FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Advice from a Gulf War Vet

by Jeff Paterson

Do you know anyone in the military, or thinking about signing up soon? Pass this along to them. They may or may not appreciate it, but they deserve a heads up.

In August of 1990, I was an active duty U.S. Marine Corps Corporal. I was ordered to the Middle East; we were on the verge of the Gulf War. Four years prior, thinking I had nothing better to do with my life, I had walked into the Salinas, California recruiting station and told them to “put me where I was most needed.”

“What am I going to do with my life?” has always been a huge question for young people. Today, in the wake of the horror and tragedy of September 11th, this question has increased in importance for millions of young people.

No one who has seen the images will ever forget them. In a scene as unreal as the Matrix, a conflict reached into American reality in an unthinkable way. From copy clerks to administrative assistants, restaurant workers to firefighters, thousands of lives were ripped away from friends and family as those hijacked planes flew into the World Trade Center. Now the television shouts, “revenge,” “infinite justice,” and “something must be done!” America continues to wave red, white and blue flag to ease the sorrow; to declare, “We’re not going to take it.”

If it weren’t for those four years in the Marine Corps, I might be like the youth who are walking to the U.S. military recruiters right now, wanting to fight for their country. During my four years, most of the time my unit trained to fight a war against peasants who dared struggle against “American interests” in their homelands, specifically Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala.

I saw dire poverty in the Philippines; U.S. government-sanctioned prostitution rings to service the U.S. Armed Forces in South Korea; and unbridled racism towards the people of Okinawa and Japan, where the standard response to a child waving a “peace sign” at us with his fingers was “yea, ha, ha; two bombs little gook.”

I began to understand why billions of people around the world really do hate the United States – specifically its war machine, covert “contra” wars, and the whole system of economic globalization that replaces hope with 12-hour days locked in sweatshops producing “Designed in the USA” exports.

Faced with this reality, I began the process of becoming un-American; meaning, the interests of the people of the world began to weigh heavier than my self-interest.

When the U.S. launched the Gulf War, I realized that the world did not need or want another U.S. troop deployment. Although they did not look much like me, I found that I had more in common with the common peoples of the Middle East than I did with those who were ordering me to kill them. My Battalion Commander’s reassurance that “if anything goes wrong we’ll nuke the rag-heads until they all glow” was not reassuring.

Up against that, I publicly stated I would not be a pawn in America’s power plays for profits, oil, and domination of the Middle East. I pledged to resist, and I pledged that if I were dragged out into the Saudi desert, I would refuse to fight.

A few weeks later, I sat down on an airstrip as hundreds of Marines, many of whom I had lived with for years, filed past me and boarded the plane. I fought the Gulf War from a military brig, and after worldwide anti-war protesters helped spring me, we fought the war in the streets.

But back then we failed to stop the war. Since 1990 over 1.5 million Iraqi people have died, not mainly from the massive U.S. bombing which continues from the sky, but from a decade of economic sanctions. All the while the U.S. government has coldly declared that these Iraqi deaths are “worth it” in order to achieve strategic regional objectives. So today, as the U.S. government demands the world mourn with us for our loss, we in turn are expected to ignore the suffering that this nation produces.

Every time the U.S. war machine is kicked into high gear, acknowledgements are made about past “mistakes” such as: Gulf War sickness, Agent Orange and napalm in Vietnam, massacres of refugees in Korea, U.S. troops used as nuclear exposure guinea pigs after World War II, internment camps for Japanese-Americans during World War II. Yet after this acknowledgement comes: “Trust us, this time it will be different.” But it never is.

One need not be a pacifist, a communist, a Quaker, or a humanist to oppose this current “War on Terrorism.” However, it certainly helps to be an internationalist, realizing that our collective future is bound up with the majority of humanity, and not with those who are taking this horrific opportunity to wage war.

For the women and men in uniform, you have to make a choice. Silence is what your “superiors” expect of you, but the interests of humanity expect more. Think. Speak out. And if you make the choice to resist, there are hundreds of thousands who will support you – many of whom have already taken to the streets to oppose this war.

Like his father before him, Bush Jr. has drawn a line in the sand: “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.” Simply put, the rulers of the U.S. see much unfinished business for their “New World Order.” While we grieve, they announce that “the normal rules no longer apply” (translation: now is the time to settle our scores), and we have “a blank check to act, the nation is united” (translation: dissent will be ignored, or suppressed, as required). Now, more than ever, the people of the world, along with American citizens, are not safe from the U.S. government.

I will not wave the red, white and blue flag; instead, I will wear a green ribbon in solidarity with immigrants and Arab-Americans facing increased racist attacks.

Stop the War. Support U.S. troops who refuse to fight.

Let’s dedicate our live to changing this situation.

Jeff Paterson is a columnist for YellowTimes. He encourages your comments: USrefusenik@yahoo.com

 

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
July 01, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
Hillary: Ordinarily Awful or Uncommonly Awful?
Pam Martens
Clinton Says Wall Street Banks Aren’t the Threat, But Her Platform Writers Think They are
Jason Hirthler
Washington’s Not-So-Invisible Hand: It’s Not Economics, It’s Empire
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Marx on Financial Bubbles: Much Keener Insights Than Contemporary Economists
Pete Dolack
Brexit Will Only Count if Everybody Leaves the EU
Evan Jones
Ancillary Lessons from Brexit
Aidan O'Brien
Brexit: the English and Welsh Enlightenment
Jeremy R. Hammond
How Turkey’s Reconciliation Deal with Israel Harms the Palestinians
Margaret Kimberley
Beneficial Chaos: the Good News About Brexit
Phyllis Bennis
From Paris to Istanbul, More ‘War on Terror’ Means More Terrorist Attacks
Ishmael Reed
OJ and Jeffrey Toobin: Black Bogeyman Auctioneer
Ron Jacobs
Let There Be Rock
Ajamu Baraka
Paris, Orlando and Turkey: Displacing the Narrative of Western Innocence
Robert Fantina
The First Amendment, BDS and Third-Party Candidates
David Rosen
Whatever Happened to Utopia?
Andre Vltchek
Brexit – Let the UK Screw Itself!
Jonathan Latham
107 Nobel Laureate Attack on Greenpeace Traced Back to Biotech PR Operators
Steve Horn
Fracked Gas LNG Exports Were Centerpiece In Promotion of Panama Canal Expansion, Documents Reveal
Robert Koehler
The Right to Bear Courage
Colin Todhunter
Pro-GMO Spin Masquerading as Science Courtesy of “Shameful White Men of Privilege”
Binoy Kampmark
Who is Special Now? The Mythology Behind the US-British Relationship
Mark B. Baldwin
Russia to the Grexit?
Andrew Wimmer
Killer Grief
Manuel E. Yepe
Sanders, Socialism and the New Times
Franklin Lamb
ISIS is Gone, But Its Barbarity Still Haunts Palmyra
Mark Weisbrot
A Policy of Non-Intervention in Venezuela Would be a Welcome Change
Cesar Chelala
How Tobacco Became the Opium War of the 21st Century
Joseph Natoli
How We Reached the Point Where We Can’t Hear Each Other
Andrew Stewart
Skip “Hamilton” and Read Gore Vidal’s “Burr”
Christopher Brauchli
Educating Kansas
George Wuerthner
Ranching and the Future of the Sage Grouse
Thomas Knapp
Yes, a GOP Delegate Revolt is Possible
Gilbert Mercier
Democracy Is Dead
Andy Piascik
The Hills of Connecticut: Where Theatre and Life Became One
Charles R. Larson
Mychal Denzel Smith’s “Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching: a Young Black Man’s Education”
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Four Morning Ducks
June 30, 2016
Richard Moser
Clinton and Trump, Fear and Fascism
Pepe Escobar
The Three Harpies are Back!
Ramzy Baroud
Searching for a ‘Responsible Adult’: ‘Is Brexit Good for Israel?’
Dave Lindorff
What is Bernie Up To?
Thomas Barker
Saving Labour From Blairism: the Dangers of Confining the Debate to Existing Members
Jan Oberg
Why is NATO So Irrational Today?
John Stauber
The Debate We Need: Gary Johnson vs Jill Stein
Steve Horn
Obama Administration Approved Over 1,500 Offshore Fracking Permits
Rob Hager
Supreme Court Legalizes Influence Peddling: McDonnell v. United States
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail