i respectfully suggest that people should not “confront”  military recruiters, who do not choose their battles.

if i was run over by a car, i wouldn’t get mad at the bumper i saw coming, i’d be quite mad at the driver.  recruiters are like the bumpers - get mad at the driver - Mr. Bush - and confront HIM EVERYWHERE - let there be no place where he can hide with just friendly screened audiences any more.

Confront media organizations - who will report on Bush’s remarks at closed events - shut the President out of the news cycle unless he speaks to all the people, through an open press conference rather than some rigged no-questions interaciton.

Confront Representatives and Senators who have the power of the purse to bring the President to accounting.

Hassling military recruiters is easy - because they come out to be among us all.  They can’t stop the madness, so leave them be.  Go after those who ACTUALLY CONTROL THIS MADNESS.

eh?

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By dasm, May 28, 2008 at 9:29 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The fact that virtually none of the Bush admin. that forced us into this war, and virtually none of the right-wing pundits that promote the war, have ever served, tells us everything.

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By Ghostdancer, May 28, 2008 at 9:25 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’m an adult child of a Vietnam vet.  I lived with my fathers nightmares and flashbacks after his return of two tours in Vietnam.  Back in the late 70’s and early 80’s there was and still is no support for dependents in how to cope with the trauma suffered by those that have been traumatized.  Now I have a son who is graduating high school and entering the real world.  Recently the local Navy JROTC Chief Petty Officer in charge at his high school had the gumption to call one evening and try to recruit my son into the Navy.  Both my wife and I are strongly against this war.  After some serious discussion with both my wife and my son I took action.  The next day I went to my sons high school and confronted the CPO who had made the call.  The look on this mans face was “priceless” to say the least.  This man who admittedly has never seen combat was taken aback by my brazenness and stumbled all over himself in one of the most pathetic attempts to cover his backside that I have ever seen.  He stumbled through his explanation that he thought my son would be a good candidate for the Navy and tried his best to convince me.  I explained my families position on the current war and informed him that I myself am an eight year veteran of the Navy, but under no uncertain circumstances was I going to allow this sort of action to go unanswered.  After my actions my wife decided to take this situation one step further and contacted the school board and the superintendent of schools for our area. The fallout of one individuals actions have resulted in that the high schools JROTC program has been placed on “probationary” action and that if there is another such instance of active recruiting by those in charge of the program that the program will be dissolved and no branch of the Military will be allowed on campus except for the two “career” days alloted.
Our children need to be protected from these sort of “predatory” recruiters.

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By Conservative yankee, May 28, 2008 at 9:18 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

You are welcome to disagree. 

Ever work in a V.A. Hospital? Juvenile detention center, or homeless shelter?

Try it, then return and give me another academic thesis on governments.

lazy voters are not the only problem with our (currently dysfunctional) government There are many people who vote often and early for policies which impoverish their neighbors.  Why does the war-machine get everything is needs to function, but we have to hold a bake sale to fund our local schools?

The only mistake I made in my post above is I neglected to use the words: “In my opinion.” as in in my opinion all governments are INHERENTLY evil!

The “grand experiment” was born of slave owning white men who stole the land and treasure from other human beings they considered inferior.

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By joe coretti, May 28, 2008 at 8:59 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

this whole adminastration past and present cronies need to be prosecuted,pelosi and ried get your act together.

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By JimBob, May 28, 2008 at 8:35 am Link to this comment

I disagree that governments are all evil.  We have a unique situation in the States, where The People have levers and gears of their own, to keep the pit bull of government on a choke-chain leash.  What happens is we get lazy, we get focused on our new cars, our flat-screen TVs and a million other things, taking good government for granted.  The price of liberty is eternal vigilance, but as a population we are asleep.  Such a shame.  Such a waste of a grand experiment.

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By hippy pam, May 28, 2008 at 7:40 am Link to this comment

Many of my friends served in NAM and many never made it home.The ones that did return have had to fight
GOVERNMENT MACHINERY for every little benefit received.WAR is the way OUR GOVERNMENT CREATES EMPLOYMENT….And has anyone noticed how it CUTS DOWN POPULATION???

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By Eric Barth, May 28, 2008 at 7:05 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’m going to have my eyes wide open to see what recruiting activities occur in my community and especially the middle school and high school. I have a 13 year old son who I am determined to protect from any military recruiting. I live in Texas, which is probably the most militaristic state in the country, which bothers me quite a lot. Chris Hedges has written a couple of books (one aimed at adolescents) during the past five years to warn kids (and non-thinking parents)about what war is and what it does to human beings. Should be required reading in all middle and high schools.

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By jackpine savage, May 28, 2008 at 6:55 am Link to this comment

Thank you, Conservative Yankee.

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By KISS, May 28, 2008 at 6:53 am Link to this comment

I was discharged, honorably, as you were going in. The Vietnam Fiasco was in the beginning stages and I had served stateside for my 4 years. As Vietnam was heating up I saw exactly the lies and promises given to those that were jobless and less educated. Than the draft was used to take the more fortunate, but not the more affluent. I did protesting and finally the end came..Than Bush and more protesting, still the outrageousness never stops. Poverty is the strongest element in this unconscionable recruitment, with grandiose promises never to be kept…I have a grandson recently medically discharged, now going through the lies of this government.

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By Conservative Yankee, May 28, 2008 at 6:10 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

There were two seperate buses that departed from the old Selective Service Office in White Plains. It represented how the war was fought and lost.

We were the white boys, the wealthy and middle class from North Street, Anderson Hill Road, and Westminster Ridge. We knew we weren’t going anywhere we didn’t want to go, past the induction center on Whitehall Street in Brooklyn. We rode into the City on a air-conditioned “Trailways” styled bus, the only thing missing was the on-board movie and the peanuts. We laughed and joked, and talked about ways to get people’s goat. One guy even taped a sign on the back of the bus which read “Hell no, we’re not going!”

The other vehicle, a former school bus with graffiti scrawled on the side,  was full of diverse children from Ferris Avenue, Mott Street, and the Projects down on Lexington Avenue. Many of them were not coming back.  I knew some of them, and seeing them sitting there with their hands folded in their laps, looking at the floor of the bus made me less boisterous. Some of those guys on the other bus died over there, and although some of the people on my bus actually eventually went to Vietnam, they are all still around.

My best friend came back without the ability to do much of anything, he still spare-changes people at the White Plains Main Station. Larry Desmore returned with more than physical injuries, and killed himself in a shit-hole dive on Kensico Avenue. Billy Russo, once a funny jovial chap returned with a deep sadness and I never again saw him smile, Scooter Jessiman, John Carney, and a host of others had their lives shaken by a war which, while it didn’t kill them left them less then they were. 

What happened between the time we were all singing and laughing in the Seven Springs tavern when we were 18, and listening to “And the band played Waltzing Matilda” when some of made it to 24?

Governments…all of them… are evil!

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By Purple Girl, May 28, 2008 at 4:49 am Link to this comment

We have acccumulated plenty of evidence to Prove this adminsitration intentionally misled the country regarding the invasion , of at least ,Iraq!
We must force congress and th eSenate to Do their Jobs! Otherwise we beign Prosectuion of co conpiracy, Dereliction of Duty and Reckless endangerment…Ms. Pelosi, Mr. Reid either be LEADERS or Defendants Pick One!
Which side of “VS” will you be On?

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By thebeerdoctor, May 28, 2008 at 3:59 am Link to this comment

Thank you Ron Kovic for speaking the truth. Too many in this country support hideous delusions. Even so called progressives, with their “smarter” military rhetoric. The numb skull presidential candidates who talk about peace, but in reality, are all seeking to add more troops for the next insane war. To enable the destruction of human civilization; that is the most cowardly thing possible.

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