That’s all good and fine. I agree that we agree more than we disagree. I just want to be clear on my reasoning and logic. I apply the same standards to troops that I do myself and others: do what is right even if its the hardest thing to do. I don’t think it is harsh at all nor unrealistic. Furthermore, I dont think viewing their sworn oaths, clear statements of the constitution or the UN Charter or Chemical Weapons Conventions (referring to as White Phosphorus was used in Fallujah for “shake and bake” missions) or Geneva Convention are a matter of perspective. It is pretty cut and dry. They have sworn to protect the constitution - not the President - from enemies foreign and domestic. That our constitution says treaties signed are the supreme law of the land is equally cut and dry. How we have violated international laws in reference to the war in Iraq is also pretty cut and dry. So the conclusion that they should honor their oaths and resist these unlawful orders is not harsh or unrealistic by any sense. We can find plenty of fables and examples where the moral is clear: do what is right, even if the wrong thing is the easiest thing to do.
I have no particualr disliking of soldiers. I am frankly tired of reading about them sitting on IED’s. And I am equally tired of reading about the effects experienced on the receiving end of our weapons.
I really hope you read up on General Smedley Butler. There is a soldier I really respect. One of America’s most decorated soldiers who looked back on his actions and - far from being a pacifist - helped organize resistance within America’s soldiers. He commanded great respect from the military and he spoke about honestly about war and urged soldiers to resist participating while also fighting for social rights for the poor workingmen. You know I like quotes so I want to share two of his with you and then I want to share something that William Blum wrote in this months Anti-Empire report because it is good example of what I have been saying.
“I was a high class muscleman for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers,” Butler said. “In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.”
In a speech in 1933, Butler said the following:
“I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.”
“The general public shoulders the bill. This bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed gravestones, Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken hearts and homes. Economic instability. Back-breaking taxation for generations and generations.”
William Blum [ http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=51&ItemID=13751 ]:
Okay, Bush ain’t gonna get out of Iraq no matter what anyone says or does short of a) impeachment, b) a lobotomy, or c) one of his daughters setting herself afire in the Oval Office as a war protest. A few days ago, upon arriving in Australia, “in a chipper mood”, he was asked by the Deputy Prime Minister about his stopover in Iraq. “We’re kicking ass,” replied the idiot king. Another epigram for his tombstone.
And the Democrats ain’t gonna end the war. Ninety-nine percent of the American people protesting on the same day ain’t gonna do it either, in this democracy. (No, I’m sorry to say that I don’t think the Vietnam protesters ended the war. There were nine years of protest—1964 to 1973—before the US military left Vietnam. It’s a stretch to ascribe a cause and effect to that. The United States, after all, had to leave sometime.)
Only those fighting the war can end it. By laying down their arms and refusing to kill anymore, including themselves. Some American soldiers in Iraq have already refused to go on very dangerous combat missions. Iraq Veterans Against the War, last month at their annual meeting, in St. Louis, voted to launch a campaign encouraging American troops to refuse to fight. “Iraq Veterans Against the War decided to make support of war resisters a major part of what we do,” said Garrett Rappenhagen, a former U.S. Army sniper who served in Iraq from February 2004 to February 2005.
The veterans group has begun organizing among active duty soldiers on military bases. Veterans have toured the country in busses holding barbeques outside the base gates. They also plan to step up efforts to undermine military recruiting efforts.
Of course it’s a very long shot to get large numbers of soldiers into an angry, protesting frame of mind. But consider the period following the end of World War Two. Late 1945 and early 1946 saw what is likely the greatest troop revolt that has ever occurred in a victorious army. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of American soldiers protested all over the world because they were not being sent home even though the war was over. The GIs didn’t realize it at first, but many soon came to understand that the reason they were being transferred from Europe and elsewhere to various places in the Pacific area, instead of being sent back home, was that the United States was concerned about uprisings against colonialism, which, in the minds of Washington foreign-policy officials, was equated with communism and other nasty un-American things. The uprisings were occurring in British colonies, in Dutch colonies, in French colonies, as well as in the American colony of the Philippines. Yes, hard to believe, but the United States was acting like an imperialist power.
In the Philippines there were repeated mass demonstrations by GIs who were not eager to be used against the left-wing Huk guerrillas. The New York Times reported in January 1946 about one of these demonstrations: “‘The Philippines are capable of handling their own internal problems,’ was the slogan voiced by several speakers. Many extended the same point of view to China.”
American marines were sent to China to support the Nationalist government of Chang Kai-shek against the Communists of Mao Tse-tung and Chou En-lai. They were sent to the Netherlands Indies (Indonesia) to be of service to the Dutch in their suppression of native nationalists. And American troop ships were used to transport the French military to France’s former colony in Vietnam. These and other actions of Washington led to numerous large GI protests in Japan, Guam, Saipan, Korea, India, Germany, England, France, and Andrews Field, Maryland, all concerned with the major slowdown in demobilization and the uses for which the soldiers were being employed. There were hunger strikes and mass mailings to Congress from the soldiers and their huge body of support in the States. In January 1946, Senator Edwin Johnson of Colorado declared “It is distressing and humiliating to all Americans to read in every newspaper in the land accounts of near mutiny in the Army.”
On January 13, 1946, 500 GIs in Paris adopted a set of demands called “The Enlisted Man’s Magna Charta”, calling for radical reforms of the master-slave relationship between officers and enlisted men; also demanding the removal of Secretary of War Robert Patterson. In the Philippines, soldier sentiment against the reduced demobilization crystalized in a meeting of GIs that voted unanimously to ask Secretary Patterson and certain Senators: “What is the Army’s position in the Philippines, especially in relation to the reestablishment of the Eighty-sixth Infantry Division on a combat basis?”
By the summer of 1946 there had been a huge demobilization of the armed forces, although there’s no way of knowing with any exactness how much of that was due to the GIs’ protests.
If this is how American soldiers could be inspired and organized in the wake of “The Good War”, imagine what can be done today in the midst of “The God-awful War”.
Iraq Veterans Against the War could use your help. Go to: http://www.ivaw.org/