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Active Duty Soldiers Call for Iraq Withdrawal

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.thenation.com/doc/20070101/cooperweb December 16, 2006 (web only) About Face: Soldiers Call for Iraq Withdrawal Marc Cooper For the first time since
    Message 1 of 2 , Dec 19, 2006
      http://www.thenation.com/doc/20070101/cooperweb

      December 16, 2006 (web only)
      About Face: Soldiers Call for Iraq Withdrawal

      Marc Cooper

      For the first time since Vietnam, an organized, robust
      movement of active-duty US military personnel has
      publicly surfaced to oppose a war in which they are
      serving. Those involved plan to petition Congress to
      withdraw American troops from Iraq. (Note: A complete
      version of this report will appear Thursday in the
      print and online editions of The Nation.)

      After appearing only seven weeks ago on the Internet,
      the Appeal for Redress, brainchild of 29-year-old Navy
      seaman Jonathan Hutto, has already been signed by
      nearly 1,000 US soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen,
      including dozens of officers--most of whom are on
      active duty. Not since 1969, when some 1,300
      active-duty military personnel signed an open letter
      in the New York Times opposing the war in Vietnam, has
      there been such a dramatic barometer of rising
      military dissent.

      Interviews with two dozen signers of the Appeal reveal
      a mix of motives for opposing the war: ideological,
      practical, strategic and moral. But all those
      interviewed agree that it is time to start withdrawing
      the troops. Coming from an all-volunteer military, the
      Appeal was called "unprecedented" by Eugene Fidell,
      president of the National Institute of Military
      Justice.

      The Nation spoke with rank-and-file personnel as well
      as high-ranking officers--some on the Iraqi front
      lines, others at domestic and offshore US military
      bases--who have signed the Appeal. All of their names
      will be made available to Congress when the Appeal is
      presented in mid-January. Signers have been assured
      they are sending a communication to Congress protected
      under the Military Whistleblower Protection Act. The
      Pentagon is powerless to take official reprisals and
      has said that as long as active-duty personnel are not
      in uniform or on duty, they are free to express their
      views to Congress.

      There are of course other, subtler risks involved. The
      military command exercises enormous power through
      individual reviews, promotions and assignments. But
      that hasn't kept a number of signers from going public
      with their dissent.

      Navy Lieut. Cmdr. Mark Dearden of San Diego, for
      example, enlisted in 1997 and is still pondering the
      possibility of a lifetime career. "So this was a very
      difficult decision for me to come to. I don't take
      this decision lightly," he says. But after two "tough"
      deployments in Iraq, Dearden says signing the Appeal
      was not only the right thing to do but also gave him
      personal "closure."

      "I'm expressing a right of people in the military to
      contact their elected representatives, and I have done
      nothing illegal or disrespectful," Dearden adds.

      Other interviews with active-duty soldiers, sailors,
      Marines and airmen who have signed the Appeal for
      Redress reveal an array of motivations. Here are
      excerpts:

      "Lisa"--20 years old, E-4, USAF, Stationed at Hickam
      Air Force Base, Hawaii:

      I joined up two weeks after I turned 17 because I
      wanted to save American lives. I wanted to be a hero
      like any American child.

      I supported the war when I joined because I thought it
      was justified. Only after my own research and the
      truth coming out did I learn how wrong I was, how--for
      lack of a better word--how brainwashed I was.

      Now I know the war is illegal, unjustified and that
      our troops have no reason for being there.

      When I saw an article about the Appeal in the Air
      Force Times I went online right away and signed it and
      have encouraged others to do the same.

      "Sgt. Gary"--21 years old. US Army. Deployed with 20th
      Infantry Regiment, near Mosul, Iraq:

      I joined up in 2001, still a junior in high school. I
      felt very patriotic at the end of my US History class.
      My idea of the Army was that you signed up, they gave
      you a rifle and you ran off into battle like in some
      1950s war movie. The whole idea of boot camp never
      really entered my head.

      I supported the war in the beginning. I bought
      everything Bush said about how Saddam had WMDs, how he
      was working with Al Qaeda, how he was a threat to
      America. Of course, this all turned out to be false.

      This is my second tour, and as of a few days ago it's
      half-over. Before I deployed with my unit for the
      second time I already had feelings of not wanting to
      go. When in late September a buddy in my platoon died
      from a bullet in the head, I really took a long hard
      look at this war, this Administration, and the reasons
      why.

      After months of research on the Internet, I came to
      the conclusion that this war was based on lies and
      deception. I started to break free of all the
      propaganda that the Bush Administration and the Army
      puts out on a daily basis.

      So far in three years we have succeeded in toppling a
      dictator and replacing him with puppets. Outlawing the
      old government and its standing army and replacing
      them with an unreliable and poorly trained crew of
      paycheck collectors. The well is so poisoned by what
      we have done here that nothing can fix it.

      "Lt. Smith"--24 years old, 1st Lieutenant, US Army.
      Deployed near Baghdad:

      I cannot, from Iraq, attend an antiwar protest. Nor
      could I attend one in the States and represent myself
      as a soldier. What I can do is send a protest
      communication to my Congressional delegate outlining
      grievances I feel I have suffered. Appeal for Redress
      gives me that outlet.

      I am encouraged by the November elections, but still
      wary. We rushed into the war on false assumptions, and
      now we might rush out just as falsely. What troops
      need now is a light at the end of the tunnel, not just
      for this deployment but for all deployments. Bringing
      everyone out this summer is too fast to be supported
      by our Army's infrastructure. We would hemorrhage
      lives if we do so. But so would we if we stay the
      course.

      I am encouraged by politicians who call for a
      withdrawal by the conclusion of President Bush's term
      in office. That seems a realistic timetable for me.

      Mark Mackoviak--24 years old. US Army. Recently
      returned from Iraq. Stationed at Fort Bragg, North
      Carolina:

      I joined the Army on September 23, 2001. I had been
      out of school for a year when September 11 came
      around, and I was supportive of our action in
      Afghanistan. I wound up there a year later, and it was
      pretty eye-opening to see how people live.

      I was also in Iraq for about a year, deployed near the
      International Airport, west of Baghdad. I was never
      that supportive of the invasion. I thought the media
      coverage of it was horrendous, really disgusting.

      Just about everything I saw in Iraq reinforced my
      views that it was wrong. The point that really hit me
      was when the Asmara Mosque got blown up. I said, Wow,
      this is really a civil war.

      I really enjoy being in the Army, enjoy the
      experience. I just happen to not support this war. I'm
      very open about that. My buddies either disagree with
      me or just pay no attention. But I get absolutely no
      hostility. None.

      "Rebecca"--26 years old. 101st Airborne, US Army. Just
      returned from Iraq. Stationed at Fort Hood, Texas:

      I joined in 2004. I was trying to go into the human
      rights field, but it was very competitive. I was in
      need of health insurance, and the Army seemed
      feasible. Now it looks like I will be stop-lossed
      until 2010.

      I had strong feelings about the war, against it, but
      I'm the type of person that wants to fully understand
      both sides of the argument.

      My experience in Iraq confirmed my views, but it also
      gave me a more multifaceted view of things. I did see
      some of the good things being done, but it seemed like
      a Band-Aid on a gushing wound. Mostly I saw the
      frivolity of the missions, the lack of direction, the
      absurdity of the mission. You go out in your Humvee,
      you drive around, and you wait to be blown up and get
      killed by an IED.

      About 40 percent of my unit were stop-lossed. Their
      first mission was to take down Saddam and his regime,
      and they seemed to understand that and agree with the
      mission to take down a ruthless dictator. Now they
      can't seem to understand why they are there, caught in
      the cross hairs of a civil war.

      I think it is safe to say that the majority of
      soldiers are wondering what this grand scheme is that
      we keep hearing about from those above us but that is
      never translating down to the ground level.

      Some politicians are starting to see that not only a
      majority of Americans oppose to this war. Now they see
      this very powerful statement of soldiers who have
      already been on the front line and who are still in
      uniform and are also opposed. None of them have been
      where we have been, none of them have seen what we
      have seen. It's time they do.
    • Gregory
      Greg, Great post! This is one of those under-reported stories about the war...I hope that this gets broad coverage in the mainstream press. In the summer of
      Message 2 of 2 , Dec 19, 2006
        Greg,

        Great post!

        This is one of those under-reported stories about the war...I hope
        that this gets broad coverage in the mainstream press. In the summer
        of 2005 I met a guy who was AWOL and he told some stuff that made me
        feel there was a very active and irrate part of the military that did
        not care for the war. He was headed to Canada and a friend of mine
        was going part way and gave him a ride.

        Again, great post!

        Gregory

        --- In prezveepsenator@yahoogroups.com, Greg Cannon <gregcannon1@...>
        wrote:
        >
        > http://www.thenation.com/doc/20070101/cooperweb
        >
        > December 16, 2006 (web only)
        > About Face: Soldiers Call for Iraq Withdrawal
        >
        > Marc Cooper
        >
        > For the first time since Vietnam, an organized, robust
        > movement of active-duty US military personnel has
        > publicly surfaced to oppose a war in which they are
        > serving. Those involved plan to petition Congress to
        > withdraw American troops from Iraq. (Note: A complete
        > version of this report will appear Thursday in the
        > print and online editions of The Nation.)
        >
        > After appearing only seven weeks ago on the Internet,
        > the Appeal for Redress, brainchild of 29-year-old Navy
        > seaman Jonathan Hutto, has already been signed by
        > nearly 1,000 US soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen,
        > including dozens of officers--most of whom are on
        > active duty. Not since 1969, when some 1,300
        > active-duty military personnel signed an open letter
        > in the New York Times opposing the war in Vietnam, has
        > there been such a dramatic barometer of rising
        > military dissent.
        >
        > Interviews with two dozen signers of the Appeal reveal
        > a mix of motives for opposing the war: ideological,
        > practical, strategic and moral. But all those
        > interviewed agree that it is time to start withdrawing
        > the troops. Coming from an all-volunteer military, the
        > Appeal was called "unprecedented" by Eugene Fidell,
        > president of the National Institute of Military
        > Justice.
        >
        > The Nation spoke with rank-and-file personnel as well
        > as high-ranking officers--some on the Iraqi front
        > lines, others at domestic and offshore US military
        > bases--who have signed the Appeal. All of their names
        > will be made available to Congress when the Appeal is
        > presented in mid-January. Signers have been assured
        > they are sending a communication to Congress protected
        > under the Military Whistleblower Protection Act. The
        > Pentagon is powerless to take official reprisals and
        > has said that as long as active-duty personnel are not
        > in uniform or on duty, they are free to express their
        > views to Congress.
        >
        > There are of course other, subtler risks involved. The
        > military command exercises enormous power through
        > individual reviews, promotions and assignments. But
        > that hasn't kept a number of signers from going public
        > with their dissent.
        >
        > Navy Lieut. Cmdr. Mark Dearden of San Diego, for
        > example, enlisted in 1997 and is still pondering the
        > possibility of a lifetime career. "So this was a very
        > difficult decision for me to come to. I don't take
        > this decision lightly," he says. But after two "tough"
        > deployments in Iraq, Dearden says signing the Appeal
        > was not only the right thing to do but also gave him
        > personal "closure."
        >
        > "I'm expressing a right of people in the military to
        > contact their elected representatives, and I have done
        > nothing illegal or disrespectful," Dearden adds.
        >
        > Other interviews with active-duty soldiers, sailors,
        > Marines and airmen who have signed the Appeal for
        > Redress reveal an array of motivations. Here are
        > excerpts:
        >
        > "Lisa"--20 years old, E-4, USAF, Stationed at Hickam
        > Air Force Base, Hawaii:
        >
        > I joined up two weeks after I turned 17 because I
        > wanted to save American lives. I wanted to be a hero
        > like any American child.
        >
        > I supported the war when I joined because I thought it
        > was justified. Only after my own research and the
        > truth coming out did I learn how wrong I was, how--for
        > lack of a better word--how brainwashed I was.
        >
        > Now I know the war is illegal, unjustified and that
        > our troops have no reason for being there.
        >
        > When I saw an article about the Appeal in the Air
        > Force Times I went online right away and signed it and
        > have encouraged others to do the same.
        >
        > "Sgt. Gary"--21 years old. US Army. Deployed with 20th
        > Infantry Regiment, near Mosul, Iraq:
        >
        > I joined up in 2001, still a junior in high school. I
        > felt very patriotic at the end of my US History class.
        > My idea of the Army was that you signed up, they gave
        > you a rifle and you ran off into battle like in some
        > 1950s war movie. The whole idea of boot camp never
        > really entered my head.
        >
        > I supported the war in the beginning. I bought
        > everything Bush said about how Saddam had WMDs, how he
        > was working with Al Qaeda, how he was a threat to
        > America. Of course, this all turned out to be false.
        >
        > This is my second tour, and as of a few days ago it's
        > half-over. Before I deployed with my unit for the
        > second time I already had feelings of not wanting to
        > go. When in late September a buddy in my platoon died
        > from a bullet in the head, I really took a long hard
        > look at this war, this Administration, and the reasons
        > why.
        >
        > After months of research on the Internet, I came to
        > the conclusion that this war was based on lies and
        > deception. I started to break free of all the
        > propaganda that the Bush Administration and the Army
        > puts out on a daily basis.
        >
        > So far in three years we have succeeded in toppling a
        > dictator and replacing him with puppets. Outlawing the
        > old government and its standing army and replacing
        > them with an unreliable and poorly trained crew of
        > paycheck collectors. The well is so poisoned by what
        > we have done here that nothing can fix it.
        >
        > "Lt. Smith"--24 years old, 1st Lieutenant, US Army.
        > Deployed near Baghdad:
        >
        > I cannot, from Iraq, attend an antiwar protest. Nor
        > could I attend one in the States and represent myself
        > as a soldier. What I can do is send a protest
        > communication to my Congressional delegate outlining
        > grievances I feel I have suffered. Appeal for Redress
        > gives me that outlet.
        >
        > I am encouraged by the November elections, but still
        > wary. We rushed into the war on false assumptions, and
        > now we might rush out just as falsely. What troops
        > need now is a light at the end of the tunnel, not just
        > for this deployment but for all deployments. Bringing
        > everyone out this summer is too fast to be supported
        > by our Army's infrastructure. We would hemorrhage
        > lives if we do so. But so would we if we stay the
        > course.
        >
        > I am encouraged by politicians who call for a
        > withdrawal by the conclusion of President Bush's term
        > in office. That seems a realistic timetable for me.
        >
        > Mark Mackoviak--24 years old. US Army. Recently
        > returned from Iraq. Stationed at Fort Bragg, North
        > Carolina:
        >
        > I joined the Army on September 23, 2001. I had been
        > out of school for a year when September 11 came
        > around, and I was supportive of our action in
        > Afghanistan. I wound up there a year later, and it was
        > pretty eye-opening to see how people live.
        >
        > I was also in Iraq for about a year, deployed near the
        > International Airport, west of Baghdad. I was never
        > that supportive of the invasion. I thought the media
        > coverage of it was horrendous, really disgusting.
        >
        > Just about everything I saw in Iraq reinforced my
        > views that it was wrong. The point that really hit me
        > was when the Asmara Mosque got blown up. I said, Wow,
        > this is really a civil war.
        >
        > I really enjoy being in the Army, enjoy the
        > experience. I just happen to not support this war. I'm
        > very open about that. My buddies either disagree with
        > me or just pay no attention. But I get absolutely no
        > hostility. None.
        >
        > "Rebecca"--26 years old. 101st Airborne, US Army. Just
        > returned from Iraq. Stationed at Fort Hood, Texas:
        >
        > I joined in 2004. I was trying to go into the human
        > rights field, but it was very competitive. I was in
        > need of health insurance, and the Army seemed
        > feasible. Now it looks like I will be stop-lossed
        > until 2010.
        >
        > I had strong feelings about the war, against it, but
        > I'm the type of person that wants to fully understand
        > both sides of the argument.
        >
        > My experience in Iraq confirmed my views, but it also
        > gave me a more multifaceted view of things. I did see
        > some of the good things being done, but it seemed like
        > a Band-Aid on a gushing wound. Mostly I saw the
        > frivolity of the missions, the lack of direction, the
        > absurdity of the mission. You go out in your Humvee,
        > you drive around, and you wait to be blown up and get
        > killed by an IED.
        >
        > About 40 percent of my unit were stop-lossed. Their
        > first mission was to take down Saddam and his regime,
        > and they seemed to understand that and agree with the
        > mission to take down a ruthless dictator. Now they
        > can't seem to understand why they are there, caught in
        > the cross hairs of a civil war.
        >
        > I think it is safe to say that the majority of
        > soldiers are wondering what this grand scheme is that
        > we keep hearing about from those above us but that is
        > never translating down to the ground level.
        >
        > Some politicians are starting to see that not only a
        > majority of Americans oppose to this war. Now they see
        > this very powerful statement of soldiers who have
        > already been on the front line and who are still in
        > uniform and are also opposed. None of them have been
        > where we have been, none of them have seen what we
        > have seen. It's time they do.
        >
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