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(This commentary piece also appears in THE VETERAN, Fall 2019 (Volume 49, Number 2).)

Forever Wars Demand Forever Opposition

By Bill Branson

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From the VVAW National Office

Six months ago, The Veteran called out President Chump. We joined progressive groups and individuals all over the US in puncturing Chump's latest bloody trial balloon; the invasion of Venezuela.

Now, we have to add to that list, NO WAR WITH IRAN! As the lies roll out and President Bone Spurs struts about, the insanely greedy profiteers in the international arms industry lick their chops. Seems like Chump, the Republican party and their masters are hell bent on starting another war somewhere. Could it be that they are feeling the heat from a fed-up public, tired, tired of the trillions spent on these "Forever Wars?"

This fall, the US War on Afghanistan turns 18. This is unacceptable! Young men and women registering to vote, enrolling in college, or enlisting in the military have never known a time in their lives without the brutal, senseless grind of the war in Afghanistan.

On September 27, 2001, VVAW issued this call:

"We speak out of duty to our country and the world, solidarity with those serving in the military and love of our families and friends when we take this stand:

•We condemn the criminal attacks of September 11 and demand that those responsible be held accountable and brought to justice.

•We mourn for the victims and offer our heartfelt sorrow and sympathy to the families and friends of those we lost.

•We condemn bigotry and violence against Arabs, Muslims and immigrants which threaten these communities because of their race, nationality and religion.

•We oppose efforts to curtail our basic civil liberties and democratic rights and must defend the Constitution from those who are undermining it.

•We do not believe that militarism and war will provide justice or security and oppose major US military intervention in Afghanistan or other countries."

In March 2002, we made this statement:

"Domestically, we demand the equal protection of everyone's civil rights. We condemn the fact that several thousand Muslims in the United States have been detained and held incommunicado without trial, or charge, or even legal rights. We oppose such practices and their corollary, racial profiling, in the domestic side of this 'war on terrorism.'

Finally, we in VVAW call upon all who support peace with social justice to act on their principles and join with others in their communities to oppose the 'war on terrorism' as it is currently being waged, and to oppose domestic terrorism in the guise of "public safety" as it is codified in the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001 (HR 3162) and other legislation."

When VVAW was first established in 1967, we wanted to end the war in Vietnam, but we did so much more. We've made history and we've changed America.

Yes, tens upon tens of thousands of vets found a home (not to mention husbands, wives, partners, parents, ne'er-do-wells and malcontents). But we did not just camp; we did not hide out, feeling "unappreciated." No, we spoke out. We acted. We took our message to the American people and to the international community. We changed policies and minds through our commitment and our activism.

We have a past and a present. VVAW also has a future, as long as real social justice and peace elude the peoples of the world. As veterans, we know the true costs of war extend beyond any battlefield, and we have a responsibility to educate our fellow citizens about this. They (the Rich) are certainly willing to go to war to produce more casualties; but they are not willing to pay for their own policies. The veterans and civilian victims of these wars are just trash to be discarded. This is nothing new to us.

VVAW members around the country and around the world must still speak out in high schools, colleges, pulpits, the halls of Congress and the streets. We still have to feed homeless vets, fight privatizing the VA, and demand decent benefits. Why? Because it is crystal clear that this new American Empire is not willing to take care of anyone but the rich of the world.

Bill Branson is a member of the VVAW Board.

VVAW in Philadelphia, 1976.

Thanks to Jeff Danziger and Billy Curmano for their cartoons. Thanks to Bill Branson, Annie Luginbill, Carolyn Forché, Joe Miller. Chuck Theusch, Dennis Tribble, Nick Werle, Ed Vail and others for contributing photos.

Jeff Machota
Bill Branson
Ashley Buckley
Joe Miller
Jen Tayabji

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