grassrootspeace.org

November 5, 2007: This website is an archive of the former website, traprockpeace.org, which was created 10 years ago by Charles Jenks. It became one of the most populace sites in the US, and an important resource on the antiwar movement, student activism, 'depleted' uranium and other topics. Jenks authored virtually all of its web pages and multimedia content (photographs, audio, video, and pdf files. As the author and registered owner of that site, his purpose here is to preserve an important slice of the history of the grassroots peace movement in the US over the past decade. He is maintaining this historical archive as a service to the greater peace movement, and to the many friends of Traprock Peace Center. Blogs have been consolidated and the calendar has been archived for security reasons; all other links remain the same, and virtually all blog content remains intact.

THIS SITE NO LONGER REFLECTS THE CURRENT AND ONGOING WORK OF TRAPROCK PEACE CENTER, which has reorganized its board and moved to Greenfield, Mass. To contact Traprock Peace Center, call 413-773-7427 or visit its site. Charles Jenks is posting new material to PeaceJournal.org, a multimedia blog and resource center.

War on Truth  From Warriors to Resisters
Books of the Month

The War on Truth

From Warriors to Resisters

Army of None

Iraq: the Logic of Withdrawal

See Updates on Counter-Recruitment and CAN history

“Recruiters Off Our Campus!”
The growing crisis facing the military

March 11, 2005

by Desmond Gardfrey

"It is a challenging recruiting environment right now."-- Marine Corps spokesman Maj. David Griesmer

The military is pushing harder to sign people up for the war. Signing bonuses for new recruits have gone up a few thousand. The military plans to hire several thousand more recruiters. The department of defense is spending billions of dollars on advertising. But there are millions of people outraged at the idea that more lives will be wasted for empire.

This outrage has exploded on the frontlines of high schools and college campuses—key targets for military recruiters.

In New York, Seattle, Chicago, Southern Connecticut and San Francisco, college students confronted recruiters and successfully frustrated recruiters efforts with direct protests. In most cases, students held signs, passed out literature, led chants, and directly challenged recruiters with tough questions to expose their lies. In each case, recruiters struggled to attract students, packed up early and left discouraged.

High school students are stepping up their efforts as well. In Minnesota, antiwar high school students set up a table next to military recruiters, who the school regularly invites on campus. The students got over 200 signatures on their petition against military recruitment in their school, totally embarrassing the recruiters. The school then tried to ban the students from tabling, but a flood of community support forced the school to back down.

In Los Angeles, high school teachers told students they were required to take the ASVAB test, which the military uses to target “good recruits.” Several students refused to take the test, and when threatened with disciplinary action, they walked out of school in protest.

The base of this anger includes people with loved ones in the military. A petition drive by college students in Georgia to ban recruiters from campus has found significant support among military families and vets—with a number of them signing the petition, and some even helping to gather signatures.

With the US unable to stamp out resistance to the occupation, a growing number of service members and their loved ones are rightfully concluding that the mission is pointless. A growing number realize that the presence of US troops is doing nothing to help Iraqis—and is actually making things worse.

This is not about weapons of mass destruction, September 11th, or “liberating” Iraqis, or Afghans. As one soldier wrote, “This war is about money. The money is only making the rich man richer.” Many service members now realize they were lied to about the reason for the war, and over 1500 of them have died for a lie. The idea of dying for nothing is an issue for many troops.

What can be even more devastating to Iraq war veterans can be the reality that they killed ordinary Iraqis—the very people they were supposed to be helping—for the same lie.

In January, Sgt. Kevin Benderman, of Ft. Stewart, Ga. refused a second deployment to Iraq. His refusal was largely based on his first tour in Iraq where he witnessed two awful events that turned him against the war.

When his unit was on a patrol, he saw an injured Iraqi girl on the side of the road. An older woman was holding her and crying for help. The girl’s arm was badly burned. Kevin asked his officer to stop and help, but the officer ordered the convoy to move on, saying they couldn’t afford to use their limited medical supplies. In the second event Kevin witnessed, some Iraqi children were throwing rocks at U.S. troops. Sgt. Benderman’s commander ordered them to shoot if those kids came back again.

A recent article in The Guardian expressed the average troop’s mindset in Iraq. A Sergeant “spoke for 150,000 American soldiers in Iraq” when he said, “I just want to stay alive and go home with all my body parts.” One private asked “[W]hat are we doing here?” His friend agreed, “And tomorrow we’re giving out candy to kids again. We didn’t train for this.”

Service members aren’t willing to risk their lives to hand out candy and soccer balls to children. Neither are people looking for college money. The recruitment crisis would be even greater without “stop-loss”, which allows the military to extend service members’ length of service, beyond their original contract.

Even with the stop-loss policy, the military has to call up the injured, mothers with young children, and people who haven’t thought about the military in years. The strain is so intense that members of the Navy and Air Force are being reclassified to serve on the ground in Iraq, usually in transport positions.

All of these factors, from “stop-loss” to the lies about weapons of mass destruction, have eroded support for the war among the general public. This has created an opening for a campaign against military recruiters.

The same factors allow for the greater involvement of antiwar service members and their families. We need to reach out to those antiwar folks in the military, and March 19, is great opportunity to do this.

Join Iraq Veterans Against the War and Military Families Speak Out for a march and rally in the “home of Ft. Bragg” to: Bring the troops home now!

Come to Fayetteville!

Desmond is a student at Georgia State University and a member of the Campus Antiwar Network Coordinating Committee. He can be contacted at dgardfrey@gmail.com  

CAN is also an endorser of the Week of Campus Resistance

March 12, 2005 - page created by Charlie Jenks

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