New Clear Vision

constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted
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Lessons from Iraq

March 19, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Economy, Guest Author, Politics

Hard Realities Ten Years After a Preventable War

by Robert F. Dodge

This week marks the 10th anniversary of the start of the Iraq War. As one of the longest and one of the most costly wars in U.S. history, the true costs in dollars, lives, environmental contamination and opportunity costs may never be fully appreciated.  This “preventive war” waged on our behalf has forever tainted the world view and standing of the U.S. Disregarding international and domestic public opinion and international law before the war, this illegal war was destined to happen regardless of that opinion. Perhaps the most significant outcome of the war is the identification and clarification, a “How To” of what doesn’t work in resolving international conflict. Namely war itself.

Dollar estimates of the combined war costs range from $1.4 trillion to $4 trillion dollars spent and obligated or a bill of between $4,500 and $12,742 for every man, woman and child in the U.S. (more…)

War’s Lingering Phantoms

February 28, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Politics, Robert C. Koehler

Hearing the Stories as a Prelude to Rebuilding

by Robert C. Koehler

“War’s lingering phantoms haunt every society.”

As two hellish, costly and needless wars struggle toward collapse, this is the time — now, right this minute, before the next false alarm goes off — for us to look honestly at the cost and quality of national security based on militarism. It’s time to squeeze the romance out of war and get it through our heads that war is not inevitable.

War is just another form of mass murder. Its core principle is dehumanization — of all participants, the enemy and the good guys. This is because you can’t hate, dehumanize and train to kill “the other” without dehumanizing yourself and damaging your soul.

“Kill! Kill! Kill, without mercy, Sergeant! . . . Blood! Blood! Bright red blood, Sergeant!”

The dehumanization happens at an individual level, to soldiers who, in basic training, go through an intense process of overriding their humanity and establishing “muscle memory” that allows them to kill on command; and who then participate in the killing of the enemy — often enough, in our current wars, the killing of civilians, including children — in battle situations. (more…)

Ordinary Evil

January 25, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Jerry Elmer, Politics

Vietnam’s History Reveals the Banality of Systemic Violence

by Jerry Elmer

MY LAI, Vietnam — My Lai is known to Americans as the site of a massacre of Vietnamese civilians by American troops. On the morning of March 16, 1968, American forces entered the village and gathered up all living things: elderly men and women, infants in mothers’ arms, pigs, chickens, and water buffalo. Then, the Americans proceeded to kill them all, slowly, carefully, methodically. It took four hours (this was no sudden outburst of passion), until all 504 people and all the animals were massacred. Fifty-six of the people killed were under seven years old; some of the infants were bayoneted to death. Women were raped before being shot.

After the killing orgy, two of the American soldiers (one a religious Mormon) sat down to lunch nearby. Unfortunately, their meal was interrupted by the moans of a few villagers shot and left for dead, but not yet fully dead. The two soldiers, disturbed by the interruption, finished off the few villagers still alive, and then went placidly back to their meal. (more…)

What Will We Do?

December 25, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, David Swanson, Politics

What the Soldiers Did on Christmas 98 Years Ago

by David Swanson

Frank Richards recalled:

“On Christmas morning we stuck up a board with ‘A Merry Christmas’ on it. The enemy had stuck up a similar one. Platoons would sometimes go out for twenty-four hours’ rest — it was a day at least out of the trench and relieved the monotony a bit — and my platoon had gone out in this way the night before, but a few of us stayed behind to see what would happen. Two of our men then threw their equipment off and jumped on the parapet with their hands above their heads. Two of the Germans done the same and commenced to walk up the river bank, our two men going to meet them. They met and shook hands and then we all got out of the trench.

“Buffalo Bill [the Company Commander] rushed into the trench and endeavoured to prevent it, but he was too late: the whole of the Company were now out, and so were the Germans. He had to accept the situation, so soon he and the other company officers climbed out too. We and the Germans met in the middle of no-man’s-land. (more…)

The Invisible War

October 29, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Diane Lefer, Politics

New Film Focuses on Combating Military Sexual Trauma

by Diane Lefer

After The Invisible War,  a documentary about sexual assault in the US military, screened Thursday evening, a woman stood up from the audience to say she had just celebrated her 80th birthday and that, as a young woman, she’d been raped by a stranger. She wanted everyone to know that today she’s a happy person. Yes, she said to loud applause, “it is possible to heal.”

Healing, being able to move forward with their own lives, is surely what everyone wishes for survivors of sexual violence. But as documentary producer Amy Ziering suggested to the audience during the post-film discussion, in the military, it’s a lot harder to recover if you are far from home, have no support, are called a liar and threatened with retaliation or even death if you tell, and surely worst of all, have to report to your job the next day to the very person who raped you.

Kori Cioca was stalked and harassed by her commanding officer in the Coast Guard for weeks before he attacked her. (more…)

Refusing to Kill

August 29, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: David Swanson, Politics

Soldiers Finding Freedom in Resistance to Senseless Militarism

by David Swanson

One of the most inspiring events at the Veterans For Peace National Convention in Miami was a presentation by several veterans who have refused to participate in war.  Typically, they have done this at the risk of significant time in prison, or worse.  In most cases these resisters avoided doing any time.  Even when they did go behind bars, they did so with a feeling of liberation.

Gerry Condon refused to deploy to Vietnam, was sentenced to 10 years in prison, escaped from Fort Bragg, left the country, and came back campaigning for amnesty.  President Jimmy Carter pardoned resisters as his first act in office.  Condon never “served” a day, in either the military “service” or prison.

Jeff Paterson of Courage to Resist refused to fly to Iraq, choosing instead to sit down on the tarmac.  Ben Griffin from VFP’s new chapter in the U.K. refused to participate in our nations’ wars and has been issued a gag order.  He’s not permitted to speak, and yet he speaks so well. Mike Prysner of March Forward and Camilo Mejia of VFP in Miami described their acts of resistance. (more…)

The War Drones On…

June 05, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Politics, Randall Amster

Humanizing Our Engagement with Others

by Randall Amster

Drones are all the rage these days, and not in a good way. The increasing toll taken by these robotic executioners is beginning to register with the public, after many years of automated death from above in our adventurist wars. Still, the use of drones is expanding in many places, and not just in the theaters of combat. Drones are used to patrol the U.S.-Mexico border. Local governments and police forces use drones, even if they’re disclosed publicly as part of safety programs or for purposes other than enforcement. Many are equipped with cameras, widening the surveillance society even if not overtly used as tools of destruction.

The issue of expanding automation in foreign combat and domestic policing alike raises many questions apart from the legality of its use in war. Remote-controlled bombing contributes to a greater sense of “action at a distance” that works to overcome a natural human prohibition against killing our own kind — one that soldiers have to be conditioned to surmount. The steady distancing effect of modern warfare continues to push the envelope of our empathetic capacities while enabling remote outcomes with little risk involved. (more…)