For Immediate Release
Mike Ferner, 419-729-7273
Michael McPhearson, 314-303-8874
Veterans' Group Asks President Obama 'To Turn Away From Violence' in Afghanistan
NATIONWIDE - In response to the recent brutal air strikes that have killed over 100 Afghan civilians, most of them women and children, the president of Veterans For Peace, a national veterans' organization, wrote to President Obama earlier this week calling the escalation of violence in Afghanistan a "tragic mistake."
The letter from former Navy Corpsman Mike Ferner asked Mr. Obama, "What is the number of dead and injured at which you will say 'this can't go on;' the number at which you decide it's time to turn away from violence and find another way?"
Ferner's letter continued, "We've been through this before, Mr. President...We have seen and heard and smelled and felt what 'death from above' actually means, not in a briefing report but right there in our hands and before eyes. We've seen the look in the eyes of the people we occupied. We've felt their anger and humiliation. We remember these things well, Mr. President, because they will not go away no matter how many years pass."
Veterans For Peace (VFP) National Executive Director, Michael McPhearson, an Army veteran of the First Gulf War, explained, "Escalation of forces and violence in the region will not work. The Pentagon claims drones and bombings are an effective means to engage the Taliban and al Qaeda, but killing civilians is alienating the Afghan people and driving them into the arms of the Taliban. This is not in the interest of the people of Afghanistan or the U.S."
ABC news online reported Monday that the Afghan Parliament is calling for, "legal restrictions on foreign forces fighting in their country, to prevent further civilian deaths..." and that Afghan President Hamid Karzai has already called for an end to all air strikes. His request was rejected by the U.S.
At its 2008 Annual Convention, VFP passed a resolution calling for: "the government of the United States to immediately withdraw all military and intelligence forces from Afghanistan and Pakistan; to provide humanitarian aid directly to the people of Afghanistan, in non-coercive forms, to help the Afghan people rebuild their own nation and their lives in cooperation with other nations in the region; and to allow the people of Afghanistan to freely determine their own government without interference by the US."
The veterans' resolution also renounced the claim that the war in Afghanistan is somehow the "right" war and reaffirmed their position that war must be abolished.
The full text of Ferner's letter can be found at Veterans For Peace website, www.veteransforpeace.org.
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Veterans For Peace is a national organization founded in 1985. It is structured around a national office in Saint Louis, MO and comprised of members across the country organized in chapters or as at-large members. The organization includes men and women veterans of all eras and duty stations including from the Spanish Civil War (1936-39), World War II, the Korean, Vietnam, Gulf and current Iraq wars as well as other conflicts. Our collective experience tells us wars are easy to start and hard to stop and that those hurt are often the innocent. Thus, other means of problem solving are necessary.