*End militarism of our education*
I’m a student of war.
I’ve grown up continuously hearing about military operations and violent conflict in faraway places. This has been my relationship to war. It’s always been there in the background of my consciousness.
Even my education is intertwined with militarism. The UC system manages nuclear weapons labs for the Department of Energy, receives millions of dollars in grants from military contractors and invests in weapons manufacturers like Lockheed Martin and Raytheon. On the UCSC campus, 96 research projects are funded by some form of the military. The UC has partnerships with Bechtel, a company directly profiting from the Iraq War. Much of the research done by the UC, and other universities, directly improves the U.S. Military’s ability to wage war.
Life on Earth cannot be sustained in the face of this perpetual war implemented by genocidal policy and weapons of indiscriminate mass violence—the effects of which will last longer than any civilization ever has or ever will.
As members of this planet, we have the responsibility to put a stop to the war. As UC students, we have the responsibility to prevent our school from contributing to all forms of violence. I’m scared for the future of humanity but my fear is overwhelmed by hope. We can make a difference. We are making a difference. We are all students of war; whether we know it or not, whether we like it or not. We can and must strive to become students of PEACE.
Mark Valen<br/>Third-year, College Eight<br/>“UCSC and the Bomb” course facilitator
*Don’t stop the war on our behalf*
I see many bumper stickers and posters urging us to “support the troops and bring them home.” As a U.S. serviceman, I thank you for your support. But it does us no service, no great honor, to bring us home for the sake of our safety or well-being. We are tools, the means of our nation, not ends in ourselves. We took the oath of enlistment not for our own safety, but in service to our country, and it disrespects that service to claim that opposition to a war is on the warrior’s behalf.
That the war in Iraq is a disaster, naively conceived and terribly executed, is hardly in dispute. I personally oppose the concept of the war, and agree with a growing number of both enlisted and commissioned servicemen that the war plan is doomed by a fuzzy ideology and a lack of coherent goals. But we have our orders. I pledged to “obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me,” and it is by that pledge that we deploy, we go to fight where we are ordered. We fight because that is what our country asks of us, what we have chosen and sworn to do. Our service, our values, our commitment mean nothing if they are not used appropriately by the nation we serve.
If you want to support the troops, do so by taking part in the democracy we swore to serve and defend. If you are against the war in Iraq, I urge you to take legal action within the laws of this country. But do it because it is right, because it is what you believe. Do it for the good of the country, not for the warriors. Only then do you support the troops.
Joel Inman<br/>UCSC student<br/>former Operation Specialist,<br/>United States Navy
*An all-time low, says SC Vice Mayor*
The most amazing aspect of commemorating the four-year anniversary of the start of the Iraq War is how complete the failure has been. The United States’ standing in the world is at a historic low, civilian and military casualties mount without progress on the ground, weapons of mass destruction have moved from myth into all-too-real IEDs targeting our ill-equipped troops, billions have been wasted instead of invested in our future through education, our country is further divided by race and class as the poor are sent to fight and the wealthy are urged to do their part by spending more, and multi-billion dollar contracts are handed out to military contractors while injured veterans return home to hospitals infected with rats and cockroaches.
It is a tragedy that in all likelihood will only beget more bloodshed, more anger, more senselessness violence. The lies and incompetence of the powerful four years ago have racked up a moral, fiscal and blood debt that my unborn children will be forced to pay for generations.
Ryan Coonerty<br/>Vice Mayor of Santa Cruz<br/>UCSC legal studies lecturer
*Thoughts from the wife of a soldier*
Long distance was hard but we were getting through it. My husband told me that the reason why he joined the army is for school since he doesn’t know his mom and his dad are not helping him to pay for his college. After two years we got married—four months before he was leaving for Afghanistan. Him being there is so hard because he’s far away.
I’m worried and scared everyday that he might get hurt, especially if I don’t talk to him for a couple of days. We barely talk, and if I do talk to him, it’s not even that long. All I can do is wait for him to call or email to tell me that he’s OK. But I still get worried.
While he’s there I send him boxes every month of all his favorite snacks and the things he likes and want, such as movies and music CDs. For me, it’s the only way I can take care of him. We write each other letters and we send each other anniversary cards. Even though he’s there he still buys me flowers—like on Valentine’s Day, he bought me a flowers with balloons and teddy bear online.
It’s hard being so far away from the person you love.
Jeanette Arevalo<br/>student at Evergreen Community College<br/>and wife of Richard Bisnar, <br/>engineer in the 27th Battalion Alpha Company of the United States Army
*Party lines distract from real issues*
There is a preponderance of commentary on the Iraq war that hinges on the premise that it was a product of conservative rapacity. The claims of the administration that they were pursuing an altruistic mission of sorts—either to ‘liberate’ the Iraqi people via imposition of democracy or disarm a WMD-wielding tyrant who could imperil the world order—are granted credence usually along party lines. That is, Democrats are quite dubious of the Bush Administration’s touted motives, while Republicans almost categorically uphold them as the unequivocal truth. But debates pertaining to whether or not the Iraq war was undertaken for the purpose of self-interested gains (in the form of access to oil or increased hegemony in the Middle East) are ultimately being conducted in vain—discerning the motives behind such an act would be impossibly complex, due to the convoluted nature of international politics and related U.S. foreign policy.
But the preceding discourse is merely indicative of a greater problem: one’s partisan convictions taking precedence over an objective analysis of the facts. Why must the legitimacy of the war and the myriad of issues that it presents be simply a Republican vs. Democrat contention? Can we not discuss the issue with a degree of political impartiality, without blindly adhering to the beliefs of one’s respective party? A more intellectually lucrative discourse about the Iraq war is desperately needed—one that does not revolve around party affiliation, and one that is conducted with a single goal as its end: the attainment of truth.
Dan Wilson<br/>Second-year, Stevenson College
*Iraq war still has potential for success*
First, let me start off by saying war is never good. We lose loved ones, innocent people are caught in the crossfire, and we run the risk of jeopardizing the lives of future generations.
That said, however, good can come from war. Sovereignty and freedom from persecution can be achieved, a nation can be saved and slaves set free, and tyranny and genocide can be ended.
As someone with inside information into the U.S. push for the Iraqi war, I can say that at the time of the invasion, I supported it. This has nothing to do with conservative values; it just seemed like the right thing to do. We were liberating a people that had been victims of multiple chemical attacks, physical torture, and rampant death squads that shoot people for looking cross-eyed at them.
The connection between Iraq and the 9/11 attacks is a weak one, but there is still a connection. Reporting indicates a link between someone in Saddam’s regime and the 9/11 hijackers, although Saddam’s personal involvement is debatable.
Since the end of Saddam’s regime and the rebuilding of Iraq and their government, the U.S. has received too many casualties. The environment that we are fighting in has changed. Roadside bombs and attacks on civilians orchestrated by Al-Qaeda have wrought serious damage to our efforts of reconstruction. We have changed our tactics from being liberators to enforcers to protectors. The enemy does not play by the same rules of engagement that we must. As such, we suffer losses greater than we would have had we not abided by these constraints.
In hindsight, I think we should have finished Afghanistan first, captured bin Laden, and ensured the stability of the new government before contemplating an invasion of Iraq. We received much of the world’s sympathy after the 9/11 attacks and had their support for Afghanistan. I still think that we should have invaded Iraq and believe that we can succeed over there. The strategy for success involves recreating a national identity for Iraq that supersedes the sectarian values. This can be anything from a national anthem to Independence Day. In the end, the effort will be worth the lives lost if the Iraqi people can live in freedom. But they must want it first.
Jeremy Naves<br/>UCSC junior transfer student<br/>Third Radio Battalion, U.S. Marines
*Iran has been the target all along*
Iran has more oil under its soil than Iraq and has been the ultimate target of the current administration all along. Cuba-like sanctions have kept Iran from developing and using its own oil, forcing it to import refined oil and prompting its interest in nuclear energy.
Any country with rudimentary nuclear energy technology could develop a bomb in 10 years. The recent escalation in Iraq represented a buildup in preparation for attacking Iran, while recent destruction by Israel in Lebanon weakened its capability to support Iran.
Demonstrations against the Vietnam War were large because of the draft, and were backed up by liberal courts, a free press, and honest elections. Today’s antiwar movement is as unable to impede wars of conquest in the Middle East as a raw juice diet is to stop a cancer. Let’s not delude ourselves and call it hope.
Does the Internet as an obvious newer weapon have unexploited potential?
Mary Jennings, <br/>UC Berkeley alumna<br/>Santa Cruz resident
Revive ’03 anti-war movement
Four years ago, hundreds of thousands of people from nearly every nation on the globe took to the streets in protest of the coming war. Some say it was the biggest, most international political movement in the history of the world.
Unfortunately, it was a complete and utter failure. The war, which has now claimed the lives of more than 3,000 American soldiers and 650,000 Iraqi civilians, began anyway.
But it’s not too late to change the course of history. It’s not to late to save more innocent lives from being needlessly lost. Political protest can change the course of war.
And it is not just a matter of saving the lives of Iraqis or American soldiers. Such wars put every single one of our lives, and the lives of future generations to come, in danger. 9/11 was revenge for years of American abuse, wars, sanctions, the support of corrupt dictators in the Middle East.
Each day we bomb Iraq, each day their streets are unsafe, their water and food supplies cut off, anger and resentment builds. The child whose father we kill today may be the future recruit of an anti-American terrorist group.
It is imperative for every one of us students to join and to build the growing political movement against this war. It is imperative we move before Bush’s new escalation takes effect. Students Against War meets every Friday at 5 p.m. in the Baytree conference rooms. In the wider community there is a protest every Friday at 5 at the Clock Tower in downtown Santa Cruz.
When it comes to our lives and our future and the lives and futures of many more worldwide, the time has come to reclaim the spirit of ’03 and stop this war before it is too late.
Clara Ackerman<br/>Fourth-year, Merrill College<br/>Students Against War member
*Victory is no longer a possibility*
Forget how we got there. Lots of people made mistakes in giving Bush free rein, and whether Hillary Clinton voted for the war or against it really doesn’t matter. What matters is the situation on the ground, and what we need to do now.
Our unwillingness to understand the culture of Iraq has not only created a civil war, but made enemies of both sides. The Sunnis hate us because we forced them from power and treated them like an insignificant minority while basically throwing money at the Shiites.
The Shiites hate us because we’re trying to force a Western style democracy onto a theocratic people, and singling them out for scorn because of their Iranian ties while the vast majority of American casualties have been from Sunnis. And now, after installing Shiite puppet leader Nouri Maliki as Iraqi prime minister, we might replace him with a puppet Sunni prime minister to justify a potential confrontation with Iran.
It might seem like the war can’t get any worse, but it will be just the beginning if we attack Iran.
Don’t think it can’t happen. We can’t undo the damage we’ve done, and a complete troop evacuation will inevitably create a short term spike in casualties, but every day we stay we sink in a little deeper. We have no friends in Iraq. Victory, or even saving face, is no longer a possibility. All we can do is contain the damage, and we can’t wait any longer.
Josh Richmond<br/>Fourth-year, Porter College
*Terrible decisions in Vietnam repeat in Iraq*
A few years ago I took a Vietnam War History course at Saddleback Community College. The professor of this course was David Di Leo. Professor Di Leo told our class stories about the personalities of the men who led our country into and out of the Vietnam War.
Professor Di Leo told a story about himself as a young student at UC Santa Barbara during the re-election campaign of Richard Nixon. On election day, David drove south on the 5 Freeway to the city of San Clemente (the “Western White House”) where Nixon cast his vote at Concordia Elementary School.
“I wanted to see the evil in the man’s eyes,” said Professor Di Leo to our class. “And you know what I found? Just a man, making terrible decisions.”
This month marks the four year anniversary since the start of the second U.S. war against Iraq. As we debate whether or not it is strategically possible to remove our armed forced from Iraq, I feel I need a bullshit meter! I need to remember Professor Di Leo’s lectures about the terrible decisions that were made to continue the fighting in Vietnam, and I need to remember who made these decisions.
Scott Moerson<br/>Fourth-year, UCSC
*Operation: Habitat Restoration*
Remineralize the Middle East with Rock Dust. This will stimulate water retention in the soil and promote bacterial growth, increasing soil fertility.
Most diseases in plants and animals occur because of a lack in minerals in the diet. War has raged because of a lack in minerals. A well balanced diet allows an organism to experience peace and well being, producing abundance for all. The soil, plants, animals, and people on a global scale are in need of minerals.
Mining companies currently provide the raw materials for war. They could more easily branch into new markets ecologically, localizing the crushing of rocks, and distributing powdered stone for ecosystems like grasslands, forests, oceans, and gardens. The increased production in these areas would provide a substantially greater return than current practices.
The military-industrial complex could make rock crushing machines instead of tanks, and be distributors using current equipment. Planes could continue to fly through the sky leaving rock dust clouds that encourage cloud formation, rain, and [curb] global warming. They could also restore habitats like wet lands, encourage the return of plant and animal species, ceremonially hunt and gather for the people. Make joy-full music that brings people together.
Multinational bankers could make more micro loan investments, develop a seed bank currency with wild and heirloom species.
Chemical companies could let plants manufacture compounds for the pharmaceutical industry, employing people to grow and gather medicinal plants. Utilize natural dyes. Distribute rock dust for agricultural use.
*The absurdity of war*
I sometimes furtively joke, in a strange sense, with the idea of orgy as war. What if, instead of destroying each other, we geared up our young soldiers with lubricant and latex and sent them off to fields of poppies and tall grass to make love with as many enemy combatants as possible.
There would really be no winners and no losers, in fact. There would be little reason to fight over territory since all conflicts would be solved with frottage, which actually requires invasion of privatized territories. Materials would not go to war, to make weapons. People would communicate more, because mutual sensation requires thorough transference of words and ideas. Children would be prized. I think. And so would experimentation.
My friends say I am absurd. But then I tell them about depleted uranium. How the American military uses this waste from nuclear reactors as filler for bullets. How its radioactive decay seeps into the dusty blown country of the Middle East from the battlefields where tons of it is ejected daily from guns, cannons, bodies. How birth defects have gone up 3,000 times. There are pictures of these stillborn things on the internet. G.I.s have brought it back with them, in their bodies. So babies born in this country to military officers are 30 percent more likely to be born with some deformity. Depleted uranium is cheap, because it is basically garbage, so we put it in the bullets, because it’s profitable.
This war is wrong. The ideologies behind it are wrong. Why can’t we see the absurdity of that?
Alexander Henriquez<br/>First-year, Porter College
*Where have all the peace words gone?*
W Wipe ’em out!
E Eradicate ’em!<br/>A Annihilate ’em!<br/>P Pulverize ’em!<br/>O Overthrow ’em!<br/>N “Nuke” ’em!<br/>S Shoot ’em!
M Murder ’em!<br/>A Alienate ’em!<br/>S “Shock and Awe” ’em!<br/>S Suffocate ’em!
D Destroy ’em!<br/>E Erase ’em!<br/>S Seize ’em!<br/>T Threaten ’em!<br/>R Rid ’em!<br/>U Uproot ’em!<br/>C Chase ’em down!<br/>T Trash ’em!<br/>I Incinerate ’em!<br/>O Open fire on ’em!<br/>N Never, ever, let ’em Win!!
“Where have all the peace words gone?<br/>Long time passing?<br/>Where have all the peace words gone?<br/>Long time ago?<br/>Gone to war and death and hate,<br/>What a sad and tragic state!<br/>When will we ever learn?<br/>When will we …ever…learn?”
Kathy Sheahan<br/>Santa Cruz, CA
*Five ways that YOU can work for peace in the Middle East*
As conflict escalates in the Middle East there is a tendency for the average American to feel helpless in mediating this bloodshed. We find ourselves in a strange position where our power in this conflict is glazed over and dulled down by the popular media. The demand for oil is in a large part derived by the choices that we make each day. Here are five lifestyle choices that individuals can enact now to lower this demand so that the major players involved might redirect their interests to peaceful alternatives:
1. Support Locally Made/Grown Goods<br/>According to the Energy Information Agency global transportation of materials accounts for the bulk of oil use.
2. Bicycle or Walk<br/>Discover the health, peace, and community benefits of people powered movement!
3. Support Sustainable Transportation Organizations<br/>Check out People Power, Ecology Action, Bike Church, UCSC Bike Coop, and the Student Environmental Center’s Transportation Campaign
4. Listen to Alternative Media<br/>Get the scoop of what is really going on to inspire change and discussion. Check out Democracy Now!
5. Carpool, Vanpool, Bus, Explore Alternative Fuels:<br/>For times that you must drive collaborate with your community. Resources in Santa Cruz include: Ride Spring, Regional Transportation Commission’s carpool and vanpool programs, Pacific Biofuels, Santa Cruz Biofuel Cooperative
These small lifestyle choices do make a difference for the happiness, health and peace of our planet!
Leah Seagraves<br/>Fourth-year UCSC student<br/>Sustainable Transportation Action Research Team
*Students must think globally*
I am heartened to hear of your war special as we near the fourth birthday of our fight to bring Freedom, Fried, to the people of Iraq. Of course, the battle to stop the crazy goons in power from systematically destroying the fabric of the planet in exchange for economic growth needs to take place around the docile trees of UCSC, just as much as on the steps of DC or at the military checkpoints in Baghdad.
Bechtel, a largest engineering corporation in the United States, based in San Francisco, was awarded $1.8 billion in closed-bid contracts to ‘reconstruct’ Iraq. Its muddy history has seen it build 40 percent of global nuclear reactors, cause deadly riots in Bolivia when it raised water prices 300 percent, and the board are so close to the Republican party they share STDs. In 2006, Bechtel pulled out of Iraq, claiming the job was ‘too difficult.’
And, as ever, our glorious Regents want a slice of the blood-stained pie. The UC is partners with Bechtel in the management of Los Alamos and Livermore labs (the ones that design the nukes). They see it as a win-win situation. Anti-war activists across campus should see it as an opportunity. As far as I can see it, in order to bring about the peace we all crave, we need to directly confront the corporations that prop up.
As long as Bechtel makes profits through the UC, you and I both are complicit in the machine. The students create the university, not the other way round, and we must act locally as we think globally.
Can you smell the dawn?
Ben Seven<br/>UCSC transfer student<br/>Kresge College