When school started in September 1969 I was attending a Catholic high school located twenty miles outside of Washington, DC. in Laurel, MD. My dad was in DaNang, Vietnam. The seniors at the school were facing an almost certain induction into the military and Richard Nixon had been president for almost a year. Some of the kids who lived closer to DC were working on the big demonstration coming up on October 15 — the Vietnam Moratorium. The point of this protest was to bring the antiwar sentiment home to every town in the United States. In addition, there was a large protest scheduled for DC. The overall politics were liberal antiwar politics. A few of the nuns at the high school agreed with their efforts and got the school to hold a small meeting of its own. The first person who talked was an Army guy who said the usual Army stuff. Then a pacifist priest spoke. After the two talks and some discussion, those of us who wanted to walked to downtown Laurel and joined the small antiwar vigil taking place there. I don’t remember if there were any hecklers, but there were around fifty of us against the war.
Like an acquaintance of mine who helped organize the Moratorium in College Park, MD wrote in an email yesterday: who today wouldn’t take massive liberal anti war demos? Indeed. Reports this morning (October 15, 2009) from Washington indicate that Barack Obama is going to send 45,000 more US troops to Afghanistan. At this point it is not clear if this is the entire number or if it is just the number of combat forces. As the Washington Post revealed earlier in the week of October 11th, 2009, when Washington sent some 20,000 troops into Afghanistan earlier this year it did not announce that another 13,000 support troops were also sent over. If this ratio holds true that would mean that there would be closer to 70,000 more US troops in Afghanistan by the time this latest escalation is completed. These numbers would put the total amount of troops involved in the occupier’s forces euphemistically called the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) very close to 200,000.
200,000 heavily armed invaders on the ground. Untold numbers flying planes and dropping bombs. More sitting in bunkers in the North American desert launching drones aptly named Predator that kill fighters and civilians alike without an ounce of moral hesitation. An unknown number of mercenaries working under the title of contractor. Yet, there is barely a peep from the people of the nations whose men and women wage this pointless and immoral war. With the exception of a few protesters in DC and other big cities and a few thousand college students on twenty six college campuses around the United States, recent calls for protests against the war in Afghanistan and the continued occupation of Iraq went unheeded. The sight of young men and women in military camouflage and crewcuts wearing ISAF patches is becoming overly familiar to travelers in US airports. Yet, there is hardly a peep. The sight of parents crying on the television while their children are buried in caskets covered with the red, white and blue is not uncommon. If the news reports are true and at least 45,000 soldiers are preparing for their assignment to Afghanistan, these displays designed to inspire more such deaths will increase in frequency. All the while families tell themselves their children died for something like freedom when most of us know deep inside that no one but those who send them over there really know why the US military is even over there. When we the people are honest with ourselves we know it has to do with empire and conceit, but those reasons do o not make us feel good.
And there’s barely a peep. Liberals and rightwingers in Congress line up behind the Obama who lines up behind the Pentagon and the industry of war. With the exception of a very few, the consensus is that the death and destruction must continue. The comfort of the empire’s citizens must not be disturbed. It can not be said enough, the time to speak up is now. The orgy of death is set to increase. One can not add 50,000 more troops whose job is to kill and expect anything else.
RON JACOBS is author of The Way the Wind Blew: a history of the Weather Underground, which is just republished by Verso. Jacobs’ essay on Big Bill Broonzy is featured in CounterPunch’s collection on music, art and sex, Serpents in the Garden. His first novel, Short Order Frame Up, is published by Mainstay Press. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org