Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

Thursday, June 02, 2016

No Regrets?

I was standing in line at our local Credit Union today and noticed a man standing at one of the teller windows.  The backside of his T-shirt had a map of Iraq and above the map read "Proud to have served in Iraq" and the bottom read "No regrets".  My heart sank.

I wondered what was in this man's mind.  Did he not care about the massive evidence that reveals George W. Bush and Tony Blair lied their way into that war?  Did he not care that the Democrats in Congress largely went right along for the ride?  (They knew the military production corporations located in their congressional districts were salivating over the thought of the profits they would make from 'shock and awe'.)  Was the man wearing the shirt not at all touched by the devastation of Iraq, the environment, and the Iraqi people themselves?  Was he not angry seeing his own fellow soldiers killed and seriously wounded - all for a frigging lie? 

Today the conditions in Iraq are worse than ever.  The U.S. did succeed in one sense and that was to create endless war and chaos in the region.  The massive cost to U.S. taxpayers (including the man with the T-shirt) is now well over $4 trillion and counting.  That money is coming out of his pocket and the potholes in our Maine roads, that he likely complains about, are just one small result.  In addition are the local and state tax increases that he probably also complains about since Washington dumped most social and infrastructure programs on the locals to pay for or shut down.  Washington has wars to wage and thus they send 54% of every discretionary federal tax dollar to the Pentagon.

No regrets?  Iraq is a disaster - refugees are pouring out of there - and Afghanistan, Syria, Libya too - but still no regrets?  Our own country is falling apart - and no regrets? 

Eugene Debs (five time candidate for President of the US representing the Socialist Party) said:  "Let the capitalists do their own fighting and furnish their own corpses and there will never be another war on the face of the earth."

My regret is the man in the T-shirt does not seem to know what solidarity means.  He does not understand that a working stiff was sent to kill other working and poor people so they could be robbed of their oil by the big banksters.  My regret is the man in the T-shirt has swallowed the bait about the US being an 'exceptional' nation.  In his desire to find meaning in his own life, this man has ignored the humanity of millions of his own brothers and sisters in Iraq who have suffered needlessly and immorally. 

It was a crime to attack Iraq and is even a greater crime not to know it.


Anonymous Brother Jonah said...

The man is wounded in the worst way... in the soul. He's seeking a cure for the evil he has seen and been a part thereof. And he's chosen the one remedy that's forever held a guaranteed 100% failure rate. He grew up in a society that says to us, all along our collective lifeline, that we have a duty of service. With the definition of service being anything but definite. We are ordered to do exactly as ordered, but told always to think for ourselves and bear our own guilt. To accept the consequences of choosing to have somebody else chooses for us. And the desire, deep within, to always do The Right Thing... and seeing the Wrong Thing done more often.

Given the reality of war and the social props which enable and honor war, and seeing both all the time.. Denial is the one step of protecting your own mind that happens first.

He feels the guilt and his pretense of pride in that guilt is as transparent as he believes it to be opaque. I see it at the VA hospital and the soup kitchens, at the VFW and American Legion halls... Men who say they're not affected at what was done to them and by them... and consistently drink, daily and way too much at a time. Milk of Amnesia it's called. But that doesn't work either.

I stayed in until my discharge, and it's mostly, I think, pure chance or maybe the grace of God that I didn't kill anybody. We see and hear the aftermath of these things... and the gentleman in question, well, he has it as a clear memory that will never go away.
People come up to me and say "thank you for your service" but I for the life of me and your life too, can't think of a single way my presence in the Air Force was a service to anybody. And that "spank a vet" routine is designed by the pushers and movers of War. Designed to make future generations believe they have a Duty to kill for the riches of a very tiny minority. Only they call it liberating the oppressed. Priming them to be the next generation of people proclaiming their fictional lack of regret.

He's deep in grief, and there's no way for me to lift his burden and no way to say if he'll ever overcome it. Some go into penitent service to atone for their share of war guilt. Some simply go mad. and it's always a surprise which vet goes which way.

6/4/16, 10:01 PM  
Blogger Bruce K. Gagnon said...

Very well said brother......

6/5/16, 8:40 AM  

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