Xpress: What single moment made you decide to leave the Marines?
U.S. veteran Conor Curran: Me and my squad were raiding a house in July 2007, and we were in Ramadi. The man of the house came out [as] we were tearing his house up and putting holes in his lawn with a mine detector. The man had tea, and he was offering [it to us]. He was very nice and he was very educated…. My assumption was I had a better way than the Iraqis, and I was showing them democracy and how to be human, but this guy really made me see that I was wrong. I started to question why I was there in the war, and it made me think about the whole situation. …
That experience, where the Iraqi man showed me that compassion can handle situations, that our violence couldn’t — it made me completely opposed to the war state. The desired outcome can be achieved with nonviolent actions, I learned that.
Xpress: Mr. Porter, you’re one of the keynote speakers on April 9. Tell us a little more about what the panel discussion.
Gareth Porter, investigative journalist, historian: The theme is the truth to power, in context of the present crisis of multiple wars which the U.S. is involved with — no end point, permanent wars, no way to bring to an end. Now we have a third war [in Libya], so this is the most serious challenge to democracy, the American people, and the economy, also the security of the American people.
Xpress: How does this affect average Americans?
Porter: The permanent war state takes two thirds of the budget form American people. People aren’t even aware of it. That’s a large part of the reality that needs to be shown.
Xpress: What fuels this state, in your opinion>
Porter: The war system, which is the self-interest of the national security state — the executive branch, the military, CIA, [and the] Pentagon, only exist to make war and make the U.S. powerful in today’s world. …[There’s a] direct contradiction between the interest of not being attacked by terrorists and the interest of the war state, which is carrying out action to provoke and bring about the very attacks that the people want to avoid. I want to leave this message in Asheville that this is the biggest threat we ever faced. And people can do something about it.
Event information: Speaking Truth to Power: A Permanent State of War is an evening of thoughtful commentary with keynote speakers Gareth Porter, investigative journalist and historian who specializes in U.S. national security policy, and Ray McGovern, former U.S. Army Intelligence Officer, 27-year CIA veteran and analyst. In addition, U.S. veterans Conor Curran, Brock McIntosh, Mike Prysner and Josh Steiber will share their personal stories and perspectives of the true costs of a permanent state of war. Josh Steiber is a veteran of the now infamous Wikileaks “Collateral Murder” company.
In order to make intelligent choices and decisions regarding solutions of political power and financial policies that drive our nation, the American people must know the truth. The program is sponsored by Veterans for Peace and NC Peace Action. Local radio host Leslie Groetsch will emcee the event, which will be held at the Diana Wortham Theatre in Asheville, NC on Saturday, April 9, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $18 for general admission and $10 for students and seniors. For more information about Speaking Truth to Power: A Permanent State of War, see the event page on the Diana Wortham website at www.dwtheatre.com.