Seeking Truth About Vietnam, Eugene Weekly Article | September 14, 2017

Seeking Truth About Vietnam
Eugene Weekly Article | September 14, 2017
By John Henry, Mike Kimball, Michael Peterson, Michael Carrigan, Guy Maynard and Carol Van Houten

Beginning Sunday, Sept. 17, PBS will present a 10-episode, 18-hour documentary, The Vietnam War, by noted filmmakers Ken Burns and Lynn Novick.

Coming 50 years after a pivotal year of escalation of both the war and the anti-war movement, the filmmakers say they hope the documentary will serve as a catalyst for long overdue reconciliation and healing of the deep divisions that war created among Americans.
“The seeds of disunion we experience today, the polarization, the lack of civil discourse, all had their seeds in Vietnam,” Burns told the New York Times.

The U.S. war in Vietnam has indeed left deep wounds, most dramatically among those who answered their country’s call – or in many cases, obeyed their country’s orders – to serve.
But many at home were also deeply affected, including family and friends of soldiers, as well as millions of Americans whose lives were forever changed by their fervent opposition to a war they believed to be unjust, immoral and contrary to our country’s best interests.

And, as Burns suggests, our national sense of self was fractured: How do we go forward as a nation responsible for the devastation of a country (three million dead, environmental destruction) from a war that many of us believed to be wrong, and that we ultimately lost?
Healing and reconciliation are noble and desirable ends. But ask any mental health expert, and they will tell you that no real healing can take place until there is acknowledgment of the underlying causes – that reconciliation cannot happen without some common understanding of the truth of the circumstances that led to the division.

Burns and Novick, in a New York Times op-ed, indicate that the film may avoid some of the most difficult truths about the war in Vietnam: “Many questions remain unanswerable. But if, with open minds and open hearts, we can consider this complex event from many perspectives and recognize more than one truth, perhaps we can stop fighting over how the war should be remembered and focus instead on what it can teach us about courage, patriotism, resilience, forgiveness and, ultimately, reconciliation.”

“More than one truth” sounds dangerously close to “alternate facts.” Certainly, the war was a complex historical phenomenon, and those who experienced it can bring many distinct perspectives to its discussion. The film can serve a valuable purpose by exploring that complexity and showing us those perspectives. But the ultimate objective of studying history should be to get at historical facts – the truth – so we can learn from them.

Americans have had trouble learning from the Vietnam experience for at least two significant reasons.
One, much of what has been established as historical facts shows a sinister U.S. role in the creation and manipulation of a repressive south Vietnamese state, which challenges the notion of American exceptionalism – that we are always on the side of the “good.”

Second is the largely successful proliferation of the cynically false notion that to acknowledge our fault in Vietnam is to challenge the bravery and sacrifice of the American men and women who served there.

That notion gives cover to all wars. All soldiers sacrifice, but war is a matter of policy that should always be questioned – because expecting that sacrifice for an unjust and unwinnable war is unconscionable.

So we encourage people to watch the Burns-Novick film. Watch with friends, with family, with neighbors or at community gatherings. Folks who lived through that era should watch it with younger people who only know it as history.

Watch it critically. Follow up with other sources. Use it as a basis of discussion. As you watch, think of these questions, based on a list developed by Veterans for Peace:
* What was the U.S. motive?
* What was the motive of the Vietnamese enemy?
* Did the U.S. mistakenly stumble into the war or was it part of a conscious strategy?
* Were U.S. intentions honorable?
* Who was most responsible for the suffering of the civilian population?
* What were the motives of the anti-war movement and was it effective?
* Why did the U.S. lose?
* What are the basic lessons of the war?
* Does the film tackle the hard lessons?
* How do the divisions created by the Vietnam War express themselves today?
* Is there a path to healing and reconciliation? How do we get there?

Let’s take this an opportunity to honestly face this difficult history, so we can stop repeating it.
John Henry, Mike Kimball and Michael Peterson are Vietnam veterans and members of Chapter 159 of Veterans for Peace; Michael Carrigan, Guy Maynard and Carol Van Houten are members of Community Alliance of Lane County.

Wyden Votes to Repeal 15-Year-Old War Authorizations

Following is a press release just sent out by Senator Wyden today, Sept.13.
We appreciate that he remembers that issues of war and peace are still important to Oregonians

Michael C

Wyden Votes to Repeal 15-Year-Old War Authorizations

Calls for New, Targeted Authority to Go After ISIS and Terrorist Groups

Washington, D.C. –Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today voted in support of an amendment by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., to repeal the war authorizations for Iraq and Afghanistan. Wyden supports passage of a new, targeted authority to go after ISIS and other terrorist groups abroad.

“Relying on 15-year-old laws to go after today’s threats isn’t acceptable. By abdicating its responsibility, Congress is enabling the creeping, unchecked expansion of presidential power to wage war around the world. It’s long past time to repeal these outdated authorities and replace them with a new, targeted authority to go after ISIS and other terrorist groups that pose very real threats to American interests.”

Wyden has consistently opposed endless overseas wars, and use of military force without clearly defined goals. He voted against the original Iraq War resolution in 2002, and has repeatedly called for redeployment of combat troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Now I Am Your Neighbor Play

Now I am Your Neighbor banner

Produced by CALC, in partnership with Minority Voices Theatre (MVT), the stories, generously shared, were woven together in a creative narrative by local playwright Nancy Hopps. Directed by Carol Dennis with original music by Ricardo Cardenas, the play will be produced as a staged reading by readers who are immigrants themselves or very close to the immigrant experience.

The play will be performed at The  Very Little Theatre Stage Left, 2350 Hilyard St., Friday and Saturday, September 22 and 23 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, September 24 at 2 p.m. ASL interpretation is available at the Sunday performance.

Our readers include Isabel Smythe, Rosie Hernandez, Antonio Ochoa, Alex Reyna, Alex Aguilar, Stephanie Sarnoff, Brett French, Bill Campbell, Berri Hsiao, Ken Wong, Retoyia Ole Ronkei, Ibrahim Alessa.

A community discussion will follow the one-hour performance. The play is also accompanied by the recently updated “We Are Neighbors” photography exhibit, which celebrates immigrants living in Lane County.

Tickets are available at the door only, with a suggested donation of $5- $25. For more information, contact CALC at 541.485.1755 or

Check out the CALC Facebook page for additional information.

SE Neighbors Open to Homeless Rest Stop at 3500 Hilyard St

At its meeting Weds. night, the Southeast Neighbors (SEN) board discussed possible expansion of the Nightingale Health Sanctuary from a “car camp” to a “rest stop”, but delayed a vote on a recommendation to the City Council until Sept. 19. The camp is on the Good Samaritan parking lot at 3500 Hilyard Street.

The SEN board asked a lot of questions that were answered by the NHS onsite managers, Nathan Showers and Tracy Forest, and members of their steering committee, including Vickie Mindel Nelson and CALC’s Michael Carrigan.

Most of the questions seemed to center around *control*, with apparently lots of concern about whether expanding the camp would lead to problems. The NHS folks had good answers. It appears that NHS is trying to make a deal with SEN where they will be allowed to turn the camp back into a rest stop, with up to 20 residents, but will do so very slowly to reduce the impact on the neighborhood. It’s a political move, but NHS also seems to have other reasons for expanding slowly. One is that they want Conestoga huts for all residents rather than tents on platforms like they had before. Right now they have six huts for six residents, the maximum that is allowed with a “car camp”.

Community Supported Shelters is planning to do a workshop on building the huts. Vickie Nelson said that if they build the huts themselves they will only need $1,000 each for materials. If CSS builds them the price is more like $2,500, although discounts may be available in some cases.

After the meeting SEN board chair David Monk said no vote was taken because no one put a motion on the table, he knew it would be a long discussion and there wasn’t enough time left after they went over all the questions.

My guess is that it will pass on Sept.19. Then we’ll see how soon the City Council will put it on their agenda. Cold weather is less than two months away.

Lynn Porter, “Homeless Action” ,

Global Warming’s Unacknowledged Threat—The Pentagon

Global Warming’s Unacknowledged Threat—The Pentagon

By Gar Smith / Environmentalists Against War

During the November 15 Democratic Presidential Debate, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders sounded an alarm that “climate change is directly related to the growth of terrorism.” Citing a CIA study, Sanders warned that countries around the world are “going to be struggling over limited amounts of water, limited amounts of land to grow their crops and you’re going to see all kinds of international conflict.”

On November 8, the World Bank predicted that climate change is on track to drive 100 million people into poverty by 2030. And, in March, a National Geographic study linked climate change to the conflict in Syria: “A severe drought, worsened by a warming climate, drove Syrian farmers to abandon their crops and flock to cities, helping trigger a civil war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people.”

The sobering insight that climate change can accelerate violence should weigh heavily on the minds of delegates to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change set to begin November 30 in Paris—a city that, on November 13, suffered grievously from the blowback of the Syrian conflict. But there is another looming threat that needs to be addressed.

Put simply: War and militarism also fuel climate change.

From November 30 to December 11, delegates from more than 190 nations will convene in Paris to address the increasingly visible threats of climate disruption. The 21st Conference of the Parties (aka COP21) is expected to draw 25,000 official delegates intent on crafting a legally binding pact to keep global warming below 2°C.

But it is difficult to imagine the delegates reaching this goal when one of the largest contributors to global-warming has no intention of agreeing to reduce its pollution. The problem in this case is neither China nor the United States. Instead, the culprit is the Pentagon.

The Pentagon’s Carbon Boot print

The Pentagon occupies 6,000 bases in the US and more than 1,000 bases (the exact number is disputed) in 60-plus foreign countries. According to its FY 2010 Base Structure Report, the Pentagon’s global empire includes more than 539,000 facilities at 5,000 sites covering more than 28 million acres.

The Pentagon has admitted to burning 350,000 barrels of oil a day (only 35 countries in the world consume more) but that doesn’t include oil burned by contractors and weapons suppliers. It does, however, include providing fuel for more than 28,000 armored vehicles, thousands of helicopters, hundreds of jet fighters and bombers and vast fleets of Navy vessels. The Air Force accounts for about half of the Pentagon’s operational energy consumption, followed by the Navy (33%) and Army (15%). In 2012, oil accounted for nearly 80% of the Pentagon’s energy consumption, followed by electricity, natural gas and coal.

Ironically, most of the Pentagon’s oil is consumed in operations directed at protecting America’s access to foreign oil and maritime shipping lanes. In short, the consumption of oil relies on consuming more oil. This is not a sustainable energy model.

The amount of oil burned—and the burden of smoke released—increases whenever the Pentagon goes to war. (Indeed, human history’s most combustible mix may well prove to be oil and testosterone.) Oil Change International estimates the Pentagon’s 2003-2007 $2 trillion Iraq War generated more than three million metric tons of CO2 pollution per month.

The Pentagon: A Privileged Polluter

Yet, despite being the planet’s single greatest institutional consumer of fossil fuels, the Pentagon has been granted a unique exemption from reducing—or even reporting—its pollution. The US won this prize during the 1998 Kyoto Protocol negotiations (COP4) after the Pentagon insisted on a “national security provision” that would place its operations beyond global scrutiny or control. As Undersecretary of State Stuart Eizenstat recalled: “Every requirement the Defense Department and uniformed military who were at Kyoto by my side said they wanted, they got.” (Also exempted from pollution regulation: all Pentagon weapons testing, military exercises, NATO operations and “peacekeeping” missions.)

After winning this concession, however, the US Senate refused to ratify the Kyoto Accord, the House amended the Pentagon budget to ban any “restriction of armed forces under the Kyoto Protocol,” and George W. Bush rejected the entire climate treaty because it “would cause serious harm to the US economy” (by which he clearly meant the U.S. oil and gas industries).

Today, the Pentagon consumes one percent of all the country’s oil and around 80 percent of all the oil burned by federal government. President Barack Obama recently received praise for his Executive Order requiring federal agencies to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, but Obama’s EO specifically exempted the Pentagon from having to report its contribution to climate chaos. (As a practical matter, the Pentagon has been forced to act. With battlefield gas costing $400 a gallon and naval bases at risk of flooding from rising seas, the Pentagon managed to trim its domestic greenhouse-gas emissions by 9 percent between 2008-2012 and hopes to achieve a 34 percent reduction by 2020.)

Climate Chaos: Deception and Denial

According to recent exposés, Exxon executives knew the company’s products were stoking global temperatures but they opted to put “profits before planet” and conspired to secretly finance three decades of deception. Similarly, the Pentagon has been well aware that its operations were wrecking our planetary habitat. In 2014, Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel identified climate change as a “threat multiplier” that will endanger national security by increasing “global instability, hunger, poverty, and conflict.” As far back as 2001, Pentagon strategists have been preparing to capitalize on the problem by planning for “ice-free” operations in the Arctic—in anticipation of US-Russian conflicts over access to polar oil.

In 2014, Tom Ridge, George W. Bush’s Homeland Security chief, stated flat-out that climate change posed “a real serious problem” that “would bring destruction and economic damage.” But climate deniers in Congress continue to prevail. Ignoring Ridge’s warnings, a majority of House Republicans hammered an amendment onto the National Defense Authorization bill that banned the Pentagon from spending any funds on researching climate change or sustainable development. “The climate . . . has always been changing,” Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va) said dismissively. “[W]hy should Congress divert funds from the mission of our military and national security to support a political ideology?”

Since 1980, the US has experienced 178 “billion dollar” weather events that have caused more than $1 trillion in damages. In 2014 alone, there were eight “billion dollar” weather calamities.

In September 2015, the World Health Organization warned climate change would claim 250,000 million lives between 2030 and 2050 at a cost of $2-4 billion a year and a study in Nature Climate Change estimated the economic damage from greenhouse emissions could top $326 trillion. (If the global warming causes the permafrost to melt and release its trapped carbon dioxide and methane gases, the economic damage could exceed $492 trillion.)

In October 2015 (the hottest October in recorded weather history), BloombergBusiness expressed alarm over a joint study by scientists at Stanford and the University of California at Berkeley that predicted global warning “could cause 10 times as much damage to the global economy as previously estimated, slashing output as much as 23 percent by the end of the century.”

This is more than a matter of “political ideology.”

The Pentagon’s role in weather disruption needs to become part of the climate discussion. Oil barrels and gun barrels both pose a threat to our survival. If we hope to stabilize our climate, we will need to start spending less money on war.

Gar Smith is co-founder of Environmentalists Against War and Editor Emeritus of Earth Island Journal. He is the author of Nuclear Roulette: The Truth about the Most Dangerous Energy Source on Earth (Chelsea Green). Email:

Homelessness at national/local level- Powerpoint

A timely and comprehensive analysis of the homeless community at a national and local Lane county level.


Presented at the Planning. Public Policy and Management Department at the University of Oregon.


You can view the PowerPoint at the following link:

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