Our childish insistence on calling soldiers heroes

You don’t protect my freedom: Our childish insistence on calling soldiers heroes deadens real democracy

It’s been 70 years since we fought a war about freedom. Forced troop worship and compulsory patriotism must end


Put a man in uniform, preferably a white man, give him a gun, and Americans will worship him. It is a particularly childish trait, of a childlike culture, that insists on anointing all active military members and police officers as “heroes.” The rhetorical sloppiness and intellectual shallowness of affixing such a reverent label to everyone in the military or law enforcement betrays a frightening cultural streak of nationalism, chauvinism, authoritarianism and totalitarianism, but it also makes honest and serious conversations necessary for the maintenance and enhancement of a fragile democracy nearly impossible.

It has become impossible to go a week without reading a story about police brutality, abuse of power and misuse of authority. Michael Brown’s murder represents the tip of a body pile, and in just the past month, several videos have emerged of police assaulting people, including pregnant women, for reasons justifiable only to the insane.

It is equally challenging for anyone reasonable, and not drowning in the syrup of patriotic sentimentality, to stop saluting, and look at the servicemen of the American military with criticism and skepticism. There is a sexual assault epidemic in the military. In 2003, a Department of Defense study found that one-third of women seeking medical care in the VA system reported experiencing rape or sexual violence while in the military. Internal and external studies demonstrate that since the official study, numbers of sexual assaults within the military have only increased, especially with male victims. According to the Pentagon, 38 men are sexually assaulted every single day in the U.S. military. Given that rape and sexual assault are, traditionally, the most underreported crimes, the horrific statistics likely fail to capture the reality of the sexual dungeon that has become the United States military.

Chelsea Manning, now serving time in prison as a whistle-blower, uncovered multiple incidents of fellow soldiers laughing as they murdered civilians. Keith Gentry, a former Navy man, wrote that when he and his division were bored they preferred passing the time with the “entertainment” of YouTube videos capturing air raids of Iraq and Afghanistan, often making jokes and mocking the victims of American violence. If the murder of civilians, the rape of “brothers and sisters” on base, and the relegation of death and torture of strangers as fodder for amusement qualifies as heroism, the world needs better villains.

It is undeniable that there are police officers who heroically uphold their motto and mission to “serve and protect,” just as it is indisputable that there are members of the military who valiantly sacrifice themselves for the sake of others. Reviewing the research proving cruelty and mendacity within law enforcement and the military, and reading the stories of trauma and tragedy caused by officers and soldiers, does not mean that no cop or troop qualifies as a hero, but it certainly means that many of them are not heroes.

Acknowledging the spread of sadism across the ranks of military also does not mean that the U.S. government should neglect veterans, as they often do, by cutting their healthcare options, delaying or denying treatment, and reducing psychiatric services. On the contrary, if American politicians and pundits genuinely believed that American military members are “heroes,” they would not settle for sloganeering, and garish tributes. They would insist that veterans receive the best healthcare possible. Improving and universalizing high quality healthcare for all Americans, including veterans, is a much better and truer way to honor the risks soldiers and Marines accept on orders than unofficially imposing a juvenile and dictatorial rule over speech in which anything less than absolute and awed adulation for all things military is treasonous.

One of the reasons that the American public so eagerly and excitedly complies with the cultural code of lionizing every soldier and cop is because of the physical risk-taking and bravery many of them display on the foreign battleground and the American street. Physical strength and courage is only useful and laudable when invested in a cause that is noble and moral. The causes of American foreign policy, especially at the present, rarely qualify for either compliment. The “troops are heroes” boosters of American life typically toss out clichés to defend their generalization – “They defend our freedom,” “They fight so we don’t have to.”

No American freedom is currently at stake in Afghanistan. It is impossible to imagine an argument to the contrary, just as the war in Iraq was clearly fought for the interests of empire, the profits of defense contractors, and the edification of neoconservative theorists. It had nothing to do with the safety or freedom of the American people. The last time the U.S. military deployed to fight for the protection of American life was in World War II – an inconvenient fact that reduces clichés about “thanking a soldier” for free speech to rubble. If a soldier deserves gratitude, so does the litigator who argued key First Amendment cases in court, the legislators who voted for the protection of free speech, and thousands of external agitators who rallied for more speech rights, less censorship and broader access to media.

Wars that are not heroic have no real heroes, except for the people who oppose those wars. Far from being the heroes of recent wars, American troops are among their victims. No rational person can blame the soldier, the Marine, the airman, or the Navy man for the stupid and destructive foreign policy of the U.S. government, but calling them “heroes,” and settling for nothing less, makes honest and critical conversations about American foreign policy less likely to happen. If all troops are heroes, it doesn’t make much sense to call their mission unnecessary and unjust. It also makes conversations about the sexual assault epidemic, or the killing of innocent civilians, impossible. If all troops are heroes, it doesn’t make any sense to acknowledge that some are rapists and sadists.

The same principle of clear-eyed scrutiny applies to law enforcement agencies. Police departments everywhere need extensive investigation of their training methods, qualifications for getting on the job, and psychological evaluation. None of that will happen as long as the culture calls cops heroes, regardless of their behavior.

An understandable reason for calling all troops heroes, even on the left, is to honor the sacrifice they make after they die or endure a life-altering injury in one of America’s foolish acts of aggression. A more helpful and productive act of citizenship, and sign of solidarity with the military, is the enlistment in an antiwar movement that would prevent the government from using its volunteer Army as a plaything for the financial advancement and political cover of the state-corporate nexus and the military-industrial complex of Dwight Eishenhower’s nightmares.

Given the dubious and dangerous nature of American foreign policy, and the neglect and abuse veterans often suffer when returning home wounded or traumatized, Americans, especially those who oppose war, should do everything they can to discourage young, poor and working-class men and women from joining the military. Part of the campaign against enlistment requires removing the glory of the “hero” label from those who do enlist. Stanley Hauerwas, a professor of divinity studies at Duke whom Time called “America’s best theologian,” has suggested that, given the radical pacifism of Jesus Christ, American churches should do all they can to discourage its young congregants from joining the military. Haurwas’ brand of intellectual courage is necessary, even among non-Christians, to combat the hysterical sycophancy toward the military in a culture where even saluting a Marine, while holding a coffee cup, is tantamount to terrorism.

The men and women who do enlist deserve better than to die in the dirt and come home in a bag, or spend their lives in wheelchairs, and their parents should not have to drown in tears and suffer the heartbreak of burying their children. The catastrophes become less common when fewer people join the military.

Calling all cops and troops heroes insults those who actually are heroic – the soldier who runs into the line of fire to protect his division, the police officer who works tirelessly to find a missing child – by placing them alongside the cops who shoot unarmed teenagers who have their hands in the air, or the soldier who rapes his subordinate.

It also degrades the collective understanding of heroism to the fantasies of high-budget, cheap-story action movies. The American conception of heroism seems inextricably linked to violence; not yet graduated from third-grade games of cops and robbers. Explosions and smoking guns might make for entertaining television, but they are not necessary, and more and more in modern society, not even helpful in determining what makes a hero.

A social worker who commits to the care and advocacy of adults with developmental disabilities – helping them find employment, group home placement and medical care, and just treating them with love and kindness – is a hero. A hospice worker in a poor neighborhood, providing precious comfort and consolation to someone dying on the ugly edges of American healthcare, is a hero. An inner-city teacher, working hard to give essential education and meaningful affirmation to children living in neighborhoods where bullets fly and families fall apart, is a hero.

Not all teachers, hospice workers or social workers are heroes, but emphasizing the heroism of those who do commit to their clients, patients and students with love and service would cause a shift of America’s fundamental values. It would place the spotlight on tender and selfless acts of solidarity and empathy for the poor. Calling all cops heroes too often leads to pathetic deference to authority, even when the results are fatal, and insisting all members of the military are heroes too often reinforces the American values of militarism and exceptionalism.

The assignment of heroism, exactly like the literary construct, might have more to do with the assignment of villainy than the actual honoring of “heroes.” Every hero needs a villain. If the only heroes are armed men fighting the country’s wars on drugs and wars in the Middle East, America’s only villains are criminals and terrorists. If servants of the poor, sick and oppressed are the heroes, then the villains are those who oppress, profit from inequality and poverty, and neglect the sick. If that is the real battle of heroism versus villainy, everyone is implicated, and everyone has a far greater role than repeating slogans, tying ribbons and placing stickers on bumpers.

David Masciotra is the author of Mellencamp: American Troubadour (forthcoming, University Press of Kentucky). He writes regularly for the Daily Beast and Splice Today. For more information visit www.davidmasciotra.com.

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Posted in antiwar, counter military recruiting, militarism, war

Hidden militarism: Electromagnetic war games over Olympic National Park

Navy Plans Electromagnetic War Games Over National Park

By Dahr Jamail, www.truth-out.org
November 11th, 2014

popularresistance.org https://www.popularresistance.org/navy-plans-electromagnetic-war-games-over-national-park/

Olympic National Park and Olympic National Forest in Washington State are two of the most beautiful wilderness areas in the United States. Majestic glacier-clad peaks rise above temperate rainforest-covered hills. Gorgeous rivers tumble down from the heights and the areas are home to several types of plants and animal species that exist nowhere else on earth.

These protected national commons are also the areas in and near where the US Navy aims to conduct its Northwest Electromagnetic Radiation Warfare training program, wherein it will fly 36 of its EA-18G “Growler” supersonic jet warplanes down to 1,200 feet above the ground in some areas in order to conduct war games with 14 mobile towers. Enough electromagnetic radiation will be emitted so as to be capable of melting human eye tissue, and causing breast cancer, childhood leukemia and damage to human fetuses, let alone impacting wildlife in the area.

What is at stake is not just whether the military is allowed to use protected public lands in the Pacific Northwest for its war games, but a precedent being set for them to do so across the entire country.

If it gets its way, this means the Navy would be flying Growler jets, which are electronic attack aircraft that specialize in radar jamming, in 2,900 training exercises over wilderness, communities and cities across the Olympic Peninsula for 260 days per year, with exercises lasting up to 16 hours per day.

No public notices for the Navy’s plans were published in any media that directly serve the Olympic Peninsula; hence the Navy initially reported that it had received no public comments on its “environmental assessment” for the war games.

One barely advertised public comment meeting was held in the small town of Forks, a several hour drive from the larger towns and cities that will be impacted by the war games. When asked to schedule more public comment meetings, the Navy refused.

But word spread. Tens of thousands of residents across the peninsula became furious, and widespread and growing public outcry forced the Navy to extend the public comment period until November 28 and schedule more public meetings.

It is not news that the Navy has been conducting electronic warfare exercises for years, but it might come as a surprise for people to learn that according to the US Navy’s Information Dominance Roadmap 2013-2028, the Navy states it “will require new capabilities to fully employ integrated information in warfare by expanding the use of advanced electronic warfare.”

What is at stake is not just whether the military is allowed to use protected public lands in the Pacific Northwest for its war games, but a precedent being set for them to do so across the entire country .

The Die Is Cast

The Navy already has an area in Mountain Home, Idaho, that is available for such war gaming.

Nevertheless, according to the Navy’s “environmental assessment,” it opted not to fly the 400 miles to Idaho in order to save jet fuel and enable their personnel to have more time with their families.

The war games would include the use of large RV-sized trucks equipped with electromagnetic generating equipment that would be dispersed along 14 sites in Olympic National Forest and several right along the boundary of Olympic National Park. While no trucks would, in theory, be allowed inside Olympic National Park, the warplanes would most likely be crossing over the park on a regular basis.

“This is bringing militarism home in a very direct way, in one of the most pristine parts of the country.”

The exercises would be conducted by naval warplanes launching from the US Naval Air Station on Whidbey Island that would fly over the northern coast of the Olympic Peninsula in order to reach the West Coast, where they would fly inland over national forestland and Olympic National Park, in order to target the vehicles’ aimed electromagnetic radiation.

According to the Navy’s so-called environmental assessment, the purpose of these war games is to train to deny the enemy “all possible frequencies of electromagnetic radiation (i.e. electromagnetic energy) for use in such applications as communication systems, navigation systems and defense related systems and components.”

Six of the radiation emitting truck sites would be within 10 miles of the Quinault Reservation, and at least six of them would be right along the border of Olympic National Park.

Truthout requested comment from the Quinault and received this statement from Fawn Sharp, the president of the Quinault Indian Nation:

The Quinault Indian Nation has spoken with the Navy regarding the electronic warfare range proposal due to our ongoing concerns for our people and our wildlife in our usual and accustomed hunting grounds. Our people have lived here for thousands of years. We have always depended upon the fishing, hunting and gathering resources here, and managed these resources for the benefit of current and future generations. Today we co-manage these resources with our fellow sovereigns, the state and federal governments. The Navy has responded to our questions, on a government-to-government basis. At this time our only additional comment is that we will be monitoring the Navy’s activities, to assure there is no harm to the resources we manage and must protect for the sake of our people, our heritage and our generations to come.

The Navy claimed it had served notice to the Makah, Quileute, Hoh and Quinault tribes, all located in close proximity to the proposed war games areas.

John Moshier, the Navy’s northwest environmental manager for the US Pacific Fleet,has stated that their planes would be flying as low as 1,200 feet above the ground.

Yet the Navy’s environmental impact assessment does not even mention noise pollution or the sound of the Navy’s jets, and lists “no significant impacts” for public health and safety, biological resources, noise, air quality or visual resources.

Tens of thousands of outraged residents from around the Olympic Peninsula have expressed their opposition via letters to the US Forest Service, public meetings, letters to the editor in newspapers across the peninsula, flooding article comment sections and via social media.

David King, the mayor of Port Townsend, a town on the Northeast corner of the Olympic Peninsula, has voiced his opposition to the plan, along with numerous other public officials from around the Olympic Peninsula, in addition to the thousands of angry residents.

“This is bringing militarism home in a very direct way, in one of the most pristine parts of the country,” Linda Sutton, a retired teacher who lives in Port Townsend, told Truthout. “Most of the people who live here do so because we are free of this kind of militarism. And people who visit here, come here for the natural beauty and environment, and if we allow this place to be turned into a war-gaming area, it is reprehensible.”

“No Significant Impact?”

According to the National Park Service, the top two purposes of a national park are:

To preserve and protect the natural and cultural resources for future generations.
To provide opportunities to experience, understand and enjoy the park consistent with the preservation of

resources in a state of nature.
As for national forests,
according to US Code 475, which outlines the purposes for which national forests were

established and how they are to be administered:

No national forest shall be established, except to improve and protect the forest within the boundaries, or for the purpose of securing favorable conditions of water flows, and to furnish a continuous supply of timber for the use and necessities of citizens of the United States; but it is not the purpose or intent of these provisions, or of said section, to authorize the inclusion therein of lands more valuable for the mineral therein, or for agricultural purposes, than for forest purposes.

The Navy’s war-gaming plans are most likely in violation of the stated purposes of the National Park Service, in addition to being in violation of the aforementioned US code.

The Navy’s so-called environmental assessment, which they claim includes plans for “protecting people and large animals,” reported “no significant impact” would result from the $11.5 million warfare training project, which aims to be operational by September 2015.

The report, however, failed to provide specifics on either the maximum potential exposure or the intensity of the electromagnetic radiation emitters from the trucks to be used in the war games.

“Experimental evidence has shown that exposure to low intensity radiation can have a profound effect on biological processes.”

Nevertheless, Dean Millett, the district ranger for the Pacific district of the Olympic National Forest, had issued a draft notice of a decision in which he had agreed with the Navy’s finding of “no significant impact,” which has cleared the way for a Forest Service special permit to be issued to the Navy for the war games. Millet, however, insists that the decision is his to make, but has not made a final decision yet.

Under massive public pressure, however, Millett reopened public comment because of what he claimed was “renewed interest . . . from members of the public who were unaware of the proposal.”

Mike Welding, the Naval Air Station at Whidbey Island spokesman, recently admittedto reporters that any antennas emitting electromagnetic energy produce radiation.

“As a general answer, if someone is in the exclusion area for more than 15 minutes, that’s a ballpark estimate for when there would be some concern for potential to injure, to receive burns,” he said.

The Navy’s “environmental assessment” (EA) states, “There are no conclusive direct hazards to human tissue as a result of electromagnetic radiation,” and, “Links to DNA fragmentation, leukemia, and cancer due to intermittent exposure to extremely high levels of electromagnetic radiation are speculative; study data are inconsistent and insufficient at this time.”

However, in direct contradiction to the Navy’s responses along with their so-called environmental assessment, in 1994, the US Air Force published the report,“Radiofrequency/Microwave Radiation Biological Effects and Safety Standards: A Review.”

Page 18 of the report states: “Nonthermal disruptions have been observed to occur at power densities that are much lower than are necessary to induce thermal effects. Soviet researchers have attributed alterations in the central nervous system and the cardiovascular system to the nonthermal effect of low level RF/MW radiation exposure.”

The report concludes, “Experimental evidence has shown that exposure to low intensity radiation can have a profound effect on biological processes.” (emphasis added)

“The planned range may alter the attractiveness of this region as a destination for tourists and there is potential for significant economic impact.”

It is important to note that at the time that report was written, the standard for exposure was 50,000 milliwatts per square meter. Today, the maximum exposure limit is 10,000 milliwatts per square meter, yet even that level is more than 1 million times higher than the allowable exposure limits published in the 2012 BioInitiative Report.

Furthermore, the “EA” quotes from a study (Focke et al. 2009) that deals with extremely low frequency radiation (50 hertz) only and is thus completely irrelevant to the gigahertz radiation being proposed (1 gigahertz equals 1 billion hertz).

The Navy has not provided any relevant studies that prove no long-term effects to flora and fauna for their proposed 4,680 hours per year of exposure.

Nor does the “EA” factor in the electromagnetic radiation from the Navy’s Growler jets, as the jets will be using it to locate ground transmitters.

Peer-reviewed, published scientific studies about the harmful effects to humans of electromagnetic radiation abound.

A quick search on Google Scholar for “Electromagnetic fields risk to humans” produces over 63,000 results, most of which are published scientific studies that chronicle the deleterious impact of electromagnetic fields to the human organism.

Some of the studies titles are: “Carcinogenicity of radiofrequency,” “The sensitivity of children to electromagnetic fields,” “Exposure to extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields and the risk of malignant diseases – an evaluation of epidemiological and experimental findings,” “Extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields as effectors of cellular responses in vitro: possible immune cell activation,” and “Exposure to electromagnetic fields and the risk of childhood leukemia,” to name just a few.

One study, titled “Leukemia and Occupational Exposure to Electromagnetic Fields: Review of Epidemiologic Surveys,” states in its abstract: “Results for total leukemia show a modest excess risk for men in exposed

occupations, with an enhanced risk elevation for acute leukemia and especially acute myelogenous leukemia.”

A report titled “Biological effects from electromagnetic field exposure and public exposure standards,” published in the journal Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy in 2008, concluded:

Health endpoints reported to be associated with ELF and/or RF include childhood leukemia, brain tumors, genotoxic effects, neurological effects and neurodegenerative diseases, immune system deregulation, allergic and inflammatory responses, breast cancer, miscarriage and some cardiovascular effects. The BioInitiative Report concluded that a reasonable suspicion of risk exists based on clear evidence of bioeffects at environmentally relevant levels, which, with prolonged exposures may reasonably be presumed to result in health impacts.

Electromagnetic radiation’s impact on wildlife is very well documented, as thousands of peer-reviewed scientific studies have been published on the topic.

In May 2014, a study titled “Electromagnetic Interference Disrupts Bird Navigation, Hints at Quantum Action” was published in the journal Nature. “Researchers found out that very weak electromagnetic fields disrupt the magnetic compass used by European robins and other songbirds to navigate using the Earth’s magnetic field,” according to the study.

That same month another study, “Sensory biology: Radio waves zap the biomagnetic compass,” was also published in Nature. “Weak radio waves in the medium-wave band are sufficient to disrupt geomagnetic orientation in migratory birds, according to a particularly well-controlled study,” Nature reports. It added, “Interference from electronics . . . can disrupt the internal magnetic compasses of migratory birds.”

A 2013 study published in Environment International, “A review of the ecological effects of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF),” concluded, “In about two-third[s] of the reviewed studies ecological effects of RF- EMF [were] reported at high as well as at low dosages.”

A June 2011 study published in Ecosphere, titled “Impacts of Acute and Long-Term Vehicle Exposure on Physiology and Reproductive Success of the Northern Spotted Owl,” found that while the spotted owl is able to compensate for a low level of increased noise pollution and vehicle presence up to a threshold, “beyond which disturbance impacts may be greatly magnified – and even cause system collapse.” The northern spotted owl is an endangered species.

While more studies on the impact of electromagnetic radiation on larger animals are underway and the results pending, the negative impacts on birds in the proposed war-gaming areas are clear.

(Photo: Dahr Jamail)

Richard Jahnke, the president of the Admiralty Audubon Society located on the Olympic Peninsula, submitted comments to Greg Wahl, the environmental coordinator for the US Forest Service, who is fielding comments about the Navy’s war games plans.

Jahnke’s letter, which he provided to Truthout, clarifies the impact on birds in the war game area: “The western side of the Olympic National Park has a unique soundscape. A location in the Hoh River valley was identified as the quietest place in the lower 48 with respect to anthropogenic sound (see onesquareinch.org for further info).”

Sullivan sees many holes in how both the Forest Service and Navy have gone about making the war game exercises happen without following proper protocol.

Jahnke noted how the Navy’s so-called EA did not assume any economic impact, hence categorically excluding that

from their analysis. Of this he stated, “The planned range may alter the attractiveness of this region as a destination for tourists and there is potential for significant economic impact. Since this region is already economically stressed, even small variations in overall economic activity may result in large, relative impacts. The Navy should, therefore, assess the potential economic impact before proceeding.”

According to the Admiralty Audubon Society, the Pacific Coast is part of the Pacific Flyway, which makes it a critical pathway for migratory birds, with an estimated 1 billion birds migrating along the flyway annually.

“The Navy’s assessment includes little discussion of indirect impacts of EMR [electromagnetic radiation] on wildlife and does not incorporate the most recent, best available science,” Jahnke wrote, adding, “Since successful migration is critical to the survival of a migrating species, potential navigational impacts must [be] evaluated. However, these potential impacts are not considered in the current EA and hence the potential impacts were not assessed.”

Thus, the Admiralty Audubon Society has gone on record in recommending that the Navy’s EA and its associated “Findings of No Significant Impacts” not be adopted.

“The deficiencies documented above are significant and must be addressed,” Jahnke stated. “For these reasons, the EA does not meet the requirements of law and a full environmental impact statement under NEPA [National Environmental Policy Act] must be prepared.”

Navy officials said that they “did not know” the impact of the electromagnetic radiation emissions “on small animals.”

The Forest Service’s Greg Wahl chose to parrot the Navy’s finding of “no significant impact” for the war games project.

Forest Service Response

Wahl chose not to respond to Truthout’s repeated requests for comment on how the Navy’s plans would have “no significant impact” on wildlife or humans in the affected areas.

Dean Millett, Olympic National Forest’s district ranger, downplayed impacts of the Navy’s plans, and told reporters that the Forest Service roads where most of the emitters will be located “are remote,” and added, “They don’t get much traffic unless there is some activity going on in the area.”

He claimed the electromagnetic radiation transmissions would “cease if large animals come into the area where the exercise is taking place,” and said he “was not concerned about the electromagnetic radiation emissions” and said this was “just one more small dose” of electromagnetic radiation.

Olympic Peninsula resident Karen Sullivan worked for the US Fish and Wildlife Service for 15 and a half years, in Delaware, Washington, DC, and from 1998 through 2006 in Alaska. She worked in the Division of Endangered Species, External Affairs, and spent the last seven years as assistant regional director for External Affairs, which covered all media and congressional interaction and correspondence, plus outreach, publications and tribal grants for the Alaska region.

She called the Navy’s so-called environmental assessment “bogus” because “it’s relying on the biological opinion, which is totally invalid because it is old and not of broad enough scope.”

A “biological opinion” is a narrowly focused legal document prepared by the US Fish and Wildlife Service for the purpose of evaluating whether an activity will jeopardize the continued existence of a listed species. Hence the Navy, in theory, is required to consult with Fish and Wildlife about endangered species and other impacts, according to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.

“To illustrate this, the Navy can go explode mines on the sea floor, which creates a kill zone and alters the seafloor habitat, but if the one endangered fish being evaluated in the document doesn’t use that seafloor habitat, then the

effects of that explosion are called ‘insignificant’ because they don’t affect that particular species,” Sullivan told Truthout.

The Sierra Club also submitted a letter to Wahl protesting the Forest Service’s concurrence with the Navy’s finding of “no significant impact.” The letter began by taking issue with the Forest Service not adhering to its mission:

The USFS’s mission, as set forth by law, is to manage its lands under a sustainable multiple-use management concept to meet the diverse needs of people. Among these diverse needs are forestry, recreation, and the protection of wildlife habitat and wilderness. The very nature of the Navy’s proposal, which involves open-ended access restrictions, makes it difficult to imagine how the USFS will be able to adhere to its multiple-use mandate as other uses will necessarily be precluded.

Sullivan takes issue with the Navy’s “EA” for numerous reasons, which she detailed for Truthout:

This 200-page document covered a huge area of airspace, but only 875 acres of land were specifically named, between Everett and Mt. Baker. The lone ground-based emitter mentioned was located in Coupeville, and the number of annual training events for Growler jets proposed back in 2009 was 275. That’s what the biological opinion evaluated. Not three mobile emitters and one fixed tower in 14 brand-new places, not 36 low-altitude Growler jets in areas previously not evaluated, not 2,900 Growler training events in the Olympic National Forest and another 2,100 elsewhere, for eight to 16 hours per day, 260 days per year. This is 20 times the level of activity that was covered in the biological opinion; therefore, using it so dishonestly to justify their new plans invalidates their environmental assessment.

Sullivan believes the Navy is violating NEPA by their initial attempts to not adequately seek public comment, and pointed out how the Navy tried to use the same tactic in Mendocino, California, which was met with similar public outcry then as well.

Sullivan sees many holes in how both the Forest Service and Navy have gone about making the war game exercises happen without following proper protocol.

“The Forest Service is supposed to evaluate everything else, including the effects of chronic radiation on trees and plants and animals, and there is nothing in their EA about that . . . nothing,” she said. “There is clearly an absence of data, and they are not doing their own research.”

The Sierra Club is clear in their findings and what they believe the Forest Service and Fish and Wildlife Service must do:

Sierra Club North Olympic Group (NOG) believes that the Forest Service should not accept the finding of “No Significant Impact” and decline the Navy a Special-Use Permit and access to the Forest Service roads for their mobile electromagnetic (EM) emitters until the Navy revises and augments the final EA, requests an updated Biological Opinion from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and (potentially) prepares a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

The FONSI [Finding of no significant impact] is not supported by the final EA from the Navy due to the inadequacies of that document. Without the FONSI or a complete EIS, the Forest Service cannot grant the Navy a special-use permit and access to Forest Service roads.

Like Sullivan, the Sierra Club found sections of the “EA” that needed “to be updated and rewritten to include the newest scientific literature research on the effects of EM and Noise on Endangered Species Act (ESA) listed species in the proposed military operations area (MOA) . . . research into the literature found no less than 3 peer-reviewed articles that would contradict the findings of no significant impact in the EA and perhaps the 2010 Biological Opinion.”

Sullivan pointed out that there are at least two endangered species, the marbled murrelet and the bull trout, that would likely be adversely affected by the war games, and possibly rendered extinct.

The Sierra Club pointed out that the northern spotted owl, also an endangered species, would also be adversely affected.

The group also voiced its concerns with the fact that the planned missions begin well before daylight and continue long into the night, the sound pollution emitted by the generators on the 14 mobile units and Growler jets, several areas in the “EA” where the Navy contradicts itself, impacts on gray wolves, vagueness in many areas of the Navy’s report, and the fact that Growler jets will be flying in trios (“with two in [radar] jamming mode and one in detection- mode”), among several other issues.

The Sierra Club’s letter to Wahl contained several open-ended questions and concerns, and pointed toward one section of concern, stating, “the last paragraph identifies a process of the Navy consulting with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) on the effects on ESA listed species from the stressors and impacts described in this EA. When would this consultation take place, what is the output of the consultation (a report?) and is it subject to citizen review? Furthermore, we believe this consultation must take place prior to the granting of any special-use permit by the Forest Service.”

Sullivan concluded with asking open-ended questions to the Navy and federal agencies involved:

Does the Navy intend to reinitiate formal consultation with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service, to obtain more recent evaluations of impacts to biological resources? Will the Navy revise the EA to reflect all of the information that was left out? Is it possible to insist there could still be “no significant impacts” unless you are blindfolded?

The current public comment period has been extended until November 28, and it is yet to be determined if the Navy will succeed in their efforts to carry out their war games on the Olympic Peninsula. 

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Posted in militarism

Tomas Young, Iraq vet, anti-war activist, dies in Seattle at 34

Tomas Young, Iraq vet, anti-war activist, dies in Seattle at 34

By Christine Mai-Duc
Los Angeles Times

Tomas Young, who was wounded in Iraq and became one of the first veterans to publicly oppose the war, has died.

Young, who was paralyzed after being shot five days into his tour in Iraq, died Monday morning at a home in Seattle. His death was confirmed by coroner’s officials in King County and a co-director of a documentary about Young. He was 34.

Information on Young’s cause of death has not been released, pending toxicology results, according to Nick Fletcher, an investigator at the King County Medical Examiner’s office.

Young, a native of Kansas City, Mo., enlisted in the Army two days after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, at the age of 22. He completed his basic training at Ft. Hood, Texas, and shipped out to Iraq. Young was riding through Sadr City in an unarmored, uncovered Humvee when he was shot through the spinal cord and paralyzed. He relied on a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

His experience was recorded in the documentary “Body of War,” produced and directed by Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro, which followed Young as he transformed from recovering veteran to anti-war activist.

Young said he had become disillusioned after landing in Iraq; he had enlisted in hopes of being sent to Afghanistan to help punish those responsible for the 9/11 attacks.

“If I had been injured similarly in Afghanistan, there would be no ‘Body of War’ film,” Young told The Times in 2008. “I would have taken my government stipend and shut up, and sat back in my house.”

Young became a spokesman for the early movement against the war in Iraq. But, at times, he seemed to bristle at his celebrity.

“It was the weirdest feeling,” Young told The Times in 2008, the day after he appeared at the South by Southwest festival, which showcased a music compilation tied to the documentary. “I’m like, OK . . . I’m just me. All I did was pick songs and make a movie. And say some things, you know.”

Young announced last year that he had decided to end his life, and would soon refuse his medications and feeding tube. He later told The Kansas City Star that he would no longer set a date for his death.

“I want to spend as much time as possible with my wife, and no decent son wants his obituary to read that he was survived by his mother,” Young told the Star in May 2013.

The Seattle Times had this article listed as “local,” from the Los Angeles Times. Plenty of pro-war reporting on Veterans Day, though, in the Seattle Times, as usual.

Updated Tuesday, November 11, 2014 at 04:01 PM in the Seattle Times.

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Young Marines Units in WA and Portland, OR

xxWA young marines

xxWA young marinesxxWA young marinesThe Young Marines

Another military group in the schools, enabling access to students as young as 8 years old. Read below for Glock, guns, and the Young Marines….

About the Young Marines

Who We Are
The Young Marines is a youth education and service program for boys and girls, ages 8 through completion of high school. The Young Marines promotes the mental, moral, and physical development of its members. The program focuses on character building, leadership, and promotes a healthy, drug-free lifestyle. The Young Marines is the premier youth organization in its Drug Demand Reduction Efforts.

The Young Marines is open to all youth ages 8 through completion of high school. The only membership requirement is that the youth must be in good standing at school. Since the Young Marines’ humble beginnings, in 1958, with one unit and a handful of boys, the organization has grown to approximately 300 units with 10,000 youth and 3,000 adult volunteers in 40 states, the District of Columbia, and Japan; with affiliates in a host of other countries.

Our Volunteers
Young Marines units are community-based programs lead by dedicated adult volunteers. Many of these volunteers are former, retired, active duty, or reserve Marines who believe passionately that the values they learned as Marines had a positive effect on them. It is through these caring adults that Young Marines learn the inner values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment while instilling our corps values of Leadership, Discipline and Teamwork. Adult volunteers are individually screened by the National Headquarters based on background information and recommendations provided with each person’s registration.

Upon joining a local Young Marines unit, youth undergo a 26-hour orientation program, generally spread out over several weekly meetings. This orientation program is affectionately called “Recruit Training.” The youth learn general subjects such as history, customs and courtesies, close order drill, physical fitness, and military rank structure. After graduating from Young Marines “Recruit Training”, the youth have the opportunity to learn more new skills, earn rank, wear the Young Marines uniform and work toward ribbon awards. Young Marines earn ribbons for achievement in areas such as leadership, community service, swimming, academic excellence, first aid, and drug resistance education.

The Young Marines is the proud five-time recipient of the Department of Defense’s Fulcrum Shield Award for Excellence in Youth Anti-Drug Programs. The award recognizes military-affiliated youth organizations around the world that have made concerted efforts at spreading anti-drug messages throughout their communities.

Young Marines Veterans Appreciation Week
For one week in November each year, Young Marines units across the country celebrate Young Marines Veterans Appreciation Week (YMVAW). The purpose of the campaign is to challenge our Young Marines to dedicate some of their time to help our nation’s veterans and to demonstrate, through their actions, their sincere appreciation for our veterans’ service to our country. Unit projects include sending thank you cards to hospitalized veterans, cleaning up a disabled veteran’s yard, visiting veterans in the hospital, or simply setting up a community function to socialize with local veterans.

The mission of the Young Marines is to positively impact America’s future by providing quality youth development programs for boys and girls that nurtures and develops its members into responsible citizens who enjoy and promote a healthy, drug-free lifestyle.

Strengthening the lives of America’s youth

Young Marine Obligation
From this day forward, I sincerely promise, I will set an example for all other youth to follow and I shall never do anything that would bring disgrace or dishonor upon my God, my Country and its flag, my parents, myself or the Young Marines. These I will honor and respect in a manner that will reflect credit upon them and myself. Semper Fidelis.

Young Marine Creed
1. Obey my parents and all others in charge of me whether young or old.
2. Keep myself neat at all times without other people telling me to.
3. Keep myself clean in mind by attending the church of my faith.
4. Keep my mind alert to learn in school, at home, or at play.
5. Remember having self-discipline will enable me to control my body and mind in case of an emergency.

National Programs
During the summer months, Young Marines have the opportunity to attend the Young Marines National Summer Programs of: Adventures, Challenges, Encampments, and Schools (SPACES). Schools consist of leadership courses. Adventures, have a historical emphasis and are designed with the younger child in mind. In contrast, older Young Marines can participate in Challenges. Challenges consist of training in areas such as survival skills, wilderness training, and water-based activities. Young Marine Encampments provide the opportunity for Young Marines of all ages to gather together and train as a large unit of up to 700 youth at a time. Over 3,000 Young Marines participate in the SPACES programs each year.

R.Lee Ermey, official celebrity spokesperson
The Young Marines are honored to have R. Lee Ermey as their official celebrity spokesperson. Mr. Ermey garnered worldwide acclaim for his portrayal of Drill Instructor Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Stanley Kubrick’s film, Full Metal Jacket (1987).

Chester, the official mascot
Chester, the puppy bulldog, is the Young Marines official mascot. Chester enjoys all the benefits of Young Marines membership such as the opportunity to earn rank and ribbons, wear the Young Marines uniform, and a free subscription to the Young Marines Esprit magazine.


GLOCK donates $50,000 to the Young Marines at the 2014 AUSA Annual Meeting

“While attending their National Leadership Academy, members of the Young Marines received a comprehensive gun safety class and then had the opportunity to shoot the Scholastic Pistol Program series of targets. GLOCK provided the handguns, and Tori Nonaka, GLOCK’s national junior champion, provided demonstrations and assisted with the challenge.”

Glock, maker of handguns. It all makes sense.

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Article about JROTC in Oregon school in “Rethinking Schools”

Teacher Sylvia McCauley has written a terrific article about the paradoxes of militarism in her school in the fall issue of Rethinking Schools.

The Military Invasion of My High School: The Role of JROTC” tells the story of the JROTC at Reynolds High School in Oregon, but the focus on luring students at risk, and the contradictions with non-violent conflict educational philosophies are common at other schools with JROTC. Ms. McCauley also details the history that led to schools accepting and promoting militarism and JROTC.

The author, Sylvia McGauley, is a teacher at Reynolds High School in Oregon – where in June a deranged JROTC student shot a student and injured a teacher before taking his own life. “This tragedy,” the article notes, “highlights the importance of closing down programs that feed violent tendencies in vulnerable students and contradict school-based efforts to teach nonviolent conflict resolution.”

After the article was accepted for publication in “Rethinking Schools” (an always excellent resource for students, teachers, and activists), a JROTC student at Reynolds high school brought a semi-automatic rifle and pistol, a knife, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition to school. He killed a student and injured a teacher before the police came and he killed himself. Of course, not all JROTC students are violent: of course, not all violence at schools is from the presence of JROTC. But the acceptance of the violence of military solutions to conflicts paves the way for further violence.


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A National Call: Save Civilian Public Education

Please consider the militarization and commercialization of our schools, and pass on this national call. The actual website is much more pleasing to read, and contains the active links. 

A National Call: Save Civilian Public Education

Over the last several decades, the Pentagon,conservative forces, and corporations have been systematically working to expand their presence in the K-12 learning environment and in public universities. The combined impact of the military, conservative think tanks and foundations,  and of corporatization of our public educational systems has eroded the basic democratic concept of civilian public education.   It is a trend that, if allowed to continue, will weaken the primacy of civilian rule and, ultimately, our country’s commitment to democratic ideals.

The signers of this statement believe it is urgent for all advocates of social justice, peace and the environment to recognize the dangerous nature of this problem and confront it with deliberate action.


The most aggressive outside effort to use the school system to teach an ideology with ominous long-term implications for society comes from the military establishment. Over the last two decades, with relatively little media coverage or public outcry, the Pentagon’s involvement in schools and students’ lives has grown exponentially. Now, for example:

  • Every school day, at least half a million high school students attend Junior ROTC classes to receive instruction from retired officers who are handpicked by the Pentagon to teach its own version of history and civics. These students are assigned “ranks” and conditioned to believe that military and civilian values are similar, with the implication that unquestioning obedience to authority is therefore a feature of good citizenship.
  • Armed forces academies are being established in some public schools (Chicago now has eight), where all students are given a heavy dose of military culture and values.
  • A network of military-related programs is spreading in hundreds of elementary and middle schools. Examples are the Young Marines and Starbase programs, and military programs that sneak into schools under the cloak of Science / Technology / Engineering / Math (STEM) education.
  • Military recruiters are trained to pursue “school ownership” as their goal (see: “Army School Recruiting Program Handbook”). Their frequent presence in classrooms, lunch areas and at assemblies has the effect of popularizing military values, soldiering and, ultimately, war.
  • Since 2001, federal law has overridden civilian school autonomy and family privacy when it comes to releasing student contact information to the military. Additionally, each year thousands of schools allow the military to administer its entrance exam — the ASVAB — to 10th-12th graders, allowing recruiters to bypass laws protecting parental rights and the privacy of minors and gain access to personal information on hundreds of thousands of students.



Efforts by groups outside the school system to inject conservatism and corporate values into the learning process have been going on for a number of years. In a recent example of right-wing educational intervention, The New York Times reported that tea party groups, using lesson plans and coloring books, have been pushing schools to “teach a conservative interpretation of the Constitution, where the federal government is a creeping and unwelcome presence in the lives of freedom-loving Americans.” (See:http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/17/us/constitution-has-its-day-amid-a-struggle-for-its-spirit.html )

Corporations have been projecting their influence in schools with devices like Channel One, a closed-circuit TV program that broadcasts commercial content daily to captive student audiences in 8,000 schools. Some companies have succeeded in convincing schools to sign exclusive contracts for pizza, soft drinks and other products, with the goal of teaching early brand loyalty to children. A National Education Policy Center report issued in November 2011 documents the various ways in which business/school partnerships are harming children educationally by channeling student thinking “into a corporate-friendly track” and stunting their ability to think critically. (See: http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/schoolhouse-commercialism-2011 )

The development of this corporate-friendly track dovetails with a radical corporate agenda to dismantle America’s public education system. States across the country are slashing educational spending, outsourcing public teacher jobs, curbing collective-bargaining rights, and marginalizing teachers’ unions. There is a proliferation of charter and “cyber” schools that promote private sector involvement and a push toward for-profit schools where the compensation paid to private management companies is tied directly to student performance on standardized assessments.  The cumulative effect is the creation of institutions that cultivate a simplistic ideology that merges consumerism with subservience. (See: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/12/michigan-privatize-public-education )

The corporatization of education via charter schools and the administration sector growth at universities is another troubling trend for public education.  Diane Ravitch’s book Reign of Error ( http://www.npr.org/2013/09/27/225748846/diane-ravitch-rebukes-education-activists-reign-of-error ) and Henry A. Giroux’s newest bookNeoliberalism’s War on Higher Education,  ( http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/22548-henry-giroux-beyond-neoliberal-miseducation ) give pointers to the doubtful role of corporate values in public education. 

Why is this happening?  Giroux notes that “Chris Hedges, the former New York Times correspondent, appeared on Democracy Now! in 2012 and told host Amy Goodman the federal government spends some $600 billion a year on education—“and the corporations want it.”

There are also some organizations supporting efforts to introduce history and civics lessons from a progressive perspective, such as the Howard Zinn Education Project (https://zinnedproject.org ) and Rethinking Schools ( http://www.rethinkingschools.org ). And a small movement is working against Channel One and the commercialization of the school environment (e.g., http://www.commercialalert.org/issues/education and ( http://www.obligation.org ).



There is reason to be hopeful about reversing this trend if we look, for example, at some of the successes in grassroots efforts to curb militarism in schools. In 2009, a coalition of high school students, parents and teachers in the very conservative, military-dominated city of San Diego succeeded in getting their elected school board to shut down JROTC firing ranges at eleven high schools. Two years later, the same coalition got the school board to pass a policy significantly limiting military recruiting in all of its schools. Though such initiatives are relatively few in number, similar victories have been won in other school districts and on the state level in Hawaii and Maryland.

There are also some organizations supporting efforts to introduce history and civics lessons from a progressive perspective, such as the Zinn Education Project (www.zinnedproject.org) and Rethinking Schools (www.rethinkingschools.org). And a small movement is working against Channel One and the commercialization of the school environment (e.g., http://www.commercialalert.org/issues/education/ and http://www.obligation.org/ ).

As promising and effective as these efforts are, they pale in comparison to the massive scale of what groups on the other side of the political spectrum are proactively doing in the educational environment to preserve the influence of conservatism, militarism and corporate power. 

It is time for progressive organizations, foundations and media to confront this and become equally involved in the educational system. It is especially important that more organizations unite to oppose the growing intrusion of the Pentagon in K-12 schools and universities. Restoring the primacy of critical thinking and democratic values in our culture cannot be done without stopping the militarization and corporate takeover of public education.


Next: Where Do We Go From Here?

The “Where Do We Go From Here” page lists ideas for action and groups that offer useful resources and background information.



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Chinese proverb: “When planning for a year, plant rice. When planning for a decade, plant trees. When planning for life, train and educate people.” 
Guanzi (c. 645 BC)

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Contact information

Our website is under construction!

But we are still available.

If you have any questions or need help, please contact:

Mike Dedrick  mikededrick@comcast.net

Kathy Barker   kbarker715@comcast.net

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We are a member organization of The National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth (NNOMY) at http://nnomy.org! They’re on Facebook too.

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