American Views Abroad

Sunday, March 27, 2005
Easter fires which could be seen everywhere last evening are set to purge out the debris of winter. Easter marches, which traditionally take place in most major German cities this long weekend ---- thousands marched yesterday in Bremen, Dusseldorf, Mainz, Munich and Heilbronn and tomorrow marches will be held in Berlin, Frankfurt and Hamburg, are held to demand an end to war as the immediate, primary way of solving conflicts. There was even a glimpse of the Munich American Peace Committee in action on last evening's news (

Tomorrow is the Special Court Martial of Blake Lemoine in Darmstadt. Elsa Rassbach of American Voices Abroad in Berlin has written up a background to his story. Lemoine, 23 years old and from Louisiana, entered the Army soon after the 9/11 attacks. He wanted to defend his country and like most soldiers, he also needed the pay and benefits. Things became complicated after the 'War Against Terrorism' was turned into the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Rassbach writes:

'Blake served for one year in Iraq and received the Army Commendation for a tour of dangerous duty. He was a gunner accompanying mail trucks through areas controlled by the Iraqi Resistance. In Iraq Blake became disgusted with what he calls the 'cruelty' of the U.S. military toward Iraqi civilians. Beyond the many civilian deaths, Blake saw many incidents of day-to-day humiliations that the Iraqis are forced to endure under U.S. occupation. He cites many small examples, such as this one: U.S. soldiers were forbidden to give any of their supply of bottled water to thirsty Iraqis doing labor on the military bases in 115 Fahrenheit heat, and the Iraqis were also not allowed to bring enough water for themselves. Also, U.S. soldiers regularly pointed their weapons at unarmed Iraqi civilians to deliberately and unnecessarily frighten them.'

At the moment he is due to be released from the Army on October 13, 2005, however:

'After he came back from Iraq, Blake learned that the U.S. had still not been able to find any weapons of mass destruction there. This made the cruelty of the U.S. military to the Iraqi people seem all the more senseless to him. Blake further believes that the occupation of Iraq makes no military sense. He says that, historically, no attempt to quell a guerrilla war with conventional military means has ever been successful. Even though he is due to be released a few months from now, Blake feels strongly that he would be a 'hypocrite' if he did not speak out. He has decided to take a strong stand against the U.S. military, despite the risks to him personally. He says he is fighting for freedom.'

This morning at the Easter Mass the priest spoke about standing in front of graves, more to
the point, our 'inner graves'. He focused on how a sense of resignation is a sure sign of facing one. Though he didn't mention the political arena in his sermon, I couldn't not make the connection.

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