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Veterans for Peace Chapter 161, Iowa City

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Who are the people in VFP 161?
Veterans for Peace Chapter 161, based in Iowa City, welcomes veterans in the surrounding area who,
because of their personal experience and travails in a military infrastructure,
now join others locally and worldwide in
advocating for dismantling the military-industrial complex as a basis for prosperity.

June, 2017 vigil


Pentagon Budget Grows, Yemen War Grows

by Ed Flaherty—May, 2017

As veterans, we have had too much experience with illegal, immoral, and counter-productive wars. Therefore, we call upon Iowans to insist that the US stop military actions in Yemen, to end weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, and to take the lead in negotiating a cease-fire and ensuring access to food and medical supplies for Yemen. Furthermore, we call upon Iowans to look closely at how their tax dollars are being increasingly siphoned to the Pentagon, and to specifically look at how those tax dollars encourage our illegal, immoral and counter-productive war in Yemen.

The omnibus appropriations bill was approved with overwhelming bipartisan support in May, and was signed into law by Trump. This $1.17 trillion piece of legislation appropriates discretionary spending for the balance of this fiscal year, which ends September 30. The most significant portion of this massive piece of legislation is the funding of the Pentagon. Total Pentagon funding for fiscal year 2017 is $598.5 billion, an increase of $25.7 billion over fiscal year 2016. The total includes $76.6 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO), which reflects $14.8 billion in new spending sought by the Trump administration.

The sheer size of the Pentagon budget is a huge concern. It constitutes over one-half of all discretionary spending. Appropriations for other purposes are tiny in comparison: $8.1 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency: $5.7 billion for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: $3.3 billion for the United Nations — Just the increase in the Pentagon budget is larger than those three budgets combined.

Of more particular concern to us at the moment is the $76.6 billion for the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO). This is often appropriately called the Pentagon's slush fund. It is separate from the Pentagon's never-audited base budget and has even less transparency. The OCO is used to fund any of the overseas conflicts that the US happens to be involved in. And, with a $14.8 billion increase, it appears we will be involved in more overseas conflicts. One of the most serious and under-reported conflicts is the US participation in the war in Yemen.

Two-thirds of Yemen's population--18.8 million people--are in need of assistance, and 7 million are in a food emergency, on the brink of famine. The UN calls the situation in Yemen the worst humanitarian disaster in the world. In March and April of this year, the US launched 80 drone and plane attacks on Yemen, more than in all of 2016. Saudi Arabia is the primary aggressor in Yemen, and the US supplies the Saudis with weapons, refueling, and intelligence. Trump went to Saudi Arabia in May, with a $110 billion weapons deal on the agenda. Saudi air strikes have severely damaged the port of Al Hudaydah, the only port through which food and medical supplies can arrive in northern Yemen. The Saudis are threatening to completely destroy that port.

Yemen poses no threat to the United States. It is in the throes of a complex civil war stoked by the arms and bombs of greater powers. There is no rational explanation for the US to be killing starving people. Saudi Arabia's goal is to stick its finger in the eye of Iran, which it accuses of helping the Houthi forces. The new US administration is engaging in more sabre rattling with Iran, even wanting to negate the 2015 nuclear agreement, so bombing starving folks in Yemen is good for business. It would not be prudent to leave any of that $76.6 billion OCO fund unspent.

There has never been a vote in Congress which authorizes our military actions in Yemen. The Iowa congressional delegation has been silent on Yemen, and all have supported the bloated Pentagon budget. Give them better advice. And, give Trump a phone call at 202 456-1414, and ask that he take steps to avoid a legacy of obscene absurdity.

An earlier version was published in the Gazette on May 23rd, 2017.

People and Events



peace wave

Show up for Peace!
Fridays, 4:00 - 5:00 p.m.
at the intersection of Iowa Ave. and Clinton St.
on the University of Iowa Pentacrest

Please stand up for peace, speak peace, organize and strategize for peace. Spend the hour, or just 10 minutes. Handouts welcoming new & returning UI students. YOU ARE NEEDED!

It's time, then, to come together for an hour, or even for a few minutes, to voice your support for peace. Be peace! If we do not speak for peace, who will? Bring your friends, your family, your coworkers, or just yourself - everyone is welcome.

Letter: Time to organize and build peace

by David Hempel
Gazette—May 23, 2017 at 12:01 am

We cannot blame just the jihadists (al-Qaida, ISIS, etc.) for the incredible level of violence and terrorism in our world today. Truth be told, the U.S. military is the largest and most devastating terrorist entity on the planet. Our military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and Syria have all but destroyed those countries in toto. Many thousands of innocent civilians have been killed, maimed and terrorized — their families completely distraught and broken.

Between 2002 and 2012 our CIA maintained dozens of "black site" prisons around the world, where torture and prisoner abuse were rampant. The U.S. government is the largest arms dealer the world has ever known, continually selling billions of dollars worth of bombs, guns, fighter planes and helicopters, to the likes of Saudi Arabia and Libya. Though we pride ourselves in reducing our "boots on the ground" in the Middle East, our weaponized drone attacks have killed or injured thousands of civilians. We have a long history of backing coups and supporting corrupt, repressive regimes around the globe. Our government surveils all its citizens and nearly everyone else on the planet, and it actively prosecutes whistleblowers.

We must start owning up to the vast devastation we have rained upon our earth and its inhabitants. And then we must do all in our power to stop this insanity.

Resist, organize, build peace!
David Hempel
Iowa City

From 50 years ago ...
Martin Luther King's Riverside Church speech
broken into sections for a public reading

Muhammad Ali's service
Ed Flaherty on Yemen & US military budget
Ed Flaherty on 9-11
VFP on Memorial Day
Ann Wright & Women's Boat to Gaza
View Dan Berrigan commemoration
Private Manning's service to country

Jeff S.

Jeff Strottmann, #161's Sergeant-at-Arms, died on Monday, February 6 at the Iowa City VA Hospital. Jeff had been a member of Veterans For Peace since 1992, and was one of the charter members of Chapter #161 when it was founded in 2010.

Jeff was a stalwart advocate for peace and social justice, working especially hard through his membership in VFP and in AFSCME to achieve those goals. Jeff is survived by his brother, James Strottmann, of Franklin, Wisconsin.

Tributes can be posted at Lensing's Tribute Wall

En lieu of flowers donations can be made in Jeff's name by sending a check to Veterans For Peace #161, PO Box 947, Iowa City, IA 52244. VFP #161 is a 501(c)3 organization.

February 17, 2016 Reporters Without Borders (RSF), along with the wife of CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling, delivered a petition for Sterling's pardon to the White House, and the White House acknowledged receipt of the 150,000 signatures.

Sterling, a former C.I.A. operative and the latest victim in the Obama administration’s war on whistleblowers, was convicted in January 2015 of divulging classified information to New York Times journalist James Risen. Read More ...

Golden Rule

In 1958, four peace lovers sailed the 30' Golden Rule from California, bound for the Marshall Islands, where another above-ground nuclear bomb test was scheduled. They got arrested in Hawaii, and the boat got sold. It was found in 2010, a wreck. Some VFP folks who knew its story restored it. Here it is, in San Diego bay last week, for the national VFP convention, in conjunction w/the 70 year commemoration of the A-Bomb devestation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Atmospheric nuclear bomb tests were banned world-wide in 1963. The Marshall Islands are suing the nuke bomb holding countries now to make them honor the intent of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to reduce and get rid of all nuclear weapons. Orion Sherwood, one of the 1958 crew, was at the VFP convention, as determined a peace-maker now as then.

For further information, call John Jadryev at 43O-2Ol9 or E-mail Ed Flaherty <flahertyem[at]q.com>


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