Friday, November 11, 2005

Veteran's, Soldiers, War and Antiwar: A Debate


Re: Honor the Warrior, Not the War
by Makhno

18 Oct 2005

While I empathize with those families, spouses, children, friends and loved ones who have lost someone in Iraq or Afghanistan, I have to ask, what are we expected to 'honor' them for? For invading someone else's country and killing thousands of people? For rape, looting, torture, and the daily oppression of the Iraqi people? For their efforts, knowing or not, to protect the interests of corporate capitalism?


Honor the Warrior?
by Bob Schwartz

18 Oct 2005
I agree with Makhno. Last night I viewed the 'Two Days in October' program on WTTW. A portrayal of US government lies in Vietnam and cop repression of student-led dissent at the University of Wisconsin, it showed among other things how working class guys were used to kill peasants in Vietnam and bash and even kill protesters in the US.

One thing we need to make clear is that our friends, sons, daughters, sisters and the like are not fighting for 'our' interests but the interests of the Haliburton's and Bechtel's of this nation.

This won't happen if we continue to 'honor' the warriors, thus blurring the lines between the class interests being defended and sacrificed by war criminals on Wall Street and on Capitol Hill.


Re: Honor the Warrior, Not the War
by Carl Davidson

19 Oct 2005

'Honor the Warrior, Not the War' has been one of the main banners carried by VVAW in every antiwar action since Vietnam.

I'd put on my thinking cap, guys, if you can't figure out why this slogan is a good one. I would NOT start lecturing the vets on the evils of imperialism and its wars. Believe me, they know far more than you do about it -- what they did, what was done to them, and what they had to do to survive. Arrogant diatribes from those who have never smelled the stink of war and all its horrors are not appropriate.

Back to the issue.

Who is the slogan aimed at?

First all of, the warmakers. It says we soldiers won't honor or support your wars. There is nothing the ruling class fears more than that emerging sentiment in the ranks of their army. Second of all, it's aimed at all the sunshine patriots who like to think soldiers don't do things like speak out against wars while the wars are being fought. It says, wake up to the truth of this war.

Second, honor the warriors -- who is that aimed at?

First of all, other soldiers and their families. And by putting honoring themselves in the context of dishonoring the war, it says we are in solidarity, we have suffered and caused suffering together at the hands of these warmakers, we are now affirming our humanity in the midst of inhumanity, and we are affirming a bond AMONG us and AGAINST them.

Second, it aimed at others in the antiwar movement. It says, deal with us, we are your allies, but you can't pigeon-hole us with a one-dimensional moralism. We don't want your petty bougeois contempt or your liberal sympathy. We want your solidarity. We are the section of the antiwar movement in uniform, and if you can't figure out the importance of that, then you have a lot to learn.

I've gotten behind VVAW's 'Honor the Warrior, Not the War' banner every year for more than 30 years, and I'll keep on doing it.

Usually 50 or 100 folks show up at Wacker and Wabash on Veterans Day and Memorial Day each year. Why don't we make it 500 or 1000 this year? You can talk with the vets and exchange views on the matter, and we'll all learn a few things.


Honor the Warrior?

by Bob Schwartz

19 Oct 2005

...Carl's patronizing lecture to those who haven't participated in US imperial wars cannot change the fact that 9-11 was a consequence of US imperialism and that the attack on Afghanistan was not a 'necessary war' any more than was Vietnam or Iraq.

'Love of country' is, after all, patriotism which is held by Marxists to be intrinsically reactionary in the imperialist states, as Carl recently reminded me in another matter. Remember Lenin's 'Great State' chauvinism, Carl?

What I hear in the WAW slogan is a liberal critique of policy rather than a radical critique of the system that promotes a necessary policy. In other words, imperialism is not a policy.

While I may march with vets who oppose particular wars like Vietnam and Iraq, I do so with the consciousness and critique that I have advanced, and will continue to advance.


Re: Honor the Warrior, Not the War
by Carl Davidson

19 Oct 2005

I wouldn't try to frame VVAW as 'liberal' and yourself as 'true anti-imperialist,' Bob. It's just wrong and you'll get yourself in a mess.

But then, you're a 'white mother country radical,' to use the old Panther Party term, who frequently lectures Black leaders for not being sufficiently antiracist, so I guess you're used to it.

Also, if you want to take on VVAW, why not criticize them directly rather than their ally, whom you quote?

And besides, while we're 'revolutionary defeatists' on the war in Iraq, do you really want to take the same stand vis-a-vis bin Laden and his gang? Don't you also want to see him captured, brought to justice and his group put out of business?

Perhaps you just don't want the U.S. and a war to do it. If so, then how and by whom? Or would you just go along with a few more 'victories' like 9/11 for al-Quada, and blame them solely on Bush?

I think Bush lost half the battle with bin Laden the next day after 9/11 when he called for a 'war on terrorism.' But that doesn't mean a worldwide campaign to bring bin Laden and his group to justice should be dropped. Or do you think it should?

The world gets complcated, a little beyond a few slogans sometimes. As Lenin was fond of saying, quoting Goethe, 'Theory is grey, but life is green.'

As for 'intrinsically reactionary,' you seem to have ignored my answer to you on the topic, so here's the repost:

'You got part of it right, Bob, except for the word 'intrinsically.'

'The chauvinism and nationalism of the Great Nations is reactionary for all practical purposes in this day and age. But I'd watch out for 'intrinsic' or 'in essense' -- these are terms that can drag you into idealist metaphysics, a la Plato.

'But Lenin also upheld what he called the 'national pride' of the Great Russian workers, and opposed the petty bourgeois 'national nihilism' of the Great Russian and European intellectuals.

'But you're also right that there is a slippery slop from chauvinism to patriotism, especially among the 'Great' or oppressor nations.

'The way I tell the difference is to ask 'Who is it aimed it?'

'When Lou Dobbs or Pat Buchanan wave the flag, it's usually aimed at 'Jose' -- immigrants and undocumented workers -- and thus divisive and reactionary. But when Woody Guthrie says 'This land is your land, this land is my land...' it's aimed at the rich and welcoming to all working people, whatever their nationalities.

'One patriotism hates internationalism; the other, like the Abe Lincoln contingent in the International Brigades that fought in Spain, defends Internationalism and sees itself as one part of it, but without repudiating its own country's democratic tradiitions and values.

'Nationalism will eventually go the way of the Dodo bird, as will classes. But I'd bet that classes and class identity dissolves and withers away before nations and national indentity does.

'As someone who studies Zen, I think these are all social constructions, including our notions 'masculine' and 'feminine,' or even constructed self identities like 'Bob Schwartz' and 'Carl Davidson.' They're always changing, and the point is neither to cling to them nor to repulse them, but to let go of either approach to identity, step by step, in favor of awakening to the interconnectedness of all things.

'But the time frame for this process is probably longer than this life.

'In the meantime, we should contest the right over patriotism, first, because the large majority of folks we need to stop the war see themselves as patriots even as they are coming to hate the warmakers. And second, because we shouldn't hand the right anything on a silver platter.'


Jackson and bin Laden: reply to Carl D

by Bob Schwartz

19 Oct 2005

Carl wrote, 'But then, you're a 'white mother country radical,' to use the old Panther Party term, who frequently lectures Black leaders for not being sufficiently antiracist, so I guess you're used to it.'

This I have not done, Carl. What I have written you seem to have ignored: I have opposed the antigay lectures of Jesse Jackson, most particularly his statement that, 'Some slave-owners were gay.' And his opposition to marriage rights for same-sex couples. I have also written that Jackson has said and done little or nothing about racist cop attacks IN CHICAGO.

And now a question for Carl: Do you really want Osama bin Laden hunted down and killed or tried under the bloody banner of US imperialism? That's worked out reallly well in Iraq with Hussein, hasn't it? There you have the Bush gang arrogating to itself the right to try a former ally who fell out of grace, while they continue their global rampage of destruction and death, with victims numbering in the hundreds of thousands.

We need to keep our perspective: Bush and the rest of the mob in the White House, on Capitol Hill and on Wall Street are the enemy. Not bin Laden.


Re: Honor the Warrior, Not the War

by J.

19 Oct 2005

I'd say both the Bin Laden gang, and the Bush gang, are enemies.

It's not an either/or proposition.


Re: Honor the Warrior, Not the War

by Carl Davidson

19 Oct 2005
I rest my case, Bob, your remarks on Jesse and police brutality prove it.

On the other matter, if you'll notice, I said I wanted to see bin Laden brought to justice and his group put out of business, not slaughtered. But maybe it's all the same to you.

As for bin Laden not being an enemy, I suggest you make the case to his victims -- the 3000 families at the WTC, the families of Africans slain on the street at the embassies bombings, the families of subway and train riders in Spain, the tourists and hotel workers in Indonesia, the Shia and Kurds beheaded or just blown up in markets or mosques, and more I've probably overlooked.

But then, if you want to make an ally of billionaire Saudis into restoring a theocratic fascist Caliphate via the slaughter of innocents, why don't you ponder what that means for gays and lighten up of Jesse?


Re: Honor the Warrior, Not the War
by Joshua

19 Oct 2005

You don't have to 'honor' them. But you can give them credit for having the guts and the testicular fortitude to do what a lot of people won't.

While people sit in coffee houses sipping lattes and espouse the 'greatness' of communism, anarchism and socialism, these people got off their asses and served their country.

Granted military service is not for everyone. I suspect a goodly number of people who hate the military would piss themselves or start crying if they found themselves in bootcamp. I was in Marine Corps bootcamp and I've seen the people that weren't cut out for it.

As a Marine Corps vet I think Afghanistan was a good idea. Let's hope that the earthquake over there dropped several tons of rock on top of Bin Laden and his cronies.

Iraq is another story. Bush has been trumpeting for a while about 'the march of freedom'.

Sorry W, but I don't give a damn about the Iraqi's freedom. If revolution was good enough for the U.S. then it should be good enough for other countries.

Quit pissing American money and lives away on these people.

Not worth it.


Re: Honor the Warrior, Not the War
by Ernst Thalman

19 Oct 2005

I don't know if Mr. Schwartz's characterization of VVAW as 'liberal' illustrates the scope and power of the ideological blinders he has chosen to impose upon himself or just sheer ignorance.

VVAW's actions during the last years of the Vietnam War were a radical and POWERFUL challenge... it may not look like it from our contemporary perspective but as an observer AND participant I can tell you it was. Enough so that the organization was targeted by the Nixon administration for COINTELPRO actions similar to those experienced by the Panthers, SWP, et al.

For example:

'In May 1972, Bill Lemmer, Southern Regional Coordinator of Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW), a key group in the convention protest coalition, surfaced as an undercover FBI operative. Lemmer's false testimony enabled the Bureau to haul the VVAW's national leadership before a grand jury hundreds of miles away during the week of the convention.'

There was even an attempt during the 2004 elections to use kerry's brief association with VVAW in 70 and 71 to 'smear' him as a 'radical'.

A purer than thou or more anti-imperialist than thou approach to ideological debate and organizing is no way to build a mass movement. The histronics remind me of Pavel Antipov/Strelnikov in Pasternak's famous novel (and not the cheesy movie)


Vietnam Vets Against the War Have Played a Significant Role

by Bob Schwartz

19 Oct 2005

Mr. Thalman, I do not mean to suggest that WAW have not shown courage and played a significant role in challenging US government policy in Vietnam and in Iraq.

Of course they garnered the wrath of the Nixon crowd in the 1970s. Nixon, like Bush and almost all of the Democrats today, brooked no opposition to US war policy, even if aimed at only particular wars. Former military men and women attacking government war policy is especially troubling to the war makers.

That a gang of right-wing extremists charged Kerry with being a 'radical' in 1970-71 does not make it so. The right-wingnuts chant a mantra about a 'liberal' media, but you and I probably agree that it is not.

If we don't get underneath the idea that bad leaders (Nixon, Bush, maybe Johnson) sometimes get the US into 'mistaken' foreign wars, we'll be back here a few years from now to challenge the next 'mistake.' Maybe even sooner, if the Bush criminals attack Iran, an attack that(liberal Democrat)Barack Obama has already OK'd.

The ideological debate that you say you support is exactly what I'm trying to promote.


Re: Honor the Warrior, Not the War

by Carl Davidson

19 Oct 2005

Can't resist, can you Bob? No matter what you're talking about, you've got to find a way to take a shot at a Black guy -- Obama, Jesse, whoever...

But more to the point, I don't think you know much of anything about VVAW or its history in the left, and I suggest you take a little time to bone up on it. You'll find their anti-imperialist creditials, in both theory and practice, second to none on the left -- and probably considerably deeper and more nuanced than yours. Better yet, just give Barry Romo or Bill Davis or Dave Cline a call and tell them you have a critique of their 'particular war' liberalism and their lack of understanding of imperialism and how it works, and then come back and tell the rest of us how it went...

Meanwhile, I'm serious about Vets day this Nov 11. Let's all make a united effort to get 500 or 1000 folks down to Wabash and Wacker at 11am


Re: Honor the Warrior, Not the War
by H.G. Flynn

19 Oct 2005

I don't agree with you often Carl but I have to give you props for your last comment. Bravo.

you may just have convinced me to join you on 11/11

In my opinion Bob's attempts to twist the history of VVAW to make a 'political point' puts him in the camp of such 'historians' as david irving



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At best the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, are anticlerical fascism. I'd even say the invasion of Iraq, was started with a sense of idealism. If it was only about oil, you could just cut a deal with Saddam.


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