As Substance approaches our 40th anniversary, we're reminded, again, of our roots in another era's protests... 'Veterans know from first hand experience that you cannot bomb your way to peace....' Vets for Peace opposes the bombing of Iraq and Syria by the United States

As Substance prepares to mark its 40th anniversary in 2015, we were reminded recently that our origins were in the anti-war movement in the United States military during the Vietnam War. In fact, the "look" of Substance (which became a tabloid by 1976) derived from our earlier experiences with the newspaper called "Vietnam G.I." which was published in Chicago for several years and distributed widely to soldiers in Vietnam beginning in the mid-1960s.

Leaders of Chicago's Veterans for Peace have been routinely speaking out at Board of Education meetings against the expansion of military schools in Chicago. Above, the vets spoke against the destruction of Ames Middle School during the March 2014 meeting. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt. During those years, some of us at Substance worked first with "Vets for Peace" and then, after it was founded, with "Vietnam Veterans Against the War" (VVAW). Anyone interested in those movements can get a quick version by watching the videos "Hearts and Minds" and "Sir No Sir." But that was then and this is now, and today the U.S. is facing another war and Vets for Peace is reminding us of some facts and some history.

The Veterans for Peace has remained in existence since the early days of the Vietnam War. It has been joined by the VVAW (Vietnam Veterans Against the War) and now Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW). When Rahm Emanuel and Barack Obama brought NATO to Chicago, the Emanuel administration worked to ensure that Iraq vets would not be able to bring their protests near where the NATO leaders were meeting at Chicago's McCormick Place to plot further wars.

Chicago's corporate "school reform" also produced the nation's largest number of military high schools, beginning under the regime of "Chief Executive Officer" Paul G. Vallas and continuing to this day. One of Vallas's contributions to the militarization of the USA was his service in the Illinois National Guard. During the Vietnam War, National Guard service by privileged or politically connected men like Richard M. Daley, Paul G. Vallas, and George W. Bush ensured that they did not have to go abroad to serve in the jungles of Vietnam.

But Vallas and Daley can claim that their military service in the Illinois National Guard was productive: The Viet Cong never captured Springfield, where Vallas taught military classes for a short time, although he never taught in real public schools despite some mendacious alterations in his various biographies.

So Substance is taking a moment to share their statement on the latest nonsense from the Obama administration:

Veterans for Peace Statement Opposing US Bombing of Iraq and Syria

Veterans for Peace September 23, 2014. Veterans for Peace

Veterans know from first hand experience that you cannot bomb your way to peace. More bombing will ultimately mean more division, bloodshed, recruitment for extremist organizations, and a continual cycle of violent intervention.

Veterans For Peace had a great presence and a great day at the largest climate protest in history., ,

The U.S. is racing down a slippery slope towards war in Iraq and Syria. Since Aug. 8, the U.S. has conducted more than 124 airstrikes in Iraq. Approximately 1,000 U.S. troops are now on the ground in Iraq, with at least 350 more currently on their way.

The Academy Award winning documentary "Hearts and Minds" tells the complex story of the United States imperialist war in Vietnam best. It also includes scenes from the hometown and elementary school of Substance editor George N. Schmidt, which also demonstrates some of the tragic complexity of the way in which the Vietnam War came home to working class people in towns like Linden, New Jersey. President Obama initially said the bombing was part of a humanitarian mission to assist the Yazidi minority in northern Iraq being threatened by ISIS, the fundamentalist Islamic army that now controls wide swaths of Iraq and Syria. But Obama has now announced an open-ended bombing campaign, and he has ordered Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Secretary of State John Kerry into the region to build military and political coalitions to sustain a long term war against ISIS.

According to the New York Times, President Obama has also authorized U.S. surveillance flights over Syria, reportedly in search of ISIS targets for later bombing missions. The Syrian government has offered to coordinate with U.S. military action against ISIS, the strongest rebel force fighting to overthrow the Assad government in Syria. But the U.S., which has aided ISIS' growth by facilitating the arming and training of rebels in Syria, has not asked permission for its flights into Syrian airspace.

Veterans For Peace members have witnessed the brutality and the futility of war, including the war in Iraq. We were sent to a war based on lies and we became part of the killing of a nation, along with as many as one million of its people. We watched as U.S. policy makers consciously stirred up ethnic and religious divisions, creating the conditions for civil war today.

Veterans know from first hand experience that you cannot bomb your way to peace. More bombing will ultimately mean more division, bloodshed, recruitment for extremist organizations, and a continual cycle of violent intervention.

Despite the lies and propaganda foisted on the American historical memory by cowards like Sylvester Stallone (who avoided the Vietnam War by studying at a privileged private school for wealthy young men in Switzerland before returning to the USA safely after the war's end to produce a line of mendacious pro-war films), the men who actually fought the Vietnam War for the USA eventually brought it to and end through the "G.I, Movement." Although it took a quarter century to come into existence, the movie "Sir No Sir!" finally tells the story of the G.I. Movement for today's generation. Readers and viewers who go to the Sir No Sir! website can also access copies of the newspaper "Vietnam G.I.", which was published in Chicago and became the model for the early tabloid editions of the teacher newspaper Substance.Last year the American people overwhelmingly sent a message to President Obama and the Congress: No U.S. Bombing in Syria. Last month, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed H. Con. Res. 105 stating that there is no legal authority for U.S. military involvement in Iraq without express Congressional approval. By unilaterally pursuing miltiary action in Iraq and Syria, President Obama is acting in contempt of the American people, as well as of U.S. and international law.

We support the troops who refuse to fight and who blow the whistle on war crimes. Under international law, military personnel have the right and the responsibility to refuse to be part of illegal wars and war crimes. U.S. troops are not the cops of the world. There is no legitimate mission for any U.S. service members in Iraq or Syria. We encourage GI's to find out their rights at the GI Rights Hotline.

Veterans For Peace absolutely opposes U.S. military intervention in the Middle East, no matter what the rationalization. We call on all our members to speak out against any U.S. attacks on Iraq and Syria.

We wish to see a U.S. foreign policy based on true humanitarianism and real diplomacy based on mutual respect, guided by international law, and dedicated to human rights and equality for all.

We call attention to the excellent constructive proposals in a recent letter from 53 National Religious Groups, Academics, and Ministers Urging Alternatives to U.S. Military Action in Iraq.

We applaud the initiatives of several key peace groups and we encourage our members to participate.

Sign Code Pink's letter telling President Obama not to bomb Syria or Iraq.

Sign Peace Action's petition restricting U.S. arms sales around the world. VETERANS FOR PEACE WORKS FOR PEACE AT HOME AND PEACE ABROAD!

- See more at: U.S. is racing down a slippery slope towards war in Iraq and Syria. Since Aug. 8, the U.S. has conducted more than 124 airstrikes in Iraq. Approximately 1,000 U.S. troops are now on the ground in Iraq, with at least 350 more currently on their way.


September 24, 2014 at 3:54 PM


Veterans For Peace

Thanks George! You're a great guy. I didn't know Paul Vallas avoided the U.S war against the people of Viet Nam by joining the Nat. Guard. No wonder he looks so sheepish when we speak at CPS meetings.



Facebook - DeMilitarizeCPS

September 24, 2014 at 6:30 PM

By: Rod Estvan

Mr. Vallas and the Illinois National Guard

Paul Vallas and his wife Sharon have three sons, one who recently returned from active duty in Afghanistan and another who serves in the Marine Reserves. While I have had many disagreements with Mr. Vallas I dont believe there is any indication that he joined the Illinois National Guard to avoid the draft or service in Vietnam.

Paul was born in June 1953, so he turned 18 years old in June of 1971. Formally the draft ended in June 1973, but with the end of active U.S. ground participation in Vietnam, December 1972, saw the last men conscripted, who were born in 1952 and who reported for duty in June 1973. On February 2, 1972, a drawing was held to determine draft priority numbers for men born in 1953, but in early 1973 it was announced that no further draft orders would be issued.

Moreover Mr. Vallas was born on June 10, 1953 so his draft lottery number which was announced on February 2, 1972 was 178. The highest number called for an induction physical was 215 from 1970 through 1976. By the time Mr. Vallas would have been called up if the draft had not ended his lottery number would have been high enough to pretty much ensure not being called up.

Being in the Guard or Reserves was no guarantee that you wouldnt end up in Vietnam. For example in 1968, the Illinois National Guard's 126th Supply and Service Company from Quincy, was activated and sent to Vietnam. The 126th was deployed to Vietnam for almost a year, and served with great distinction, earning praise and decorations for their efforts. Three Illinois National Guardsmen were awarded the Bronze Star for their heroism in defending supply convoys in Vietnam.

Although the Johnson administration opted for no large Reserve call-ups for Vietnam, thousands of individual Army Reservists did serve in Vietnam, as did 35 USAR units deployed there in 1968. The first Army Reserve units were ordered to active duty in 1968. There was no large-scale call-up for Vietnam, however, as President Johnson favored a minor role for the Army Reserve and other reserve forces. Ultimately, some 5,900 USAR soldiers comprising 42 units were ordered to active duty, and 3,500 soldiers in 35 units went overseas. Every member of the Reserves or National Guard during the Vietnam War knew they face the possibility of activation.

Moreover, in what was called the ORDER TO REPORT FOR INDUCTION, i.e. the draft notice, it stated explicitly: IF YOU HAVE HAD PREVIOUS MILITARY SERVICE, OR ARE NOW A MEMBER OF THE NATIONAL GUARD OR A RESERVE COMPONENT OF THE ARMED FORCES, BRING EVIDENCE WITH YOU. As I recall you could not join the Guard or Reserves once you were served a draft notice. So joining the Guard during that time reduced your risk of ending up in Vietnam if you had a real bad draft lottery number, Mr Vallas did not have a really bad draft number. I can see no reason for George to accuse Mr. Vallas of avoiding potential service in the Vietnam War by joining the Guard, I can however see plenty of reasons of disagreeing with Mr. Vallas education policies.

Rod Estvan

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