November 11 Armistice Day: A Day to Demand an End to War
November 11, 2015 World Beyond War
This is Armistice Day. At 11:00 on this 11th day of the 11th month World War I ended in 1918 -- a scheduled end to the war, with the killing and dying pointlessly continuing right up to that moment. This is a good day to ring bells and work for peace. Tragically, the War to End all Wars" served to prepare the way for WWII.
November 11 is Armistice Day:
A Day to Demand an End to War World Beyond War
(November 11, 2015) -- This is Armistice Day. At 11:00 on this 11th day of the 11th month World War I ended in 1918 -- a scheduled end to the war, with the killing and dying pointlessly continuing right up to that moment.
This is a good day to ring bells and work for peace.
On the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour, bells rang through out the world celebrating the end of the "war to end all wars."
Find events all over the world today and this week here.
The total number of military and civilian casualties in World War I was over 37 million. There were over 16 million deaths and 20 million wounded ranking it among the deadliest conflicts in human history. Killing nearly two percent of the combined populations of those countries affected by this mass murder.
The Armistice of 1918 ended the terrible slaughter of World War I. The U.S. alone had experienced the death of over 116,000 soldiers, plus many more who were physically and mentally disabled. For one moment, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the world agreed World War I must be considered the WAR TO END ALL WARS.
There was exuberant joy everywhere, and many churches rang their bells, some 11 times at 11 a.m. November 11, when the Armistice was signed. For many years this practice endured, and then slowly, it faded away. Now we do it again.
We ring the bells 11 times, with a moment of silence, to remember the many soldiers and civilians killed and injured by warfare, and to make our own commitment to work for peace, in our family, our church, our community, our nation, our world.
One of the ways World Beyond War is growing is through your use of sign-up sheets. Whenever you host or attend an event, please ask people to sign the declaration of peace on one of our sign-up sheets. Then just type their names, emails, and postal codes into the website here or mail the sheets to World Beyond War at PO Box 1484 Charlottesville VA 22902 USA.
(November 11, 2015) -- When the U.S. changed Armistice Day into Veterans Day, the holiday morphed from a day to encourage the end of war into a day to glorify war participation.
John Ketwig was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1966 and sent to Vietnam for a year. I sat down with him this week to talk about it.
"My read on the whole thing," he said, "if you talk to guys who've been to Iraq and Afghanistan and look at what really happened in Vietnam, you run into what I call the American way of waging war.
"A young guy goes into the service with the idea you're going to help the Vietnamese or Afghan or Iraqi people. You get off the plane and the bus, and the first thing you notice is wire mesh in the windows so grenades can't come in. You immediately run into the MGR (mere gook rule). The people don't count. Kill em all, let the dogs sort em out. You're not there to help the poor people in any way. You're not sure what you are there for, but it's not for that."
Ketwig talked about veterans returning from Iraq having run children over with a truck, following orders not to stop for fear of IEDs (improvised explosive devices). "Sooner or later," he said, "you're going to have down time, and you're going to begin to question what you're doing there."
Ketwig didn't focus on speaking out or protesting when he returned from Vietnam. He kept fairly quiet for about a decade. Then the time came, and among other things, he published a powerful account of his experience called And a Hard Rain Fell: A GI's True Story of the War in Vietnam.
"I had seen body bags and coffins stacked like cordwood," he wrote, "had seen American boys hanging lifeless on barbed wire, spilling over the sides of dump trucks, dragging behind an APC like tin cans behind a wedding party bumper. I had seen a legless man's blood drip off a stretcher to the hospital floor and a napalmed child's haunting eyes."
Ketwig's fellow soldiers, living in rat-infested tents surrounded by mud and explosions, almost universally saw no possible excuse for what they were doing and wanted to return home as soon as possible. "FTA" (Fuck the Army) was scrawled on equipment everywhere, and fragging (troops killing officers) was spreading.
Air-conditioned policy makers back in Washington, D.C., found the war less traumatic or objectionable, yet in a way far more exciting. According to Pentagon historians, by June 26, 1966, "the strategy was finished," for Vietnam, "and the debate from then on centered on how much force and to what end."
To what end? An excellent question.
This was an internal debate that assumed the war would go forward and that sought to settle on a reason why. Picking a reason to tell the public was a separate step beyond that one. In March 1965, a memo by Assistant Secretary of "Defense" John McNaughton had already concluded that 70 percent of the U.S. motivation behind the war was "to avoid a humiliating U.S. defeat."
It's hard to say which is more irrational: the world of those actually fighting a war, or the thinking of those creating and prolonging the war.
President Bush Senior says he was so bored after ending the Gulf War that he considered quitting. President Franklin Roosevelt was described by the prime minister of Australia as jealous of Winston Churchill until Pearl Harbor. President Kennedy told Gore Vidal that without the U.S. Civil War, President Lincoln would have been just another railroad lawyer.
George W. Bush's biographer, and Bush's own public comments in a primary debate, make clear that he wanted a war, not just before 9/11, but before he was selected for the White House by the Supreme Court. Teddy Roosevelt summed up the presidential spirit, the spirit of those whom Veterans Day truly serves, when he remarked, "I should welcome almost any war, for I think this country needs one."
Following the Korean War, the U.S. government changed Armistice Day, still known as Remembrance Day in some countries, into Veterans Day, and it morphed from a day to encourage the end of war into a day to glorify war participation.
"It was originally a day to celebrate peace," said Ketwig. "That doesn't exist anymore. The militarization of America is why I'm angry and bitter."
Ketwig added that his anger is growing, not diminishing.
In his book, Ketwig rehearsed how a job interview might go once he was out of the Army: "Yes, sir, we can win the war. The people of Vietnam are not fighting for ideologies or political ideas; they are fighting for food, for survival. If we load all those bombers with rice, and bread, and seed, and planting tools, and paint 'From your friends in the United States' on each one, they will turn to us. The Viet Cong cannot match that."
Neither can the Islamic State group.
But President Barack Obama has other priorities. He has bragged that he, from his well-appointed office, is "really good at killing people." He's also just sent 50 "advisors" to Syria, exactly as President Eisenhower did to Vietnam.
Assistant Secretary of State Anne Patterson was asked this week by Congresswoman Karen Bass: "What is the mission of the 50 special forces members being deployed to Syria? And will this mission lead to greater U.S. engagement?"
Patterson replied: "The exact answer is classified."
David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He is a 2015 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee.
Armistice 1918 Dr. Alan Brown
(January 3, 2014) -- Dr. Alan Brown Another great documentary by Professor David Reynolds. In this film he examines the circumstances of the 1918 Armistice from both sides, using some excellent archive footage. It will be of great value to students of this period and the event itself. Uploaded for educational purposes only. Any advertising that appears is unbidden, and all videos in this collection are unmonetised.
"War Is Beautiful" is the ironic title of a beautiful new book of photographs. The subtitle is "The New York Times Pictorial Guide to the Glamour of Armed Conflict." There's an asterisk after those words, and it leads to these: "(In which the author explains why he no longer reads The New York Times)." The author never explains why he read the New York Times to begin with.
The author of this remarkable book, David Shields, has selected color war photographs published on the front page of the New York Times over the last 14 years. He's organized them by themes, included epigrams with each section, and added a short introduction, plus an afterword by Dave Hickey.
Some of us have long opposed subscribing to or advertising in the New York Times, as even peace groups do. We read occasional articles without paying for them or accepting their worldview. We know that the impact of the Times lies primarily in how it influences television "news" reports.
But what about Times readers? The biggest impact that the paper has on them may not be in the words it chooses and omits, but rather in the images that the words frame. The photographs that Shields has selected and published in a large format, one on each page, are powerful and fantastic, straight out of a thrilling and mythical epic. One could no doubt insert them into the new Star Wars movie without too many people noticing.
The photos are also serene: a sunset on a beach lined with palm trees -- actually the Euphrates river; a soldier's face just visible amid a field of poppies.
We see soldiers policing a swimming pool -- perhaps a sight that will someday arrive in the Homeland, as other sights first seen in images from foreign wars already have. We see collective military exercises and training, as at a desert summer camp, full of camaraderie in crises. There's adventure, sports, and games. A soldier looks pleased by his trick as he holds a dummy head with a helmet on the end of a stick in front of a window to get it shot at.
War seems both a fun summer camp and a serious, solemn, and honorable tradition, as we see photos of elderly veterans, militaristic children, and US flags back Home. Part of the seriousness is the caring and philanthropic work exhibited by photos of soldiers comforting the children they may have just orphaned.
We see sacred US troops protecting the people whose land they have been bombing and throwing into turmoil. We see our heroes' love for their visiting Commander, George W. Bush.
Sometimes war can be awkward or difficult. There's a bit of regrettable suffering. Occasionally it is tragically intense. But for the most part a rather boring and undignified death about which no one really cares comes to foreigners (outside the United States there are foreigners everywhere) who are left in the gutter as people walk away.
The war itself, centrally, is a technological wonder bravely brought out of the goodness of our superior hearts to a backward region in which the locals have allowed their very homes to turn to rubble. An empty settlement is illustrated by a photo of a chair in a street. There are water bottles upright on the ground. It looks as though a board meeting just ended.
Still, for all war's drawbacks, people are mostly happy. They give birth and get married. Troops return home from camp after a good job done. Handsome Marines innocently mingle with civilians. Spouses embrace their camouflaged demigods returned from the struggle. A little American boy, held by his smiling mother, grins gleefully at the grave of his Daddy who died (happily, one must imagine) in Afghanistan.
At least in this selection of powerful images, we do not see people born with gruesome birth defects caused by the poisons of US weapons. We do not see people married at weddings struck by US missiles. We do not see US corpses lying in the gutter. We do not see nonviolent protests of the US occupations. We do not see the torture and death camps.
We do not see the trauma of those who live under the bombs. We do not see the terror when the doors are kicked in, the way we would if soldiers -- like police -- were asked to wear body cameras.
We do not see the "MADE IN THE USA" label on the weapons on both sides of a war. We do not see the opportunities for peace that have been studiously avoided. We do not see the US troops participating in their number one cause of death: suicide.
A few of those things may show up now and then in the New York Times, more likely on a page other than the front one. Some of those things you may not want to see with your breakfast cereal.
But there can be no question that Shields has captured a portrait of a day in the life of a war propagandist, and that the photographers, editors, and designers involved have done as much to cause the past 14 years of mass dying, suffering, and horror in the Middle East as has any single New York Times reporter or text editor.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.