(Published in The Montclarion, student newspaper of Montclair State College, January 31, 1991)
Everybody claims to be "supporting the soldiers." The real question is: ought our soldiers to be fighting at all? If the cause and the war are just, then "supporting the soldiers" means doing everything we can to make them victorious with as few casualties as possible.
If the cause, and the war, are wrong, however, "supporting the soldiers" surely means doing everything we can to force the government to bring them back home as soon as possible, without fighting. There are just wars, and causes worth fighting and dying for. This war is not one of them.
This is an imperialist war. Imperialism is the brutal process of conquering other people and their lands in order to exploit them for maximum profit. After World War II the U.S. replaced Britain and France in their empires as it had Spain in 1898. Vietnam was an imperialist war; for 70 years part of the French empire, the U.S. took it over in the '50s. By the 1960s, the U.S. had replaced England as the dominant power in the Mideast.
Now Iraqi rulers are trying their hand at imperialism, challenging U.S. imperialists for control of oil-rich Kuwait. The other local imperialist is Israel, which seized parts of Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon with full U.S. backing.
All the Mideast states are brutal, ruthless regimes that victimize their own populations. Not one is any better than Saddam Hussein. The U.S. trusted Saddam for so long because he tortured and murdered communists, trade union leaders, and anybody fighting for the rights of Iraqi workers.
But Hussein is a pipsqueak compared to the U.S. Our military tortured and murdered POWs and civilians in Vietnam on a scale that dwarfs Hussein's. The CIA has taught Nazi torture techniques to dictators the world over, from Brazil to Iran. U.S. bombing has probably already killed more Iraqi civilians than Kuwaiti citizens murdered by Saddam's cruel troops.
This war is no "fight against aggression." Sure, Hussein is an aggressor. But what about Vietnam? Grenada? Nicaragua? Panama? The U.S. is the biggest aggressor in the world. The U.S. is the mainstay of fascist regimes the world over: Thailand, Indonesia, South Korea, Guatemala, El Salvador, South Africa, Zaire, Kenya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and until August 2 -- Iraq.
I said "the U.S." does these things, not "we" or "us". We are taught from childhood to identify with the U.S. government. But when American working people find out what "our" government does around the world, they are horrified and disgusted. So the media and the schools try to make sure few of us ever do.
We, the working people of America, do not benefit from imperialism. We are terribly harmed by it! U.S. companies export jobs to take advantage of cheap labor abroad. U.S. corporations thrive on imperialism while we, the people, pay for it through taxes and with the lives of our children.
Of course we are indoctrinated to believe the U.S. is a force for good in the world. Every oppressive government pushes patriotic propaganda. Some people become so brainwashed they never dare question these lies. But most of us are capable of learning the truth, changing our minds, and acting in our own interests. And no one wants to sacrifice his life for a lie.
We all know there is a basic conflict of interest between those who rule countries like China, the Soviet Union, or South Africa, and the working people of those countries. But we do not recognize well enough that the same conflict of interests exists here. What benefits the U.S. ruling elite, hurts us.
We are taught to "love our country." But what this patriotism means in reality is: do what the bosses' government tells us, and shut up! Every exploitative ruling class wants a "loyal" population to do its killing, and to suffer exploitation at home without complaint.
We are taught that to acknowledge that the U.S. government is run by a wealthy elite in its own interest, and against the interest of the working class, is "out of bounds", even "communist." In other words, to speak the truth, to call a spade a spade, is illegitimate! No rulers want their subjects to think in these terms! for then they would not be loyal subjects any more.
Deep down, almost everyone knows the truth. The United States is not a democracy, but a dictatorship of big business. We all know "money talks." Our elected officials take orders from the rich and the big corporations that pay them. There can never be any real democracy as long as there are rich and poor, exploiters and exploited.
Hussein is very bad. But President Bush, and the big banks and corporations he represents, do us far more harm than Hussein can. The U.S. regime is our biggest enemy, just as Saddam Hussein's government is the main enemy of the Iraqi and, since August 2, of the Kuwaitis.
So the U.S. soldiers who fought in Vietnam did not "defend their country." Like countless millions before them, from Ancient Egypt, to Rome, to the modern Age of Imperialism, they fought for their rulers. The rich profited; the working people died. Now the U.S. rulers want our soldiers to waste their lives for the big oil companies. That is the terrible truth.
Who, then, is "supporting our soldiers?" Bush, who has sent them to fight a bloody, immoral land war? Those who, confused by propaganda or misled by "patriotism," want to "rally around the government?" Or opponents of the war, who want them brought back home immediately? Give me a break! Supporting our soldiers means opposing the government that wants them to die to protect the profits of the big oil companies!
Want to support our soldiers? HERE is what you can do:
As for us, we must organize until the protests become massive. This will inspire those soldiers who don't want to fight; they will know they have support back home. It will make those soldiers who still believe the U.S. government's lies think again, and help them question this unjust war.
Want evidence to back up the statements in this article? Leave a message with The Montclarion for me.
Want to work to end this immoral war? Contact S.T.A.N.D.! Come to meetings Wednesdays at 3 p.m.
Grover Furr, Assistant Professor
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