Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Arnove and Rockwell at Capitola Book Cafe

We arrived in Capitola near Santa Cruz late yesterday afternoon. Anthony and I felt a little like internet addicts as we sat in the parking lot of Coffeetopia after closing time to check our email and basically try to keep up with the rest of our work and the world. We pulled up to Capitola Book Cafe and were surprised to see the book event advertised on a lit marquee outside.

Then inside, there was a full house. The Santa Cruz Metro ran a bunch of excellent stories, one by Paul Rockwell based on his chapter in 10 Excellent Reasons that I mentioned earlier and a really nice ad for the book event itself and a great article about the opening of Sir! No Sir! By some strange coincidence, the two tours are overlap in New York and LA...

Janet Leimeister, the Event Manager at Cpitola Book Cafe gave the intro, which I've excerpted below:
For tonight’s discussion we welcome two authors whose work dismantles the myths surrounding the current pro-military climate and provides needed clarity for the argument against the Iraq war and the likely wars of our future.

Paul Rockwell is a former assistant professor of Philosophy at Midwestern State University and journalist for In Motion magazine and Common Dreams website.

His contribution to 10 Excellent Reasons Not to Join the Military falls in chapter 2: "You May Kill Others Who Do Not Deserve to Die." Directly stated and powerful, his article forces readers—including, he hopes, future enlistees—to grasp and own the truth that soldiers can be asked to do wrong and will.

10 Excellent Reasons Not to Join the Military is a collection of such quick-hitting, insistent and essential arguments that every soldier and civilian should digest and consider. What they decide to do with the knowledge is up to them.

Joining Paul Rockwell tonight is Anthony Arnove: a tireless and talented author, historian and activist. His clarity of analysis breaks down a convoluted, politically charged crisis into the essential elements; thus he not only educates his readers but also arms them with knowledge and purpose as well....

Now, in his latest work, Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal, he disassembles the inaccuracies and bold manipulations surrounding the current war in Iraq. With a clear vision and well-stated support, he details how the occupation is a reckless strategy and why the American forces should—and can—come home immediately.


Paul started his talk by mentioning Sir! No Sir! and that he was himself associated with the GI movement. The film does much to dispel the myths surrounding the war in Vietnam ranging from antiwar movement's maltreatment of soldiers (the spat-on soldier being an enduring myth) to how much Jane Fonda was hated by troops. The clips in the film of the FTA (that stood not for the army's slogan of "Fun Travel and Adventure" but for "Fuck The Army") tour that Fonda did showed how popular dissent was and how the armed forces really responded to antiwar voices.

Paul also talked about his chapter in the book, that he spent two years interviewing vets from the war in Iraq, all of whom either committed or witnessed war crimes and atrocities and then became war resistors. As Stan Goff noted in an open letter to soldiers: "to preserve your own humanity, you must recognize the humanity of the people whose nation you now occupy and know that both you and they are victims of the filthy rich bastards who are calling the shots."

Paul also made a series of powerful arguments that the stories he relates are not only the stories of isolated individuals, but of war crimes that flow directly from policy and from top command: attacks on civilians, the use of depleted uranium, torture, bombings of civilian areas (markets, hospitals), all are systematic and commonplace.

Wrapping up his comments, Paul mentioned the story of one of the moms of a soldier who was involved in the My Lai massacre in Vietnam. She stated "I sent them a good boy and they made him a monster." He ended with a rousing call to support soldiers who are trapped in a position between being forced to commit atrocities and sedition. He left a us with a wonderful statement that "we can enlist, not in the military, but in the antiwar movement, for a better world."
I only have these little lo-lo-res pix from my cell phone, but better than nothing, right?

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