A View Of The Gulf War
(excerpts from a personal letter)
THE AMERIKAN GULAG is now the largest in the world. The motherfucker of all prison systems. The United States imprisons more of its citizens than any country on earth, and more Black people than are taken down by apartheid. When the U.S. isn't busy supporting apartheid, it's busy practicing it. A type of re-enslavement. The price of freedom, says our government, includes over one million children, women and men imprisoned behind the bars of the amerikan flag. A cost of living increase which includes the unemployed, homeless, hungry, and sick. We have entered the killing zone that constitutes crimes against humanity, which is to say, a particularly heinous offense committed during war. The government says, and we damn well know, that war wages within the borders of Amerika. The poor of Amerika are more endangered of life and limb than the Amerikan soldier parked in the Persian Gulf. Death bears out this fact.
PRISONERS OF CLASS and conflict; prisoners of oppressed nations and nationalities; political prisoners and prisoners of war against colonialism. The Prisoners Rights Union (California) recently completed a study which concluded that extreme forms of "discipline", ranging from beatings and assaults of prisoners to sensory deprivation for prolonged periods are the norm in maximum security prisons across the U.S. The norm in Amerika is to subject prisoners to neglect, abuse, and the longest sentences in the world (Amerika has a penchant for records). Flagship Marion is symptomatic in that it has been continually locked down since 1983 and cited by Amnesty International for violating every one of the United Nations Standard Minimal Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.
THINK ABOUT IT -- over one million prisoners waiting to return to the army of under and unemployed. That's equivalent to the total number of soldiers on both sides of the Gulf War. The prisoners are coming home to pay their respects after years of being abused, assaulted, humiliated, sensory deprived, and worked for criminal wages. Out of a revolving door through which another million will eventually pass; tormented with symptoms of PTSD, ready to implode or explode upon impact with the Amerikan landscape. It should be some homecoming.
IF RECIDIVIST STATISTICS mean anything, we know that the large majority will commit further crimes -- to survive, to signify, to strike back. We will have the lumpen and bottomed-out working class at their worst unless we can wake up the consciousness, triumph human dignity, and develop a base from which we can organize and seriously kick in survival programs on multiple levels. Survival implies at least an apprenticeship with the martial arts.
THE LEFT AND I. The movements and us. The left had a brief fling with prisoners in this country but it has long since passed. Ironic, given the numbers and composition of the prison population. The extended families. It took the Attica uprising and George Jackson to force their attention span beyond what it was accustomed to. Today there is little meaningful recognition of political prisoners. The perception seems to be that there is no political capital to be had in defending those who have been captured. Not enough of us to bother with you say? A soccer stadium filled to bursting is more in line with your world view? By then you'll be looking at your broken finger bones wondering who'll remember you? Workers? Don't start me to talkin', I'll tell everything I know. An academic issue with too many groups whose leadership and perspective is middle class. The poor? "The People" if you like them; lumpen if you have reservations. My kind of people. But it's a hard row to hoe when you don't have a pot to piss in. But we do get lots of ink in the literature. Soldiers? Ah yes - the proletariat armed. Serious weaponry. Lots of recent emphasis on organizing GI's - a necessary component of anti-war and anti-imperialist organizing. But where was the effort before the deployment to the Gulf? It's been playing catch-up with a blitzkrieg. There have been some laudable efforts but much of it came from a defensive posture or opportunistic design, with some anti-war formations wrapped in their own version of yellow ribbons.
THERE WAS an organizational rep who asked my opinion on the Gulf War, from the perspective of a Viet Nam veteran, though not from the perspective of a soldier still at war. Understandable request, but a real piece of irony none the less. I spent twelve months in the Viet Nam combat zone. I spent 120 months fighting from clandestinity right here in the heart of the beast. Yet my Viet Nam service draws more interest, as it often did in past media interviews. Why is that? The government indicted me for sedition covering the years 1974-1984 stating "...it was further part of the conspiracy that the defendants did state in a communiqu that as a matter of revolutionary principal and strategy, 'we must expose and attack military contractors like Honeywell [among other misdeeds, a producer and peddler of cluster bombs] ... we must continue to attack U.S. imperialism, its military, and its war producers.' That defendants requested, encouraged, incited, and asked other persons, known and unknown to them, to commit acts of sabotage and armed actions."
ASK ME about war profiteers and white collar mercenaries out there pimping for the government, and why I advocate sweeping away all pests!!
I CONFESS THAT my first act of sabotage was in 1964, at the volatile age of seventeen. This was several years before I became politically conscious and active. I learned how to sabotage machinery from French-Canadians in the mill where we worked. The owners were burning us out with speed-ups and other hazards so we threw the proverbial shoe, le sabot, into the machines. Temporary relief in a non-union shop.
WHY, THEN, when people think of me soldiering do they think of me as a young dude in 'Nam, 1966-67, rather than a seasoned veteran from a ten year hitch underground (where in some respects I saw more action than in Viet Nam). Do they see in my reflection the blood in my eye, the unabashed militancy, the faded pay stubs, tarnished dreams, physical deprivation, the prison within the prison within the prison? (During the sedition trial, I showed folks photos of me from the 'Nam - steel pot, flak jacket, M-14, machine gun on standby. That isn't you, they'd respond. Can't be. Is it?). I'm asked what it was like to fight for the government, rather than my more significant and meaningful fight against the government. Certainly, every soldier bears witness. In Viet Nam I got a birds-eye view of bomb craters from the shotgun seat next to the door gunner. I saw a couple of gunships go down, killing 14-15 men, but I didn't see broken bodies. I saw a few dead and wounded when our convoy hit a mine. I was pulled deep into the eyes of the Vietnamese people.
BUT TODAY, you want to see aerial bombardment, you turn on the sharp color images of the television. Then listen carefully, very carefully, to the survivors. What I can do is give you basic instruction on how to attack war criminals and their collaborators.
THERE'S BEEN There's been much timely analysis of the Gulf War and folks can contemplate it. This war used up more analysis than small arms ammunition. On the plus side there is Noam Chomsky who knows how to engage the enemy with his pen. Intellectual dynamite. The man's writing smokes. The point is, its been said, underlined, underscored, wrung out, and said again. So, asks Philip Berrigan, (I like this dude, bro) why the surprise and shock when a declining empire sinks its teeth into the Third World; when it bleeds humanity to salvage its own existence? We have a thousand books, social upheavals, wars, and revolutions that map out the imperial strategy. Not to mention what's been happening in our own suffering and dying communities. The Gulf War was preceded by the U.S. invasion of Panama. The continuing carnage in El Salvador didn't stop because of transgressions in the Gulf The priorities of imperialism still weave its web in Southern Africa.
BERRIGAN GOES ON TO ASK -- Who is responsible for this war? His answer -- All of us. I tend to agree. Let's not begin by looking at the higher echelons of the military-industrial complex. Everyone who is criticizing begins with the obvious. Or Iraq's occupation of Kuwait. Again, highly culpable. Lets begin with the troops since ft support the troops" without supporting the war is one of the biggest scams to come out of this conflict. As bogus as the yellow rain over Laos that the State Department tried to pass off as Soviet chemicals when in fact it was the feces of bees. The "support the troops" scam began to develop a life of its own in the wake of a policy vote by those spineless spectacles in the U.S. congress.
JUST TO BE CLEAR: I am sympathetic with GI's, as I am with vets, prisoners, workers, and all us poor folk who bear a considerable burden. After all, I share the experience. Working with these people has been the focus of my political activism. Having served in the U.S. Army (honorably discharged, thank you) and Viet Nam, I'm well aware of how economic conditions and enticing drumbeats can lead one to put on a uniform. I fully support efforts to organize GIs and to implement efforts such as your own community sanctuary. [Refers to a broad based effort to make Madison, WI a sanctuary for GI resisters to the Gulf War.] I thought it took a good deal of courage for Jeff Patterson to refuse to cross the line on the tarmac in Hawaii and then go on after jail and discharge to organize against the war. Note, however, the usual agenda is to ignore GIs outside of a major military conflict.
After all, I share the experience...
WHEN I LOOK at the Gulf War I see a complete waste of human life, civilian and soldier. Once again it's the working class being used to kill their own. Again, Third World people are treated as expendable. During the First World War, Big Bill Haywood said there was not a piece of capitalist property that was worth a laborer's life to defend. A far cry from being "all you can be" in Army green. My sympathy with the soldier wanes when he picks up a rifle or other implement of destruction and proceeds to kill, maim, and destroy for god and country.
UNQUALIFIED SUPPORT for soldiers is a bandwagon you won't see me on. They got me once but not again. In a recent Guardian piece, Earl Ofari Hutchinson makes an interesting observation: "Black troops in the Gulf should not be blamed for being there. They are victims, too. They are involuntary volunteers, poverty draftees who now have little choice but to follow orders." In other articles I've seen more or less the same analysis applied to poor, working class, Latino, and women soldiers. Obviously, Hutchinson, et al were not at the My Lai Massacre. A massacre that can be said to be the legacy of the enslavement of Africans and decimation of Native Americans. The Amerikan predator. Calley and the others of the Americal Division (the cover-up went quite high) said they were just following orders. The sort of trench warfare where you shoot
Shoot civilians and let them drop in a ditch.....
civilians and let them drop in a ditch. They, too, said they had little choice but to follow orders. There's ALWAYS a choice other than following orders. The Nuremberg principals prohibit a defense based on "following orders" when charged with criminal acts committed during war. In fascist El Salvador, Guatemala, Chile, South Africa, Indonesia, Israel and elsewhere, soldiers of death purport to be following orders. And from where are these soldiers recruited? Dig it -- in the mother of all bombings, the pilots and bombardiers were just carrying out orders - in this instance, the nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
CONSIDER THIS: the average age of the GIs in the Gulf was 26. In Viet Nam it was 20. Almost all have high school diplomas. They are volunteers, well trained, and part of the highest paid military in the world. If they step out to fight for god, guts, glory, and the improved GI bill, then they are responsible for their actions. They certainly will bask in the limelight as long as they have it which, if history continues to repeat itself, they may not have for long. Whatever part of the war machine you're oiling and operating, you bear some responsibility. Recognition of this is a prerequisite towards disruption and disengagement/resistance, from within and outside the military apparatus.
I REMEMBER the Pentagon demonstrations from years back and the flowers placed in the muzzles of soldiers' rifles. That's cool, there's room for varied approaches to reach hearts and minds. I also remember the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and Black Panther Party posters during the Viet Nam War -Uncle Sam pointing -- "I want YOU, nigger", "Receive valuable training in the skills of killing off other oppressed people", "Die Nigger Die - You can't die fast enough in the ghettos." Those who say that soldiers can't help what they got themselves into have never had to look down the business end of an M16 or suffered the effects of bombardment and shelling. Remember the brothers' testimony at Viet Nam Veterans Against the War "Winter Soldier" investigation? That was about exposing abuses and stopping a war, not making excuses for participating in it.
IRONIC, IS IT NOT, that political prisoners in Amerika are abandoned by much of the left that hold us dearly responsible for political/military activities they don't approve of Yet now they support the divisions which drive the armada into the middle east ("support the troops, not the war!").
WHEN HAVE AMERICAN SOLDIERS protected the rights of workers or oppressed nations? On the contrary. From Detroit and Newark, to Managua (many times) and Grenada, as occupation forces and strikebreakers, soldiers have acted as thugs for Wall Street, to paraphrase marine Major General Smedley Butler. Offer them friendship and refuge, organize them if you can, encourage resistance, but in the final analysis you have to be prepared to bring some of them down.
THIS IS NOT AN ACCUSATION of war crimes against individual soldiers and armies. A search for war criminals begins with the higher ranking officers, wellplaced politicians, money makers, on down to the murderer hiding in uniform. However, with all the winning attributes being ascribed to the troops, I figure its also 'fess up time for GI Joe and Josephine.
I'VE EXPERIENCED the law of gravity enough to know that shit rolls down hill. When you pull on the thread, as you peel back layers of insulation and follow the paper trail, you will come across greater degrees of responsibility and culpability, until all covered with shit is the war criminal and collaborators.
WHEN BOMBS AND MISSILES rained down on Iraq, killing and wounding thousands of civilians, this hardware bore the fingerprints of military personnel. it also bore the prints of the workers and technicians of the highest paid work force in the world. When I say fingerprints are on the smoking gun, I mean literally and figuratively.
THE IMPERIALISTS then tell the Iraqis, after slaughtering their families, that they are to blame the president of their country for the deaths. How convenient. Bush must be eating too many Twinkies, like the murderer of Harvey Milk, to proffer such a sorry-assed defense of his criminal conduct. Problem is, people eat it up. Injustice is especially cruel when it wraps itself in the robes of patriotism.
IT TOOK THE AMERICANS and the Brits a month or so to drop more bombs and explosives than any equivalent time period in . The bombing of a civilian air raid shelter in Baghdad drew the most attention, and distortion. Children were incinerated along with their mothers and elders. They were hit by one or two GBU-27's, 2,000 lb. bombs manufactured by Texas Instruments (when they aren't making calculators). 'These bombs were adapted for use by the "stealth" F117. Prior to the bombing, Defense (sic) Secretary Dick Cheney and Joint Chiefs chairman General Colin Powell stopped by a Stealth squadron in Saudi to autograph a pair of 2,000 lb. bombs. In criminal law parlance this is a "signature" bomb which identifies the perpetrator. Aiding and abetting. This single act of callous disrespect for human life qualifies them for war crimes trials under Nuremberg.
IN REAL DEAL TERMS, massive air power always blows away any pretense to rules of war. Strategic bombing of cities, saturation bombing, cluster bombs, napalm, chemicals, -- Hiroshima, Dresden, Hanoi, Hamburg, Coventry, Rouen, Rotterdam, Tokyo, Haiphong, with greater and greater death tolls among civilians, along with many dead conscripts clutching their useless rifles.
There's more than- one way to kill a kid from a warplane,
THE BOMBARDMENT OF IRAQ has targeted the lifelines of cities and towns: neighborhoods, factories, schools, transportation, and communication systems, fuel, and water systems. As I write this, the bombing has ceased but children continue to suffer and die from the devastation, particularly the destruction of water supplies and sewage systems. There's more than one way to kill a kid from a warplane.
I FOUND IT INTERESTING when a USAF general played a video of the bombing of the Iraqi Ministry of "Defense" which he referred to as "my counterpart". The Pentagon, to be sure. This made me curious as to what the general's reaction would be if the Pentagon were bombed. Would he begin raging about a cowardly criminal terrorist act? Most certainly he would.
HERE I SIT IN A PRISON CELL, pulling down a life sentence of 45 years for bombing U.S. military facilities where not a person received so much as a scratch. Facilities of those who are knee deep in the blood of the people of Central America. Indeed, aggression must stop here! Look at the heavy prison sentences laid on the Resistance Conspiracy comrades for bombing that millionaires' club in the Capitol building -- a righteous response to the invasion of Grenada. Tim Blunk and Susan Rosenberg tortured with a 58 year sentence for the mere possession of explosives.
U.S. WARPLANES have been obliterating courthouses, post offices, and other government buildings including that of the Ba'ath Party. Lethal and symbolic bombings. Can you imagine the reaction to a bombing of a dominant party headquarters in Washington, D.C. any time these parties foment some act of territorial aggression! They'd have to operate out of bunkers if they took their international law seriously (but of course they never did until Kuwait).
FOR NO DISCERNIBLE REASON other than the sheer terror value of it, U.S. planes strafed Jordanian and Sudanese refugees fleeing the destruction of the cities. In the most gruesome attack 60 were killed on a couple of buses, including children who were burned to death. What is the punishment for burning children to death in an act of war? I recall a case back in Maine that made national headlines when a man put his infant son in a microwave and hit the switch. He was so despised in prison they had to place him in protective custody. But for Air Amerika, its business as usual and quite deliberate, as college-educated pilots press button after button, dropping bomb after bomb, for which they are decorated for service to their country.
RECALL in the early 70's when Viet Nam Veterans Against the War had to switch gears and focus on the massive air war and the "electronic battlefield". I remember having to work harder at holding people's attention on a war where the body bags weren't coming back at such a brisk rate. Frustration, trying to convince people their government was violating the sanctity of human life by systematically killing so many Vietnamese. The electronic gadgetry and distant air strikes provided a buffer from which they could relieve themselves of the bloody stain of amerika's war crimes. I have no more sympathy for bomber pilots than do their victims, which is to say, none.
WITH EACH WAR the U.S. has engaged in this century, the numbers of civilian casualties, compared to military, has increased. More and more civilians killed for each soldier that dies. In the U.S war against Indochina, civilians were 85% of the victims. This war may equal or surpass that. The number of Iraqi military deaths may never be known, most of them conscripts, blown to pieces by unchallenged aircraft.
IT IS A THOUSAND WORD PICTURE to watch technicians, ground crews, pilots and bombardiers fondle their explosives and write slogans of bravado on the bombs. Marx must be rolling over in his grave with this sort of working class disunity. With background research, we just might find the diversified holdings of a war contractor have been cranking out these vile yellow ribbons and plastic flags. They are like that, you know, cranking out light fixtures in one city and machine guns in the next. How many people pass through Burlington, Vermont or Biddeford, Maine realizing plants in both communities produce enormous amounts of machine guns? These are not "defense contractors," they are merchants of death peddling their product line, technology, and skills rather than some rudimentary combat training. I'm reminded of Jack London's description of The Scab, which can be adopted by the war profiteer: a two-legged animal with a cork-screw soul, a water-logged brain, a combination backbone of jelly and glue. Where others have hearts, he carries a tumor of rotten principles.
SOME OF THESE PROFITEERS need to end up before war crimes tribunals. As Hitler's finance minister said at the Nuremberg war crimes trials, "If you want to prosecute the industrialists who made possible the rearmament of Germany, then you will end up prosecuting your own industrialists." He was referring to U.S. corporations that supplied a generous flow of aid and loans to the fascists. Included was General Motors which had a direct pipeline to Germany's war machine. GM is today a major military contractor. Playing both sides of a conflict to make a financial killing is nothing new, though the Gulf War has served to more clearly illustrate the interlocking parts.
These are not "defense contractors," they are . merchants of death
DURING THE 1980's, the United Freedom Front and others began to target war profiteers. With good reason, as their communiqus indicate. After bombing the General Electric offices of the aerospace strategic planning and aircraft design division, the UFF action and communiqu focused on GE's production role on the A 37 "counterinsurgency" warplane and 7.62mm minigun. They were and are being used as you read this against the Salvadoran resistance and in the terror campaign against the civilian population. The UFF also attempted to prod the conscience of the industries' workers, to act to stop the bleeding of other workers and peasants. To do something for the benefit of humanity.
THE LEVEL OF COLLABORATION remains high, particularly during recessionary times and phases of patriotic fervor. The war profiteers pay good money because war and the constant preparation and prodding for it remains good business. Unfortunately, much of the privileged middle class like to tout the idea they are a kindly and just people; the mythology of the white proletariat. A hard nut to crack, yet something needs to be done if there is to be resistance on a wider front.
DURING THE COURSE OF THIS WAR I noticed the focus on Raytheon Corporation. Raytheon's infrastructure is prominent on the high-tech highway which circles Boston. During the sedition trial the government alleged beaucoup surveillance notes of Raytheon were seized from one of the houses. "Possession is nine tenths of the crime," in this case seditious conspiracy. Fortunately the jury felt 9/10 was not enough to topple the government. It's a cakewalk to get to many of these facilities, while others involve a much more concerted effort.
UNTIL THE PATRIOT MISSILE was launched most people were unaware that Raytheon is the nation's second largest supplier of military electronics. Not withstanding the focus on the defensive mode of the Patriot, their weaponry and technology is lethal and offensive in the extreme. Significantly, Raytheon is the largest non-governmental employer in Massachusetts. People plead to get jobs at Raytheon. A recent letter in Z Magazine from an anti-war employee stated that he had sought to organize the workers against the war. A little something on the path of least resistance, but even his modest efforts proved futile. When Bush showed up at the plant to address the troops, the workers responded with red, white and blue flags provided by Raytheon. The money's not just good, it's sweet.
IN UPSTATE NEW YORK the U.S. arsenal at Watervliet had been laying off until the violent advent of this thing called New World Order. Layoffs were canceled and production resumed on the 120 mm guns for the M-lAl tank. Local citizens say that as long as there's war they'll have work. They point out that the war has improved morale considerably which had been at a low ebb with layoffs. The entire community is awash in something resembling yellow baby shit. The $12.00 salary can't be beat in an area where manufacturing is dying out and the largest employer (N.Y. state) is laying off.
ACROSS COUNTRY in Minneapolis, workers at Alliant Techsystems (manufacturers of 25 mm shells for APC'S) went on strike. Community sentiment turned against t e strike when the war began in earnest. 'The strike was said to be against the interests of U.S. troops; i.e., U.S. policy, and the strikers settled without a concession being made by management. They returned to an average wage of $12.40.
I READ an interesting piece in Newsweek entitled, "Should We Kill Saddam?" "We" has been one of those terribly exploited words. The author of this article teaches the "law of war" to marine officers at Quantico. His conclusion is that Saddam is suitable for assassination or death by other violent methods because: 1) he's a member of the military within a chain of command, 2) wears a uniform with rank insignia, and 3) carries arms openly. I see the same rationale as being applicable to the Commander in Chief of U.S. Armed Forces, George Bush, as well as Quayle (the thinking person's National Guardsman), Cheney, Powell, and others. The CIA don't often wear camos but do build incredible killing machines. Bush is the lead man in every sense of the military term, within a military framework. As for uniform with insignia, the more recent Protocols to the Geneva Convention (adapting rules of war to anti-colonial and national liberation struggles) moot this point. Guerrillas seldom wear epaulets. Besides, a windbreaker with executive logo or a three-piece suit is as much uniform as you need these days to carry out acts of barbarism. As for carrying arms openly, well, openly or concealed, or whether you have a group of thugs carry them around you, it all comes down to the power and capacity to kill (the FMLN should hang on to that photo of VP Quayle wielding a shoulder fired missile launcher with Salvadoran soldiers looking on. Exhibit -- war crimes trial -- from which the dead of Central America will speak).
a three-piece suit is as much uniform as you need these days to carry out acts of barbarism.......
THE NEWSWEEK ARTICLE didn't propose a trial or tribunal for Saddam, just a quick kill. Turning the analogy around is the sort of political thinking that ends up as evidence at sedition trials.
I THINK MOST OF US realize that Iraq's invasion of Kuwait was wrong from jump street, as were any abuses committed under occupation. However, it's unfortunate that the general public's introduction to international law comes about through these events. It has become easy for the media to manipulate the forest into a tree.
THE PUBLIC is functionally illiterate when it comes to international law, its applicability, and the role of the United States in thwarting it. One need only examine the abysmal voting record of the U.S. in the United Nations to see that the U.S. has frustrated the implementation of international law at every turn (particularly in the Security Council where it has veto power). The U.S. has vetoed or voted against UN resolutions that condemn the invasion of Panama; Israeli invasion of Lebanon and the occupation of Palestine; the condemnation of the U.S. support of contras and other acts of aggression and economic warfare against Nicaragua (which was also declared unlawful by the World court); and a whole range of UN initiatives which sought to preserve and protect human rights, implement nuclear disarmament, put an end to apartheid and U.S. colonialism in Puerto Rico. And that's just a small sampling.
NOT ONLY does the U.S. block the implementation of international law, it is one of the most frequent violators of it. Now it demands immediate compliance under punishment of death.
THE U.S. ROLE IN THE GULF is one of unilateral military action with the most powerful force in the world. It was intended to present the ultimate obstacle to peaceful negotiation and resolution of the conflict. The UN resolutions became U.S. resolutions as politicians traveled the globe stuffing U.S. dollars and other bribes into the pockets of desperate governments. Thus, it somehow becomes legitimate to wage high intensity war over Kuwaiti self-determination while the Palestinians are stripped of their homeland and U.S. storm troopers run roughshod in Panama. That level of hypocrisy and deceit will bring the chickens home to roost.
THERE WILL BE NO post-war crimes tribunal. The rhetoric around war crimes (e.g. the video performance of U.S. POWS) is intended to appease an acquiescent public with a quick fix. Nuremberg involves acts which constitute crimes against humanity (such as apartheid, which the U.S. has supported in all its manifestations for decades); war crimes (such as the U.S. committed in Viet Nam, Panama, and by proxy in El Salvador); and crimes against peace (for which the World Court found the U.S. culpable in its attack against Nicaragua). The U.S. would never tolerate an internationally supervised war crimes trial that examined the conduct of the victor as well as the vanquished. An honest application of Nuremberg principles would lead to the indictment of political, corporate, and military leaders from the highest levels of the U.S. ruling class. There is no statute of limitations on war crimes and crimes against humanity.
NOTE BUSH'S INTEREST in Amnesty International's report on human rights abuses by Iraq. "Must reading" says George, clutching the report to his heart. Bush should keep on reading right through Amnesty's reports of horrendous human rights abuses in El Salvador, Guatemala, Chile, South Africa, Israel, Indonesia, Turkey, etc. etc. - all of whom are U.S. client states and allies in counter-insurgency. Turkey receives enormous U.S. aid while updating the book on torture and repression including persecution of the Kurds. While Bush clutched Amnesty's report on Iraq, the first aerial bombardment began. While the public's eye was diverted, full U.S. military aid was restored to the fascist regime in El Salvador - January 16th. On January 21st, government soldiers went into the Salvadoran village of El Zapote and carried out another bloodbath, shooting and hacking to death 15 innocents. El Salvador's nongovernmental Human Rights Commission cites the Salvadoran army for the assassination of over a thousand civilians in 1991 (another 185 deaths were ascribed to that special category - government death squads). On January 29th the United States provided the Salvadoran government with more war planes and helicopter gunships.
COINCIDENTALLY, I received an Amnesty International report on Police Torture in Chicago, Illinois dated December 1990. That's Chicago, United States of America.
YOU GOT TO FIGURE there's some evil doings going down when the favorite pinup of GIs is a cop. Yes, indeed, Ms. Jacqueline Phillips Guibord, a Provo, Utah police officer resplendent in Wrangler jeans, badge, and shotgun (no mere prop, it looks like a Remington Riot 12 gauge). The police - first line of defense in the sand of class conflict and war. The pigs (you wonder why we call you pigs?) - violent, abusive, and racist. Seen recently through video eyes in Los Angeles stomping another body. Any Mexican, Black and poor white folk from L.A. will tell you that police brutality has been a fact of life for them as long as they can remember.
THE NEW WORLD ORDER is little more than a violent announcement that the Old World Order will continue with added gusto. Expect the police to emphasize this point on the home front.
GENERAL H. NORMAN SCHWARZKOPF, commander of U.S. forces in the gulf says Amerika is the world's police officer. Dictator in trouble, oligarchy trembling, popular forces mobilizing, human rights finding its expression, oil in jeopardy -- call 911 Amerikka and Schwarzkopf will bring in the special weapons and tactics. His daddy responded likewise when he went to the aid of the Shah of Iran, pumping iron into the notorious Savak, secret police. Indeed, Schwarzkopf s daddy was at one time commander of the New Jersey State Police. NJSP, who cut down Zayd Shakur and Assata and which today holds our comrades in captivity. NJSP, those exhibitors of nazi fashion and paraphernalia, who continue to torment Third World people who make the mistake of getting into a car in New Jersey. Far afield you say? Perhaps I don't like the po-lease -but the element of fascism is in their behavior.
THE U.S. is the world's leading supplier of police and prison hardware. Supplied are some of the world's most repressive regimes. The police, prisons, death squads, paramilitary units, torturers, operating outside the law, or using it, shoving it up the ass of anyone who gets in the way. The Foreign Assistance Act of 1974 prohibits U.S. military and police aid or assistance to countries engaged in human rights violations. The law is virtually ignored while soldiers and police work that side of the street.
NAZI PROPAGANDIST Herman Goering once said, "Naturally the common people don't want war ... but after all it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy ... the people can always be brought to the bidding of their leaders ... all you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists (etc.) for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country." And so it does. It sucked me into the Viet Nam war 25 years ago. Saddam worked the crowds with it. Bush has proved to be a master of deceit stroking the 3-card Monte crowd that was waiting to be taken to the cleaners.
FOR THEIR PART, American citizens have not had direct contact with the human element of war, such as their counterparts in war-swept cities and countryside. They don't receive the full impact of the suffering and blood which war brings to bear on a people. They have not had their schools, hospitals, and factories bombed or children turned to ashes before their eyes (an exception -- the incineration of MOVE families in Philadelphia). To Americans, other workers and peasants are turned into the enemy, a subhuman mass molded into copy by Pentagon representatives and a compliant news media. What does it say for the national character of amerika which condones the carnage employed against the poor, wherever on this earth imperialism corners them? When the Ugly American becomes more upset over the price of gasoline and a pound of coffee than with the rising cost of injustice?
THERE IS NOT a single, valid reason for any poor and working class person to sacrifice their life for this New World Order. No moral authority, nor moral higher ground from which to claim a soldier dies for humanity and human rights to prosper. No justification for the death and maiming of so many civilians.
THE POLLS point to overwhelming support for Bush and his war. I don't doubt the results of these polls, it's obvious a short of mass psychosis is throbbing, but I've never been questioned by any of these pollsters, through all the wars and conflicts. Never known anyone who has. Must be we don't live in the right neighborhoods. The wake of war victory and other jingoistic proclivities will make it difficult to organize on the home front. We have yet to feel the full brunt of reaction. For some of us there may be hell to pay.
AND HOME COMES THE SOLDIER. Let me step further back to my own return from Viet Nam, December 24, 1967. What's all this gruff about Nam vets being spit on and abused by the people? (Need I comment on what I'd do with someone misguided enough to spit on me, past or present!). I know of no such incident myself and view this sort of thing as the exception. More common, especially in the earlier years, was for GI's and assorted macho types to vamp on long hairs and other anti-war individuals. I'm talking everything from petty harassment to serious vamping. Some folks were frightened or put off by GIs. There are still folks back in my hometown who explain away my political life by saying I got violent and alienated in Viet Nam. When VVAW became a significant part of the anti-war movement, the lines began to blur. Active duty GIs joined the resistance. Hell man, we rejuvenated the whole movement. If anyone was abusing us it was the pigs and our own government.
WHEN I GOT USED as a doormat after returning from Nam, it was by t.., power of the state. During a period of political activity and anti-war work, I got bashed in the teeth with their cannabis laws. The intolerance and lack of understanding were frightening. Then it started to further unfold, the blacklisting (man, I couldn't get a fucking job!); the vets in prison; the scourge of V.A. hospitals; Agent Orange; Black veterans without justice; homeless vets (to the point where today the government itself admits that a third of homeless men are veterans); PTSD and the spiraling problems with alcohol and drug abuse. And political repression, some of which targeted Vietnam Veterans Against the War.
AT UFW WATERING HOLES the most patriotic of all veterans looked with disdain at the young Vietnam vets. Which is as close as I came to getting spit on. My own father, a world war 11 veteran, has not spoken to me since 1969 because he felt it was traitorous of me to oppose the war and support the Black liberation struggle. As you say bro, contracts are written in blood. Who are Bush and the multinationals scheming with today that they'll want to throw young soldiers against tomorrow?
THIS WAS a relatively short war, about six weeks, but with an assemblage of immense killing power. The ground war, nothing short of a rout, lasted a matter of hours. Approximately 100 KiA's among U.S. forces. The marines lost more than double that in the 183 attack in Beirut, which should speak volumes about the advantages of unconventional tactics against a superior force. For the Gulf War effort all U.S. soldiers are to receive the National Defense Medal, as we did in Nam. Cheap thrill. Looking over the casualty figures, I don't see a single KiA among the 82nd Airborne, an entire division. Yet the world's civilian populations hang on the brink, knowing full well that the nuclear threat and chemical/biological bombs were being held by the masters of war.
IN THE MIDDLE EAST, a single spark can start a roaring fire. Bush wailed about a scorched earth policy, watching those petrodollars going up in smoke, but not an iota of support for Palestine which the zionists are trying to burn beyond recognition. Recall what Began said during the invasion of Lebanon -- he will kill ten Lebanese civilians and five Palestinians if this leads to the elimination of a simple fedayeen. Shabra, Shatila, Al Akoa, the Intifada, there will be no peace without justice. This was a war in which U.S. soldiers were safer and more comfortable than Iraqi civilians who bore the madness of daily bombing raids and had to struggle for food, water, and medicine. There were casualties in Kuwait, though unclear as to how many.
GIs HAD A BETTER rate of survival than had they been home working production lines and construction jobs. Bush has stated as much in his regurgitated "war on crime" legislation, though he chose to emphasize how unsafe the streets are for returning soldiers. I've seen an earlier House version of this legislation. Be prepared for a fascist implant with Thornberg riding a wave of repression. 'The commentators and pundits are saying the sort of shock therapy utilized in the Gulf is what's needed on the home front. Consider the following; according to figures of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (a government agency given to downgrading negative figures) 200,000 workers have been killed on the job since 1970, about 20,000 a year. That's 60 dead women, children and men a day. One and a half million permanently disabled. Since 1970, more than 2 million workers dead from the conditions where they labored. It's estimated that approximately 250,000 will die in the next 10 years from asbestos related illnesses, contracted on the job. The response of the asbestos industry has been to crawl behind the federal judiciary to avoid paying damages.
ACCORDING TO the World Summit for Children (United Nations) 40,000 children under age 5 die in developing countries every day; this horror repeats itself It is the colonial and imperial legacy, as is Kuwait.
AND WITH ALL THE CONCERN about chemical warfare I see the unforgivable crime of the Butcher of Bhopal (India) - the Union Carbide Corporation saturating Indian people with their poison causing over 2,000 deaths and untold suffering. The UFF claimed responsibility for rearranging Union Carbide laboratories during an after hours visit to their facilities.
AN ANTI-IMPERIALIST VIEW? I think so, although it's not always a simple matter to follow all the economic sleight of hand. One outstanding fact, gluttonous Amerika, with 6% of the world's population consumes more than 60% of the world's oil. Although Germany and Japan consume most of the Kuwaiti oil, imperial control lies in the force that Amerikan power brings to bear on the peoples and natural resources of other nations. You can follow the bloody trail for the bombing of Baghdad, to Palestine, Southeast Asia, Africa, and before you know it you're at wounded knee, Sand Creek, and Labor's Untold Story - Bloody Ludlow. The entire capitalist/imperialist enterprise is built on theft and violence.
THEY CAN TELEVISE and orchestrate their high tech weaponry, but I still feel the adage that the revolution will not be televised. Not as long as there exists a flicker of hope and a will to fight among the oppressed and the salient factor that a five dollar weapon can take out the most highly trained pilots and a homespun IED (incendiary explosive device) can render their killing machines useless.
IRAQ'S LOSSES were immense. Specific numbers have not been released but the human toll - killed in action - could be as high as 50,000 (obliterated by falling bombs and artillery which resembled some sort of bloodthirsty sport . any more wounded. A lot of conscripts died. Someone besides the triggerman bears responsibility for these soldiers. To place them in a static defense, then watch the supply lines cut and the relentless bombings was sheer arrogance and stupidity. Makes me think of Armstrong Custer, with as much disgust. By the time the Iraqis were in full retreat, Schwarzkopf could allow 2 or 3 of their infantry divisions to pass deeper into Iraq. He then made the observation these divisions were insignificant and they posed no threat of offensive capability. Two or three infantry divisions being considered insignificant! It's a telling commentary on conventional military challenges to the techno-beast. Which is why I go with the War of the Flea and take what can be had from the foco and other strategies and tactics of People's war. Formidable weapons when activated through the heart, initiative, and imagination of the guerrilla.
AS THE SMOKE CLEARS from the battlefield, the old wounds will remain. The U.S. will undoubtedly maintain a military presence beyond what it was before the war. The wretched of the earth are still dispossessed in the Middle East and elsewhere. The imperialists still dictate the terms of survival through the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. When that policy falters, they send in the CIA and military advisors - low intensity. If that stick doesn't work, then in come the army, air force, navy, and marines - high intensity.
ON THE DOMESTIC BATTLEFIELD there's no new order that doesn't utilize more repression, racism, and poverty. Bush is proposing to increase the prison budget by 63%. More prisons. Just as U.S. soldiers are not figured into the unemployment figures, neither are the nation's prisoners. Hell of a way to deal with joblessness and the housing shortage. At the present rate of growth more than half of all Americans would be in prison by the year 2053. Recalculating George Orwell. Advanced capitalism being what it is, the other half of the citizenry are likely to be working in corrections or other aspects of the "security" apparatus.
I WATCH these tendencies because I'm in prison and on line to be sent to the government's new master plan, control unit joint in Colorado. The contract to build phase one has been awarded to an "employee owned" firm. Worker against worker, again. When will we ever learn. This latest Development in 20th century penology will be a prison where "windows will be non-existent" and prisoners will "never leave their cells." Presumably so we can acclimate ourselves to a living death.
but we must continue to raise our voices against this madness
I TELL YOU, MY BROTHER, it's a heartache and a half. I make love with freedom every night, hold to the principles, sing bluesey songs in my head, and reach for the warmth of my children. I've not lost the vision of why I took up the fight 23 years ago. Life is hard and the pain can be excruciating, but we must continue to raise our voices against this madness that destroys the innocence of children. Bureaucratic socialism was a bust, but socialist ideas can be brought to life. We can build an alternative to imperial plunder and devastation on the streets of Amerika. I believe with all my heart that the human spirit will prevail and that our struggle is a necessary and worthy sacrifice.
Keep Hauling Up the Morning.
International Women's Day, 1991
Ray Luc Levasseur, 10376-016, PO Box 150160, USP Atlanta, Atlanta, GA 30315