June 25, 2005
As we gear up for the next phase of the struggle against the war in Iraq, we urge you to help us with the publication of an important book, We Wont Go: A Guide to Counter-Recruiting and Draft Resistance. What you do now can help make a big difference in the choices facing our youth and it can help to bring an end to the war.
Despite all of the the Pentagon's high-tech equipment, the fact remains that they cannot fight their war without soldiers on the ground. This is producing a severe crisis for the Bush Administration.
The Army Reserve and National Guard are stretched to the breaking point. Thousands have seen repeated extensions of their tours through "stop loss." Lt. Gen. James Helmly, in a leaked memo, said that the Reserves are quickly becoming a "broken force." When the Pentagon called up the Individual Ready Reserve, between one-half and one-third of the members never reported for duty. More than 6,000 soldiers have deserted since the beginning of the war.
Meanwhile, across the U.S., parents, youth, and activists are realizing that if we can stop the flow of troops, we can stop the war. The movement against military recruiting is having an impact far beyond what is reported by the corporate media. Recruiters are being driven off campus or challenged by activists who present opposing information. Groups of parents, educators, youth, and activists are meeting across the country to discuss strategies to defend our young people against the predators in uniform.
Enlistments are down by more than thirty percent. For the past four months the Army and the Marine Corps have missed their recuriting goals. The Army missed its April target by 42 percent, and it missed its May target by 25 percent, even after adjusting its target half way through the month.
The March 27 New York Times reported that the situation for military recruiters has become so stressful that many are suffereing nervous breakdowns and thoughts of suicide; 37 recruiters have gone AWOL.
Their desperation has led recruiters to resort to more aggressive and dishonest tactics. Recruiters are preying on youth, targeting many from poor and working-class families, many in communities of color, promising an education, job training, even travel, without telling them about the realities and dangers of military life and war. Recently, an Army Recruiter in Houston was caught on tape telling a prospective student that he was required to meet with him "by Federal Law," and threatening to issue an arrest warrent if he didn't appear.
Meanwhile, the Selective Service System is preparing the apparatus for the draft-their performance plan for 2004, available on their website (sss.gov), states that they are training, staffing, and preparing their agency to be ready for a full mobilization within 75 days of an authorized return to conscription. But the Pentagon fears the political consequences. We need a mobilization in place now to make sure that the draft is not an option for the Bush Administration as the rate of enlistments continues to fall.
Grass roots activism and education are having an impact - not only are recruiting numbers down, but the Army was even forced to call a halt to recruiting for the entire day on Friday, May 20, in response to parents, activists, and youth exposing and organizing against their illegal and abusive tactics.
Now is the time for us to pick up the pace. We need to produce new educational material and build on what has already been successful. We need to put tools in the hands of campus activists.
No Draft No Way launched its website in June of last year - //www.NoDraftNoWay.org
. This site includes updated information about the draft and military recruiting, strategies and tactics for challenging the militariazation of our schools, and downloadable leaflets, petitions, and fact sheets.
Since the launch of the site, thousands have signed the online petition against the draft and the No Draft No Way network has grown to include hundreds of activists all across the country. It is vitally important that we provide these local organizers with information and tools.
In order to meet this urgent need, the Youth and the Military Education Project is developing an Action Toolkit for counter-recruiting and anti-draft activists. This will include:
1) We Won't Go - A Guide to Counter-Recruiting and Draft Resistance. This 120-page book will present, in a brief and accesible format: the truth behind military recruiters' lies; students' rights on campus; information about the draft and alternatives; how to organize an opt-out campaign to keep students' personal information out of the hands of recruiters; and how to organize a local protest, including publicity, legal issues, making placards, and working with the media. This small, easy-to-read book, written by counter-recruiting activists, current and former members of the military, and youth, will be available in bulk at discounted prices for community and youth organizations, classrooms, and libraries. It will be sent to clergy, educators, parent associations, and community leaders across the country.
2) A DVD - Youth Fight Back - This DVD will feature presentations from veterans, military family members, youth organizers, and military resisters on the realities of military life, the economic draft, and counter-recruiting strategies. The disc will also include downloadable leaflets, fact sheets, and posters that activists can use and adapt for their local events and campaigns.
3) New literature, including brochures, palm cards, and classroom materials explaining the role of the military, the economic draft, alternatives to the military, and much more.
We are rushing to get We Won't Go - A Guide to Counter-Recruiting and Draft Resistance to publication so that thousands of activists can use this material a part of a national campaign to educate and mobilize youth against militarism and the war. This book must be at the printers by July 15 in order for us to have it ready for the start of the new school year.
Can you help us with this urgent effort to publish We Won't Go - A Guide to Counter-Recruiting and Draft Resistance? We will include a special acknowledgement section in the book, showing appreciation for those who make a contribution to this effort. Your name can be listed there, or you can donate anonymously. (You can donate online or print out the coupon below and donate by mail.)
Please join us in this national campaign by helping to organize, do outreach, distribute educational materials, and donate to help with all aspects of organizing, especially the immediate publication of this book, which will be an invaluable resource for young people all over the country who want to oppose the very real dangers of militarization and war.
Yours in the struggle,
Youth Activist, FIST
International Action Center
No Draft, No Way;
Jesse Lokahi Heiwa
Queers for Peace & Justice
Member of the Army National Guard who refused to deploy to Iraq
Mother of a GI in Iraq;
Mother of a soldier in Iraq