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[casi] Fwd: [IPPN] Fw: Stan Goff: An Open Letter to GIs in Iraq

>From: Ted Glick <>
>Subject: [IPPN]  Fw: Stan Goff: An Open Letter to GIs in Iraq
>Date: Sat, 15 Nov 2003 19:12:35 -0500
>----- Original Message -----
>From: "David Pugh" <>
>To: <>
>Sent: Saturday, November 15, 2003 11:12 AM
>Subject: Stan Goff: An Open Letter to GIs in Iraq
> > [Friends: This is a very important piece by a Vietnam
>veteran, father of an
> > active duty soldier, and member of Bring Them Home Now!
>Please forward
> > if you like what he has to say.--dp]
> >
> >
> > November 14 / 23, 2003
> >
> > An Open Letter to GIs in Iraq
> >
> > (US Army Retired)
> >
> > Dear American serviceperson in Iraq,
> >
> > I am a retired veteran of the army, and my own son is
>among you, a
> > paratrooper like I was. The changes that are happening to
>every one of
> > you--some more extreme than others--are changes I know
>very well. So I'm
> > going to say some things to you straight up in the
>language to which you
> > are accustomed.
> >
> > In 1970, I was assigned to the 173rd Airborne Brigade,
>then based in
> > northern Binh Dinh Province in what was then the Republic
>of Vietnam.
> > When I went there, I had my head full of shit: shit from
>the news media,
> > shit from movies, shit about what it supposedly mean to be
>a man, and
> > shit from a lot of my know-nothing neighbors who would
>tell you plenty
> > about Vietnam even though they'd never been there, or to
>war at all.
> >
> > The essence of all this shit was that we had to "stay the
>course in
> > Vietnam," and that we were on some mission to save good
>Vietnamese from
> > bad Vietnamese, and to keep the bad Vietnamese from
>hitting beachheads
> > outside of Oakland. We stayed the course until 58,000
>Americans were
> > dead, lots more maimed for life, and 3,000,000 Southeast
>Asians were dead.
> > Ex-military people and even many on active duty played a
>big part in finally
> > bringing that crime to a halt.
> >
> > When I started hearing about weapons of mass destruction
>that threatened
> > the United States from Iraq, a shattered country that had
>endured almost
> > a decade of trench war followed by an invasion and twelve
>years of
> > sanctions, my first question was how in the hell can
>anyone believe that
> > this suffering country presents a threat to the United
>States? But then
> > I remembered how many people had believed Vietnam
>threatened the United
> > States. Including me.
> >
> > When that bullshit story about weapons came apart like a
> > shirt, the politicians who cooked up this war told
>everyone, including
> > you, that you would be greeted like great liberators. They
>told us that
> > we were in Vietnam to make sure everyone there could vote.
> >
> > What they didn't tell me was that before I got there in
>1970, the
> > American armed forces had been burning villages, killing
> > poisoning farmlands and forests, killing civilians for
>sport, bombing
> > whole villages, and commiting rapes and massacres, and the
>people who
> > were grieving and raging over that weren't in a position
>to figure out
> > the difference between me--just in country--and the people
>who had done
> > those things to them.
> >
> > What they didn't tell you is that over a million and a
>half Iraqis died
> > between 1991 and 2003 from malnutrition, medical neglect,
>and bad
> > sanitation. Over half a million of those who died were the
>weakest: the
> > children, especially very young children.
> >
> > My son who is over there now has a baby. We visit with our
> > every chance we get. He is eleven months old now. Lots of
>you have
> > children, so you know how easy it is to really love them,
>and love them
> > so hard you just know your entire world would collapse if
> > happened to them. Iraqis feel that way about their babies,
>too. And they
> > are not going to forget that the United States government
>was largely
> > responsible for the deaths of half a million kids.
> >
> > So the lie that you would be welcomed as liberators was
>just that. A
> > lie. A lie for people in the United States to get them to
>open their
> > purse for this obscenity, and a lie for you to pump you up
>for a fight.
> >
> > And when you put this into perspective, you know that if
>you were an
> > Iraqi, you probably wouldn't be crazy about American
>soldiers taking
> > over your towns and cities either. This is the tough
>reality I faced in
> > Vietnam. I knew while I was there that if I were
>Vietnamese, I would
> > have been one of the Vietcong.
> >
> > But there we were, ordered into someone else's country,
>playing the role
> > of occupier when we didn't know the people, their
>language, or their
> > culture, with our head full of bullshit our so-called
>leaders had told
> > us during training and in preparation for deployment, and
>even when we
> > got there. There we were, facing people we were ordered to
>dominate, but
> > any one of whom might be pumping mortars at us or firing
>AKs at us later
> > that night. The question we stated to ask is who put us in
>this position?
> >
> > In our process of fighting to stay alive, and in their
>process of trying
> > to expel an invader that violated their dignity, destroyed
> > property, and killed their innocents, we were faced off
>against each
> > other by people who made these decisions in $5,000 suits,
>who laughed
> > and slapped each other on the back in Washington DC with
>their fat
> > fucking asses stuffed full of cordon blue and caviar.
> >
> > They chumped us. Anyone can be chumped.
> >
> > That's you now. Just fewer trees and less water.
> >
> > We haven't figured out how to stop the pasty-faced,
> > backslappers in DC yet, and it looks like you all might be
>stuck there
> > for a little longer. So I want to tell you the rest of the
> >
> > I changed over there in Vietnam and they were not nice
>changes either.
> > I started getting pulled into something--something that
>craved other
> > people's pain. Just to make sure I wasn't regarded as a
> > missionary" or a possible rat, I learned how to fit myself
>into that
> > group that was untouchable, people too crazy to fuck with,
>people who
> > desired the rush of omnipotence that comes with setting
>some house on
> > fire just for the pure hell of it, or who could kill
>anyone, man, woman, or
> > child, with hardly a second thought. People who had the
>power of life and
> > death--because they could.
> >
> > The anger helps. It's easy to hate everyone you can't
>trust because of
> > your circumstances, and to rage about what you've seen,
>what has
> > happened to you, and what you have done and can't take
> >
> > It was all an act for me, a cover-up for deeper fears I
>couldn't name,
> > and the reason I know that is that we had to dehumanize
>our victims
> > before we did the things we did. We knew deep down that
>what we were
> > doing was wrong. So they became dinks or gooks, just like
>Iraqis are now
> > being transformed into ragheads or hajjis. People had to
>be reduced to
> > "niggers" here before they could be lynched. No
>difference. We convinced
> > ourselves we had to kill them to survive, even when that
>wasn't true,
> > but something inside us told us that so long as they were
>human beings,
> > with the same intrinsic value we had as human beings, we
>were not
> > allowed to burn their homes and barns, kill their animals,
>and sometimes
> > even kill them. So we used these words, these new names,
>to reduce them,
> > to strip them of their essential humanity, and then we
>could do things
> > like adjust artillery fire onto the cries of a baby.
> >
> > Until that baby was silenced, though, and here's the
>important thing to
> > understand, that baby never surrendered her humanity. I
>did. We did.
> > That's the thing you might not get until it's too late.
>When you take
> > away the humantiy of another, you kill your own humanity.
>You attack
> > your own soul because it is standing in the way.
> >
> > So we finish our tour, and go back to our families, who
>can see that
> > even though we function, we are empty and incapable of
>truly connecting
> > to people any more, and maybe we can go for months or even
>years before
> > we fill that void where we surrendered our humanity, with
> > anesthetics--drugs, alcohol, until we realize that the
>void can never be
> > filled and we shoot ourselves, or head off into the street
>where we can
> > disappear with the flotsam of society, or we hurt others,
> > those who try to love us, and end up as another
>incarceration statistic
> > or a mental patient.
> >
> > You can never escape that you became a racist because you
>made the
> > excuse that you needed that to survive, that you took
>things away from
> > people that you can never give back, or that you killed a
>piece of yourself
> > that you may never get back.
> >
> > Some of us do. We get lucky and someone gives a damn
>enough to
> > emotionally resuscitate us and bring us back to life. Many
>do not.
> > I live with the rage every day of my life, even when no
>one else sees
> > it. You might hear it in my words. I hate being chumped.
> >
> > So here is my message to you. You will do what you have to
>do to
> > survive, however you define survival, while we do what we
>have to do to
> > stop this thing. But don't surrender your humanity. Not to
>fit in. Not
> > to prove yourself. Not for an adrenaline rush. Not to lash
>out when you
> > are angry and frustrated. Not for some ticket-punching
>fucking military
> > careerist to make his bones on. Especially not for the
>Bush-Cheney Gas &
> > Oil Consortium.
> >
> > The big bosses are trying to gain control of the world's
>energy supplies
> > to twist the arms of future economic competitors. That's
>what's going
> > on, and you need to understand it, then do what you need
>to do to hold
> > on to your humanity. The system does that; tells you you
>are some kind
> > of hero action figures, but uses you as gunmen. They chump
> >
> > Your so-called civilian leadership sees you as an
>expendable commodity.
> > They don't care about your nightmares, about the DU that
>you are
> > breathing, about the loneliness, the doubts, the pain, or
>about how your
> > humanity is stripped away a piece at a time. They will cut
> > benefits, deny your illnesses, and hide your wounded and
>dead from the
> > public. They already are.
> >
> > They don't care. So you have to. And to preserve your own
>humanity, you
> > must recognize the humanity of the people whose nation you
>now occupy
> > and know that both you and they are victims of the filthy
>rich bastards
> > who are calling the shots.
> >
> > They are your enemies--The Suits--and they are the enemies
>of peace,
> > and the enemies of your families, especially if they are
>Black families, or
> > immigrant families, or poor families. They are thieves and
>bullies who
> > take and never give, and they say they will "never run" in
>Iraq, but you
> > and I know that they will never have to run, because they
>fucking aren't
> > there. You are
> >
> > They'll skin and grin while they are getting what they
>want from you,
> > and throw you away like a used condom when they are done.
>Ask the vets
> > who are having their benefits slashed out from under them
>now. Bushfeld
> > and their cronies are parasites, and they are the sole
>beneficiaries of
> > the chaos you are learning to live in. They get the money.
>You get the
> > prosthetic devices, the nightmares, and the mysterious
> >
> > So if your rage needs a target, there they are,
>responsible for your
> > being there, and responsible for keeping you there. I
>can't tell you to
> > disobey. That would probably run me afoul of the law. That
>will be a
> > decision you will have to take when and if the
>circumstances and your
> > own conscience dictate. But it perfectly legal for you to
>refuse illegal
> > orders, and orders to abuse or attack civilians are
>illegal. Ordering
> > you to keep silent about these crimes is also illegal.
> >
> > I can tell you, without fear of legal consequence, that
>you are never
> > under any obligation to hate Iraqis, you are never under
>any obligation
> > to give yourself over to racism and nihilism and the
>thirst to kill for
> > the sake of killing, and you are never under any
>obligation to let them
> > drive out the last vestiges of your capacity to see and
>tell the truth
> > to yourself and to the world. You do not owe them your
> >
> > Come home safe, and come home sane. The people who love
>you and
> > who have loved you all your lives are waiting here, and we
>want you to
> > come back and be able to look us in the face. Don't leave
>your souls in
> > the dust there like another corpse.
> >
> > Hold on to your humanity.
> >
> > Stan Goff
> >
> > US Army (Ret.)
> >
> >
> > Stan Goff is the author of "Hideous Dream: A Soldier's
>Memoir of the
> > US Invasion of Haiti"
> >
> > html?L+scstore+jssh4901+1060182363>"
> > (Soft Skull Press, 2000) and of the upcoming book
> > "Full Spectrum Disorder"
> >
> > (Soft Skull Press, 2003).
> >
> > He is a member of the BRING THEM HOME NOW!
> > <> coordinating committee,
>a retired
> > Special Forces master sergeant, and the father of an
>active duty
> > soldier. Email for BRING THEM HOME NOW! is
> > <>.
> >
> > Goff can be reached at:
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
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