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>From: Ted Glick <email@example.com> >Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org >To: email@example.com >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" <firstname.lastname@example.org> >To: <ISMparticipants@yahoogroups.com> >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 > > > > HOLD ONTO YOUR HUMANITY > > An Open Letter to GIs in Iraq > > > > By STAN GOFF > > (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 >two-dollar > > 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 >livestock, > > 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 >grandson > > 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 >anything > > 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 >their > > 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, >oil-hungry > > 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 >story. > > > > 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 >"fucking > > 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 >back. > > > > 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 >chemical > > 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, >esepcially > > 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 >you. > > > > 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 >your > > 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 >illnesses. > > > > 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 >souls. > > > > 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" > > ><http://www.softskull.com/cgi-bin/SoftCart.100.exe/store/gof >f/hideous_dream. > > html?L+scstore+jssh4901+1060182363>" > > (Soft Skull Press, 2000) and of the upcoming book > > "Full Spectrum Disorder" > > ><http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1932360123/counterpu >nchmaga> > > (Soft Skull Press, 2003). > > > > He is a member of the BRING THEM HOME NOW! > > <http://www.bringthemhomenow.org/> coordinating committee, >a retired > > Special Forces master sergeant, and the father of an >active duty > > soldier. Email for BRING THEM HOME NOW! is email@example.com > > <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>. > > > > Goff can be reached at: email@example.com ><mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org> > > > > > > > > > > > >[This message sent using the IPPN Announce e-mail list. You can join this >low-traffic email group on alternative politics by sending a blank email >to: >email@example.com You can unsubscribe by writing >firstname.lastname@example.org > >To participate in a more active discussion of independent and third >party politics, please send a blank email to: >email@example.com > > >--^---------------------------------------------------------------- >This email was sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org > >EASY UNSUBSCRIBE click here: http://topica.com/u/?b1ddtL.b3i4T0.Z2VkaW5i >Or send an email to: email@example.com > >TOPICA - Start your own email discussion group. 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