Jun 3, 2007
“No more criticism of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.” Behind all the military verbiage, this was the meaning of a new regulation transmitted to troops in mid-May. All letters and e-mail that even just mention the war must first go through the commanding officer. Otherwise, a soldier is open for discipline.
It’s obvious no commanding officer will wade through all the mail and e-mails that troops send home. This latest military regulation is simply a sword held over every soldier’s head. It’s the military’s perfect Catch-22, brought up to date. Soldiers who criticize the army or the war won’t be disciplined for criticizing – only for doing it without approval.
In other words, to put it bluntly, shut up! You’re there to do and die, not to reason why.
But the troops are reasoning. Some of them are coming back protesting. Many more are sending letters home, and those letters have sparked a strong response in the population, transforming the population’s attitude about the wars. There may not be large student demonstrations like those during the Viet Nam war, but the opposition in ordinary layers of the population seems deeper and wider today.
Expressing opposition with their feet, hundreds of thousands of troops have left service. Trying to counteract the flood of soldiers leaving, the Army alone paid out 735 million dollars in retention bonuses in 2006 – almost nine times what it paid in 2003 (85 million). And still the troops left. More than a third of troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are no longer in uniform. They got out as soon as they could. Most haven’t yet had the opportunity.
U.S. imperialism cannot impose its will over the world, it cannot use force and the threat of force to rob other countries of their wealth, when its army won’t fight.
The army is not yet at the point it is refusing to fight. It may not yet be “breaking” as it finally did in the Viet Nam war, when troops openly revolted, refusing orders to go out, attacking commanding officers, taking over stockades when they were sent there for desertion.
But the army in Iraq today is certainly bending. And those troops who are bending it need to be supported by everyone who wants an end to this war, this violent destruction of Iraq and the waste of a whole generation of young American people. The war must be opposed by everyone who wants the wealth of this country put into the needs of the population, instead of into the destruction of another country.
U.S. troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan now!