Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans to Detail War Crimes in Upcoming Hearings

The emergence of Vietnam Veterans Against the War was pivotal in building decisive opposition to Washington’s Southeast Asian folly.

When kids who’d left home as gullible believers in U.S. foreign policy myths returned as embittered witnesses to grim truths about imperialism, their family and friends — and complete strangers — were compelled to listen to what they angrily had to say.

Especially when they tossed their medals over the White House fence during Operation Dewey Canyon III, or when they convened the Winter Soldier Investigation, exposing routine atrocities in which they’d been forced to participate.

The more things change, the more they stay the same, and a new activist group of former service personnel, Iraq Veterans Against the War, is arranging its own revelation of standard-operating-procedure horrors, to be presented in Washington, March 13-16, 2008.

Here’s what IVAW has to say about that planned event:

This spring, Iraq Veterans Against the War is revealing the reality of the U.S. occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. In what will be history’s largest gathering of U.S. veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as Iraqi and Afghan survivors, eyewitnesses will share their experiences in a public investigation called Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan.

Winter Soldiers, according to founding father Thomas Paine, are those who stand up for the soul of their country, even in its darkest hours. With this spirit in mind, IVAW members are standing up to make their experiences available to all who are concerned about the direction of our country.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time America has needed its Winter Soldiers. In 1971, over one hundred members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War gathered in Detroit to share their stories with America. Atrocities like the My Lai massacre had ignited popular opposition to the war, but political and military leaders insisted that such crimes were isolated exceptions. The members of VVAW knew differently.

Over three days in January, those soldiers testified on the systematic brutality they had seen visited upon the people of Vietnam.

Over thirty years later, we find ourselves faced with a new war. But the lies are the same. Once again, American troops are sinking into an increasingly bloody occupation. Once again, war crimes in places like Haditha, Fallujah, and Abu Ghraib have turned the public against the war. Once again, politicians and generals are blaming ‘a few bad apples’ instead of examining the military policies that have destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan.

Once again, our country needs Winter Soldiers.

From March 13-16, 2008, Iraq Veterans Against the War will gather in our nation’s capital to break the silence and hold our leaders accountable for these wars. We hope you’ll join us, because ours is a story that every American needs to hear.

Recently, not far from here, a young Iraq war veteran fatally shot himself.

He’d returned from combat a fundamentally changed, deeply troubled person.

Before taking his own life, he revealed how he’d been ordered to gun down an unarmed Iraqi man who was approaching a checkpoint, oblivious to shouted warnings to stop.

The doomed individual turned out to be not just an innocent civilian — probably unfamiliar with the foreign language of alien occupiers — but a physician.

Family and friends of the traumatized soldier urged that he seek professional help for his worsening stress disorder, but he refused, contending it would show “weakness” that the military had inculcated in him was not manly to do.

IVAW’s upcoming testimony will show not only that the murder of unarmed noncombatants in Iraq and Afghanistan is pervasively prevalent, but that returning veterans are commonly so psychologically damaged by what they’ve experienced that suicide or dysfunction leading to disproportionate homelessness, for instance, is almost an expected consequence.

It’s that outcome, exceeding even the illegality and immorality of the initiating policy itself, that constitutes this awful period in our history’s most unpardonable crime.

Please help draw attention to IVAW’s vitally important hearings.

Together we can finally end the ongoing fiasco that’s causing everyone but conscience-devoid war profiteers such terrible harm.

Dennis Rahkonen, from Superior, Wisconsin, has been writing progressive commentary with a Heartland perspective for various outlets since the '60s. Read other articles by Dennis.

8 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Alec said on February 6th, 2008 at 3:30pm #

    Any chance this will be carried on a radio or cabel network?

  2. Dan said on February 7th, 2008 at 8:15am #

    IVAW is an organization of fakes, wannabes and section 8s.

    Of the 100 bits of testimony in the original Winter Soldiers in 1971, all of them were proven to be lies made up by fakes or by people who were untraceable. There was not a shred of truth in it and it slandered a whole generation of veterans.

    If any of these IVAW frauds actually witnessed a war crime and did not report it at the time they are guilty of aiding and abetting the crime.

    But then again, IVAW has had the like of the fraud Jesse MacBeth making claims of crimes before.

    Dan Maloney
    NY State Coordinator
    Gathering of Eagles

  3. Lloyd Rowsey said on February 7th, 2008 at 8:52am #

    Thank you, Dennis. I have contributed money to the Winter Soldier campaign and will continue to so.

    Readers. At the IVAW website, a very powerful DVD — The Ground Truth — is for sale. It is not about the air war, much less about pilots like McCain. It is about the grond war in Iraq. Proceeds go to IVAW.

    I certainly hope this post is not, as so many of mine in the past have been — a thread-stopper.

  4. Lloyd Rowsey said on February 7th, 2008 at 4:21pm #

    Don’t feel bad, Dennis Rahkonen, and neither will I. No one reads Dissident Voice anymore but DV-Regulars who have a high Need-To-Get their names in public somewhere. It’s a has-been operation run by Kim Petersen, devoted to putting up unreadably long articles by unknowns, with a sprinkling of humor, name-authors, and utter contentiousness to generate SOME responses. In a word, Dennis, Dissident Voice is lost.

    Lloyd Rowsey

  5. Erroll said on February 7th, 2008 at 7:26pm #

    Researching Dan Maloney’s quasi-fascist, if not outright fascist, Gathering of Eagles reveals a group who have done their best to smear Cindy Sheehan and Jane Fonda, by attempting to claim that Ms. Sheehan and Ms. Fonda have maligned veterans, while ignoring that veterans had rallied to support Cindy Sheehan while she and others were protesting outside Bush’s ranch in the summer of 2005. Maloney may believe that Jane Fonda somehow despises veterans. Apparently this crypto fascist is unaware of the FTA tours that were conducted in the early 1970s by Ms. Fonda and other entertainers during the Vietnam conflict. One would have thought that if the Vietnam veterans looked at Ms. Fonda with such scorn and contempt that they would have boycotted the FTA tours. On the contrary, more than 60,000 American soldiers went to see the FTA tours at places like Japan, the Philippines and Okinawa because the military would not allow Jane Fonda to tour inside Vietnam. The GIs loved the FTA tours because, unlike the government propaganda handed out by Bob Hope on his USO tours, the GIs knew that Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland and the rest of the entertainers empathized and sympathized with the fact that the soldiers, like those today in Iraq, were lied to by their government about Vietnam. The FTA technically stood for Fun, Travel and Adventure but for the GIs, it stood for Fuck the Army.

    The Gathering of Eagles claimed that during an anti-war rally in Washington, D.C., they wanted to make sure that the anti-war crowd would not spit on members of the military who fought in Iraq. This has about as much credibility as claiming that Vietnam Veterans were spat upon when they returned to the United States, despite the fact that there is almost no credible evidence at all to support this claim [as evidenced by Jerry Lembcke in the powerful documentary Sir! No Sir!, who wrote the book The Spitting Myth].

    The Gathering of Eagles-an organization which has as much credibility as the Bush administration, which is to say none at all.

  6. DavidG. said on February 7th, 2008 at 8:36pm #

    It’s sad to see this kind of skirmish on Dissident Voice. But then it is living up to its title, isn’t it?

    Humans are the most ornery creatures!

  7. Lloyd Rowsey said on February 7th, 2008 at 9:58pm #

    I don’t know how “Dan’s” post appeared between Alec’s and my post, above. In fact, when I posted my first post above, there was only Alec’s post preceding it. And when I posted my second post above, there were only Alec’s post and my previous post preceding it.

    The obvious effect of this evidently editorial transpostition is to put me in the middle of a “skirmish” which DavidG, the last poster, describes as “sad.”

    Well, DavidG, it’s even sadder that the editors of Dissident Voice have the freedom and inclination to make these transpostions. And just for the record, in case it also makes you “sad” to hear my complaint, I agree 100% with Eroll and I consider Dan Maloney the be the sort of slime the “Ghostbusters” dealt with in a movie, long ago. Touch him, and you’re slimed.

  8. Lloyd Rowsey said on February 23rd, 2008 at 10:08am #

    As of today, 02.23.008:

    Sunil K. Sharma, Editor and Publisher: gro.eciovtnedissid.wennull@rotide
    Kim Petersen, Co-Editor: gro.eciovtnedissid.wennull@mik
    Joshua Frank, Co-Editor: gro.eciovtnedissid.wennull@auhsoj