Imagine working for a company that pays crappy wages, exposes you to injury and death, and discards you when you can no longer work. Such inhumane conditions compel workers to organize and strike in self-defense. The American soldier faces all these problems, yet is denied the legal right to form a union or strike.
By the end of 2006, Washington had spent half a trillion dollars and sacrificed 3,000 American soldiers and 650,000 Iraqis in its quest to control the world’s richest oil reserves in the Middle East.
Soldiers who sign up for what they are told is an honorable mission are plunged into a barbarism unlike anything they could imagine. Embedded in a population that hates them and wants them out, sent on suicide missions with faulty equipment, witnessing their comrades killed and mutilated, they live in fear of constant death.
Thousands of soldiers have deserted. Others face jail for their refusal to participate in an illegal, immoral war. Too many kill themselves. Others are killed for resisting.
On Christmas day, 29- year-old Army Reservist James E. Dean barricaded himself inside his father’s home. He had been ordered to Iraq after having served eighteen months in Afghanistan. Distraught and desperate, he refused to surrender to authorities. After a 14-hour standoff, he was shot and killed by police.
The military promises to take care of soldiers “no matter what.” Half a million homeless veterans prove this to be a lie. After being traumatized by his experience in Iraq, William Wooldridge was told that he was suffering from a ‘personality disorder,’ not post-traumatic stress. Veterans labeled with PTSD can get up to $2,000 a month in disability benefits. No such benefits are provided for ‘personality disorder.’
Doug Barber was also falsely diagnosed with ‘personality disorder.’ He shot himself after a two-year fight to get treatment for PTSD. Wooldridge blames the military for Barber’s death.
“We are being used as a resource, then discarded as trash when no longer useful to them. Our lives are destroyed, and the military blames it on us.”
Most Iraqis want American forces to leave. Most Americans want the war to end and so do most American soldiers. More than a thousand active-duty soldiers have petitioned Congress for an immediate end to the war. In contrast, U.S. commanders seek victory at any cost and are forcing more troops into battle.
To block anti-war organizing, Washington insists that opposing the war is unpatriotic, that support for the troops can only take the form of support for U.S. foreign policy. This is like saying that the only way to support GM workers is to support GM management.
Workers are right to refuse unreasonable demands, and soldiers are right to refuse to serve as disposable pawns in a sick game of world domination. We cannot abandon them to do this on their own.
Our soldiers desperately need the support of a mass anti-war movement that demands, with no apology, Bring all the troops home now!
Waging Peace in Vietnam (2019) reveals the depth of the anti-war rebellion in the US military and its impact in ending the war.