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April 2003 • Vol 3, No. 4 •

My Excellent Adventure

By Eric Johansson

This morning, after delivering one of the keynote speeches and standing arm-in-arm with the former president of the Pacific Stock Exchange and ex-U.S. Air Force Lt. Colonel Warren Langley, I was placed under arrest by the San Francisco Police Department. I was handcuffed, put in a police vehicle, charged, booked and held in containment until I was released late this morning.

Here is the speech I delivered this morning to a crowd of about 500:

Good Morning:

My name is Eric Johansson and I’m the president of the San Francisco Bay Area Veterans for Peace! I myself am an ex-U.S. Army Paratrooper and Infantryman who served during the Persian Gulf War. I stand here today and represent veterans from WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War, and peacetime veterans. Many of our members know the consequences of American foreign policy because once, at a time in our lives, so many of us carried it out. We find it sad that war seems so delightful, so often, to those that have no knowledge of it. We will proudly, and patriotically, continue to denounce war despite whatever misguided sense of euphoria supports it.

As a veteran of the Armed Forces myself, I stand in defense of the lives of the men and women whom I came to love while on active duty. I stand in defense of their lives that would be so tragically lost if we engaged in such a needless war. The invasion of Iraq will require a great deal of what the military calls MOUT, that is, Military Operations on Urban Terrain.

Let me tell you a little about Military Operations on Urban Terrain: Urban combat is the ugliest, bloodiest slaughterhouse of war that exists. It is fought street by street, block by block, house by house, floor by floor and room by room. Not only will [vast numbers of] body bags of dead soldiers be filled, but enormous emotional and psychological trauma will haunt the ones who survive for years to come. You do not support the troops by thrusting them into the hell of war. You support the troops by not sending them into the meat grinder of war.

There is no honor in murder. This war is murder by another name.

When, in an unjust war, an errant bomb dropped kills a mother and her child, it is not “collateral damage,” it is murder.

When, in an unjust war, a child dies of dysentery because a bomb damaged a sewage treatment plant, it is not “destroying enemy infrastructure,” it is murder.

When, in an unjust war, a father dies of a heart attack because a bomb disrupted the phone lines so he could not call an ambulance, it is not “neutralizing command and control facilities,” it is murder.

When, in an unjust war, a thousand poor farmer conscripts die in a trench defending a town they have lived in their whole lives, it is not victory, it is murder.

In past wars, many of our men and women in uniform have been slaughtered. Many of our troops have fallen. We must constantly remember and honor the many soldiers, seamen, marines and airmen who gave their lives for their country’s freedoms and liberties. To honor their sacrifice and demonstrate that their deaths were not in vain, we should consistently exercise our right to free speech, our right to peaceably assemble and our right to protest. We can best pay tribute to these fallen heroes by using and defending the rights they died protecting. So speak out and act non-violently to stop a needless war.

The only glory in war is in the minds of those who never experienced it!

Support the troops: bring them home!

No blood for oil!

No war on Iraq!

Wage peace!


“There is no way to peace. Peace is the way.”—A.J. Muste





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