Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) and Civilian Soldier Alliance are launching a social media campaign to shift the dialogue around this upcoming Veteran's day, Monday, November 11th this year from one that implicitly supports war by avoiding any conversations of its costs towards a frank conversation on how U.S. militarism tears at the fabric that bonds our communities and has real impacts on peoples lives. As we step into 10 years as an organization next year these conversations become increasingly important for us.
On August 23rd, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry addressed the suspected use of chemical weapons by Bashar al-Assad, and a proposed military response. In his remarks to the nation, Secretary Kerry condemned the use of chemical weapons, calling it a “moral obscenity.” Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) agrees. We believe that US military action in Syria is also obscene. Our vision includes building a movement that is “an ally to the oppressed—a community connected in solidarity with war torn peoples,” including the people of Syria.
We condemn the use of chemical weapons, not only against civilians, but against all peoples in all nations. We know intimately that chemical weapons indiscriminately harm, maim, and kill, while causing long-term health problems and environmental destruction.
Since its inception, Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) has supported war resisters of all stripes. Our organizing theory from the beginning was based on the concept of withdrawal of consent - consent to participate in the war, consent to remain silent. For this reason, we have always defended the actions of Private Chelsea Manning.
In an era of war and militarism that is shrouded in secrecy, Manning shed light on information that was crucial to public knowledge and understanding of U.S. foreign policy. These actions are being carried out in our name, and we have the right to know.
We are joining with Iraqi human rights groups and our allies to hold the U.S. government accountable for the lasting effects of war and to demand the right to heal. Check out the Right to Heal Initiative website at http://righttoheal.org and sign the petition to demand a hearing.
Three days ago I saw the aftermath of explosives that tore through a crowd of unsuspecting bystanders, shrapnel leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. I read how children lost their lives, others lost limbs and a nation looked on in horror. On Monday, this same scene played out over and over again. All of them separate bombings, all on the same day and all in the same country. Iraq is this country, where over 25 blasts rocked major metropolitan areas, many of them car bombs, that resulted in more than 61 deaths and over 274 injured. No doubt the enormity of the loss of life and carnage is hard to imagine but if you had watched the news or read American newspapers you could be forgiven for not knowing it happened at all.
Monday was also significant for another bombing, one that most of us heard about. The kind of terror inflicted at the Boston Marathon just a handful of days ago will not readily leave my mind. The images, testimonies and the moments of bravery demonstrated by people like Carlos Arredondo will continue to haunt me. Unfortunately, the destruction in Boston is all too familiar for those of us that have experienced the unending senseless violence in Iraq. Both for the Iraqi civilians that live in a country that has witnessed more than a decade of war and for US veterans that have returned home to a country that has seemed oblivious to its existence.