Sunday, February 03, 2008

USMC officer selection office in Berkeley attacked with city council's blessing

The Berkeley City Council has officially condemned the presence of a USMC officer selection office located at 64 Shattuck Square in Berkeley, California, which handles officer selection for area colleges, like UC Berkeley next door, rather than enlisted recruiting. During the ROTC movement at Columbia, I experienced first-hand the same hate-filled arguments and radical activist fervor now being directed against the Marines office in Berkeley. It is from that experience that I say the Marines must stay, even if before they were considering leaving. If they surrender their ground, the same forces that pushed them out will keep the military out, which I learned from our failure in the ROTC campaign. I hope the protests make the Marines even more adamant about staying at that location, and I hope our other branches join them by opening recruiting offices in Berkeley.

Marine officers are a different breed, anyway. Getting to know Marines as I have since I started MilVets at Columbia, I suspect many Marines privately believe that any young man or woman who is deterred by the protests from joining the Corps wasn't worthy to pin on the hallowed Eagle, Globe, and Anchor to begin with.

Here is the open letter from the station's officer-in-charge, Marine Captain Richard Lund, to the anti-military protestors:

Commentary: An Open Letter to Code Pink
By Richard Lund

While the protest that you staged in front of my office on Wednesday, Sept. 26th, was an exercise of your constitutional rights, the messages that you left behind were insulting, untrue, and ultimately misdirected. Additionally, from the comments quoted in the Berkeley Daily Planet article, it is clear that you have no idea what it is that I do here. Given that I was unaware of your planned protest, I was unable to contest your claims in person, so I will therefore address them here.

First, a little bit about who I am: I am a Marine captain with over eight years of service as a commissioned officer. I flew transport helicopters for most of my time in the Marine Corps before requesting orders to come here. Currently, I am the officer selection officer for the northern Bay Area. My job is to recruit, interview, screen, and evaluate college students and college graduates that show an interest in becoming officers in the Marine Corps. Once they’ve committed to pursuing this program, I help them apply, and if selected, I help them prepare for the rigors of Officer Candidate School and for the challenges of life as a Marine officer. To be eligible for my programs, you have to be either a full-time college student or a college graduate. I don’t pull anyone out of school, and high school students are not eligible.

I moved my office to Berkeley in December of last year. Previously, it was located in an old federal building in Alameda. That building was due to be torn down and I had to find a new location. I choose our new site because of its proximity to UC Berkeley and to the BART station. Most of the candidates in my program either go to Cal or to one of the schools in San Francisco, the East Bay, or the North Bay. Logistically, the Shattuck Square location was the most convenient for them.

Next, you claim that I lie. I have never, and will never, lie to any individual that shows an interest in my programs. I am upfront with everything that is involved at every step of the way and I go out of my way to ensure that they know what to expect when they apply. I tell them that this is not an easy path. I tell them that leading Marines requires a great deal of self-sacrifice. I tell them that, should they succeed in their quest to become a Marine officer, they will almost certainly go to Iraq. In the future, if you plan to attack my integrity, please have the courtesy to explain to me specifically the instances in which you think that I lied.

Next, scrawled across the doorway to my office, you wrote, “Recruiters are Traitors.” Please explain this one. How exactly am I a traitor? Was I a traitor when I joined the Marine Corps all those years ago? Is every Marine, therefore, a traitor? Was I a traitor during my two stints in Iraq? Was I a traitor when I was delivering humanitarian aid to the victims of the tsunami in Sumatra? Or do you only consider me a traitor while I am on this job? The fact is, recruitment is and always has been a part of maintaining any military organization. In fact, recruitment is a necessity of any large organization. Large corporations have employees that recruit full-time. Even you, I’m sure, must expend some effort to recruit for Code Pink. So what, exactly, is it that makes me a traitor?

The fact is this: any independent nation must maintain a military (or be allied with those who do) to ensure the safety and security of its citizens. Regardless of what your opinions are of the current administration or the current conflict in Iraq, the U.S. military will be needed again in the future. If your counter-recruitment efforts are ultimately successful, who will defend us if we are directly attacked again as we were at Pearl Harbor? Who would respond if a future terrorist attack targets the Golden Gate Bridge, the BART system, or the UC Berkeley clock tower? And, to address the most hypocritical stance that your organization takes on its website, where would the peace keeping force come from that you advocate sending to Darfur?

Finally, I believe that your efforts in protesting my office are misdirected. I agree that your stated goals of peace and social justice are worthy ones. War is a terrible thing that should only be undertaken in the most dire, extreme, and necessary of circumstances. However, war is made by politicians. The conflict in Iraq was ordered by the president and authorized by Congress. They are the ones who have the power to change the policy in Iraq, not members of the military. We execute policy to the best of our ability and to the best of our human capacity. Protesting in front of my office may be an easy way to get your organization in the headlines of local papers, but it doesn’t further any of your stated goals.

To conclude, I don’t consider myself a “recruiter.” I am a Marine who happens to be on recruiting duty. As such, I conduct myself in accordance with our core values of honor, courage, and commitment. I will never sacrifice my honor by lying to anyone that walks into my office. I will never forsake the courage that it takes to restrain myself in the face of insulting and libelous labels like liar and traitor. And, most importantly, I will never waver from my commitment to helping individuals who desire to serve their country as officers in the Marine Corps.

Captain Richard Lund is the United States Marine Corps’ officer selection officer for the northern Bay Area.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keep thinking that the American public would respond with increased
generosity if it was aware of its citizen complicity in the early CIA
fostering of rebelious war in Southern Sudan after oil was discoved
there. (my article IS on the 'Operation Sudan of SaveDafur" web site)

"Early CIA Involvement in Darfur Has Gone Unreported"

I once worked on a documentary for an anniversary of the African
Development Bank and although never was in Darfur, I was close enough
to the Sudan border in Ethiopian and Kenya and have a spot in my
heart for the magnificent people of this region. I just knocked out
this article when I remembered, (I'm well into my 70s) of U.S.
backing the rebels was never being factored in.
By the way, I wonder and ask you as someone more conversant on the
Sudan than I, whether or not the U.S. is still actively supporting
the rebellion{s}, either materially or diplomatically, either openly
or secretly. sentimentally, morally and/or spiritually.?
Appreciativly in advance should you have time to read my article
below and comment,
Jay Janson

While there is great sorrow and indignation over the suffering and
loss of life in the Sudan, early U.S. involvement in the war goes
unmentioned. Instead, the U.S. leads an effort to condemn China for
buying Sudan's oil. For years the U.S. had paid for war in hopes to
arrange for some eventual control of the oil discovered in Darfur,
(all well once well reported in the New York Times). The human crises
receives modest financial aid from a U.S. government, silently
protected from any embarrassment of acknowledging a prime complicity
in fomenting war in Darfur.

HistoryNewNetwork, George Mason University republished the folloing

"Early CIA Involvement in Darfur Has Gone Unreported" HNN Darfur

republished as well by Global Research, Operation Sudan of SaveDafur,
UK IndyMedia, Ethiopian News, FreeThoughtManifesto, Islamic Forum,
Countercurrents, Nicholas D. Kristof, Schema-Root news, jcturner23's
reviews, NewsTrust,News Search Tracker, alfatomega, Newsvine, Digg,
Netscape, Boreal Access, Newswire, Tailrank, Congo Music News, Zaire,, Darfur News from Google, and
sundry other sites from the original in OpEdNews, January 23, 2007

There has been a glaring omission in the U.S. media presentation of
the Darfur tragedy. The compassion demonstrated, mostly in words,
until recently, has not been accompanied by a recognition of U.S.
complicity, or at least involvement, in the war which has led to the
enormous suffering and loss of life that has been taking place in
Darfur for many years.

In 1978 oil was discovered in Southern Sudan. Rebellious war began
five years later and was led by John Garang, who had taken military
training at infamous Fort Benning, Georgia. "The US government
decided, in 1996, to send nearly $20 million of military equipment
through the 'front-line' states of Ethiopia, Eritrea and Uganda to
help the Sudanese opposition overthrow the Khartoum regime."
[Federation of American Scientists]

Between 1983 and the peace agreement signed in January 2005, Sudan's
civil war took nearly two million lives and left millions more
displaced. Garang became a First Vice President of Sudan as part of
the peace agreement in 2005. From 1983, "war and famine-related
effects resulted in more than 4 million people displaced and,
according to rebel estimates, more than 2 million deaths over a
period of two decades."
[CIA Fact Book -entry Sudan]

The BBC obituary of John Garang, who died in a plane crash shortly
afterward, describes him as having "varied from Marxism to drawing
support from Christian fundamentalists in the US." "There was always
confusion on central issues such as whether the Sudan People's
Liberation Army was fighting for independence for southern Sudan or
merely more autonomy. Friends and foes alike found the SPLA's human
rights record in southern Sudan and Mr Garang's style of governance
disturbing." Gill Lusk - deputy editor of Africa Confidential and a
Sudan specialist who interviewed the ex-guerrilla leader several
times over the years was quoted by BBC, "John Garang did not tolerate
dissent and anyone who disagreed with him was either imprisoned or

CIA use of tough guys like Garang in Sudan, Savimbi in Angola, Mobutu
in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo), had been
reported, even in mass media, though certainly not featured or
criticized, but presently, this is of course buried away from public
awareness and meant to be forgotten, as commercial media focuses on
presenting the U.S. wars of today in a heroic light. It has
traditionally been the chore of progressive, alternate and
independent journalism to see that their deathly deeds supported by
U.S. citizens tax dollars are not forgotten, ultimately not accepted
and past Congresses and Presidents held responsible, even in
retrospect, when not in real time.

Oil and business interests remain paramount and although Sudan is on
the U.S. Government's state sponsors of terrorism list, the United
States alternately praises its cooperation in tracking suspect
individuals or scolds about the Janjaweed in Darfur. National Public
Radio on May 2, 2005 had Los Angeles Times writer Ken Silverstein
talk about his article "highlighting strong ties between the U.S. and
Sudanese intelligence services, despite the Bush administration's
criticism of human-rights violation in the Sudan." Title was "Sudan,
CIA Forge Close Ties, Despite Rights Abuses." Nicholas Kristof, of
The New York Times, won a 2006 Pulitzer Prize for "his having alerted
this nation and the world to these massive crimes against humanity.
He made six dangerous trips to Darfur to report names and faces of
victims of the genocide for which President Bush had long before
indicted the government of Sudan to the world's indifference."
[Reuters] But last November saw the opening of a new U.S. consulate
in Juba the capital of the Southern region. (Maybe consider this an
example of "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!" especially where oil is

The point is there is human suffering at mammoth level proportions.
Humanitarian activists are trying to pry open the purse strings of an
administration and congress willing to spend billions upon billions
to get people killed and keep them in their place, namely, at our
feet. Reminding Congress of what needs to be atoned for because of
past policies of supporting war and human destruction could
eventually make present policies of war intolerable. Americans are
presently not exactly conscious stricken about dead and maimed Iraqis
and Afghans, for commercial media always keeps of most of the human
particulars of war crimes modestly out of sight, dramatizing much
lesser losses and suffering of American military personal abroad.

Darfur made the headlines again because a governor of presidential
timber was building up his foreign policy credentials. Meanwhile we
are going to continue to see newsreels of our mass media depressing
us with scenes of starving children, basically as testimony of how
evil another Islamic nation's government is, so we can feel good -
and want to purchase the products needing the advertising - which
pays for the entertainment/news programs - which keep viewers in the
dark about THEIR contribution to the suffering brought upon those
people all the way over there in Africa.

Just try to put 4 and 2 million of anything into perspective. We are
talking about an equivalent to the sets of eyes of half the
population of Manhattan. Imagine one of us, whether a precious child
,a handsome man, a beautiful women, - to the tune of, (dirge of), one
times four million, half of us dead. Sorry! It has no impact right?
We realize that, remembering the words of Joseph Stalin (of all
people), "One man's death is a tragedy, a thousand, is a statistic."
There is absolutely no way we can whip up enough anguish to match a
total of four million displaced and two million dead Sudanese, unless
we could be of a mind and heart with Martin Luther King dealing with
three million dead Vietnamese, also as in this case, over on the
other side of the world, far from our living rooms - "So it is that
those of us who are yet determined that "America will be" are led
down the path of protest and dissent, working for the health of our
land." (MLK, 1967, "Beyond Vietnam")

This writer remembers reading newspapers articles about the U.S.
backing the Southern Sudan rebellion way back then. If we had
supported a side that wound up winning, we would be bragging about
our having supported 'freedom fighters'. But we just threw a lot of
money and outdated weapons at a John Garang in the Sudan, as we did
with Jonas Savimbi in Angola, to the ultimate destruction of millions
of people, and they LOST! Like we did in Vietnam, and half-way lost
in Korea, and now are mid-way losing in Iraq and Afghanistan. Jesus!
Calculating the chances of an investment in human life and money
coming to a fruition of sorts - that is certainly the job of any
intelligence gathering agency! What we have had is an Agency using
its gathered intelligence to do unintelligent things because, as our
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote more than a hundred and twenty-five years
ago, "Things are in the saddle and ride herd over men" (trampling
others under foot, we might add)

The European Union is under pressure from inside to assure that a
United Nations force of 20,000 men will be sent to Darfur as required
by Security Council resolution 1706, and to threaten sanctions in
order to halt a war the U.S. was originally interested to see begun.

The U.N. Security Council will receive a list from the International
Criminal Court of those Sudanese officials who could be charged with
war crimes. The list is expected include some members of rebel
organizations among Sudanese government officials and Janjaweed
militias. There assuredly will be no names on the list of
non-Sudanese officials of nations which were known to have involved
themselves in this Sudanese civil war contrary to accepted provisions
and obligations of U.N. membership. But we can know that the
responsibility for war, slaughter, rape and theft in Sudan extends
beyond the leaders of those murderously wielding guns and swords.

It will be good if outside influence will now be focused on peace,
but citizens best be vigilant of their nation's foreign policy
intentions. The world has heard many protestations that oil is not a
reason for war, but blood and oil has been known to mix.

That now the U.S. use its economic power humanely, to promote peace
in the Sudan and give generously to help war victims.

in brotherhood,
Jay Janson

2/08/2008 12:22 AM  

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