Skip to comments."Out Now" say Iraq War Veterans (or, 2 budding young Kerrys)
Posted on 09/06/2004 9:50:50 PM PDT by eric_da_grate
This is Marc Cooper reporting for Radio Nation.
One of the more interesting groups that emerged in the protests around last week's Republican National Convention was the "Iraq Veterans Against the War".
This is now just a small group, maybe 35 or 40 people, being helped and formed indeed by the "Vietnam Veterans Against the War", the group formed in the 1960's that John Kerry had a hand in. But these mostly young men, recently returned from Iraq, are having quite an impact on people's conscience with the stories that they tell.
During the Republican Convention at one of the auxillery events, Washington editor of The Nation, David Corn and I had the opportunity to speak to two of the founders of this new group, Iraq Veterans Against the War. We spoke to Rob Serra and Alex Ryabob.
COOPER: When did the group get formed?
SERRA: "The group got formed in July, in late-July, in Boston. It became a national group.
COOPER: So just a month or so ago.
SERRA: Yes, sir.
COOPER: How many people do you have in the group? What is your main focus of activity?
SERRA: Right now we've got approximately 40 and the main focus of activity are three different things: First of all we want an immediate succession of hostilities and get our troops out of Iraq. Not one more American killed, not one more Iraqi killed. Second thing we want to do is support the troops unconditionally, 100%, and when they come home, help these guys re-adjust and give them somewhere to go.
COOPER: Now, when were you deployed in Iraq? I mean as in both you and Alex. Where were you, when and where you deployed in Iraq?
SERRA: I was with the 1st Batallion, 4th Marines, 1st Marine Regiment. I left Camp Pendleton in California on January 17th of 2003, arrived in Kuwait February 23rd. I crossed the border into Iraq on March the 20th. I was in the fall of Baghdad on April the 9th and I came home in June. June 23rd.
COOPER: Alex, What about you?
RYABOB: Alright, I was with Romeo Battery, 5th Batallion, 10th Marines and we were there for the initial invasion, pretty much. We crossed the border on the 20th and ended up coming back from Iraq at the end of May. Last year.
COOPER: At what point did your feelings about the war change? Or maybe they didn't? Maybe you went into Iraq with reservations?
SERRA: Uh, when I went into Iraq we were told they had weapons of mass destruction, you know, our country was under a threat, and for us in the Marine Corps, especially the infantry, it was kinda like the Superbowl. We were ready to go. The country was calling. It was time to go. We went in and once we, uh.....once the fighting started getting very strange, and what I mean by "strange" is civilians getting in the way, the foreign fighters coming into the country wearing civilian clothing...um...all of the...the objectives kinda changing a little bit. Before we got to Baghdad, I decided right there and then, you know..."This is wrong." Things were not right here....I think my sentiments really changed when I came home and I still believe we weren't there for the right reasons and you know, "Saddam Hussein had to fall" and that's....that's why we were there. When I came home and started hearing what the Administration was saying about "Well, maybe there are weapons of mass destruction, maybe there aren't" and "Maybe we don't know if they're an imminent threat". We were lied to and I felt very cheated.
COOPER: What about you, Alex?
RYABOB: Um, for myself, before going into Iraq, I felt like nobody's real crazy about going to war, but I felt something really needed to be done....At the same time I did have reservations about the actual reasons that we were going there because the things that were told to us in the media as far as weapons of mass destruction and Iraq being a threat, things like that, I really didn't mind those too much....After Iraq, after coming back home, really settling down and letting things sink in and watching the body count rise on both sides on the news and in the media really turned my viewpoint 180 degrees from before the war being that there was something that had to be done to that moment that I realized we never should've went into Iraq and something needs to be done about the situation.
CORN: To what extent do you think that the sentiment you have come to is held, I mean, 40 is a start, but it's not massive numbers. I mean do you think you reflect some of the unease we see alot of people in the media, alot of soldiers in the media coming back and sometimes speaking in favor of the war. Do you think you're a very distinct minority? Do you think there's sort of a growing unease amongst veterans and even amongst current G.I.s?
SERRA: I definitely believe that there's a growing unease with the rising body count and the guys being kept there indefinitely. I've heard of some guys that are not happy with what's going on. Problem is, being active duty, active duty service, um, them speaking out is putting their careers on the line....And it's hard for them to speak out. CORN: And let me ask you. You call for an immediate withdrawal. Would that begin, if you were king (sarcasm) or Commander in Chief, tommorow, and can there be an immediate withdrawal or to do it safely would it takes months and months of time? SERRA: An immedite withdrawal, from us, is definitely a suggestion because as you see the delegates right now, as you see President Bush and Senator Kerry, they're not tackling the issue. They are fighting with each other about their own war records when there's a war going on right now. So, if we stand up and say, "we want an immediate withdrawal now", they're gonna hear that. That's a very strong statement. Now, granted, military planning and such, you know, there's gonna be a drop off of troops and a tactical move, you know, we know you can't put guys on a ship and move them out overnight and....
CORN: You see that as a political point to make rather than a strategic objective.
SERRA: Exactly. It's a strong point to make. "We want our buddies home NOW" is basically what we're saying.
COOPER: Alex, Rob just said that he's...I think I just heard Rob say that he's dissatisfied with both candidates. Do you feel that way? Do you feel that they're the same on the war? Do you feel there's a difference or not?
CORN to COOPER (pointing out Ryabob's button): Look at the button he's wearing.
COOPER: Yeah, you're wearing a button that says "Vietnam Veterans Against the War" which John Kerry was in.
RYABOB: Yeah. Well, the thing is that, uh...The things that Bush has done, really he's...he's undermined himself as President and as uh...pretty much for re-election, I believe. Kerry, on the other hand...uh...seems to have...(long pause)...seems to me better suited to be the President just because the main reason is that he's not George Bush....I believe that, hopefully, Kerry is elected. That he realizes the, you know, the people's dissatisfaction with the way things were going before and he'll be a little more careful...uh...not to rush into things the way that Bush did. CORN: Talk a little bit about your organizing efforts. You have 40 people. I assume you started off mainly with friends and people that you knew who obviously share your views. How do you get beyond that? I mean, there's also the "Military Families Against the War" group. Are you working with them? Where do you....
SERRA: Yeah. We're working very closely with Military Families Speak out" and also with Vietnam Veterans Against the War and the reason we're working with VVAW is because they helped us get started, and they see us...they see us as their second generation...They said they, when they started the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, they said it would never happen again and they wouldn't leave the troops in the cold...That's what they're doing! They're bringing us under their wing and....
CONE: Are you working with Bobby Muller?
SERRA: Uhhhhh....Bobby Muller...
CONE:..Of Vietnam Veterans Against the War?
SERRA: Actually, I haven't met him.
COOPER: Today, John Kerry said, speaking to the American Legion, quoting him as close as i can, that he would've done this war completely differently. But that's different than saying he wouldn't have gone to war. Is that good enough for you?
RYABOB: Anyone's gonna say what they have to say right now....If...If Senator Kerry wants something done...I think to appease us or to appease military families, he's...he's gotta stand up and give detailed descriptions of what he's going to do....."If I get elected, this is what's gonna happen. This is how it's gonna happen and this is how long it's gonna take" because that's what everyone wants to hear. And as I said, this is all being skipped over.
COOPER: Rob Serra, Alex Ryabob, thank you very much.
Audio link here:
Did anyone check to see whether these people were really in Vietnam?
Remember many of Kerry's buddies in the VVAW were NOT in Vietnam, thought they claimed to be.
I had some corn in my poop the other night. I was just thinking. That corn was probably worth more than David Corn. I'm not surprised that Corn would choose to glorify these "soldiers". I would like to know if any of these men are still on active duty or in the reserves. If they are, then they are violating orders and should receive a court martial, forthwith.
I also wonder if someone could look into the members military service. Wonder if there are any "Al Hubbards" in the mist?
By the way, Sorry I formatted this wrong. I rushed it without checking it line for line...I thought about making alterations but JimRob will have a cow if I post twice!
They have an Email listed at the bottom if you are so inclined to send them a note.
bevis and b*tthead??? I hope they are not real marines or ex-marines. They would not be considered a credit to the Corp..........
You mean Iraq. Well we are dancing around here and who wants to be over there fighting with AP and alphabets making the worst of it.Do they actually think kerry will do anything for the Vets after the election?
I did mean Iraq. But I wouldnt' be surprised that these Iraq veterans would turn out to be as phony, as some of Kerry's VVAW Vietnam vets.
And of course, that Muslim soldier who killed his own fellow soldiers and superiors, by tossing a granade in their tent, is also an Iraq veteran.
These guys sound like they need to re-enlist
and go back into iraq. They have too much time on their
This is a joke. One term marines with an ax to grind. I ranted and raved when I was in Nam about just about everything. These bozos stated it in each of their statements...they're simply Bush haters, of the same variety that sKerry has tried to energize.
Maybe they're hoping to get themselves a ketchup-queen as a result of their actions.
Two months, 40 members. Don't look for them to have any impact, either now or in the future.
Hey! I know you!!! :)
Check out my link in #6, if you haven't already. Folks, use your email lists....pass this AROUND!!!!!!!
I have a friend who just returned this week. Our first conversation was not terribly positive.
He said it is very difficult to tell friends from enemies.
There was concern about not having gas mask equipment.
Said the only WMDs were those that "we" sold Saddam before the war.
I suppose it is pretty easy for the person on the ground to have little perspective about the big picture. Perhaps the pressure of being on the ground in such circumstances is discouraging. I don't know. Perhaps it is possible that we don't have the proper perspective from here.
I really hope this does not become a trend. I believe we were right to go in and right to stay in.
Last I checked...I signed up and I volunteered. Nobody put a gun to my head. I am AF, but that was also a choice I made.
The actual audio is worse.
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