WAR IS Money: We’re Not There To Create Peace, We’re There Creating War
by : Eric Ruder
Thursday May 26, 2005 - 17:07
FOR U.S. troops in Iraq who oppose the war for oil and empire they were sent to fight, speaking out can be dangerous. But three soldiers—whose pen names are hEkLe, Heretic and Joe Public—found that their consciences made it more difficult not to speak out.
Each spent about a year in Iraq. Throughout their tours, they earned a reputation for reporting the truth—on their Web log at ftssoldier.blogspot.com—about what was taking place in occupied Iraq. Their dispatches have also been featured in Thomas Bartons GI Special, a daily Internet newsletter for soldiers and military families, available on the Web at www.militaryproject.org.
In mid-April, Heretic spoke to Socialist Workers ERIC RUDER about his experiences, observations and opinions of the U.S. occupation. Here, we print excerpts of the conversation.
IS THE best course for the U.S. to withdraw immediately?
THE SITUATION in Iraq is getting worse every day. The longer I was there, I saw more and more abuse of the Iraqi people by U.S. soldiers. I dont think the problem is going to go away with force of arms.
Its obvious that the longer we stay there, we build more and more enemies throughout not only Iraq, but the entire world.
If were talking about securing the nation and whats best for Americans, its obvious that the right thing to do is pull out. If we can get the United Nations or other more diplomatic solutions to the problem, thats better, but immediate withdrawal is the first step in resolving this whole problem.
If you talk to Iraqis, the difference between the American occupation and Saddam Hussein is that Iraq is a less-safe environment with the Americans there. We get attacked constantly, and the victims of those attacks are usually Iraqis, not Americans—through collateral damage.
Saddam Hussein had a dictatorship, but now, Iraqis are getting pulled over on the road and hijacked, and there are more gangs, more rapes, more murder. Its not safe to walk the streets at night for Iraqis. Theyre either going to get shot by an American or held up by an insurgent.
All they want is for the Americans to leave so they can solve their own problems.
People in America and the rest of the world were lied to at least four times to bring on this war. Obviously, the weapons of mass destruction issue is a farce—there are no weapons of mass destruction.
In fact, in my opinion, the only reason we went is because we knew for certain they didnt have weapons of mass destruction.
IN OTHER words, the U.S. invaded because it figured Iraq couldnt retaliate with chemical, biological or nuclear weapons.
WAR IS money.
If we went in and Iraq retaliated with nuclear arms, I think that would reflect very badly on the Bush administration, which is a lot more intelligent than the average American thinks. If the reasons we went in are exposed as false, then obviously, theyre not the true reasons that the administration had for going in.
I think in many ways that the U.S. has succeeded with the Iraq mission. Its just that the American people dont understand or believe what the true goals of the Bush administration were.
After the 1991 Gulf War, Iraqs army was run down, there was horrible training, equipment was depleted. Basically, the military was crumbing. And chemical and biological weapon toxins have a certain shelf life. So any chemicals that Iraq had before the war would have been mostly useless by the time the weapons inspectors arrived a few years ago.
The idea that there was an immediate threat of a nuclear attack is ridiculous. We had a no-fly zone over Iraq, so to launch a ballistic missile, they would have had to set it up and prepare to launch it, without us attacking them and shooting it down. Thats ridiculous, considering we had been launching bombing missions since the 1991 war up to the second occupation of Iraq.
So its my belief that we attacked Iraq knowing that they didnt have capabilities to release a nuclear weapon, or even a biological or chemical weapon against our troops.
Another lie we were told was that the war was waged to destroy Saddam Hussein and the Baathist regime. If that was our only goal, its obvious we completed it, and we still havent pulled out.
Another lie was the supposed al-Qaeda and 9/11 links to the Baathist regime. The 9/11 commission—made up of five Republicans and five Democrats—concluded that the evidence of this link was false.
The fourth lie is Iraqi freedom.
In my opinion, we may have set up a constitution and had the first elections in Iraq, but I dont think were going anywhere anytime soon.
Weve increased our building and construction on bases—the infrastructure for soldiers to get there and operate in Iraq is increasing every day. Were spending billions of dollars to grow our bases and our military strength in Iraq, and theres no sign that were going to pull out just because we freed Iraq
Those are the four lies that soldiers and the public have been given to enter Iraq for unjust reasons.
Gaining control of that nation, its oil and its people—even to create a capitalism there with consumers in a whole new nation for products of the West—is definitely a major goal.
HOW DOES the military shape the attitudes of soldiers toward Iraqis?
IRAQ IS a really easy victim for the U.S. to inflict war on. Most people are afraid of what they dont understand, and they attack what theyre afraid of. Arabic people—their culture, their language, their history, their way of life—are alien to the average person in the U.S. When a soldier gets thrown into that environment, theres a lot of confusion there.
You go there with all these lies built up that youre going to help these people, and theyre turning around and shooting at you. It doesnt take long before the average American soldier is going to have prejudice against the Iraqi people.
Soldiers dont understand why theyre there, theyve got a bunch of people shooting at them, and theyre frustrated that theyre in the situation at all. And they dont have the power to blame the right people—the people who are in charge—because soldiers can be brought up on disciplinary charges, kicked out of the military and sent to prison.
The only people left to hate are the Iraqi people, because soldiers are allowed to abuse them and shoot at them.
Every day, we see a man get pulled out of his car at a checkpoint, strip searched, thrown to the ground and abused by American soldiers. American soldiers are afraid of this man and afraid of car bombs, but meanwhile, this man is getting humiliated while his wife and children are watching from the car. That humiliation is occurring every day to the Iraqi people.
Its hard to say that its the soldiers fault because were all victims of this war and thrown into this situation. Not a lot of people have an understanding of the big picture—to realize why the situation is affecting them the way that it is. So the average soldier takes out all that anger and aggression on the Iraqi people, especially after being there for a year, sometimes a year and a half—thats far too long.
HOW HAVE you come to understand the Iraqi resistance?
I THINK that to lump all the resistance in Iraq together is ignorance. The complexity of the resistance goes far beyond one definition. There are many resistance fighters, and they all have their own goals. There are certainly warlords out there who are only out for a dollar, and to gain control or power.
But the average farmer in Iraq whos resisting is grossly tired of the U.S. occupation. There are many different facets to the resistance—just as many different facets as there are in America. If you ask an average citizen why they support the war in Iraq, youll get a different reason from 100 people down the line. Its the same in Iraq for people who resist.
To have compassion and understanding for all of them—thats an alternate form of humanity. It cant be seen as betrayal to the country to understand someone whos in a difficult place. Just because there are two sides in a war, it doesnt necessarily make one correct. I think thats where Americans get derailed.
There are men over there who are cutting peoples heads off—thats obviously wrong, and nobodys going to support that.
But what were doing over there is wrong in a lot of ways as well. So if someone feels sympathetic to the Iraqi people and some of the resisters, that doesnt mean that they condone cutting peoples heads off.
I think there are two negatives in the whole soup. In the long run, were the ones that made the pre-emptive strike, and were the ones inside Iraq, so the logical solution and the cure to this problem is to leave Iraq.
Then there wont be any IEDs killing American soldiers, there wont be any RPG attacks. There wouldnt be people cutting off peoples heads if we werent in Iraq.
DO YOU think that the U.S. has an obligation to keep soldiers in Iraq in order to fix the problems that it created?
IN MY time in Iraq, Ive seen more schools close than open.
Ive seen more roads explode in front of me than Ive seen fixed.
Ive seen the infrastructure deteriorate every day that were there.
Were not solving the problem by having soldiers there on the ground.
The way to solve the problem is instead of spending billions and billions of dollars on a military campaign on Iraq, maybe we should spend it in more diplomatic and helpful areas.
Staying there and trying to keep the peace is an oxymoron.
Were not there to create peace.
Were there creating war.
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