Veterans voice opposition to Iraq war | MassCops

Veterans voice opposition to Iraq war

Discussion in 'Military News' started by Big.G, Apr 11, 2008.

  1. Big.G

    Big.G In Tactical Mode....

    The event began with clips from a movie,
    whose poster hangs in the background -
    "Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan."

    Students and veterans spoke at an
    IVAW event on Wednesday night
    against the war in Iraq.

    The IVAW have set a list of demands,
    including the immediate withdrawl of
    all troops from Iraq. Al Sanchez, a member
    of Iraq Veterans Against the War who was a
    welder in Iraq, shared his experience overseas
    at an event on Wednesday.

    Eric Schlichte, Collegian Staff
    Issue date: 4/11/08 Section: News

    Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) held an event Wednesday night to voice their opposition to United States involvement in Iraq.

    Since its inception in 2004, IVAW has made three demands: the immediate withdrawal of all occupying forces in Iraq, reparations for the human and structural damages Iraq has suffered and full benefits, like adequate health care (including mental health) and other supports for returning servicemen and women.

    The evening started off with film clips from "Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan," an event held in Washington, D.C., last March. The footage served to set the tone as veterans discussed the ineffectiveness of U.S. forces in urban areas, racial issues, a disregard for the rules of engagement and a lack of leadership from the higher-ups in the chain of command. All of these problems would be further expounded upon by the IVAW panel from the Amherst chapter.

    The IVAW panel spoke to a predictably anti-war crowd of about 80 people for more than two hours, with each veteran explaining his or her own experiences and drawing on them to show why they are now opposed to the Iraq war.

    The first speaker was Adrienne Kinne, the Regional Coordinator for IVAW in New England who served actively as well as in the reserves for a decade. Kinne decried the U.S. government and military for its deceptive practices.

    "It is wrong and immoral to use the tragedy of 9/11 to try to gain support in the United States to kill thousands of innocent civilians," she said. "How many Sept. 11ths is that?"

    Kinne went on to discuss the cost of the war at home such as the crisis in veteran health care. She detailed how the government would not screen for certain mental illnesses in returning veterans because so many cases would be found. She claimed the government would not have the resources to treat them all.

    Mike Van Valkenburg's focus was the dehumanization of the enemy seen in Iraq. He noted the prevalence of racial slurs and the overall degradation of the Iraqi people. He also recalled how he had been told by an officer, "You have to kill the women and children too, some day they may be the terrorists."

    Each veteran who had served in Iraq made it clear that improper conduct did not stem from the lower ranks and extend upward as everything "starts from the top and goes to the bottom," he said.

    One testimony came from Michael LeDuc, an inactive Marine who was in the second Battle of Fallujah. LeDuc detailed how the rules of engagement were completely different in Fallujah than other areas of the country and how the Marines were instructed to fight before taking the city.

    "To sum it up, if you see an individual with a weapon, kill him," said LeDuc, in reference to what a superior told the infantry before the invasion. "A pair of binoculars, kill him. A cell phone, or running from one building to another, kill him. If he has a white flag and is doing anything at all, assume it's a trick and kill him."

    He added that Marines were falsely told the city was devoid of any non-combatants and that if they felt uncomfortable at all to "shoot everything that moves."

    Nathan Lusignan, who served in Iraq at the beginning of the American occupation in 2003 and 2004, also spoke .

    "The worst comes out in that environment," he said referring to armed conflict between U.S. forces and Iraqi citizens. "Maybe they're afraid or don't think they'll get caught."

    Lusignan revisited an incident where an Iraqi vehicle failed to stop in time at a checkpoint and was subsequently shot up, destroying the driver's legs and crippling him for life. Lusignan said this was due to poor communication and that it made him realize the futility of the Iraq war, acknowledging the event as his personal turning point against the war.

    The event was put on by the Amherst chapter of the IVAW in conjunction with the Western Massachusetts Campus Antiwar Network. Students can visit the IVAW website at or for more information.

    To join IVAW, one must have served active duty, reservist or National Guard since the Sept. 11 attacks.

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