By Benji Lewis, Courage to Resist for AlterNet. April 8, 2009
I am a veteran of Iraq who served two tours in the U.S. occupation of that country. I experienced firsthand the horrors of that war, and like many others, came to see it as nothing more than a chance for a very few to make vast profits in a short amount of time. Now, because of those selfish and irresponsible actions, the citizens of not only the U.S., but of the entire world, are asked to pay for the fallout of war in blood, sacrifice and currency.
But this is old news.
Yet, even as we deplore the war in Iraq and the unconstitutional actions of the former administration, we are sucked back into the propaganda of the ‘first war,’ the ‘good war,’ as if the Bush administration was so unpatriotic that it had no interest in Afghanistan. Even as we acknowledge that Iraq is a war for oil and profit, we ignore the history of Afghanistan and the oil resources of the Caspian Sea that would be opened up through this conquest. Even as we sit on the brink of a depression we are willing to pour our money and resources into a so-called ‘ten year plan’ that will cost unknown sums of money that we will not get back. Exactly as it is happening in the Iraq war, the fruits of our labor will be siphoned off into the banks of contractors and industrialists, and for whose benefit? Certainly not ours, for we have only some false hope of revenge to attain.
If it was not evident before, it should be apparent by now that Obama is not our savior. He does not bring us hope of no war and he certainly is either not able or not willing to bring about real change. He is, above all, one thing: a politician, and as such he is bound by the rules of his trade. That is his livelihood, so his career rests not on the energized citizens who, inflated with the jingoism of his campaign, rushed to the phones and then to the ballot box in support of his campaign, but by his financial backers, who are already reaping the benefit of ‘bailouts’ and a newly resurrected war. And if anything is transparent it is that Obama’s administration plans to use the same bully tactics that the Bush administration used in order to subvert the will of the electorate and secure the interests of a very few while the rest of us struggle in a recession.
Yet he was elected on a ‘no war’ ticket and in this, if we know our history, he is no different than Woodrow Wilson who pulled America into World War I against the wishes of his constituency and later admitted that it was only for the benefit of capitalists. Obama stood shamelessly behind podiums and promised an end to the Iraq War, all the while planning to launch us into the good and just war against Afghanistan — a nation that is really not one nation at all, but a heterogeneous population of many languages, tribes and cultures.
Even several of the Obama supporters I know cringed at his recent announcement of his ten-year plan in Afghanistan, a horrific declaration of war that boasts no objective other than training and arming a foreign military that supports the United States to protect U.S. corporate interests in Asia. Here again we see the despicable logic of building large armies in the name of peace. Perhaps more perturbing is the fact that our ‘new’ government is still insistent on abusing the rights of young men and women by duping them into military service.
As a veteran facing and refusing recall orders back into the Marine Corps, I am appalled by the notion that many support the war in Afghanistan, referring to it as the good war. As if any war is good. Still, even against their own interests, people cannot seem to see past the obvious façade that is the endless “war on terror.”
Afghanistan is one of the most unstable countries in the world. Its population is diverse, its mountainous territory virtually impenetrable. The region has been sought after by outsiders for as long as there has been conquest, and not once has a force succeeded in occupying the terrain. The people of the United States look at that country as a singular entity, but in truth there are vast political differences in that region. To increase military force in Afghanistan will be as destabilizing in the region as the U.S. support for Israel has been farther west. And, as we have seen in Iraq, our enemies there will only increase.
Solutions to global problems do not reside in bombs, retribution and revenge. They grow from supporting the many peaceful causes in the region and by uprooting instead of propagating war. For our brothers and sisters in that region are people just like us. They ask for solidarity and we send in the Marines. They ask for aid and we give them conditions.
I have refused to return to military ‘service’ because doing so would be a disservice to this country. For all that money should belong to the people, and not to the military industrial complex and those it benefits. For all that money could reduce hunger and poverty and thus subvert war. Though the events of 9/11 were horrific, do we justify them by becoming terrorists ourselves? Or do we move forward, admit and amend the mistakes of our past, and set our sites on peace and prosperity for all the world?