Shut Up and Shoot



From an ABC News interview with a GI in Iraq: “I’ve got my own ‘Most Wanted’ list,” he told me. He was referring to the deck of cards the U.S. government published, featuring Saddam Hussein, his sons and other wanted members of the former Iraqi regime. “The aces in my deck are Paul Bremer, Donald Rumsfeld, George Bush and Paul Wolfowitz,” he said

“None of us that wear this uniform are free to say anything disparaging about the secretary of defense or the president of the United States,” General Abizaid said during his Pentagon briefing. “We’re not free to do that. It’s our professional code. Whatever action may be taken, whether it’s a verbal reprimand or something more stringent is up to the commanders on the scene and it’s not for me to comment.”

Isn’t it great? The very same people who are supposedly fighting for freedom are not free to express their opinion, even when those opinions concern their lives. Welcome to the US Army, boys and girls. If it moves, salute it. If it doesn’t move, paint it. That’s the joke my GI buddies used to always tell when we were hanging out drinking a cold one in their barracks over in Germany in the early 1970s. Back then there was a pretty big resistance movement amongst the enlisted guys, so one could get away with talking shit about the commanding officer, whether he was in the building next door or in the White House. Nowadays, such sentiments might get you some time in the brig. Especially if your family is expressing similar sentiments on the homefront, even if those are only expressed to the stateside base commander.

What’s been striking about the mutterings of frustration and opposition to the Iraq mission by the GIs in the field is that they seem to be coming from the demographic least expected. That is, white guys from the Midwest and the south. This is a part of the country that supported the war and always supports the military. Furthermore, the Americans who live in these regions tend to believe the myths Bush and Co. used to get their sons and daughters into Iraq-freedom, weapons, the fear of terrorism. If these guys don’t like being used as pawns in Washington’s oil game and are willing to say so on national television, that could signify a problem for the war party. Who knows, maybe the GIs might even refuse to fight.

Even if the mutterings do not reach a level comparable to the GI resistance during the latter part of the war in Vietnam, the will for war could be broken. If the soldiers don’t want to fight, even though they signed up to do so, and their families are sick of them being gone, even though they knew this could happen, then who will get tired of this nonsense next? The American people? We can hope so. Of course, another scenario would be the situation between Israel and Palestine, or Russia and Chechnya, where the war hawks in those countries continue to send soldiers off to kill and die in wars of occupation despite the opposition of a large part of the respective populations.

I’m not foolish enough to believe that the men and women wearing the uniform of the American forces over in Iraq have become anti-imperialist. After all, their access to information that does not support their mission and confirm their boot-camp enhanced prejudices is very limited–even more so than the average FOX-CNN watching US civilian. Still, the very fact that they are ticked off that they were lied to about most every facet of their mission–from length of stay to its purpose and ease–has got to be bad news for the armchair generals inside the Beltway. Bad enough, in fact, for the Pentagon to send a direct message to the more vocal soldiers and their officers all the way from Virginia: a message telling them to shutup and/or to forget about their careers.

It’s up to us to support the right of these GIs to express their anger. It’s also up to us to get them home before they do any more harm and any more harm is done to them. More troops won’t help them in the long run, no matter what the Pentagon says. Indeed, more troops only increase the number of targets. Military assistance from other countries under UN auspices won’t help either. That will only allow the ideologues and fools in Washington to share the culpability. No government not already involved would want a pirce of this growing mess. There is not a military solution to the problems presented by the US/UK war on Iraq. The only answer to the growing mess in Iraq is a complete withdrawal of the forces from the invading and occupying countries.

RON JACOBS is author of The Way the Wind Blew: a history of the Weather Underground.

He can be reached at: rjacobs@zoo.uvm.edu

Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com.

Weekend Edition
October 9-11, 2015
David Price – Roberto J. González
The Use and Abuse of Culture (and Children): The Human Terrain System’s Rationalization of Pedophilia in Afghanistan
Gary Leupp
The Six Most Disastrous Interventions of the 21st  Century
Mike Whitney
Putin’s “Endgame” in Syria
Jason Hribal
The Tilikum Effect and the Downfall of SeaWorld
Paul Street
Hope in Abandonment: Cuba, Detroit, and Earth-Scientific Socialism
Andrew Levine
In Syria, Obama is Playing a Losing Game
Louis Proyect
The End of Academic Freedom in America: the Case of Steven Salaita
John Feffer
Mouths Wide Shut: Obama’s War on Whistleblowers
Conn Hallinan
Portugal: Europe’s Left Batting 1000
Brian Cloughley
Hospital Slaughter and the US/NATO Propaganda Machine
John Walsh
For Vietnam: Artemisinin From China, Agent Orange From America
Robert Fantina
Canadian Universities vs. Israeli Apartheid
Paul Craig Roberts
The Impulsiveness of US Power
Philippe Marlière
Class Struggle at Air France
Binoy Kampmark
Waiting in Vain for Moderation: Syria, Russia and Washington’s Problem
Paul Edwards
Empire of Disaster
Margaret Knapke
These Salvadoran Women Went to Prison for Suffering Miscarriages
Cesar Chelala
The Perverse Rise of Killer Robots
Halyna Mokrushyna
On Ukraine’s ‘Incorrect’ Past
Walter Brasch
Mass Murders are Good for Business
William Hadfield
Sophistry Rising: the Refugee Debate in Germany
Christopher Brauchli
Why the NRA Profits From Mass Shootings
Pete Dolack
There is Still Time to Defeat the Trans-Pacific Partnership
Andre Vltchek
Stop Millions of Western Immigrants!
Dave Lindorff
America’s Latest War Crime
Ann Garrison
Sankarist Spirit Resurges in Burkina Faso
Cesar Chelala
The Perverse Rise of Killer Robots
Franklin Lamb
Official Investigation Needed After Afghan Hospital Bombing
Linn Washington Jr.
Wrongs In Wine-Land
Charles R. Larson
Prelude to the Spanish Civil War: Eduard Mendoza’s “An Englishman in Madrid”
October 08, 2015
Michael Horton
Why is the US Aiding and Enabling Saudi Arabia’s Genocidal War in Yemen?
Ben Debney
Guns, Trump and Mental Illness
Pepe Escobar
The NATO-Russia Face Off in Syria
Yoav Litvin
Israeli Occupation for Dummies
Lawrence Davidson
Deep Poverty in America: the On-Going Tradition of Not Caring
Thomas Knapp
War Party’s New Line: Vladimir Putin is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things
Brandon Jordan
Sowing the Seeds of War in Uruguay
Binoy Kampmark
Imperilled by Unfree Trade: the TPP on Environment and Labor
John McMurtry
The Canadian Elections: Cover-Up and Steal (Again)
Anthony Papa
Coming Home: an Open Letter to 6,000 Soon-to-be-Released Drug War Prisoners From an Ex-Con
Ramzy Baroud
Listen to Syrians: The Media Jackals and the People’s Narrative
Norman Pollack
Heart of Darkness: A Two-Way Street
Gilbert Mercier
Will Russia, Iran, Hezbollah and Iraqi Shiite Militias Defeat ISIS in Syria and Iraq?
John Stanton
Vietnam 2.0 and California Dreamin’ in Ukraine
William John Cox
The Pornography of Hatred