(This commentary piece also appears in THE VETERAN, Spring/Summer 2002 (Volume 32, Number 1).)
Vietnam Veterans Against the War Statement on the "War Against Terrorism"
By VVAW National Office
The September 11 attacks in New York, Washington, DC, and Pennsylvania
shocked and saddened much of the world. VVAW continues to condemn
those attacks as criminal actions, and continues to call for the
capture and punishment of those actually responsible.
As we grieve for our losses of September 11, we also mourn
the losses, military and civilian, of Afghans and Americans.
During the intervening months, anyone designated a "terrorist"
has become the new bogeyman. We realize that anyone can be called
a terrorist or freedom fighter, depending on who is doing the
labeling. Our own Minutemen would certainly have been branded
terrorists by the English in 1776.
Our military response to the attacks has caused more civilian
deaths in Afghanistan than the hijackers caused in our country.
This would suggest that the United States is also engaging in
terrorism. Our leaders want to carry this into other countries.
The broadening of this undeclared war to include a so-called
"Axis of Evil" includes loosening the standards for
the use of nuclear weapons against Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, North
Korea, China and Russia. We strongly oppose any open-ended carte
blanche theory of war and this use of U.S. military power
without proper cause or caution.
There are those in our government who will tout the short-term
outcome of our "war on terrorism" as a victory. We notice
that Israel has employed victorious military actions against terrorism
for twenty years. None of their victories has stopped the sniping
or bombing or made Israel a safer place. On the contrary, military
responses have caused an increase in disruptive actions.
We feel that holding prisoners as "detainees" on
a military base sets a bad precedent and is bad policy. American
citizens will, sooner or later, suffer the consequences of this
policy. The detainees must be charged and tried as criminals,
granted POW status, or set free. They are clearly accorded rights
under the U.N. Charter, the Geneva Convention and other human
rights laws, including our own. We also oppose any use of torture
against these detainees and demand that they be given decent shelter.
Domestically, we demand the equal protection of everyone's
civil rights. We condemn the fact that several thousand Muslims
in the United States have been detained and held incommunicado
without trial, or charge, or even legal rights. We oppose such
practices and their corollary, racial profiling, in the domestic
side of this "war on terrorism."
Finally, we in VVAW call upon all who support peace with social
justice to act on their principles and join with others in their
communities to oppose the "war on terrorism" as it is
currently being waged, and to oppose domestic terrorism in the
guise of "public safety" as it is codified in the USA
PATRIOT Act of 2001 (HR 3162) and other legislation.
Commentary on VVAW.org: