Contents: The Sir! No Sir! blog is an information clearing house, drawing on a wide variety of sources, to track the unfolding history of the new GI Movement, and the wars that brought the movement to life.
Where applicable, parallels will be drawn between the new movement and the Vietnam era movement which was the focus of the film Sir! No Sir!
Disclaimer: In accordance with title 17 u.s.c. section 107, this material is distributed without profit for research and educational purposes.
The Sir! No Sir! Blog has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is the Sir! No Sir! Blog endorsed or sponsored by the originator. Links are provided to allow for verification of authenticity.
This piece of crap, by Marc Ambinder, was published by The Atlantic, October 30, 2009
Not that they ever officially left, but Politics Daily's Shahzad Chaudhary reports an uptick in anti-war protest activity as President Obama weighs his options in Afghanistan, including more arrests at the Capitol this year than last:
With waning public approval of the Afghanistan war, however, antiwar groups have noticed an increase in support. "We've had a lot of decentralized action in October," said Gael Murphy, co-founder of Code Pink.
Antiwar actions such as the committee hearing protest, in which Blome and Hubert participated in earlier this month, have slowly started to reemerge. So far this year there have been eight official "disruption of Congress" arrests, compared with only four in all of 2008, according to Capitol Hill Police. These types of protests are likely to increase, said Murphy.
Code Pink has been around since 2002, regularly disrupting activities on Capitol Hill while decked out in full pink regalia, known for pulling theatrical pranks.
It was founded by, and continues to be led by, a handful of early-middle-aged women who gave up their lives to come live in a communal house in Washington, DC, to dedicate themselves to protesting the war in Iraq at every opportunity.
While Chaudhary reports that their activity dropped off after Democrats took control of Congress in 2006, they were quite active during the next year, turning immediately on the Democrats who suddenly controlled the purse strings for the Iraq war effort. They dedicated themselves to holding Democrats responsible for the war--"you're in power now, it's up to you to make it stop," basically, was how they put it--and some of their more sensationalistic protests have happened since the Democrats took power.
In March of 2007, four Code Pink members were arrested for staging a takeover of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's congressional office. They were there trying to tape a game of "Pin the War on the Donkey" to the wall in the hallway, and planned to play it as fellow protesters infiltrated the office (knowing that the Capitol Police would arrest them as they did so).
I was standing in the hall at the time (I'd heard this was going to take place), and I noticed that several of the protesters started crying, on cue, as the protest began.
I asked one of the criers, a 24-year-old named Rae Abileah who still serves as Code Pink's local groups coordinator--much younger than the group's leaders and probably the youngest one outside Pelosi's office that day--what the crying was all about. She told me she was crying out of "outrage that this is all we can get from the Democrats."
Then there was the blood-on-the-hands Condoleeza Rice incident in October 2007. As then-Secretary of State Rice began to take her seat at the witness table before a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing in 2007, one of Code Pink's leaders walked up to her and shoved fake-blood-stained hands in her face, shouting, "The blood of millions of Iraqis is on your hands, Condoleeeza!"
The late Tom Lantos, the committee's courtly, mild-mannered Democratic chairman--a Holocaust survivor born in Hungary--stepped between Rice and the protester, waving his arms frantically for police to get her out. "Out!" he shouted, as she was led away.
None of these antics have endeared Code Pink to Democrats, who are as irked as anyone else when protesters disrupt their hearings--especially since they've become the object of Code Pink's scorn.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Party rode anti-war sentiment to power in 2006, and when anti-war protesters began pressuring Democrats to strip funding for the war entirely--something President Bush had vowed to veto through several House votes on a defense appropriations bill in 2007--it was bad publicity.
Code Pink became a liability for the Democratic Party. Could Dems live up to the wishes of their base? became a question surrounding the new congressional majority.
And nobody liked that.
Pelosi succeeded in forcing Bush to veto an appropriations bill that contained benchmarks for the Iraqi government's internal political process--but a benchmarks strategy wasn't good enough for the protesters. Tensions were running high all-around: Democrats couldn't get their benchmarks approved, Bush couldn't get a war-funding bill to his desk, and Code Pink, all the while, protested them both.
When President Obama came to power and the Iraq war seemed to almost be over, I called Code Pink to ask them: what now? The war is going to end (or so everyone hoped), and the one candidate who opposed it from the start is now the leader of the free world. Do you pack up and go home?
"Well, we oppose the war in Afghanistan, so we plan to continue to protest," a Code Pink member told me then.
Naive as I was, this came as a surprise. The nation's anti-Iraq-war sentiment had been rolled into support for the effort in Afghanistan during the previous four years, as Democrats from John Kerry to Barack Obama called it the "forgotten war," blaming Bush and the GOP for starting an unnecessary fight in Iraq while ignoring the noble one in Afghanistan.
But Code Pink doesn't see it that way. Coincidentally, this is a position they may be forced to rethink, or so the Christian Science Monitor suggests: when Code Pink's leader, Medea Benjamin, traveled to Kabul, Afghanistan this month, she stood up at a town-hall meeting and asked Afghanistan's former Minister of Women, Masooda Jalal, if she would prefer more international troops or more development funds to flow into Afghanistan.
"It is good for Afghanistan to have more troops -- more troops committed with the aim of building peace and against war, terrorism, and security -- along with other resources," Jalal replied, according to the Monitor's Aunohita Mojumdar. "Coming together they will help with better reconstruction."
It is a reality that the whole of the nation's left must face: if U.S. troops withdraw from Afghanistan--or if the mission is scaled back to include counterterrorism operations and drone attacks along the Pakistani border, primarily against al-Qaeda--the Taliban will likely gain a greater foothold in parts of Afghanistan, which will mean hell to pay for some of America's supporters, and the elimination of rights for some women.
In Washington, DC, Code Pink continues to protest the Afghan war. Their function is to remind lawmakers that some Americans oppose it--or, at the very least, oppose the troop increase President Obama is weighing, even if they don't see things in Code Pink's starkly ideological terms. They are, in short, the voice of the nation's peaceniks on Capitol Hill.
But since 2006, when they decided to hold Democrats accountable for the war in Iraq, they've held an antagonistic relationship with the ruling party. Since then, Democrats haven't wanted to say anything bad about Code Pink--recognizing the anti-war, anti-Bush sentiment that buttered their bread in the '06 Democratic wave--but they haven't taken them particularly seriously, either.
A chunk of the anti-Iraq-war groups that thrived in the Bush years are either now defunct or have fallen out of prominence. On Capitol Hill, Code Pink remains the face of the protest effort.
As Democrats are faced with this pressure from clusters of pink-clad critics, with their president weighing a decision on the future of America's war in Afghanistan, it's questionable whether Code Pink actually pushes consensus toward withdrawal--or whether they turn Democrats off, to some degree, to what they stand for--just as the late Chairman Lantos had has fill two years ago.
Pasadena City College, Building R room 122
1570 E. Colorado Blvd in Pasadena
All are welcome to attend this forum for veterans, military families, and experts to share their views and experiences concerning the military. We will address the Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. We will also have a question and answer session.
Boots on the Ground-Marine Infantry (Iraq Veterans Against the War)
History's Relevance-Vietnam Veterans Against the War
A Daily Sacrifice-Military Families Speak Out
The Ultimate Sacrifice-Gold Star Families
Military Combat Strategy-Why the U.S. can't win an occupation
Guests should park in the designated student lot and follow the signs to building R room 122. Make sure to pay the $2 fee for parking and display it on your dashboard to avoid college citations. Please be prepared to register by showing identification and association to an organization (if any) the day of the event. All attendees should have proper registration to be allowed in by security personnel.
This is a peaceful and informative gathering. Attendees agree to abide to a strict Code of Conduct by registering and by presence. Violence, slander, or any other disruptive activity will not be tolerated and attendees displaying such behavior will be asked to leave.
Dinner and snacks will be provided and donations are highly encouraged and appreciated.
The event will also include informational resources from:
Military Families Speak Out
Vietnam Veterans Against the War
Veterans for Peace
Orange County Recruitment Awareness Project
Addicted to War
Peace Action West
SoCal Oath Keepers
For more information or to volunteer to help out at the event, please email Wendy Barranco at firstname.lastname@example.org. Members of the media contact should contact Pat Alviso at email@example.com.
This article, by Adriano Contreras, was posted to SocialistWorker.org, january 19, 2009
ROCHESTER, N.Y.--Members of the Campus Antiwar Network (CAN) at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) are celebrating a significant victory after the director for Campus Life issued the order to stop allowing military recruiters in the Student Alumni Union.
On January 15, CAN members were promoting an upcoming meeting calling for the U.S. to immediately withdraw from Afghanistan when an ally who works at the information desk told us that military recruiters were arriving in half an hour. An emergency message was immediately sent out to CAN members for a counter-recruitment action.
When two members of the National Guard arrived, one of them laid out their tablecloth and the other went to reserve a table. CAN members went over to one of the recruiters and asked him questions about Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine. The recruiter portrayed the National Guard as "the good guys," who "help out with Hurricane Katrina and stuff." He also claimed that the National Guard is not deployed overseas, which is false.
When the other Guardsman returned, he said that they couldn't have a table because of "something that happened before with the Marines or whatever."
The recruiters may have been clueless about why they couldn't have a table, but CAN members were very much aware. On October 24, CAN at RIT held a counter-recruitment action with over two dozen protesters, including members of the Iraq Veterans Against the War. Antiwar protesters chanting prevented recruiters from recruiting, and even talking. We forced them to pack up.
When the National Guard took off this time, our ally from the information desk told us that her supervisor told the National Guard recruiters that they and other branches of the military were not allowed to recruit in the building because the administration didn't want "another riot."
They may have been banned from the busiest place on campus, but they will find an alternative location to recruit. CAN has no problem with changing accommodations. We'll keep fighting.
This victory for the CAN chapter is also one for the student antiwar movement because this is what it means when we say activism matters. Organizing matters. Educating ourselves matters. Protest certainly does matter because it's the best weapon we have in combating budget cuts, recruiters, war profiteers, discrimination and any struggle that lies ahead.
FORT LEWIS, Wash. — Josh Barber, former combat soldier, parked outside the Army hospital here one morning last August armed for war.
A cook at the dining facility, Barber sat in his truck wearing battle fatigues, earplugs and a camouflage hood on his head. He had an arsenal: seven loaded guns, nearly 1,000 rounds of ammunition, knives in his pockets. On the front seat, an AK-47 had a bullet in the chamber.
The "smell of death" he experienced in Iraq continued to haunt him, his wife says. He was embittered about the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that crippled him, the Army's failure to treat it, and the strains the disorder put on his marriage.
Despite the firepower he brought with him, Barber, 31, took only one life that day. He killed himself with a shot to the head.
"He went to Fort Lewis to kill himself to prove a point," Kelly Barber says. " 'Here I am. I was a soldier. You guys didn't help me.' "
For two days, a surveillance camera recorded the truck sitting in the Madigan Army Medical Center parking lot. Inside the truck, the body lay undisturbed.
If Josh Barber wanted his suicide to make a statement, no one seemed to notice.
Barber's suicide is part of a larger story — the record number of soldiers, Marines and combat veterans who have killed themselves in recent years, at a time when the Pentagon has stretched deployments for combat troops to meet President Bush's security plans in Iraq. The Marine Corps reported 41 actual or suspected suicides in 2008, a 20% increase over 33 in 2007. In 2007, the Army counted 115 suicides, the most since tracking began in 1980. By October 2008, that record had been surpassed with 117 soldier suicides. Final numbers for 2008 have not been released.
Suicides among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans doubled from 52 in 2004 to 110 in 2006, the latest statistics available, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
And the suicide rate among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans is outpacing the rate among civilians, a disturbing trend because the military screens troops for mental health issues and servicemembers typically are healthier than civilians, says Han Kang, a VA epidemiologist.
"Cases like Sgt. Barber's are heartbreaking and my thoughts and prayers are with his family at this difficult time," says Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who has focused on military suicides as an issue and whose staff assisted Kelly Barber through her ordeal.
She says a cultural shift is needed in mental health care to expand outreach and de-stigmatize treatment for servicemembers and veterans.
"These problems can't be solved overnight," Murray says. "There is much more that needs to be done."
Josh Barber's wife shared his medical records with USA TODAY to provide a cautionary story about a soldier forced out of the service despite psychological illnesses caused by war.
"My husband fell through the cracks," Kelly Barber says, adding that she also is haunted by the idea that she could have done more to save him. "My husband's death shouldn't go in vain."
From cook to gunner
A large, jovial man who loved food and the outdoors, Josh Barber grew up in Traverse City, Mich. The youngest of two children, his parents divorced when he was in grade school.
Barber became engaged to Kelly Watson, the sister of his best friend, in 1997. He earned a high school equivalency degree before enlisting in the Army in 1999, and considered a career in the Army. But he changed his mind after serving in Iraq.He and Kelly married after his Army basic training and before he began attending cook school.
Barber had no history of mental health problems before enlisting, says his VA doctor, Lisa Olsen. His biggest problem was keeping his weight to service standards.
The Army's assignment to cook school led Barber to a job in which he excelled. His grill work was second to none — whipping up omelets and burgers to taste, always recalling a customer's favorite style of eggs, according to comments on his memorial page.
He took a job, Olsen notes, that was devoted to serving and feeding other soldiers. "He probably never suspected that he would be called on to serve in a combat role," she wrote in a letter to Kelly Barber, now 40, after his death.
But then, in 2003, the United States invaded Iraq.
When he arrived in Iraq in October 2004, contractors did the cooking. Barber was made a gunner on a Humvee. He stenciled a skull insignia from his favorite punk rock band, Misfits, onto his .50-caliber machine gun, and ran convoys. He worked base security along the Syrian border and manned an observation post near Fallujah during fighting there.
His only joy, Olsen says, were the care packages from Kelly Barber stuffed with beef jerky and jars of Jif peanut butter.
On Dec. 21, 2004, in Mosul, a suicide bomber detonated explosives in a mess tent, killing 22, including 14 soldiers. Barber stood guard over the carnage. He would never forget the "smell of death," he later told Kelly.
The shock of the blast affected others, including Army Gen. Carter Ham, who arrived at the scene 20 minutes after the attack. Ham told USA TODAY the incident contributed to the combat stress he developed afterward.
There's things that go on over there you'd never believe," Barber told one of his best friends, Justin Haelle, during a trip home in 2005, "things I'll never be able to tell Kelly about."
Diagnosed with depression
Barber earned a combat action badge for fighting in Iraq. When he rotated home in September 2005, he filled out a health survey saying he had seen Americans and insurgents killed and wounded, had fired his weapon in combat and feared for his life. He admitted feeling numb and detached from others.
Barber left active duty in 2006 for the Army Reserve. Now a civilian, he got a job as a temporary cook in the dining facility at Madigan Army Medical Center here at Fort Lewis, about 40 miles south of Seattle.
Shortly after coming home, he went deer hunting in Michigan with his father, Dennis, something both had happily anticipated after Josh Barber's long absence.
ut the son didn't kill anything that day. Later he told friends that he never even loaded his rifle while walking the brush.
One night during that hunting trip, the sound of gunfire woke Dennis Barber. He found his son, who had been drinking, blasting away at a paper target out in the darkness.
"What the hell are you doing?" he says he asked. Josh Barber stopped shooting and eventually went to bed.
Dennis Barber now wonders about that night.
"The armed forces can train you to do things you normally wouldn't do," he says of his son's experience. "But they've never been able to train people how to forget."
Barber's military records show he was forced out of the Reserve after a diagnosis of depression that was listed as "non-duty related." The Army provided no clarification on this issue. His plea to be retained and transferred into one of the newly created Warrior Transition Units for psychological care went unanswered, Kelly Barber says.
"The once smiling, happy man I knew is now quiet and depressed, reliving the events he experienced in Iraq today and full of guilt," she wrote in a 2006 letter to the VA. "He has had to face many demons."
About that same time, VA counselors diagnosed him with combat-related PTSD.
Classic symptoms were emerging, according to his medical records. Barber suffered nightmares filled with combat and explosions. He had flashbacks marked by moments when he simply seemed to be deep in thought, often while drinking vodka.
"He feels quieter and more isolated and feels somewhat less of a nice guy than he did before he deployed," counseling notes say.
Life was unraveling in different ways. It took more than seven months for the VA to re-evaluate his wartime disability and grant him benefits. At work, he struggled to be retained as a permanent employee and promoted. He was reprimanded for his anger, according to his records.
By this spring, Kelly Barber was working 52 hours a week at two hospital clerical jobs.
Josh Barber was drinking more, an increasing area of friction. The strain on the marriage was evident. Kelly Barber would find her husband crying in his sleep. He awoke from nightmares covered in sweat, his heart racing. His moods would alternate between feelings of apathy and moments of tearful reactions to small things, medical records show.
It was unclear whether Barber continued to take his anti-depression medication.
During one conversation about his drinking, Barber blurted out that he was afraid of going to hell for killing an innocent Iraqi in the war. Barber told his wife that if it wasn't for her, he would have committed suicide long ago.
Kelly Barber says she told him they would work through his problems.
When she awoke early on Aug. 24, Josh Barber was drinking vodka in front of the TV. Kelly Barber said she yelled at him for the first time.
"I said, 'If you continue to drink like this, I don't know how much more I can take,' " she recalls.
She now agonizes over that memory every day. "Did I give him an ultimatum?"
He vanished that night with his guns and ammunition in the Ford F-150 that Kelly Barber gave him as a coming-home gift from Iraq.
He left a note: "I love you. Please do not blame yourself. Sorry."
The search for answers
Army Col. Ronald Place, acting hospital director on the day Josh died, said "the whole family at Madigan Army Medical Center has suffered a lot with Mr. Barber's suicide."
Place said identifying and treating psychologically wounded soldiers has improved since Barber left the Army, but more needs to be done.
This young man served honorably in combat for 12 months," Place says. "We're still looking at how could we have potentially helped this civilian employee."
One problem is a failure to seek help, Place says. Barber showed signs of anxiety, anger and detachment from others in a Fort Lewis questionnaire filled out in November 2005. But he did not request any counseling, according to the document provided to USA TODAY.
A leading suspect in the rise of suicides are the long and multiple combat deployments — not as a direct cause, but as a leading factor behind the stresses and family divisions that result, says Col. Carl Castro, an Army psychologist and suicide researcher.
The historic causes of suicide are hopelessness borne of stress, failed relationships and legal and financial problems, he says.
Soldiers have been required to serve multiple 12- to 15-month combat tours, with short periods of rest in between. More than 60% of soldiers who killed themselves in 2008 were, or had been, deployed, figures show.
"So the question becomes, 'Well, what could be affecting those factors in making them higher? And that's really where we then start looking at frequent and long deployments," Castro says.
Surveys of troops reveal that mental health can fray after six or seven months of war, Castro says. "You start seeing huge differences in terms of depression scores, PTSD rates, all sorts of mental health issues," he says. "And I think it has to do with the separation from family and friends and that social support network."
To find answers, the Army joined with the National Institute of Mental Health in October seeking proposals for a $50 million study. It will track a cross-section of soldiers over years, sifting for clues about signs of self-destruction and also evidence of resilience, says Robert Heinssen, project officer.
The hope is for initial results in a year, he said. "We're trying to work it so we get as fast a start-up as possible because soldiers are dying. We feel that urgency."
Still reeling from twin blows of Josh Barber's suicide and his heavily armed appearance at Fort Lewis, his family and friends struggle to make sense of it. "Every time he turned around, he felt like he was getting slapped in the face," his friend Haelle says.
A memorial service with military honors will be held for Barber on March 6, at Sarasota National Cemetery in Sarasota, Fla.
"Everybody wants to know why," his father Dennis Barber says. "Why did you have all that ammunition? What was he going to do out there, have a stand-off? I don't think so. But then again, when people snap, you never know what you're going to do.
"Josh took that (answer) with him," Dennis Barber says.
This article, by Evan Goodenow, was originally published in the Fort Wayne News Sentinel, July 31, 2008
Returning home after serving a year near Nasiriyah as a military police officer with the Army National Guard, Kelly Dougherty remembers people asking her what it was like in Iraq. But as soon as she started going into detail, they quickly changed the subject.
“I started to feel like people don’t really want to know what my experience was; they just feel obligated to ask,” said Dougherty, executive director of Iraq Veterans Against the War. “They just want to keep me or keep the veterans in this box of idealized war hero and not confront what is actually being done in the name of them and in the name of our country.”
Dougherty co-founded Iraq Veterans Against the War in 2004 with the aim of telling the hard truths about the war that some Americans might not want to hear and to push for an immediate withdrawal of all U.S. soldiers from Iraq.
The organization is taking part in anti-war rallies around the country, and members are going into high schools in “counter-recruitment” efforts.
They’re also assisting in post-Hurricane Katrina rebuilding efforts to highlight what they say is a diversion of money to Iraq that they believe should have been spent at home.
Members are also speaking out about what they say happens when soldiers reach their physical and emotional breaking points by repeated deployments to Iraq.
At hearings held by the group in Silver Springs, Md., in March, Iraq War veterans spoke of routine atrocities committed by them and fellow soldiers: unarmed civilians shot at checkpoints, civilians run over by convoys driving fast to avoid ambushes or roadside bombs and innocent Iraqis routinely roughed up in their homes during raids.
Dougherty contends the “few bad apples” argument given whenever U.S. soldiers commit atrocities fails to recognize that those acts occur in an atmosphere in which military commanders and the White House either condone or look the other way at criminal behavior – such as the use of dogs, hooding, sleep deprivation and sexual degradation against Iraqi prisoners at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan and Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
Dougherty’s organization is pushing for a complete withdrawal, not the ones advocated by presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama, which would leave troops in or around Iraq to fight al-Qaida.
While many soldiers who have served in Iraq support the war, Dougherty believes anti-war vets can make the best case for withdrawal. And she disputes war supporters’ contentions that criticizing the war undermines soldiers in Iraq.
“We know what it’s like to lose our friends or to be injured ourselves or come home with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder,” Dougherty said. “What undermines the troops the most is being lied to by their political leadership.”
Adam Kokesh, IVAW board member, will speak at the Truth in Recruiting Meeting, focussing on how to talk to potential enlistees about what they can really expect from the military. Adam was in Fallujah in 2004 and also served at Camp Pendleton.
MARCH 10 to 12, 2008 (Monday to Wednesday) in Washington,D.C:
This March, while tens of thousands of Americans in Washington, D.C., and all over the United States participate in acts of nonviolent civil disobedience to protest the ongoing occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, and when soldiers and innocent civilian victims begin another year of occupation, torture, and murder, Congressmembers will be on vacation (from the 15th to 30th, technically a "district work period"), ignoring the killing and suffering they have enabled, supported, and financed.
To intensify the irony, Congress has condoned a widespread stop-loss policy in the military which requires soldiers to involuntarily extend their tours and prolong the killing. It is time to Stop-Loss Congress!
On Monday March 10, and Tuesday March 11, we will deliver "official" stop-loss notices to all members of Congress in their Capitol Hill offices. These will notify them that all of their LEAVES, VACATIONS, PASSES and HOME VISITS HAVE BEEN CANCELLED until further notice. Just as active-duty personnel endure involuntary extensions of their tours of duty, we are notifying Congress that they, too, will have their "tours of duty" INVOLUNTARILY EXTENDED until every soldier and mercenary out of Iraq and home. When all the troops and contractors get home, then Congress can go home, and no sooner. To sign the Stop Loss Order click here On Wednesday March 12, we will take nonviolent action on Capitol Hill, to ensure that, while thousands of Iraqis, Afghanis, and foreign invaders die and are injured for life, the members of Congress and their staffs will not go home but remain to DO THEIR DUTY, and immediately end the funding of the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. No member of Congress goes home until THE TROOPS COME HOME.
JOIN US! To Register click here
To Add Your Organization to the List of Participating Organizations click here
Mission Statement We believe that the time has passed to ask or petition or beg Congress to act under the will of the people. We believe that Congress works for US, and that the time has come to TELL them what they must do. It is time to stop the corrupt and murderous business as usual in the Senate and House of Representatives.
We will participate in non violent direct actions that will deliver our official orders to Congress, and confront them peacefully if they refuse to comply. When we model this behavior to the citizens of the USA, and the world, we hope to inspire them to take similar actions, and take back control of Congress and the Government that is ours.