sherrynstan at igc.org
Sat Mar 22 09:14:41 MST 2003
Supporting the Troops
by Stan Goff
The US aggression against Iraq, now framed by the Ministry of Propaganda
(aka CNN and the rest of the media), as the US War Against Saddam, has
entered the direct overthrow-a-sovereign-government phase. As this is
written, the reports are confusing. The military situation is entirely
unpredictable, since every operations order becomes obsolete the minute
of its own execution. The Brits and the US administration are spinning
away on television and claiming operational security, which may be
entirely true. But there is a look of worry about them that leads me to
suspect - perhaps wrongly - that the flurry of last minute plan changes
since Turkey's dastardly betrayal has produced some awful goat-screw on
the ground, exposing yet again the vast incompetence of the US
military's narcissistic officer corps that lurks just below the surface
of their incredible technological power.
Yesterday saw a preemptive attack from the Republican Party toward Tom
Daschle, the Democratic House Minority Whip. Daschle made some anemic
criticisms of the Bush junta's diplomatic prowess, whereupon the Repubs
unleashed a torrent of accusations that Daschle was somehow failing to
support the troops. It was a preemptive attack directed at Daschle,
almost as a ritual, but ultimately this censure is directed against all
This hasn't been an easy time for Bush and his killer clowns. It hasn't
been an easy time for a lot of so-called liberals either. An anti-war
movement came onto the scene, and not just any anti-war movement. It is
now the fastest and broadest international movement of its type in
history. It involves anarcho-kids, olde tyme lefties, and pacifists to
be sure, but it also involves soccer moms, Black preachers, Italian dock
workers, women who write books, nerds, doctors, Indian garment workers,
Nigerian intellectuals, Brazilian coffee pickers, Japanese students,
Haitian peasants, Filipino street cleaners. every damn body!
And that's not all. Lots of them are picking up bad language. When I
hear a 60-year-old middle school teacher using words like "imperialism,"
I'm knowing that something is going on, and those who wanted every one
of the rest of us to just go along with the program, including
weak-kneed red-baiting liberals, have become alarmed. There's a very
dangerous consciousness that is emerging in the face of our would-be
So now they have pulled out the last trick in the bag, the one that is
supposed to silence us for good, by jingo! We have to support the
troops. This is the mother of all social policing strategies to stifle
criticism of our naked emperors.
It goes, we must close ranks and support our president, who is after all
the commander-in-chief of the armed forces (our sons and daughters, our
sisters and brothers, our spouses and sweethearts), because without that
support, our (enter name of your loved one in the military) will not be
adequately filled with our spirit of support to effectively defend
themselves, whereupon lack of said spirit will result in American
casualties, which makes all of us who withhold said spirit complicit in
killing and wounding American troops, and therefore traitors.
Let me explain something, by way of a war story.
In 1983, I took part in the invasion of Grenada. Aside from being an
incompetent operation, it was also one that no one in the United States
even knew about until it was pretty much over. Hey - it doesn't take
long to conquer a nation that is on a ten-mile-wide island with fewer
than 90,000 people. even if it was planned by idiots.
When America was informed that its treasure and youth were being risked
to secure the global nutmeg supply, over 99 percent of the country
couldn't tell you where Grenada was. We who conducted the operation had
committed it to memory less than 40 hours earlier.
The invasion was ordered in part to take advantage of internal turmoil
in Grenada to install a new pro-US government. Mainly, however, its aim
was to flex a little American muscle after 258 Marines were killed by a
car bomb only days earlier in Beirut, whereupon the US expeditionary
force in Lebanon was unceremoniously withdrawn.
Like a bully that gets his tail kicked, Reagan & Co. had to beat someone
smaller down to save face.
The whole thing suddenly became a "rescue mission" when someone stumbled
over a low-rent offshore medical diploma mill full of American students
and Reagan's staff cranked up the propaganda machine. None of us
involved in Operation Urgent Fury (not joking. it was called that) had
even known the damn thing was there.
The first hour of the operation was an old-fashioned country
ass-whuppin'. We were on the receiving end.
We were forced to defend ourselves. But we didn't have the "support"
spirit of the American people, because as far as they knew, we were all
still home, cheating on our spouses in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
America woke up scratching its head, trying to figure out why Ronald
Reagan had just invaded a Spanish city named after a Ford compact.
When the helicopter I was riding on with 15 other people reached the
island, we were greeted with small arms fire before we even crossed over
the first mangrove swamp, and it got worse fast. By the time we reached
out "target," Richmond Hill Prison, where we were gong to "liberate"
prisoners that weren't there, we already had four people shot. As we
hovered over the prison, deciding whether or not to slide down ropes
into Grenada's drunk tank, machine gun fire poured through both doors
and stitched up the belly of the fuselage from below. By the time we
left, having decided not to put up with this any longer, seven members
of our group were shot, and most of the rest of us were having our
clothes shot off.
In all this mayhem and confusion, while we (the Army's most elite,
whitest forces) were being spanked by skinny Black folk from Grenada and
equally dark Cuban construction workers, I can honestly say that I
didn't give a flying fuck about what anyone in the United States might
be thinking, or how much supportive spirit they might be psychically
channeling my way to cuddle up against.
I didn't stop to consider that many of my countrymen and countrywomen
made jokes about our commander-in-chief once co-starring with a
chimpanzee, or how that might seem. unsupportive.
I was extremely busy using a K-bar knife to cut the jammed harness off a
wounded door gunner to lay his pale, shocky ass on the helicopter floor
while I commandeered his portside machine gun to hose down some of our
most persistent assailants across the valley.
Nothing I did would have changed one iota, even had the entire
population of the United States gathered naked at Stonehenge to chant
supportive mantras out to our precise geographic coordinates.
Nothing we do or don't do here will have any impact on what the troops
do in Iraq in the coming days either. The support the troops thing is a
mystifying old red herring. What our new fascists really want us to do
is shut the fuck up. What we really want is for the troops to come home.
And shutting up is exactly what I'm not going to do.
What if I'd have been cut down in Grenada at the ripe old age of 32?
Would it have accomplished a damn thing worthwhile? In retrospect, I
have had the opportunity - an opportunity associated with my ability to
breathe - to learn just how cynical these military adventures are.
The best thing we can do for our sons and daughters and sisters and
brothers and spouses and sweethearts. is to tell the damn truth. What is
endangering them is a right-wing, racist, military/security state -
including Uncle Tom and Aunt Thomasina - that is attempting to protect
the power of the powerful by plundering other people, and using soldiers
to do it.
Goddamn George W. Bush and everyone like him! I will not be a chauvinist
who advocates victory in an illegal war where our people and the people
of Iraq are the cannon fodder and the victims. I do not want our
children to die. And I do not want them to kill other people's children.
This is not a fucking football game.
If we want to support troops, we'll do it by encouraging them to think,
and when necessary, disobey. Since Freedom Road talked me into doing
this column, we have heard from soldiers and their families. They are
thinking. They are asking questions. Many are beginning to suspect
they've been had, and that behind all this high-flown mendacity coming
out of the White House briefing room is a gangster's errand of plunder
with our children as its unwitting tools. If we want to support the real
troops, the real people, instead of the abstraction, we'll keep
connecting the dots for them, as this column attempts to do, and as the
anti-war movement needs to do.
If we start to send care packages full of books to the troops, that
would be supportive. They need something to fill the long, boring days
ahead, after the current mess is made. I can think of many titles. I'm
sure others can, too.
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