The stated goal of Veterans Teaching Peace in Schools (VTPS) is “to promote peace by bringing U.S. military veterans into academic environments to share their experiences and discuss alternatives to war.” An outgrowth of Veterans For Peace, VTPS was established on October 31, 2001 to counter President Bush’s call for veterans to speak in classrooms across the United States following the 9/11 attacks. “Of course,” says VTPS, “Mr. Bush intended the veterans to speak from a pro-war stance, but the veterans of VTPS offer to speak from a pro-peace stance.” The founder of VTPS was Gulf War veteran James Madison. “[A]s soon as I heard about Bush’s call for veterans to go into schools,” Madison explains, “I realized that I could throw together an organization that would be a kind of a counter-movement.”
VTPS has formulated a series of “talking points” for its volunteer speakers to use when addressing students. These references depict the United States as an aggressive, war-mongering nation. One talking point, for instance, states that U.S. foreign policy “has been one of unrelenting militarism … not one of peaceful innocence suddenly shattered by the events of 9/11/01. Our nation has been engaging in and supporting hostile military actions around the globe for over half a century.
Another talking point states, “The natural consequence of all this violence by our government is a strongly felt hostility on the part of those who have been our victims. The people in the nations we bomb, invade, and occupy are just like you: they love their friends and families, and hate anyone who brings harm to those they love. … [T]hey hate us because of the hostile, violent acts they have seen perpetrated and supported by the U.S. over the decades.”
VTPS demanded that the U.S. seek redress for the 9/11 attacks “in a world court in a neutral country” rather than on the battlefield.
“If you listen to the media and our government,” said VTPS during the post-9/11, pre-Iraq War period, “you would think Bin Laden is an evil lunatic. Perhaps, but let’s pause for a minute and consider his three main demands. 1) Stop bombing Iraq. We still bomb Iraq so routinely that it doesn’t even make the evening news. 2) Get U.S. troops out of Saudi Arabia. Arabs consider it their holy land, and don’t want foreign troops there. 3) Stop arming Israel and taking sides in that conflict. Are those so unreasonable?”
One prominent VTPS speaker is Stan Goff, a Vietnam veteran and Marxist who has publicly professed his belief that the Bush Administration planned the War on Terror prior to 9/11 in order to steal oil from Afghanistan and Iraq: “I can’t help but conclude that the actions we are seeing put in motion now are part of a pre-September 11th agenda. I’m absolutely sure of it, in fact. … This administration is lying about this whole thing being a ‘reaction’ to September 11th.” Goff has also stated that “the CIA needs the heroin from Afghanistan to fund its global operation.”
As of June 2006, VTPS was composed of 70 speakers in 27 states and the District of Columbia.