FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Advice from a Gulf War Vet

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:

February 20, 2019
Anthony DiMaggio
Withdrawal Pains and Syrian Civil War: An Analysis of U.S. Media Discourse
Charles Pierson
When Saudi Arabia Gets the Bomb
Doug Johnson Hatlem
“Electability” is Real (Unless Married with the Junk Science of Ideological Spectrum Analysis)
Kenneth Surin
The Atlantic Coast Pipeline: Another Boondoggle in Virginia
John Feffer
The Psychology of the Wall
Dean Baker
Modern Monetary Theory and Taxing the Rich
Russell Mokhiber
Citizens Arrested Calling Out Manchin on Rockwool
George Ochenski
Unconstitutional Power Grabs
Michael T. Klare
War With China? It’s Already Under Way
Thomas Knapp
The Real Emergency Isn’t About the Wall, It’s About the Separation of Powers
Manuel García, Jr.
Two Worlds
Daniel Warner
The Martin Ennals and Victorian Prize Winners Contrast with Australia’s Policies against Human Dignity
Norman Solomon
What the Bernie Sanders 2020 Campaign Means for Progressives
Dan Corjescu
2020 Vision: A Strategy of Courage
Matthew Johnson
Why Protest Trump When We Can Impeach Him?
William A. Cohn
Something New and Something Old: a Story Still Being Told
Bill Martin
The Fourth Hypothesis: the Present Juncture of the Trump Clarification and the Watershed Moment on the Washington Mall
February 19, 2019
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Troublesome Possibilities: The Left and Tulsi Gabbard
Patrick Cockburn
She Didn’t Start the Fire: Why Attack the ISIS Bride?
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Literature and Theater During War: Why Euripides Still Matters
Maximilian Werner
The Night of Terror: Wyoming Game and Fish’s Latest Attempt to Close the Book on the Mark Uptain Tragedy
Conn Hallinan
Erdogan is Destined for Another Rebuke in Turkey
Nyla Ali Khan
Politics of Jammu and Kashmir: The Only Viable Way is Forward
Mark Ashwill
On the Outside Looking In: an American in Vietnam
Joyce Nelson
Sir Richard Branson’s Venezuelan-Border PR Stunt
Ron Jacobs
Day of Remembrance and the Music of Anthony Brown        
Cesar Chelala
Women’s Critical Role in Saving the Environment
February 18, 2019
Paul Street
31 Actual National Emergencies
Robert Fisk
What Happened to the Remains of Khashoggi’s Predecessor?
David Mattson
When Grizzly Bears Go Bad: Constructions of Victimhood and Blame
Julian Vigo
USMCA’s Outsourcing of Free Speech to Big Tech
George Wuerthner
How the BLM Serves the West’s Welfare Ranchers
Christopher Fons
The Crimes of Elliot Abrams
Thomas Knapp
The First Rule of AIPAC Is: You Do Not Talk about AIPAC
Mitchel Cohen
A Tale of Two Citations: Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” and Michael Harrington’s “The Other America”
Jake Johnston
Haiti and the Collapse of a Political and Economic System
Dave Lindorff
It’s Not Just Trump and the Republicans
Laura Flanders
An End to Amazon’s Two-Bit Romance. No Low-Rent Rendezvous.
Patrick Walker
Venezuelan Coup Democrats Vomit on Green New Deal
Natalie Dowzicky
The Millennial Generation Will Tear Down Trump’s Wall
Nick Licata
Of Stress and Inequality
Joseph G. Ramsey
Waking Up on President’s Day During the Reign of Donald Trump
Elliot Sperber
Greater Than Food
Weekend Edition
February 15, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Matthew Hoh
Time for Peace in Afghanistan and an End to the Lies
Chris Floyd
Pence and the Benjamins: An Eternity of Anti-Semitism
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail