Category Archives: Member Blog

Some deaths can’t be assuaged by this one…

The demise of bin Laden does little to undo the countless mistakes we’ve made in his name.

By Dante Zappala
reposted from The Philadelphia Inquirer

Amid the requisite flag-waving, chanting, and nationalistic fervor over the death of Osama bin Laden, I will not be rejoicing myself. There will be no vindication for me as I remember the sacrifice of my brother, a soldier killed in Iraq in 2004.

If the largely symbolic event of bin Laden’s death brings closure for the countless people affected by the tragedy of 9/11, I wish them peace. But his death does not offer any to me. It cannot undo the legacy of the reckless endeavors undertaken in the aftermath of that tragedy.

What may be convenient to forget in these moments of righteous chest-beating is that, shortly after the devastation perpetuated by this criminal, we accepted an ideology of permanent war. We waved not the Stars and Stripes, but the flag of revenge.

The so-called war on terror took us to Iraq, a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 or bin Laden. Preemptive warfare was introduced to the lexicon of American foreign policy. We happily absorbed a series of fabrications that told us our own security depended on bombing and invading this country. In the process, we abandoned ideals that are essential to our tradition and spirit.

My brother was killed chasing a ghost, scouring the desert for weapons of mass destruction. But the true ghost we chase – the bin Laden that is still hidden to us – is our sense of security. In that regard, the legacy of bin Laden will be that he successfully baited us into endless conflict in the Middle East, putting us on a road to military, economic, and moral bankruptcy.

Will bin Laden’s death make us finally feel safe? This country spends more money on its defense than all the other nations on Earth combined, and yet we cannot say with any conviction that the wars in the Middle East have done anything to increase our security. The consensus, in fact, is that they have done the opposite.

The Iraq war is winding down without having met any clear military or political objectives. Waste, fraud, and mismanagement will define the conflict, as will what promises to be an indefinite military presence there. In Afghanistan, our forces have tripled, and though the definition of victory is ever-changing, we still cannot achieve it. And now we are engaged overtly or covertly in operations across North Africa.

Meanwhile, there are more than 1.5 million veterans of these wars, many of whom served multiple deployments. Traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder scar this class of heroes. More and more, the veterans of the global war on terror are in homeless shelters, prisons, or dead by their own hands. The toll will span generations.

Who has benefited from this sacrifice? I certainly have not. And I feel certain that most Americans have not.

Will the death of bin Laden resolve our need for permanent war? The likely answer is no.

Bad guys, both real and exaggerated, will continue to exist. We will remain fearful, and we will squander treasure and opportunity on the premise that we are perpetually threatened.

The only way to truly kill Osama bin Laden is to reevaluate what we have done in his name. We must take a long, hard look at why we continue to spend $10 billion a month and to accept, albeit with sorrow, the loss of life in Afghanistan. We must question why we so readily drop bombs in Libya while some of our own city streets resemble a war zone.

If we can face these hard truths, we can bury our ghosts along with this monster. Then, and only then, will we be vindicated.


Dante Zappala is the brother of the late Sgt. Sherwood Baker. He can be reached at zappala1@gmail.com.

The Questions They Couldn’t Answer

An Ohio Military Mom Goes to Washington DC…

As a mother of an infantry soldier currently serving in Afghanistan, I travelled to Washington DC Tuesday, March 22nd to ask our elected officials a few questions, such as:

  • How long do we need to be in Afghanistan and what is our objective?
  • Why do you think our troops should continue to fight & die for a corrupt Karzai government?
  • Are you willing to continue to drive up the deficit to pay for the $120+ billion a year cost of this war?

Several of the legislative assistants actually squirmed in their seats when asked these basic, direct questions. You could see them thinking “I should be able to answer this question”.  Their response was that they would get back to me.   It is terrifying to realize that those who “support” the war can’t clearly define why.

While Mr. Boehner has asked our President some very basic, direct questions about our objectives in Libya, his own legislative assistant could not answer my very similar questions about Afghanistan.   I am awaiting an answer from Mr. Boehner.

Our volunteer military is seriously overextended and near its breaking point.   Never before have so few been asked to do so much.  Multiple deployments have wrecked havoc – skyrocketing suicide and PTSD rates, broken families, alcohol & drug addiction are just a few indicators of our military’s agony.

The majority of Americans do not believe that combat operations in Afghanistan must continue.  In fact, they want no personal involvement – don’t increase their taxes to pay for the war and don’t require their children to join the military.   It is immoral to continue a war when only 1% of the public support it with their children’s lives.

For years, the military has told us there is NO military solution to this war.  It is time the United States supports diplomacy and political negotiation with the Afghan people and neighboring countries to conclude U.S. military combat operations.

Polls show the vast majority of Americans want us out of Afghanistan.  No one else should die for a war that has lost any meaningful purpose.

I am asking you to call or write your Congressperson and Senators to demand an end to this war.   The life of my son, the lives of so many sons and daughters, as well as innocent Afghan women and children depend on it.

Mary Hladky
Military Families Speak Out

MFSO Member Carole Whelan Protests Senator in Maine who Supported Iraq War

from WGME local news in Maine…

CAUGHT ON TAPE: Protester at Senator Collins’ induction into Maine Women’s Hall of Fame

Peace activists protested Senator Susan Collins’ induction into the Maine Women’s Hall of Fame Saturday in Augusta.

Shortly after Senator Collins was awarded the honor at the University of Maine campus, a woman stood up in the audience and began speaking, reading a written statement, and saying Senator Collins should refuse the award for her role in helping advance the war in Iraq eight years ago. Senator Collins was among the majority in the Senate that gave then President Bush the authorization to use force against Iraq.

The woman’s comments were met with a mix of jeers and supporters saying “let her speak”. Once she finished, some of those in the audience applauded.

Senator Collins condoned the latter sentiment immediately after, telling the crowd that the demonstrator’s speech was “democracy in action”. The senator’s reaction was met with a standing ovation.

IVAW Connects the Dots in Madison, WI

From MFSO Member Steve Wagener & Uppity Wisconsin

The Iraq Veteran’s Against the War (IVAW) hosted a rally last Saturday, March 19 on the 8th anniversary of the Iraq War. Todd E. Dennis, former nuclear machinist mate on an attack submarine and current Madison Chapter President for the IVAW was one of several responsible for organizing the event. The rally began at the library mall on the campus of UW-Madison. Songs and speeches were shared as people from all over the state assembled. The IVAW then lead a march of several thousand to the Capitol where several speeches were given by both veterans of several wars and union leaders of the state. Attached is a part from that day. Please take the time to view one of the most important speeches that connects the dots between our wars and workers rights.

Thank you IVAW. I guess there’s another war for us to end.