by George Shriver
This medley on the theme “Support Our
Troops—Bring Them Home Now” was addressed to a Dec. 24
meeting of the
Much of the time, when it comes to working with the computer, I’m what they call a “techno-peasant,” but one thing I can do with the new technology is “Cut and Paste.”
I can snip a bit here, snip a bit there, string it together, and add some observations of my own.
I call it “Snippets.”
You might call it a pastiche, collage, montage, medley, potpourri. Perhaps a miscellany. Perhaps a Mischegasse. Or an outright hotchpotch.
So come an’ play hopscotch on my hotchpotch.
This is from my most favorite writer in all the
world, Arundhati Roy. And that’s not just because I
was born in
Here’s Arundhati Roy speaking in January 2004
in Mumbai (which the British occupiers used to call “
This movement of ours needs a major, global victory. It’s not good enough to be right…it’s important to win something…
If all of us are indeed against imperialism and
against the project of neo-liberalism, then let’s turn our gaze on
We have to become the global resistance to the
occupation. Our resistance has to begin with a refusal to accept the legitimacy
Now we skip from January 2004 to a snippet from the Times of
While insurgents draw on deep wells of fury to
expand their ranks in
The irritation among the rank and file became all too clear this week when a soldier stood up in a televised session with Donald Rumsfeld, the US Defence Secretary, to ask why the world’s richest army was having to hunt for scrap metal to protect its vehicles.
At our writers’ breakfast a few weeks ago, coincidentally, we were talking about that televised session with Rumsfeld. Another friend—who, unlike me, watches television—told me the soldier’s question was followed by applause from the hundreds of GIs present. The applause was cautious at first, she said, but then it spread and became quite loud. A couple of other soldiers challenged Rumsfeld too.
The December 10 Times of
The same night, interviews with three soldiers who
are seeking refugee status in
Some say more than 5,000 have deserted; some say more than 5,500. Only their hairdresser knows for sure.
You’ve also heard no doubt that the National Guard came up 5,000 short of its most recent recruitment goal.
Now comes a snippet from the Christian Science Monitor of December 16, which quotes Army Reserve chief Lt. Gen. James Helmly, testifying before the House Armed Services Committee earlier this year:
“Although generally successful in overall mission numbers, we continue to experience difficulty in attracting and retaining qualified individuals in certain critical wartime specialties.”
Don’t you love that bureaucratic prose? “Although generally successful in overall mission numbers…” What’s an “overall mission number”? Is it wearing overalls? Like Mayakovsky’s “cloud in trousers”? I prefer Mayakovsky.
The Christian Science Monitor went on:
The number of officers wanting to resign from the
Army Reserve has jumped as well. And according to a recent report on CBS’s “60
Minutes,” the Defense Department acknowledges that more than 5,500 service
personnel have deserted since the
I saw another report about desertions from the Empire’s army (but forgot
to snip it). It said, as I recall, that the Iraqi resistance is helping GIs
My next snippet is from a December 10 message posted on the Internet by a “media platoon” of one of the Iraqi resistance groups.
This is long, and I ask your patience to listen for a moment to this
People of the world!
These words come to you from those who up to the day
of the invasion were struggling to survive under the sanctions imposed by the
criminal regimes of the
We are simple people who choose principles over fear.
We have suffered crimes and sanctions, which we consider the true weapons of mass destruction.
Years and years of agony and despair, while the … United Nations traded with our oil revenues in the name of world stability and peace.
Over two million innocents died waiting for a light at the end of a tunnel that only ended with the occupation of our country and the theft of our resources.
After the crimes of the administrations of the U.S
It is our duty, as well as our right, to fight back against the occupying forces, while their nations will be held morally and economically responsible for what their elected governments have destroyed and stolen from our land.
We have not crossed the oceans and seas to occupy
We thank all those, including those in
Today, we call on you again.
We do not require arms or fighters, for we have plenty.
We ask you to form a worldwide front against war and sanctions. A front that is governed by the wise and knowing. A front that will bring reform and order. New institutions that would replace those which are now corrupt.
Stop using the U.S. dollar, use the Euro or a basket
of currencies. Reduce or halt your consumption of British and
We only wish we had more cameras to show the world their true defeat.
The enemy is on the run. They are in fear of a resistance movement they cannot see or predict.
We now choose when, where, and how to strike. And just as our ancestors struck the first sparks of civilization, we will redefine the word “conquest.”
Today we write a new chapter in the arts of urban warfare.
Know that by helping the Iraqi people you are helping yourselves, for tomorrow may bring the same destruction to you.
Helping the Iraqi people does not mean dealing with the American government for a few contracts here and there. You must continue to isolate their [U.S.-British] strategy.
This conflict can no longer be considered a localized war, nor can the world remain hostage to the never-ending and [constantly] regenerated fear that the American people suffer from in general.
We will pin them here in
We will disrupt, then halt the flow of our stolen oil, thus rendering their plans useless.
And the earlier a movement is born, the earlier their fall will be.
And to the American soldiers we say, you can also
choose to fight tyranny with us. Lay down your weapons, and seek refuge in our
mosques, churches, and homes. We will protect you. And we will get you out of
Go back to your homes, families, and loved ones.
This is not your war. Nor are you fighting for a true cause in
My final snippet for today—because I’ll probably expand this medley as I go, cutting and pasting ad infinitum—comes from a December 11 speech by retired Master Sergeant Stan Goff, who served as a Green Beret in Vietnam. Today he lends his skills to help such groups as Military Families Speak Out and Iraq Veterans Against the War, as well as 9/11 family members who oppose the war.
By the way, antiwar veterans and representatives of Military Families
Speak Out were present at the recent
Here’s my final snippet from Stan Goff. The full speech can be found at BringThemHomeNow.org
The communities of the military are in a unique position—they have a special standpoint—to say we were there. We were not on CNN. We were not in the New York Times. We were there when you rained dioxin on us 35 years ago as you killed 3 million Southeast Asians, and we were there in our family hothouses when we carried the dioxin and the death back into our living rooms, into our relationships, into our children, who were the hostages of our pathologies. We weren't in the swimming pool communities in the LA foothills. We are the mountain lions [in your suburbs], and now you have a veteran problem. Now you have a military family problem. Now you have an “I’m-awake-and-I’m-pissed-off” soldier problem.
Only we are not mountain lions, consigned by…natural limitations to helplessly watch our own destruction by the system.
We were there! We are there! We have a special capacity and a special pedagogical responsibility to stop others from taking the air for granted, because that air is contaminated. It is poisoned by the criminality at the very genetic core of this whole system, that needs Agent Orange and Depleted Uranium to enforce its will on those it would dominate and those who refuse to surrender their own humanity to this criminality.
Who we call statesmen are often as not thieves. Who we call statesmen are often as not vandals. Who we call statesmen are often as not mass murderers, and who better to out them for what they are than those of us who have been held closest to their criminal hearts in their time of need...
Veterans for Peace and Military Families Speak Out held out in the face of faint-hearted anti-Bush resistance and never listened to the siren call of compromise and chauvinism that led many of our allies to tell us to drop the word NOW from our campaign to Bring Them Home NOW! We were clear about the system, and we knew that the vandal that destroys your home is not the right person to decide who will rebuild it.
We stuck to our demand, and time is proving us grimly correct. We were correct to demand that this criminal class cease and desist. Now the elections that put a mask of legitimacy on this system are past, and we have to reiterate that demand: Bring the Troops Home NOW!
Now we all know that demands are the glue that holds movements together, whether or not the powerful meet them. One of our pedagogical tasks in the next period, I think, is to educate the public about the difference between a demand and an assertive request. …
Our job is not to be conciliatory. We are not diplomats. Our job is not to comfort the comfortable by reinforcing their denial. Our job is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. Because we were there. We know what these people have sent our children to do, and what they have sent our children to become.
And I'm not whining about that. I'm not going to cry about what was done to me, because the upside to it is that I'm grateful to the dominant class for my military career. I'm grateful for my education. I'm grateful to be a soldier. I'm just not their soldier any more.
On my 19th birthday, I left McCord Air Force Base to
begin my international studies program in northern
These quotes give you the flavor, but I strongly recommend the full text
of Stan Goff’s speech. He lives in
“The wheels are falling off this war wagon.”
P.S. For anyone interested, here’s another snippet going beyond my “final” one—this from www.mfso.org
Military Families Speak Out and Iraq Veterans Against the War are calling for a demo at
on March 19. Fort Bragg
Mark your calendars for MARCH 19, 2005.
On March 20 last year, we staged the biggest demonstration
, has seen in 35 years. Fayetteville, NC Fayettevilleis next to Ft. Bragg, NC, ground zero for the 82nd Airborne Division (which is preparing for their third trip to ) and most of the U.S. Special Operations community. Many people feared trouble there, but the demonstration against the war was not only well received, many service members participated along with their families. And the police, many of whom privately expressed agreement with us (most are veterans in Iraq Fayetteville), kept the thin line of hecklers back and allowed us full use of beautiful . Rowan Park
On MARCH 19, 2005, in
this year, we will mark the anniversary of the 2003 invasion AGAIN with a far bigger demonstration than the last. If you are tired of pilgrimages to DC and NYC for mass mobilizations, and if you want to send a message from the belly of the beast, this year you need to visit FAYETTEVILLE . Before and after the action, you can hike through North Carolina Raven Rock State Park(30 minutes), drive to the beach (2 hours), or explore ’s Quaker House (a historic center for GI Resistance). But come to NC, come to Fayetteville Rowan Parkin , and help us continue to undermine the legitimacy of this gangster-government. We want this to be not only national but international (international press was there last year), and we need every warm body available to come. Fayetteville
The wheels are falling off this war wagon, and we need you in
this March to give them another hard kick. Fayetteville