Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Build the international antiwar movement!

This photo of US soldiers in Kuwait during the first Gulf War against Iraq (1990-91) goes a long way toward explaining why so many veterans suffer PTSD & why their suicide rate rivals that of combat deaths. This unit on grave detail is burying Iraqi bodies without even a semblance of decency or respect. Unless you’re a complete psychopath, this conduct will haunt your life without reprieve. One of the most poignant testimonies of the psychological damage done to veterans is “Bloods: Black Veterans of the Vietnam War: An Oral History,” where one soldier describes how his unit used Vietnamese farmers as target practice. When he returned to civilian life & faced what he had done, he was never able to restore trust in himself. He had become emotionally eviscerated.

After the Vietnam War, which antiwar veterans played a major role in opposing, the media reported on the “Vietnam Syndrome,” which was a deep, strong opposition in the US, shared by people around the world, to US military interventions. The media considered this opposition a malady, a social sickness with the potential of impeding future US wars. The international antiwar movement considered it an achievement. Media concern changed how they reported the many US wars after Vietnam, particularly in Central America during the 1980s. The changes included self-censorship & news blackouts. They termed these wars “low intensity warfare,” though of course for those countries under siege like Nicaragua & El Salvador, it was anything but low intensity. The new military strategies relied more on use of proxy armies & increased covert operations. Throughout these wars the antiwar movement remained active & strong.

The first Gulf War is when the full brutality of US military aggression was again deployed. But that war signified a turning point in antiwar opposition in the US. For several reasons which have never been sufficiently evaluated, the antiwar movement declined & has not recovered its strength while the number of US-NATO wars has increased. There are now wars, occupations, & bombing sieges in at least 7 countries (that we know of) along with increased covert activity. People in those countries are struggling heroically against the might of US-NATO barbarism. The philosopher, Spinoza, said “we study the past neither to weep nor to laugh, but to understand.” We need to assess why massive antiwar activity in the aggressing countries has declined at a time when it is more urgent than ever--& without resorting to that misanthropic “sheeple” stuff. Political activity always takes a beating during election years--which is why the ruling elite drag the damn things out so long. Meanwhile, we continue the patient work of building an international movement demanding immediate, unconditional withdrawal of all US-NATO forces. (Photo by Peter Turnley)

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