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A Message to Troops, Would-be Troops, and Other Youth

by Jeff Paterson Tuesday, Sep. 25, 2001 at 9:32 PM

Message to troops

(article 1)

A Message to Troops, Would-be Troops, and other Youth

By Jeff Paterson

Revolutionary Worker #1120, September 30, 2001

posted at rwor.org

The RW received the following message from Gulf war resister Jeff Paterson.

Know anyone in the military, or thinking about signing up soon? Pass this along to them. They may appreciate it, or not... but they deserve a heads up.

In August 1990 I was an active duty U.S. Marine Corps Corporal. I was ordered to the Middle East--the Gulf War was about to come. Four years prior--thinking I had nothing better to do with my life--I had walked into the Salinas, California recruiting station and told them to "put me where I was most needed."

"What am I going to do with my life?" has always been a huge question for youth, and today, in the wake of the horror and tragedy of September 11th , this question has increased importance for millions of young people.

No one who has seen the images will ever forget. In a scene as unreal as the Matrix, a conflict reached into American reality in an unthinkable way. Copy clerks to admin assistants, restaurant workers to firefighters--thousands of lives ripped away from friends and family. Now the television shouts, "revenge," "infinite justice," and "something must be done!" Wave a red, white and blue flag to ease the sorrow, to declare, "We're not going to take it."

And, I might be like the youth who are going down to the recruiters now, if I hadn't spent those four years in the Marine Corps. Most of the time my unit trained to fight a war against peasants who dared to struggle against "American interests" in their homelands--specifically Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala. I saw dire poverty in the Philippines; U.S. government-sanctioned prostitution rings to service the U.S. armed forces in South Korea; and unbridled racism towards the peoples of Okinawa and Japan--where the standard response to a child waving a "peace sign" at us with his fingers was "yeaa, ha ha, two bombs little gook." I began to understand why billions of people around the world really do hate the United States--specifically its war machine, covert "contra" wars, and the whole system of economic globalization that replaces hope with 12-hour days locked in sweatshops producing "Designed in the USA" exports.

*****

Faced with this reality, I began the process of becoming un-American--meaning that the interests of the people of the world began to weigh heavier than my self-interest.

When the U.S. launched the Gulf War, I realized that the world did not need or want another U.S. troop. Although they did not look much like me, I found I had more in common with the common peoples of the Middle East than I did with those who were ordering me to kill them. My Battalion Commander's reassurance that "if anything goes wrong we'll nuke the rag heads until they all glow" was not reassuring. Up against that, I publicly stated I would not be a pawn in America's power plays for profits, oil, and domination of the Middle East. I pledged to resist, and I pledged that if I were dragged out into the Saudi desert, I would refuse to fight. A few weeks later, I sat down on the airstrip as hundreds of Marines--many of whom I had lived with for years--filed past me and boarded the plane. I fought the Gulf War from a military brig, and after worldwide anti-war protesters helped spring me, we fought the war in the streets.

But back then we failed to stop the war. Since 1990 over 1.5 million Iraqi people have died--not mainly from the massive U.S. bombing which continues from the sky, but from a decade of economic sanctions. All the while the U.S. government has coldly declared that these Iraqi deaths are "worth it" in order to achieve strategic regional objectives. So today, as the U.S. government demands the world mourn with us for our loss, we in turn are expected to ignore the suffering that this nation produces.

Every time the U.S. war machine is kicked into high gear, acknowledgements are made about past "mistakes": Gulf War sickness, Agent Orange and napalm in Viet Nam, massacres of refugees in Korea, U.S. troops used as nuclear exposure guinea pigs after World War II, concentration camps for Japanese-Americans during World War II. And always: "Trust us, this time it will be different." But it never is.

One need not be a pacifist, a communist, a Quaker, or a humanist to oppose this war. However, it certainly helps to be an internationalist--realizing that our collective future is bound up with the majority of humanity, and not with those who are taking this horrific opportunity to threaten war. For those woman and men now in uniform, you have a choice to make. Silence is what your "superiors" expect of you, but the interests of humanity require more. Think. Speak out. And if you make the choice to resist, there are hundreds of thousands who will support you--many of whom have already taken to the streets to oppose this war.

*****

Like his father before him, Bush Jr. has drawn a line in the sand: "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists." Simply put, the rulers of the U.S. see much unfinished business for their "New World Order." While we grieve, they announce that "the normal rules no longer apply" (translation: now is the time to settle our scores), and we have "a blank check to act, the nation is united" (translation: dissent will be ignored, or suppressed as required). Now more than ever, the people of the world are not safe from the U.S., and the people in the U.S. are not safe from the U.S.

I will not wave the red, white and blue flag--instead I'll wear a green ribbon in solidarity with immigrants and Arab Americans facing increasing racist attacks. Stop the War. Support the troops who refuse to fight.

Let's dedicate our lives to changing this situation.

Jeff Paterson

September 22, 2001

On August 30, 1990, 22-year-old Marine Corporal Jeff Paterson refused to board a military plane in Hawaii heading to Saudi Arabia. He was the first active-duty military resister in the U.S.-led attack on Iraq. The photo of Jeff Paterson sitting on the airstrip, defying orders to go fight in the Gulf War, appeared on TV and in newspapers around the world. Later Jeff edited the Anti-WARrior newsletter of military resistance to the Gulf War. Jeff currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area and is a member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War Anti-Imperialist (www.oz.net/~vvawai). He can be reached through VVAW-AI, or directly at "EMAILJP@post.com".



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------



This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online

rwor.org

Write: Box 3486, Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL 60654

Phone: 773-227-4066 Fax: 773-227-4497

(The RW Online does not currently communicate via email.)

www.rwor.org

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additionally, take a read of:

by concerned Thursday, Sep. 27, 2001 at 2:40 AM

John Stockwell. Stockwell is like you. He trusted in the ideals of this country and was misled, and had to resign from his career based on his increasing awareness of the actual record of our nation's sustained criminality, especially in foreign affairs.

John Stockwell, who received the Medal of Merit (the c.i.a's highest award, apparently) "did 13 years in the CIA altogether. I sat on a subcommittee of the NSC, so I was like a chief of staff, with the GS-18s (like 3-star generals)

Henry Kissinger, Bill Colby (the CIA director), the GS-18s and the CIA, making the important decisions and my job was to put it all together and make it happen and run it"...

Stockwell is a graduate of West Point. Basically he joined the military and then the c.i.a. believing in this country and its stated ideals. Over time, and first-hand knowledge, he quit and decided to go public with his understanding. Here are some quotes from the link below:



"People ask, how is this possible? I get this all the time.... Americans are decent people. They are nice people. And they're insulated in the worlds that they live in, and they don't understand and we don't read our history. History is the history of war. Of leaders of countries finding reasons and rationales to send the young men off to fight.

"In our country we talk about peace. But look at our own record. We have over 200 incidents in which we put our troops into other countries to force them to our will. Now we're being prepared to hate the Sandinistas. The leaders are doing exactly what they have done time and again

throughout history. In the past we were taught to hate and fight the Seminole Indians, after the leaders decided to annex Florida. To hate and fight the Cherokee Indians after they found gold

in Georgia. To hate and fight Mexico twice. We annexed Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, part of Colorado, and California.

"In each of these wars the leaders have worked to organize, to orchestrate public opinion. And then when they got people worked up, they had a trigger that would flash, that would make people angry enough that we could go in and do....

(...)

"I read as many books as I could find on the subject - book after book after book. I've got several hundred books on the shelf over my desk on the subject of U.S. national security interests. And by the way, I urge you to read. In television you get capsules of news that someone else puts together what they want you to hear about the news. In newspapers you get what the editors select to put in the newspaper. If you want to know about the world and understand, to educate yourself, you have to get out and dig, dig up books and articles for yourself. Read, and find out for yourselves. As you'll see, the issues are very, very important.

"There's a lesson in all of this. And the lesson is that it isn't only Gestapo maniacs, or KGB maniacs, that do inhuman things to other people, it's people that do inhuman things to other people. And we are responsible for doing these things, on a massive basis, to people of the world today.

And we do it in a way that gives us this plausible denial to our own consciences; we create a CIA, a secret police, we give them a vast budget, and we let them go and run these programs in our name, and we pretend like we don't know it's going on, although the information is there for us to

know; and we pretend like it's ok because we're fighting some vague communist threat. And we're just as responsible for these 1 to 3 million people we've slaughtered and for all the people we've tortured and made miserable, as the Gestapo was the people that they've slaughtered and killed. Genocide is genocide!"

take a read into more of this here (second part of a 2-part talk):

http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Stockwell/StockwellCIA87_2.html

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