Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Soldiers critical of the Iraq War

Joe Garofoli wrote about antiwar soldiers in The Few. The Proud. The Disillusioned. San Francisco Chronicle 04/07/07. He writes:

Last week, retired Marine Corps Lt. Col. Andrew Horne, who served in the Persian Gulf two years ago, rebutted President Bush's weekly radio address.

Said Horne: "The commander-in-chief has failed to properly lead the troops, and previous Congresses didn't ask the tough questions or demand accountability. The result is the mess we are in today."

These inside-the-fortress expressions of opposition are almost always prefaced with words of respect for the military, of their comrades' patriotic service to their country.
He continues, with an (unfortunately) unusual recognition of the nature of the anti-Vietnam War movement and its real relationship to soldiers and veterans:

This rhetorical approach is far different from the widespread protests and defiant sloganeering of the '60s and '70s. By the Vietnam War's end, more than 100 underground newspapers were published by anti-war soldiers, and thousands of soldiers had participated in peace demonstrations. Peaceniks established a network of off-base coffeehouses in military towns, giving GIs and peace activists a place to interact casually and foment more opposition to the war.

While opinion polls today show that a majority of Americans oppose the war, "95 percent of Americans haven't been touched by the war. It's not that they don't care," said Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Jeff Slocum, who wrote the Stars and Stripes opinion column supporting the online petition against the war.
Slocum's article is here, with a somewhat misleading title: Text of AppealForRedress.org’s Appeal for Redress by Chief Master Sgt. Jeff Slocum
Stars and Stripes (Mideast edition) 03/18/07. He writes:

While watching the CBS “60 Minutes” profile of the Appeal for Redress, I saw many younger enlisted people, and only a few officers, bearing the burden of democracy. Should I also risk my personal and professional reputation? Is this advocacy for the welfare of our military members, their families and, ultimately, the citizens of our great nation that important? What about the threat to our own democratic government, economy, social order and national reputation caused by the costly, dismal, ambiguous, no-end-in-sight and increasingly deteriorating situation in Iraq?

I was ultimately inspired to action after a search-and-discovery mission to find the truth concerning the war in Iraq. We’re fast exhausting our military people and resources. Equipment shortages are causing increased risk to personnel and operations, while, at the same time, the capability to provide all troops with quality and timely medical care is severely degraded. Our men and women serving and recovering in this war are suffering greatly in terms of physical, mental and emotional trauma, and they deserve our utmost support to help end the madness so many have endured.
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