Archive for March, 2007

Three Grannies and a Gramps arrested at recruiting office

March 28, 2007

From Portland Indymedia:

23896.jpgFour members of the surge Protection Brigade were arrested while closing down the NE POrtland Army recruiting Center on Friday, March 23rd. It is the eighth time the group has closed the office. A total of ten people – and seven rocking chairs – have been arrested. Today the rocking chisrs were just cited and released.

This action is in opposition to continued funding for a war of occupation that is destroying the people and country of Iraq, tearing apart families of dead and injured U.S. soldiers and draining scarce financial resources from domestic programs. Sara Graham, one of the grandmothers arrested at the recruiting center on February 2nd, was back again on Friday. She says, “Congress is betraying us, our children and our grandchildren. We’re here because we want no more funds for the war, no more troops for the war, no more war.”

The group is taking direct action at this recruiting office because we are frustrated that our elected officials have not heard the people’s voice that we want this war to end now. “We are appealing directly to young people – potential new recruits – please do not offer your life for this cause,” says Bonnie Tinker, a spokesperson for the group.

More info and pictures here.

Pat Elder: Counter-recruitment is crucial to anti-war movement

March 27, 2007

Pat Elder, a DC-based counter-recruiting organizer, published a great piece on Sunday at CommonDreams.org. He calls for an increased focus on counter-recruiting in schools, as a means of materially starving the war machine, by anti-war activists nationwide.

The sentiment of this piece is right on, but I can’t help but notice that that Elder doesn’t mention widespread high-profile direct actions against military recruiters that take place outside of schools as another component of a counter-recruitment strategy. These actions are the face of counter-recruiters. They showcase their power, passion and creativity, and they should go hand-in-hand with the more mundane but vital work of challenging the recruiter presence in high schools that Elder advocates.

Counter-Recruitment Deserves Higher Priority on the Peace Agenda
by Pat Elder

The mainstream peace and justice movement is beginning to see that countering military recruitment deserves a higher priority and should be viewed in strategic, rather than tactical terms. Resisting the unprecedented and relentless militarization of American youth transcends the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Countering military recruitment confronts an ugly mix of a distinctively American brand of institutionalized violence, racism, militarism, nationalism, classism, and sexism.  It gets to the root of the problem.

Confronting the work of military recruiters, particularly in the nation’s public schools will provide a catalyst for activists to shift gears from the traditional antiwar tactics of vigils, protests, sit-ins, and CD actions to the long-term strategy of opposing the militarization of youth.  The two are not necessarily mutually exclusive. One however, treats symptoms; the other addresses causes.

Simply put, the strategy of the counter-recruiting movement is to put the imperial armed forces of the United States into a kind of vice that squeezes new recruits from the ranks.  One end of the vice is the near universal rejection of the return of the military draft.  Remember how the House voted 402-2 against reinstating the daft back in October of 2004?  Bringing back the draft is unthinkable.  Conscription would result in demonstrations of millions that would ultimately end the war and result in a political revolution.  The crushing steel on the opposite side of the vice is the counter-recruitment movement, aided by an American public that increasingly recognizes illegal and immoral wars.

Counter recruitment activists are putting on the squeeze.  They’re doing it by learning about high school policies that favor military recruiters and they’re organizing their communities to change it.  They’re providing youth with training, employment and educational alternatives to military service.  They’re engaged with community leaders and the press in promoting a greater awareness of encroaching militarism.  And they’re being successful across the country.

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Peace groups criticize recruitment in DC-area schools

March 27, 2007

The Washington Times reports on local opposition by peace activists to recruiter behavior in both middle and high schools:

Activists hit access for military groups
By Kristen Chick

Members of a Montgomery County parent organization criticized the school board at its meeting last night for giving military recruiters what they say is unlawful access to schools.

The Montgomery Coalition on Recruitment Issues (MCRI) and various peace groups asked the board to keep recruiters out of school hallways and lunchrooms, to keep junior ROTC programs from being marketed to eighth-graders and to apply the same standards to junior ROTC instructors that apply to regular teachers.

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US Soldiers Against Iraq War Seeking Way Out

March 26, 2007

Via Alternet.org, we found this excellent article in the German newspaper Der Spiegel, which examines the struggles of soldiers who go, or try to go, AWOL.

A few notes: “John,” an AWOL soldier on the run, describes the army as “like a slavery contract,” is profiled. Below is a picture of Agustin Aguayo, who was denied conscientious objector status and now faces a court martial in Germany, who is also profiled. Michael Sharp, director of the Military Counseling Network, says since Bush announced the surge his organization has received a similar surge in requests for help from soldiers considering leaving the service.

cobjector.jpg Casualties of Conscience
By Mary Wiltenburg

As criticism of the Iraq war grows at home, some US soldiers abroad are rejecting Bush’s mission. On military bases across Germany, many are now seeking a way out through desertion or early discharge.

When he goes underground, he won’t tell his mom. “John,” a rangy young soldier with arresting eyebrows, has planned each step carefully. He will spend his leave from an Army base in Germany at home in the northeastern United States, snowboarding, visiting friends, and hanging out with his teenage siblings.

Then he’ll disappear. When the military police call his mother and stepfather, the hard-line Bush supporters will be able to say honestly that they don’t know where their son is.

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Weekend Humor

March 26, 2007

humor_failedrecruiting.jpg

DREAM ACT as military draft for youth

March 24, 2007

From my inbox:

DREAM ACT as military draft for our youth….

Today March 1, 2007 there was an announcement that the Dream Act will be re-introduced, by representatives Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Howard Berman (D-CA), and Royal Allard (D-CA) and in the senate Richard Durbin (D-IL), Chuck Hagel (R-NE), and Richard Lugar (R-IN) also announced that they will introduce the DREAM Act within the next couple of days.

This measure is supposed to offer citizenship to “immigrant” students with conditions, but we must read between the fine lines what this measure really proposes is just another poverty draft in our communities.

When this measure was first introduced five years ago, many of us supported it, because we fundamentally believe that everyone has the right to an education, what has changed since then is that:

1). “Immigrant” students will be able to pay in-state tuition fees, but NOT have access to federal funding (loans, financial aid, etc.). Given the rise in cost of a college education (even at the community college level), and stringent college admission requirements this will limit many in our community to pursue an education because most students need to work to support their families and DO NOT have the economic means to go to college.

2). Military service substituted the original proposal of community service. We are well aware that the majority of our youth will opt for this choice due to their economic reality, this is why we call the “DREAM” Act for what it is a poverty draft/Surge Act. Our youth will be forced to fight unjust wars and risk their lives for citizenship. [my emphasis]

We are aware that neither the Republican nor the Democratic parties have the interest of the Mexican and Latino Americano working class communities in mind, and this is why we say NO to the DREAM Act and YES to a legalization process without conditions and
the unconditional right to an education and access to higher learning institutions!

We make a call to all progressive youth, student, and community organizations to join us in the struggle to denounce legislation that will force us to fill the rank and file of the U.S. Military. Don’t Join the Military, join Somos Raza in opposing this piece of dangerous legislation by signing on to the statement below. Organize and unite with the interests of our community!

In solidarity & in struggle,
Somos Raza

The text of Somos Raza and allied organizations’ full statement, in English and Spanish, in opposition to the DREAM Act is below.

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More thousands deserting Army each year

March 23, 2007

0323-nat-webawol.gifFrom today’s New York Times, following up on a story first reported by NPR:

Army Revises Upward Number of Desertions in ’06
By Paul von Zielbauer

A total of 3,196 active-duty soldiers deserted the Army last year, or 853 more than previously reported, according to revised figures from the Army.

The new calculations by the Army, which had about 500,000 active-duty troops at the end of 2006, significantly alter the annual desertion totals since the 2000 fiscal year.

In 2005, for example, the Army now says 2,543 soldiers deserted, not the 2,011 it had reported. For some earlier years, the desertion numbers were revised downward.

National Public Radio first reported on Tuesday that the Army had been inaccurately reporting desertion figures.

A soldier is considered a deserter if he leaves his post without permission, quits his unit or fails to report for duty with the intent of staying away permanently. Soldiers who are absent without leave — or AWOL, a designation that assumes a soldier still intends to return to duty — are automatically classified as deserters and are dropped from a unit’s rolls if they remain away for more than 30 days.

Some Army officers link the recent uptick in annual desertion rates to the toll of wartime deployments and point to the increasing percentage of troops who are on their second or third tours in Iraq or Afghanistan.

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New Brunswick: Protesters block recruiting station, highway

March 23, 2007

Via SDS’s roundup of media on the March 20 anti-war student walkouts, I found this posting on Infoshop:

The Hub City got hot on the fourth anniversary of the Iraq invasion as 400 anti-war demonstrators marched through downtown New Brunswick, NJ. Protesters took over the downtown shopping district, blocked a Marine recruitment station and shut down south bound lanes on Route 18 during rush hour traffic. Police responded only by halting traffic on the highway and tailing the march during the three hour long action. There were no arrests.

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Maryland: Guard recruiters punished after probe

March 21, 2007

Also see our post on proposed internal measures to curb widespread recruiter misconduct.  From the Feb. 24 Washington Post:

The Maryland Army National Guard’s recruitment chief was stripped of his command and about a dozen other recruiters were punished after an investigation revealed misuse of government money, fraudulent enlistments and improper relationships among Guard members.

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Brooklyn protests Marines recruitment station

March 21, 2007

I like the creativity of these activists – particularly the symbolic smashing of a “war machine” pinata in the shape of a tank, full of bloody toy soldiers. From NYC Indymedia:

[On March 19, the fourth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq,] a small but spirited group of 45 (more or less) anarchists and anti war activists marched from the Atlantic Center in Brooklyn to the near by Times Plaza US Armed Forces recruiting center. Protesters marched, chanting anti recruiting slogans and handing out information on recruiters, and the lies they tell to sign up young people. A booklet offering other options for financial support to go to College was also distributed.

Once we reached the Recruiting center a pinata of an army tank with ‘Destroy the War Machine” written on it was smashed revealing ‘blood soaked’ plastic soldiers and the names of many of the soldiers who have died in Iraq. The recruiting station was open and the recruiters came to the windows to see what was happening. We stayed at the center for 45 minutes and then continued on handing out flyers along Fulton Mall and then doubling back to the Atlantic Ave Subway stop when we received word that there were recruiters operating inside of the station. By the time we made it there they had left.

All in all the event was very positive and successful, we had many people honk their horns in support and many good conversations with interested passerby who stopped to find out what was going on.

And unlike last years event the police presence was not out of control and was in fact pretty tame.