The inspiration to do this story came from Paul Wisovaty a member of Vietnam Veteran Against the War (VVAW) who wrote about how Veterans of War – Veterans of Peace need to enhance cooperation and coordination with college students to end the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.
In fact with the exception of research and links I provide on the background of the Campus Anti-War Network, most of this article belongs to Paul.
Campus Anti-War Network: http://campusantiwar.net/
Paul writes in his VVAW The Veteran column Notes From the Boonies of how ashamed he was that he had never heard of the Campus Anti-War Network until invited to speak at their National Convention in Illinois.
VVAW The Veteran: Notes From the Boonies http://www.vvaw.org/veteran/article/?id=1601
Given that today we have NO MILITARY DRAFT, anti-war or pro-Peace activism on college campuses are (1) restricted or banned by college administrators, especially those colleges and universities that rely on Defense Contracts, thus are also war profiteering academic institutions, and (2) given there is no realistic or believable threat of the draft incentive for professors and students to question or even oppose the occupation of Iraq or war in Afghanistan are practically non-existent compared to the Vietnam War.
Thus, we at Veterans Today decided to do an article to promote the Campus Anti-War Network of students with the maturity, intellect, and humanity to question let alone oppose wars for profit using Paul’s rather humorous narrative.
Simply put having a college Campus Anti-War Network, especially considering we have no military draft, beats not having any conscientious anti-war activism on our college campuses allowing the academic community to either cop-out or is it opt out, collaborate with the profitable (for very few in the American elite) war effort or have our academic communities continue to remain IGNORANT.
Those of us who are Veterans of War – Veterans of Peace need to reach out, cooperate, coordinate, and encourage these youngsters because it is easier today to ignore the costs of war on our college campuses than it was a few decades ago when THE DRAFT proved a threat to college campuses.
Robert L. Hanafin, Major, U.S. Air Force-Retired, Veterans Today News Network
Getting to Know the Campus Anti-War Network
Notes From the Boonies
By Paul Wisovaty
During the last weekend in February 2010, the Campus Anti-War Network held its annual convention twenty-five miles north of my little Boonies hideout, at the University of Illinois at Urbana. I am ashamed to say that I had never heard of the Campus Anti-War Network. On the other hand, I routinely speak to Tuscola citizens who, from all appearances, do not appear to have heard of our current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Or if they have any knowledge of them, those far-off occurrences do not register prominently upon their radar screens. In fairness to my Tuscola friends, I would suggest that this is a nation-wide affliction. If your kid isn’t over there, and your taxes aren’t going up to pay for it, why the hell should you care?
We’ll let that one speak for itself.
Anyway, [one of the VVAW National Coordinators] Joe Miller e-mailed me a week before the event, for what I assumed was to suggest that I may wish to attend. Upon further reading of his communication, it became apparent that he wished me to sub for him as a presenter, as part of a panel discussion to include a VVAW member and two Iraq Veterans Against the War vets.
Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) http://www.ivaw.org/
Let’s break this down a little.
At the risk of seeming self-deprecating, this did not appear to be a good fit. Joe [Miller] has a PhD in political science; I took nine years to get a Bachelor’s degree. I try to read some books about Vietnam; Joe teaches a college course on the subject. I don’t speak much good English; Joe speaks fluent Chinese and three other languages I have never heard of. What’s wrong with this equation?
Well, I guess you do what you have to do.
I showed up, shared the stage for an hour with Jake and Duane [from IVAW], and had a great time. I hope that I had something meaningful to say to these really fired-up young men and women. The last thing I wished to do was to come off as another old guy telling war stories about something that ended fifteen years before they were born.
Borrowing a term that was almost iconic in the 70’s, I hoped to make my presentation “relevant,” i.e., to suggest some connection between Vietnam and our current Middle East involvements.
OK, lying Presidents and cowardly legislators kind of jumped off of the page, so I dismissed those as too obvious.
The “indigenous populations.”
I decided to talk about relations between the troops “on the ground” (I really hate that term) and what we may refer to as the “indigenous populations.” I suggested that, in some circumstances, appearances may have been wildly deceiving.
While I am painting with a pretty broad brush here, it may be fair to suggest that in Vietnam, the troops stationed in rear echelon areas (base camps) experienced a wholly different relationship with the Vietnamese than did those serving in forward areas.
To be real blunt, almost the only Vietnamese with whom the former dealt were the bartenders, drug dealers and women whom they paid for sex. Please note that I did not call them prostitutes. They were girls doing what they had to do to survive in a world which we had turned upside down upon them (and their parents), and we were reluctant to deny them the opportunity to do that.
It never occurred to us that we were paying them to be nice to us.
As may be expected, all of these Vietnamese never missed an opportunity to tell us how much they appreciated our leaving our warm homes in America to rescue them from Ho and those Godless bastards trying to enslave them. The common expression was “GI number one, VC number ten.” I guess that it never occurred to us that we were paying them to be nice to us.
Out in the field things were different.
Out in the field, I suggested, things were different. A lot different. We did not deal with many civilians, and the few with whom we dealt didn’t spend a lot of time schmoozing us. To be honest, we pretty much hated them, and they returned the favor.
We blamed them for our being there. They didn’t love Jesus either; strike two.
First of all, we blamed them for our being there. I guess it never crossed our minds to blame Nixon or LBJ or JFK, because, well, they weren’t there. But mama-son and papa-son sure as hell were. And that wasn’t the biggest reason we hated them. Look at them for God’s sake, I pointed out. They just looked suspicious. They spoke this funny-sounding gibberish language, and we suspected that when they did talk they were saying bad things about us. (I’m sure they were.) They didn’t love Jesus either; strike two. Finally, well, as I said, they were there.
Flash forward to 2010, Iraq and Afghanistan,
Let’s flash forward to 2010, Iraq and Afghanistan, places to which I readily confessed to the students I had never been and about which I knew little. But there may be similarities looming here:
– lots of people with swarthy skins who disdained to speak the King’s English and
– wouldn’t you know it?
– didn’t love Jesus either.
What could possibly be to like about these people? And what may be the final component linking Vietnam and 2010?
Maybe it’s just us.
I suggested that, with all due respect to our troops serving in the Middle East, many of them are post-adolescent, maturing young men and women, some of whom may plausibly be as ignorant (I do not mean this in a disparaging way) as I was in 1968. And they may be, to use a legal term, scared shitless.
Unlike… the rest of us really old guys, they are denied the luxury of sitting around with a scotch and a cigar like William Shatner and James Spader at the end of Boston Legal, pontificating upon the sins of their youths.
They are There.
God love every darned one of them, and we hope that they return safely. And if they do, what have they left behind?
Based entirely upon my experiences with the 3/5th Armored Cavalry, 9th Infantry Division, Republic of South Vietnam – about a week of which I spent being schmoozed in base camp by bartenders and all those other indigenous people
There is not going to be a lot of winning hearts and minds in Kabul or Baghdad
I cannot imagine that there is going to be a lot of winning hearts and minds in Kabul or Baghdad or any of those other places I can’t pronounce. I hope that I may have suggested why not. Finally, I guess that I’m reminded of the line from Bob Dylan’s “Frankie Lee and Judas Priest,” circa 1968. “The moral of this story, the moral of this song, is that one should never be where one does not belong.”
If Bobby Zimmerman said it, you can take it to the bank.
BACKGROUND ON CAMPUS ANTIWAR NETWORK
Campus Antiwar Network is the largest and leading independent, democratic, grassroots network of students opposing the occupation of Iraq and military recruiters in our schools at campuses all over the country. Since our formation before the war in Iraq began, our unapologetic opposition to the U.S. government’s project of conquest and plunder in the Middle East, along with its horrible consequences at home, has been unwavering.
Our goal is to unite all antiwar students on colleges and high schools alike to democratically build a broad antiwar and counter-recruitment movement to help bring the troops home now. To this end, we’ve had a strong presence at every national antiwar demonstration and continue to build countless local actions. We’ve had national and regional activist conferences and toured GI war resisters around the country.
And in one of the most important developments for student antiwar activism this past year, we’ve helped to spearhead the counter- recruitment movement on campuses, directly challenging the military in its diminishing ability to carry out the immoral and illegal occupation of Iraq. Leading walkouts of hundreds of students, we’ve already kicked military recruiters off of Seattle Central Community College, City College of New York, San Francisco State University, Southern Connecticut State University, University of California at Santa Cruz, University of Illinois in Chicago, and others.
Join us in turning the growing antiwar sentiment across the country into antiwar activism, and stopping the militarization of our schools and unjust war on innocent people. The students united will never be defeated!
Contact & Chapters
Mailing List and Grassroots Organizing
Points Of Unity
The Campus Antiwar Network (CAN) stands for the immediate withdrawal from both Iraq and Afghanistan of all occupation troops and private contractors.
We oppose all forms of military and economic imperialism.
We demand that the United States government provide economic reparations to the people of Iraq and Afghanistan.
CAN supports antiwar veterans and war resistors.
Campus Antiwar Network stands for the end to U.S. economic, military, and diplomatic aid to Israel, and calls for divestment from institutions that support the occupation of Palestine.
CAN supports free education for all who seek it.
CAN is committed to building a movement based on grassroots, democratic and independent organizing that actively opposes all forms of racism, Islamophobia, sexism and homophobia.