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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


101 Years Later, America Needs an Armistice
By Danny Sjursen and Coleen Rowley

Once upon a time, a U.S. president told his people they were fighting "a war to end all wars?!" Only a handful of centenarians could possibly remember the false pretexts used to sell the "Great War" to the populace and how that same president imposed draconian "peace" conditions that made the even bloodier Second World War all but inevitable. He, of course, was Woodrow Wilson, a self-proclaimed "progressive," who not only ditched his antiwar credentials but suppressed free speech, the free press (under the Espionage Act - still statute law today), and general civil liberties. Peaceful war opposition became a crime, and many activists were jailed.

Sound familiar? Take Lyndon Johnson's cynical decision to sell the citizenry the Vietnam War under false pretenses. Then, if Karl Marx was right, and history repeats itself first as tragedy, next as farce, George W. Bush's lies and obfuscations to justify the Iraq War must count as the latter. Next, Barack Obama swiftly disappointed progressives' expectations when Mr. "hope and change" escalated the Afghan War, helped orchestrate the bombing of Libya back into the Stone Age (via the "No Fly Zone" ruse), multiplied drone assassinations, and - in a macabre nod to Wilson - prosecuted more whistleblowers under the Espionage Act than all previous presidents combined. Seen in this sequential context, Donald Trump manifests as only the latest, most absurd, imperial president.

Thus, the legacy of World War I remains, resonating across passing generations. For all its carnage, all its domestic oppression, at least that conflict's veterans stepped out of the trenches with hope for a better world. Much of the best antiwar poetry and prose of the past century, flowed from the pens of a "Lost Generation" of fed up vets - think Ernest Hemingway or Robert Graves - committed to ensuring theirs would be the world's last war. All combatants celebrated the moment the guns had fallen silent, November 11, 1918, as Armistice Day, meant to signify a final cessation of state violence. Only decades later, when venal governments of the wealthy and powerful dashed their hopes, did the holiday transform into Veterans' Day. The date's dreamy, beautiful meaning, and hopes, died with that renaming.

A century and a year later, we find the euphemistic confabulations used to launch, sustain and normalize current "forever wars" have only multiplied and overtaken the nation's political cadre, think tanks and corporate media. Sometime in the past 18 years, the post-9/11 "War on Terrorism" garnered "humanitarian" justifications quite similar to Wilson's old rhetoric. Washington now justifies perpetual war as a violent means to protect women's rights, build democracy, and, in Bush's Manichean words, defeat "evil."

Few pundits or faux intellectuals ask whether Bush's (or his successors') millenarian mission is possible. Fewer still discern that each president's rhetoric served only as cover for the true motive of regional hegemony. Of course, "nation-building's" dirty little secret is this: as in Vietnam, so in the Mid-East, the U.S. military ultimately feels compelled to "bomb villages to save them." Enabled by a mostly apathetic public - yet in our name - hundreds of thousands of foreigners (mostly civilians) have been killed, along with nearly 7,000 of America's ever-so-adulated soldiers. Furthermore, the at least $5.9 trillion tax dollars wasted hasn't much profited the combat troops paid $30,000 a year to kill and die, but certainly enriched corporate war profiteers.

America's wars take on an inertia all their own. The political-media power structure hardly questions the why and wherefore, but undoubtedly, this Veterans' Day, these elites will loudly - if vapidly - praise the "service" and "sacrifice" of the troops. They'll use the veterans, as props and pawns, as a cudgel to suppress dissent and equate antiwar activism with un-Americanism. It's an old game - don't fall for it! Reclaim the true dream of Armistice Day: a more peaceful world.

Danny Sjursen is a retired U.S. Army Major and author. His work has appeared in Harper's, the LA Times, The Nation, Tom Dispatch, The Huffington Post, and The Hill. He served combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and later taught history at his alma mater, West Point. He is the author of a memoir and critical analysis of the Iraq War, Ghostriders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge.

Coleen Rowley is a retired FBI Special Agent and former Minneapolis Division Legal Counsel who testified to the 9-11 Joint Intelligence Committee Inquiry and Senate Judiciary Inquiry as a whistleblower, for which she was named one of Time Magazine's 2002 Persons of the Year.

Both authors spoke on as part of the University of Iowa Lecture Series beginning at 7:30 pm at the Old Capitol on November 11.



People and Events


November Candidate Forum


All around the world

Stand up for Peace!
Fridays, New hours: 4 to 5:30 pm
at the intersection of
Iowa Avenue and Clinton Street
on the University of Iowa Pentacrest
Iowa City

Are you ready to show up for peace? Join us for an hour, or even just a few minutes, to voice your support for peace. We citizens must stand as a reminder that the military option is an unacceptable option. Maybe if we're serious about peace with North Korea, we could start the new year by declaring an end to the Korean War. Come with your friends, your family, your neighbors, or just yourself — all are welcome.



April 4 marks 52 years since Martin Luther King delivered the most controversial speech in his career, "Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence." For the 4th year in a row, Veterans For Peace #161 sponsored a community read of King's controversial and ever-relevant "Riverside" speech. April 4th also marks 51 years since King was assassinated in Memphis.

Martin Luther King's Riverside Church speech
broken into sections for a public reading

Martin Luther King's speech at the Mason Temple, Memphis, April 3, 1968
"I've Been to the Mountaintop"


Armistice Day 2018

Veterans for Peace 161 gather on Armistice Day, November 11, 2018


VFP161 Pride

Dave H, John C, Jim Bradley, Louie, Ron McCall, John Fyotek, and Ed Flaherty participated in the June 16, 2018 Gay Pride Parade.
Thanks to Tom Jacobs for the photo.


Jo Conroy

Jo Conroy died on August 4th. Her family and friends are left with rich memories. She was a "No Justice, No Peace—Know Justice, Know Peace" kind of person. She frequented the Friday peace rallies on the Pentacrest in Iowa City, and was a friend of Veterans For Peace. She was a woman of many talents, with a sense of humor and a smile that stuck with you.

Her obituary ( gayandciha.com ) relates: "She became one of the earliest members of the Cedar Rapids chapter of NOW (National Organization For Women). She sued the Cedar Rapids school district for sexual discrimination, not for money but for equal rights. The decision was on her side. She used to say, 'Civil rights, women's rights, we are talking about human rights.' She continued her fight for justice until she could no longer walk or speak."


Local VFP Members Speak Out Against New Obscene Military Spending
Veterans For Peace Stands with Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange
Armistice Day 2018, Time to Recommit to Peace
September 14 2018, Congress passes AUMF
March 2018, a muddle of murky anniversaries
John Ivens on US policy on Yemen
Ed Flaherty on US policy on Gaza
Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA employee, released from prison
VFP 161 leader, Jeff Strottmann passes Feb 6, 2017
Retired Air Force Major General Charles Dunlap discusses AUMF in Syria
Taking Yemen to Congress
Ed Flaherty on Yemen & US military budget
Ed Flaherty on 9-11
VFP on Memorial Day
Muhammad Ali's service
Ann Wright & Women's Boat to Gaza
View Dan Berrigan commemoration
Private Manning's service to country
David Hempel: It's time to organize


Linda Conducts

Photo by Master Sgt. Joshua Kowalsky

On Friday, March 15, 2019, VFP 161 member, Linda Fisher was handed the baton to direct the U.S. Air Force Concert Band at the Hancher to conduct Sousa's Stars and Stripes Forever in a rousing finish to the nights outstanding full house performance. Chief Master Sgt Stacy Newbrough Ascione, an Iowa City native, performed a classy flute improvision.
Linda had been a former member of the Women's Air Force Band, serving with the WAF Band from 1960-1961. She even marched in the Inaugural Parade for President John F. Kennedy!

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 @ AOL·com>


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