Wednesday, January 30, 2008

And it's one, two, three, what are we fighting for?

I recently watched the documentary Sir, No Sir!. It's about the GI anti-war movement during the Vietnam War. I don't think I've given serious thought to the idea that those who experience war would be the most qualified or passionate opponents. It didn't occur to me, even though now it's obvious. The GIs they interviewed said that the dichotomy between opponents of the war and soldiers just wasn't there. Most of the stories about hippies spitting on soldiers at airports and calling them baby-killers were totally fabricated, but now history has made us believe that it's the hippies' faults that so many Vietnam vets went crazy after they got back, not because combat is a trauma, not because it was policy to kill villages of civilians, not because a person could possibly see "the enemy" as human and they had to face the moral tempest that comes along with that. And, according to this movie, most of the GIs in Vietnam WERE opposed to the war, or at least the way it was executed. I'm not saying that it's the soldiers' own faults for going over there. I understand that no about of mental preparation could prepare a person for the kind of action Vietnam soldiers were forced to take, and even those who volunteered couldn't have foreseen the horrific things that actually went on there.

One of my friends at Hosea is going back into the military. I asked him why he would do it. The path he's taking guarantees that he'll see combat in the Middle East (for the second time). He said that it was so his father would look at him with respect. He's homeless right now, and he says he can't get a job. I asked him "What if you had to kill someone?" He said, "When it comes down to that, it's a choice between me and the other guy, and I'm going to be the one going home at the end of the day."

I can't help but believe that there are things going on in Iraq that are being suppressed. I don't believe that Abu Ghraib was an isolated incident, just like the My Lai massacre wasn't an isolated incident. I've learned this from interviews and speeches from former and AWOL soldiers. In March, a Winter Soldiers public investigation is taking place in Washington to expose the realities of the Iraq War. I hope that it doesn't just get shoved into a 3 inch blurb in the National News section.

No comments: