I’m on Twitter, again, #PoorPeoplesCampaign, and a Veterans Day letter against tax cuts for the rich

After almost 4 years I decided to give Twitter another try. I’m at @MatthewPHoh if you’d like to follow. I do interviews on a few radio and TV shows each week and so I figure Twitter might be a good, and simple, way to share those appearances.

With the assistance I’ve gotten from the doctors and the staff at the Durham VA Hospital, I also feel I am much more capable in handling the deluge of information that comes from Twitter and social media. An overabundance of information is something that easily overwhelms me cognitively and emotionally because of my TBI, Neuro-cognitive Disorder and PTSD. So let’s see how this works for me. I’m confident I’ll be able to handle it due to the training I’ve gotten from the VA to manage, adjust to and cope with the various issues in my brain. 🙂

A couple of weeks back I took part in the fifth installment of The Gathering, which is a call for the moral revival of our society by Repairers of the Breach and led by Reverend William Barber and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove. You can see an edited version of my interview with Jonathan below. Here is a link to the entire event, which included some pretty amazing singing and one, if not the best, anti-war speeches I’ve heard in the last eight years by Reverend Nelson Johnson. Reverend Johnson comes on at just about the one hour mark.

Finally, for Veterans Day, and yes I know that was already two weeks ago, hence my getting on Twitter to be maybe a little more timely, my name was on a letter sent out by Win Without War urging support for legislation introduced by Representative John Lewis. Representative Lewis’ legislation would not allow tax cuts for the rich until the trillions of dollars in debts, obligations and responsibilities for our wars are paid. The text of the letter is below and you can add your name to my petition supporting Representative Lewis’ amendment and calling on Congress to honor our veterans by accounting for the human, moral and financial costs of war.

Wage Peace.

$5.6 trillion, with no end in sight. That’s the cost of America’s wars since 9/11.

But as a Marine who served in Iraq, I don’t need a price tag to tell you about the cost of our wars for veterans like me. I’ve seen for myself the amputations, traumatic brain injuries, post traumatic stress disorder and moral injury that all lead to massively disproportionate levels of suicide, depression, substance abuse, domestic violence and homelessness in veterans returned home from war. And I’ve witnessed the human cost of our wars beyond our borders, in Iraq where I was stationed and for millions around the world.

Today, Veterans Day parades will celebrate the bravery of servicemembers, and I will be remembering those who were alongside me overseas. But before Cold War hysteria took over, November 11th was Armistice Day — a day for peace. The original Armistice Day marchers, veterans who survived the killing fields of the First World War, carried banners declaring “Never Again.” Imagine if we had listened to those veterans. Instead, our country continues to pour troops into stupid, bloated, and deadly wars.

That’s not honoring or respecting veterans. That’s putting war profits and reckless ideologies over our lives. Please join me in supporting Rep. John Lewis’ call to honor our veterans by accounting for the human, moral, and financial costs of war.

$5.6 trillion by next September works out to $310 billion per year to prop up our endless wars. That’s $23,386 per taxpayer per year. Slice it however you want, it’s an incomprehensibly massive number. And instead of asking ourselves if a single penny is worth it, we just keep freefalling into gargantuan war debt.

As for the spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical costs of my time at war — we won’t ever pay those off. Neither will the friends I remember today who died for a country that won’t acknowledge the cost of their loss. Neither will our families and communities who continue to shoulder the burdens of our service long after we leave the battlefield.

That’s why Rep. John Lewis is speaking up to demand a public, national conversation on war financing. His amendment to Trump’s tax bill would prohibit cutting taxes on the rich — a loss of revenue that would add right onto our pile of war debt — until we get our troops out of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria and eliminate the war deficit gobbling up our budget.

Add your name to support Rep. Lewis’ amendment and ask Congress to address the costs of war.

Thank you for all you do,

Matthew Hoh, Iraq War veteran


Peter Kassig’s Death: Revenge Is Not The Answer (from a college friend of Peter’s)

Angela Miller, my colleague at the Center for International Policy and Win Without War, was a fellow college student with Peter Kassig, the most recent Westerner to be publicly murdered by the Islamic State. In the below essay Angela argues against revenge and blood lust and movingly asks for compassion, intelligence, patience and wisdom in dealing with the Islamic State and the wars in the Middle East.

We have all seen those whose lives have been exposed and exploited by violence, very often the killing of a child, make public appeals for peace and reconciliation. Michael Brown’s parents in Missouri are the most recent example. And, of course, it seems that those who have not personally shared in the suffering wrought by murder and war, are those most triumphant, righteous and, tellingly, short sighted in their calls for revenge.

I am sorry for your loss Angela.

Peter Kassig’s Death: Revenge Is Not The Answer

“Sometimes rebels want to know if I will join the fight. I always tell them no … I can either be in a position to deliver tens of thousands of dollars of antibiotics for women and children, or I can be another young man with a gun.”

-Abdul-Rahman (Peter) Kassig

On Sunday, Nov. 16, the U.S. confirmed that Islamic State fighters had beheaded Abdul-Rahman (or Peter, as I knew him) Kassig, my classmate from Butler University.

The next day, I returned to work at the Win Without War coalition. One of my peers had been murdered, yet my job was to organize opposition to U.S. military intervention in Iraq and Syria. On a deeply personal level, I had to reconcile my career choice with the fact the Islamic State had just murdered my classmate.

When I found out about Peter’s death, my gut reaction was to seek immediate revenge, to see his murderers bombed. The Islamic State could not get away with kidnapping, torturing and beheading innocent American citizens and humanitarian aid workers, I thought.

However, by reflecting on Peter’s life and by speaking with others who knew him, I came to believe Peter would not have wanted us to continue bombing Syria in his name. During conversations with friends, professors and others from the Indianapolis community, no one mentioned the idea of vengeance. Instead, everyone spoke admiringly of Peter’s humanitarian work and brainstormed ideas of how we could carry on his legacy by helping the Syrian people. Many of us realized that what we wanted, more than retribution, was to make sure that Peter did not die in vain.

Peter first went to the Middle East as a U.S. Army Ranger. In 2012, he returned as a man of peace, founding a nonprofit called Special Emergency Response and Assistance, and using his emergency medical technician experience to aid Syria’s wounded. In a 2012 letter, he explained his resolve to work for peace: “War never ends, it just moves around … Loss and destruction in this land brings about only survival; the determination to press on and rebuild … because there is nothing else. To rubble and dust and back again.”

It takes strength to listen to our better angels instead of giving in to revenge. As a nation, we will benefit from resisting our initial instincts and asking the hard questions about our latest war in Iraq and Syria: What do our desire for vengeance and our revulsion at the barbarism of the Islamic State mean in real policy terms? Will airstrikes and ground troops actually degrade the Islamic State, or will they be counterproductive?

The majority of Americans believe this new enemy must be degraded; yet nearly 70 percent have little confidence that U.S. airstrikes will succeed in accomplishing that goal. After 13 years of endless war in Afghanistan and Iraq, Americans are right to believe that we cannot solve every problem with military might.

National security experts have presented viable and effective alternatives to endless war, and President Barack Obama should heed their advice. Instead of giving in to our first gut reaction, the American people should join these experts and demand, at a minimum, a more fundamental debate about the effective alternatives to military force that might allow us to address the threat from the Islamic State without perpetuating the cycle of violence.

The simple truth is that war isn’t working. After months of U.S.-led bombing in Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State is reportedly stronger than ever, controlling roughly the same territory they did when the first bombs fell. Instead of being degraded, the group has also seen a massive increase in recruitment and continues its horrific campaign of violence and terror. And, tragically, American bombs have killed innocent civilians and may be making political solutions to the broader conflict harder to achieve.

One way to honor Peter’s memory is to write your representatives in Congress and request they advocate for effective alternatives to endless war. As Iraq war veteran and Center for International Policy fellow Matthew Hoh explained, “The beheadings are bait. The Islamic State is a parasite of war. Its narrative needs war for their personal, organizational and ideological success.”

I understand the temptation to demand revenge, but we need to take a step back and reflect upon where retaliation through bombing ultimately leads.

Peter Kassig saw the futility of war and gave his life in the struggle to bring peace to the people of Syria. As Peter’s parents wrote in their statement on Nov. 16, “We prefer our son is written about and remembered for his important work, not in the manner the hostage takers would use to manipulate Americans and further their cause.”


Angela Miller is the digital director for Win Without War, a coalition of national organizations that aims to promote a more progressive national security strategy. Angela is a 2012 graduate of Butler University, where she was a classmate of Peter Kassig. Readers may write her at info@winwithoutwar.org.

Senators Graham and Menendez’s Iranian Black Comedy

From today’s Huffington Post: Whenever I sit down to write something about war, particularly about the lust for war so often found in the halls of Congress, I have to stop myself from utilizing phrases such as “hard to believe” or using words like “inconceivable.” As the United States has not waged a successful military campaign of greater than a few weeks in almost 60 years, I continue to choke on these thoughts, but, time and again, military force, with all its attendant death, loss and ineffectiveness, is promulgated by members of both political parties as a remedy for overseas ills, real or imagined. The repetition of Washington’s call to arms manifests as a form of black comedy: it is funny until you realize its horror. Iran, and its civilian nuclear program, is a continuing target for the self-stylized warrior-diplomats of this Capitol Hill farce. The folly and uselessness, let alone the blood, cost and counter-productivity, of recent U.S. military campaigns in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, plus the seemingly endless U.S. targeted assassination campaign, primarily through a fleet of drones that kill far more innocents than actual terrorists, have obviously had little effect on the reason or intellect of the war-crazy in both the House and Senate. Several times a year, various members of Congress, prompted by the consistent and substantial donations of the Israeli lobby, rise to denounce a non-existent Iranian nuclear military program, offering pieces of legislation that would bind the hands of American negotiators and ultimately force us into military confrontation with Iran’s nearly eighty million people. Senators Lindsay Graham (R-SC) and Bob Menendez’s (D-NJ) latest letter to President Obama, occurring as our professional diplomats negotiating with Iran are reaching an important point, signal Senators Graham and Menendez’s willingness for war and rejection of any sane or intelligent attempts at peace. Now the Iranian people are cursed with a regime that is oppressive and authoritarian. Iran must reform, but it also must be brought back into the community of nations. Likewise, Israel has a right to exist in peace, absent of fear. These conditions are not contradictory in peace, but are impossible to attain in war. A war with Iran would unleash circumstances within the Middle East that would greatly threaten Israel’s well being, eliminate opportunity for democratic development in Iran, cost countless American lives, and engender global economic collapse. Attacking Iran would set into motion events beyond our control. War is a breeding ground of unintended consequences; please see Afghanistan and Iraq if you have any doubt. Such desire for war in our nation’s capital is rooted in the pursuit of power, wealth, resources and because many in Washington, DC believe in the romantic fairy tale of war: a modern myth of smart war conducted with precision missiles and bombs, governed by all knowing intelligence systems and led by camera friendly generals with PhDs. Of course, war, albeit only initially, polls very well with voters, and there are no greater attacks against a political opponent than to insinuate he or she does not support the troops or that he or she is somehow weak-kneed and unable to measure up to America’s frontier, John Wayne, tough guy persona. Needless to say, many of the most vocal in the push for war have never been to war or, if they have, have been billeted in such outposts as military law offices. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), with actual combat experience, is one of the few exceptions to this Capitol roost of chicken hawks. But to understand Senator McCain’s passionate and personalized fever for the imaginary glory of war, I must fall back on the all too discerning, simple and perfect final words of David Lean’s Academy Award winning war epic, The Bridge Over the River Kwai: “Madness.”

However, as we saw last year, when the Sunday morning talks shows fought with one another to host one politician louder than the next arguing for American entry into the Syrian civil war, public opposition, in the way of phone calls, emails and letters to members of Congress, stopped American bombers from taking off towards Syria, Marines wading ashore its beaches, and American paratroopers from landing among Syria’s multitude of fighting factions. War, as much as politicians want it, is by no means a certainty. The daftness that blankets members of Congress and their war junky enablers residing in the media, in think tanks and in industry, does not extend to the American people. You do not need to have served in Afghanistan and Iraq to know those wars were worthless, and to say so, nor do you need to possess any special title or degree to know a war with Iran would be ruinous. After you read this, do as you did with Syria, step forward and tell Washington, DC, we are not going to war with Iran. Peace and prosperity lie in negotiations and diplomacy and not in the black comedy of Senators Graham and Menendez. Call your members of Congress and tell them today: Enough. No to war.