Here a war, there a war, everywhere a war

Opinion piece by Mark Turner


The  U,S. and Russia are conducting military strikes in Syria. The US and Russia may have strategic interests in bombing the crap out of their least favorite parts of Syria.  The scary thing is, the US and Russia are  waging very separate wars in this region.  What could possibly go wrong here?

Other U.S. war theaters include Iraq, Yemen, Libya, and Afghanistan.  Except for when we bomb a hospital, we never seem to talk about these wars, or even what our success would look like in these places.  We simply accept the death toll as a cost of our freedom?

Last week, the president announced that US forces shall remain in Afghanistan after he leaves office. Does it bother anybody else, that a generation enters high school never knowing a time when their country was not at war?  Shall our children never know peace?


War on violence

Opinion piece by Mark Turner



It was a community college public speaking course. The instructor had us perform an exercise on persuasion, in preparation for our assigned speech to persuade. Our instructor selected 10 students, and split them into pairs. He gave 5 of them a $20 bill. For the exercise, he instructed those with the $20 to keep it. He instructed the cashless to persuade their partner to give up the $20 bill. Various techniques were employed, from negotiation to coercion. Some techniques worked, and some were unsuccessful. Early in the exercise, one student grabbed the wrist of a hand holding a $20 and demanded release. After a brief resistant protest, the student released the cash, but slapped the aggressors hand.

The exercise taught me an important lesson about how effective violence can be in getting what we want. It showed me how quickly some will resort to using violence, without even attempting negotiation. It also showed me how some folks immediately respond to violence with violence. When this happens in the classroom, it is uncomfortable. When in happens in the streets, or other battlefields, it is mostly tragic.

The Charleston Grace AME congregation did not choose to respond with hate or violence when their church was shot up. Instead, they stunned the world when they responded to the bloody massacre with words of love, forgiveness, and grace.

Why was this response so stunning? It was stunning because it is so uncommon.

If humans are meant to survive, we must evolve. We must learn that violence, while effective, is not the solution to any of our problems. I think that humans must evolve away from violence, and take a more thoughtful approach. What do you think?

Warriors score!

Opinion post by Mark Turner

Last night, the Golden State Warriors defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers to take a 3 game to 2 advantage in the NBA Finals. Both teams know what they have to do to become champions in the best of 7 series.   It made me wonder about our military wars and warriors.  Do we really have any meaningful metric to measure the success of our heroic warriors? What does winning our war even look like?

Then, the Northrop Gumman ad from the Super Bowl airs.  This ad features an awesome new war machine that looks like a UFO from another world.  I found it truly stunning.



The ad ends with the ‘Value of Performance’ slide.  It made me wonder if the only real metric that anyone cares about in our war is the ‘value of performance’.  Here is the 2 year stock chart for Northrop Grumman:


Here is Locheed Martin:


General Dynamics anyone?


Judging from these charts,  it would appear that there is a metric for the success of our war.  Please tell me that there are better ways to measure the success of our war than these stupid charts!



The Perfect Blind Spot

A piece from 2003

Poetry by Richard Weekley

The Perfect Blind Spot

–General Tommy Franks

Hashim Kamel Radi we do not count you.
But you are gone forever. You were 22 and
on a bus, perhaps thinking of a book to read.

Jalal al Yussuf you were just 17
and perhaps were wondering
what to eat for lunch.

Ibrahim al Yussuf you were only 12.
Perhaps you watched your big brother die
before you eyes that day in Zambrania.

We don’t count you either.

Out of sight out of mind
just like the coffins arriving daily at Dover
no one sees.

There’s Invisibility all around us.
Can you FEEL it?

Can you sense Ahmed al Rahal’s last grimace?
or hear Sufian — the Jordanian student’s scream.

We can calculate every millimeter to Mars
and land a rover
but we can’t count you.

For you are an uncountable.

America sends in great teams and spares no expense
to rescue one lingering soul from an 8.1 temblor

but maybe you heard

we can’t count you.

–the mind’s made up

head in sand

the perfect blind spot

we can’t count you

because: seeing is BELIEVING
–we must keep citizens from seeing
to stop believing–


USA – land of liberty and justice for all
unless you’re
Fateha Ghazzi or Nada Abdallah, 8 and 16 on March 24th 2003
you’re not counted
and nearly nobody knows your name

You died by orders from the top
so it’s okay

and your death won’t upset a single U.S. household
or lose a single vote

and you know
we had to be preemptive:
it was us or them

Your leader was mad
and ready to wipe us out on moment’s notice.
Didn’t you hear?
so I hope you understand

we don’t mean to say one thing but do the other
and we’re sorry if liberation feels like occupation

after all we know we’re right or
it wouldn’t be called: Operation Iraqi Freedom

Please Faris and Saif, 11 year old twins,
please consider yourself
freedom’s casualty

we’re not naming names or keeping real score
and please remember it’s best this way

with no b-o-d-y counting.
first posted: POETS AGAINST THE WAR . Com