dimanche 23 novembre 2008

Support G.I. Resistance!


"The morale, discipline and battleworthiness of the U.S. Armed Forces are…lower and worse than at any time in this century and possibly in the history of the United States…our army…is in a state of approaching collapse, with individual units avoiding or having refused combat, murdering their officers and non commissioned officers, drug-ridden, and dispirited where not near mutinous."
- Col. Robert D. Heinl, Jr.
The Collapse of the Armed Forces
Armed Forces Journal, June 7, 1971

"Mutiny is the conscience of war."

-Common graffiti written by soldiers in the trenches of World War One

Much noise is being made today as to what true GI Resistance actually means. In a confusing, often obfuscating and divisive hodgepodge of arguments, a variety of voices try to pinpoint and isolate a singularly accepted standard of GI Resistance. Sometimes in stark arrogance, members of the antiwar community bicker back and forth as to what supporting resistance entails, without actually considering the point of view of the soldier fighting the war. For instance, words like cowardice, loyalty, and even duty are used by some to attack, condescend, and humiliate war resisters, soldier dissenters, AWOL’s, and deserters. These arguments are seriously flawed, yet each stance tries to establish itself as the only acceptable means of supporting GI Resistance.

There are countless ways to crack an egg, and in a generalized effort to end

the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, a plethora of tactics will be needed. Most of us know that by now. But what we fail to realize is that sometimes the means to immediately end a war start with the boots on the ground. So who then are we, as activists, veterans, and concerned citizens, to place moral standards on any soldier who would detriment the war effort in any way she or he sees fit? The question is not what GI Resistance is, but rather how can we support it any way shape or form?

One only needs to open a U.S. history book to find examples of GI resistance throughout our years of war and conquest. As far back as the American Revolution, instances of GI rebellion were common, as underpaid, underfed, and ill-equipped regulars staged mutinies and revolts against what they saw as forced conscription, colonial elitism, and rampant war profit

eering. In barbarous wars such our Civil War, soldiers plagued by the torment of battle and butchery deserted in massive numbers. AWOL’s were common throughout World War I, and studies on World War II show that soldiers from both sides had tendencies to deliberately aim astray when firing projectiles at enemy combatants. But it wasn’t until the Vietnam War that the true power of an organized underclass of soldiers showed is amazing potential to end military adventurism.

Through amazing instances of organizing, communicating, and class solidarity, American service members utilized a whole array of tactics to make their stance against

a war they saw as immoral and wrong. From civil disobedience to direct action--from outspoken “Rap Sessions”, antiwar coffee houses, underground newspapers, “search and evades” missions, and mass desertions, to more extreme measures as combat refusals, equipment sabotage and assassinations of commanding officers in the field--soldiers challenged the power structure of the military from within, and sent shockwaves through the establishment that were felt all the way to the architects of war in Washington, D.C.

Of course, many people within the movement used a variety of tactics to spread distrust of the political system essential in ending the war. However, it wasn’t until the very moment when the soldiers refused to fight that the powers-to-be had absolutely no other option than to pull the plug on their military aggression in Southeast Asia. The GI Revolt from that time is an amazing display of people-power, and what can be achieved through a well-organized, dedicated effort to tear down systems of oppressive power from within. Their greatest strength came from a decentralized ability to operate sporadically and pop up, much like a fu

ngus refusing to die, uncontrollably in all corners of the American empire. The fertile conditions that nurtured their resistance came from a strong antiwar movement back home, and a tightly-held veteran-soldier solidarity to keep the resistance strongly intact.

Soldier solidarity is where we are failing today.

As activists committed to ending this war, we need to reach out to the troops who are fighting it and show them that we support GI Resistance. Soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan need to know that at home in the United States there is a dedicated activist community that will support them in resisting this illegal war at any cost.

We need to realize amongst ourselves that GI resistance is resistance by definition. Therefore, any resistance acted out by soldiers must be supported. There can be no ultimatums to supporting resistance. Whether that resistance is in the form of organizing amongst peers, starting underground ‘zines or websites, combat refusals or even acts of sabotage, w

e as activists must do our part to help aide and assist them, even if our assistance can only be in spirit and emotion.

We must understand that any form of resistance, even cases of AWOL and desertion, play a huge part in undermining the war effort from within. Never are we allowed to judge or discriminate against soldiers who choose to leave the military for whatever reason the soldier deems necessary. If more of the public accepted and supported AWOL and/or desertion as a justified alternative to participating in an illegal war, then perhaps we could expect more and more soldiers to quit their jobs. Ideally, one could picture the perfect scenario in which, on any given morning, the whole army fails to “show up to formation.”

At any rate, accusations of cowardice or treason are completely unacceptable. Furthermore, any soldier or veteran (especially one inclined towards an antiwar persuasion) that resorts to such patronizing derision should be reminded that such chest-beating machismo and arrogant self-righteousness is absolutely detrimental to our ultimate goal of ending the war. The whole idea is to win the soldiers trust and include them, not insult and exclude them.

Iraq Veterans Against the War is proving every day that we are the vanguard organization in the movement to ending the war. But we must remember that our credibility does not derive from media appearances, placements in protest rallies, or the medals on our uniforms. No, it comes from the fact that we are still soldiers, and we never leave another soldier behind. Our credibility lies with the soldiers that are still tied to this war, not with the public who overwhelmingly supports an immediate withdrawal, and not with the politicians promising peace with empty rhetoric. No one but the soldiers have the power to end the war now. And as an organization inherently dedicated to the soldier, our sole function should be reaching out to them, helping them to resist, helping them to come home. That is the true essence of solidarity, the true meaning of “Support GI Resistance,” and when it finally comes together, then we’ll really see the beginning of the end.

posted by Jeff Englehart
Iraq Veterans Against the War

Operation W.A.N.T.: The Price of Gas

Seven members from IVAW's LA Chapter staged an early morning action on October 11th, placing 4,200 miniature soldiers around a gas station along with posters declaring "The Price of Gas: 4171 US SOLDIERS" (since the action, the number of US soldiers has climbed to 4,193). Participants in the Operation W.A.N.T. (We Are Not Toys) said their goal was to show average Americans what 4,171 US Soldiers looks like and to connect the deaths of US troops to this country's dependence on foreign oil. Read more for a photo gallery of this action

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