Jon Utley’s Lifetime Fight for Freedom Recognized With New Award

Jon Utley, one of the most dedicated and principled pro-freedom and antiwar activists in the nation, received a well-earned Lifetime Achievement Award from American Conservative magazine at their Washington dinner last week.    Jon has been in the forefront of the antiwar movement since 1990, when he spearheaded a group to oppose George H.W. Bush’s war against Iraq.  He has been a rare voice of reason and grace in conservative circles, patiently pointing out how foreign warring was destroying American freedom – as well as wreaking pointless havoc abroad.  He has also been a generous supporter of groups ranging from the Future of Freedom Foundation to Antiwar.com, where his columns have trounced bloodthirsty politicians of all stripes.

In his acceptance speech last Thursday, Jon mentioned that his contrarian nature may have started when he arrived on a ship in New York harbor in December 1939.  Jon was only 5 years old and could not see the skyline because of the throng of people.  The ship was tilting slightly, and Jon realized he could get a much better view by going to the higher side of the ship and looking across. Jon has been getting better views than the vast majority of Washingtonians ever since.

Jon was born in the Soviet Union in 1934. His mother was Freda Utley, a bestselling author who helped awaken Americans to the Soviet peril in the 1940s and beyond. Ms. Utley also wrote one of the first books published in America on the horrendous sufferings in postwar Germany – “The High Cost of Vengeance,” published by Regnery in 1949, available at this link. His father, Arcadi Berdichevsky, was murdered in Stalin’s Gulag in 1938. Return to the Gulag, a film on his father’s fate, has been shown on PBS and on other venues around the nation. Reason.com described the movie: “In 2004, Utley embarked upon a search to learn of his father’s fate. This documentary traces Utley’s journey through former labor camps and cities in northern Russia and his final uncovering of the horrible truth at the dreaded camp city of Vorkuta within the Arctic Circle.” You can watch the 28-minute documentary here.

Here is a nine-minute  tribute video – “Jon Utley – A Lifetime of Courage” that was shown on Thursday, featuring Kelley Vlahos, John Henry, Roger Ream, and others.

Jon is broad minded and wise in the his pro-freedom efforts. A few years ago,  I asked him why he was attending an ACLU awards dinner touting a left-wing keynoter who didn’t seem truly concerned with individual liberty.

Jon replied, “So that somebody will care when government agents take us away.”

Hearing that line from someone whose father vanished in the Gulag makes it impossible to forget.  Jon had seen enough repression in his life to recognize the perils of the lockstep atmosphere prevailing in post 9/11 Washington.

That dinner last week was “black tie optional.”  Jon sent me a note a couple weeks ago: “Would you like to come, a comp ticket, to our GALA? I told them you might trim your beard, you really do sometimes  look like an anarchist.”

In honor of Jon, I happily trimmed my beard. I even sported a nice suit. Admittedly, a USA Today editor notified me that the knot in my necktie failed her inspection.

Thanks, Jon, for everything you have done for freedom in your life!

jon utley search for his father

 

The U.S. Army’s New, Retro, MAGA Uniform

The Army’s new uniforms are a throwback to World War II. Making the Army Great Again?

News that the Army is moving to a new, retro, uniform modeled on World War II-era designs got my military friends buzzing. Not so much about the “new” (old) uniform, but all the badges, ribbons, tabs, and related baubles and doodads that adorn US military uniforms today, a topic I’ve written about before at TomDispatch.com and here at BV.

First, the new uniform. World War II was the last “great” war America truly won, so it’s hardly surprising the Army is reaching back to the era of the “greatest generation” and the “band of brothers.” Why not tap nostalgia for that “good” war, when Americans banded together against the Nazis and the Japanese? It’s also consistent with Trump’s message about “Making America Great Again”; we can even substitute “the Army” for “America” and keep MAGA.

For Trump, this mythical “great” America seems to center on the 1950s, whereas for the Army it’s WWII and the 1940s. Still, these MAGA uniforms and hats seem to say the Army and America are currently not great, and that the path to greatness is a retrograde one, a return to the past. (That return apparently does not include a revival of the draft and America’s citizen-soldier tradition.)

Continue reading “The U.S. Army’s New, Retro, MAGA Uniform”

Where Is the Antiwar Movement in the US?

As the media focuses on the Mueller report and Attorney General William Barr, the Trump administration has been especially hawkish in their foreign policy. National Security Advisor John Bolton said the US is sending an aircraft carrier and a bomber taskforce to the Persian Gulf to be prepared for new threats from Iran. There are currently no US troops in Venezuela but since Juan Guaido, with a blessing from Mike Pence, declared himself president of Venezuela on January 23rd there have been several failed attempts to get Maduro out of power. Last month Trump vetoed a bill to end our involvement in the war in Yemen and the Senate failed to override it.

The Iran Deal was one of President Obama’s notable foreign policy achievements, so naturally Trump had to pull out of the deal after speaking out about it so much on the campaign trail. Since then Trump has put sanctions on the country with the intention of bringing the economy to its knees. Trump issued an executive order on Wednesday putting sanctions on Iran’s steel, aluminum, copper and iron sectors. This move came after Tehran announced it would be quitting portions of the 2015 nuclear deal, which the US withdrew from a year ago.

Continue reading “Where Is the Antiwar Movement in the US?”

Who Knows What Evil Lurks in the Pentagon Budget?

Trillions of dollars in Pentagon spending have just disappeared into thin air. The Pentagon failed its first ever audit last year. There is so much off-the-books spending that no one has a clue where it’s going. US troops show up in Niger and Congress has no idea how they got there. Is the Pentagon and the military-industrial complex a government unto itself? Tune in to the Ron Paul Liberty Report:

Reprinted from The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity.