DEAR MILITARISTS AND EMPIRE SUPPORTERS WHO ARE ANGERED BY MY
ARTICLE “LOVES, HATES, KILLS, DIES”:
I offer my sincere apology for any and
all mis-representation of SSG Bellavia and his comrades. Of course he
and they are fighting for their lives. I hardly blame them for that.
Of course they did not declare the war. I blame Bush and his cabal
and his many elite enablers, including John Kerry, for that.
The article was not mainly about SSG
Bellavia. It was mostly about the practically fascist way Time
Magazine was presenting the bloody and illegal US attack on Fallujah.
And it was about the surreal juxtaposition within “mainstream” media
between terrible hyper-masculinized violence and officially feminized
consumerism. The embedded Time journalist made DB the lead
protagonist in his write-up and that’s why DB is so prominent in
Have you written to Time to complain
about their provocative portrayal of SSG Bellavia, deleting any
context on who makes the big and murderous decisions on what happens
and who kills and dies on the the great chess-boards of empire?
You have no legitimate basis for calling
me a coward simply because I dare to oppose a specific imperial “war”
(invasion and occupation that is) and the way it is being sold and
because I oppose the murder and mayhem that is being carried out in
the name of my country. My favorite peace button says “Not in My
“My country right or wrong” is Nazism.
Uncle Sam is wrong right now in Iraq; dead wrong. This is my opinion
and it’s the opinion of the very preponderant share of the human
I think US actions in Iraq are quite
literally criminal but for what its worth I do not locate the core
criminality in the activity of the front-line troops. I see the real
criminality ----and the real cowardice, by the way --- in the White
House and the Pentagon.
I am sorry if my article seems to
primarily blame Bellavia and his embattled comrades in Fallujah.
That’s not my position at all.
I suspect that I was raised and
socialized differently, with different loyalties and commitments, than
you and (perhaps) your friends or relatives who are in the military. I
am sure you are a good person but it seems that my values, for
whatever accidental reasons, are much less nationalistic and much less
trusting of what I see as illegitimate national authority, ie, Bush
and Rumsfeld and the other chickenhawks who have put DB and many
others in grave and unnecessary, illegitimate danger.
My primary reference group is the human
race, and yours seems to be the nation state --- “your” (you think)
nation state, that is.
I will never support or acquiesce to the
prosecution of a war that I see as illegitimate, like this one or like
Vietnam. This war is, in my opinion, is transparently imperial and
unjust, something that is well understood in every corner of the
planet except the American “homeland.”
I think parents should make sure that
the White House is not allowed to use their children as fodder in its
widely documented plan to rule the world by force....a plan that has
used 9/11 as its Reichstag fire: justification for increasing empire
abroad and inequality and repression at home. I think your
son/husband/father/mother/daughter in Iraq is being terribly exploited
and needlessly endangered by US policymakers.
I think children should be raised and
educated to make the distinction between legitimate patriotism and
racist imperialism. “Never,” we should tell them, “let someone call
you a coward because you refuse to join a fight that you know to be
There’s an interesting group of people
who think that the US invasion is not about Iraqi’s liberation at all
but is instead about imperial control over strategic oil reserves: the
Iraqi people, about 1 percent of whom think this invasion is about
spreading democracy. Yes, one percent.
The entire world agrees by a huge
margin. And the rest of the planet is much closer to the truth than
you, I’m afraid.
Somehow we Americans seem to think that
God and/or History has granted “us” (well our rulers) some exceptional
right to shred basic international laws and norms with murderous
This dangerous and toxic belief will
come back and hurt us, at home and abroad again and again. Many
millions will suffer, at home and abroad, as the world descends ever
further into barbarism with Uncle Sam all too often leading the charge
and setting the tone and pace.
Most of the US populace now says that
the invasion of Iraq --- which is being implemented about as poorly as
any imperial occupation in history, by the way --- was “a mistake.”
And the great majority of the American people polled in a recent
social science opinion survey told the conservative Chicago Council on
Foreign Relations that we should simply leave Iraq and indeed the
Middle East if most of the people in that country and in that region
want us to leave.
Well, Iraqis and Arabs want us out. The
decent and noble thing is to leave....militarily that is.
In terms of medical and social services
and re-building, we owe the country and the region many billions worth
of dollars of assistance and reparations to compensate not just for
this latest war but also for the first war on Iraq and for the
devastating consequences of more than a decade of murderous economic
sanctions and bombings.
I am also concerned with how empire
deepens American inequality at home and about how the rich alone will
benefit from this latest imperial campaign. And, speaking of
cowardice, how many really affluent, wealthy people --- including
folks from, at the highest level, the top 1 percent that owns 40
percent of American wealth --- have fought and directly killed in this
noble Iraq campaign, which happens to be thoroughly illegal under
Nuremberg law? If not zero, the answer is close to zero. That’s
interesting since rich people tended to vote strongly for the
Messianic Militarist Iraq Warrior George W. Bush and to provide ample
financial support to his campaign.
The great majority of people in combat
roles are of lower or working-class background.
Cowardice? That’s a standard,
practically automatic, Pavlovian accusation that is typically made
against those who oppose wars. But I’m not sure it applies. Put me in
the US in 1942 and I’m signing up to fight the Nazis. Put me in
Illinois in 1863 and I’m ready to join the Union Army to fight the
slave power in the South. Personally, I’m not a pure pacifist.
But this “war?” The Vietnam War? Never,
not on my life.
This is not cowardice; it is moral
discernment. We all make our own choices, in accordance with our own
values and how we were raised and socialized.
Is, say, the CEO of the Boeing
Corporation (maker of the Blackhawk Helicopter and the B-2 bomber,
among other hugely expensive taxpayer-financed war tools) a “coward”
“hiding behind a keyboard” as he types a note say, to order up a fresh
new batch of cruise missiles to pulverize Iraqi “insurgents” and
families, even while he is not fighting in Iraq?
How about military planners and other
officers in Pentagon rooms hitting keys that cause death, bitterness,
and more terror recruits in Iraq even while these “defense” personnel
sit safely in warm offices removed from the glorious Fallujah action
recounted by Time and from the havoc their keystrokes cause across the
If you are going to start calling people
“cowards” for not fighting in the war and using keyboards (does this
include piano players?), then you are going to have to include a few
million Americans in your charge.
But, of course, you are calling me a
“coward” because (ironically enough) I dared to speak against this war
and the way its being conducted and covered. I guess that’s the first
thing that came to your mind --- so Pavlovian at this point.
Personally, I think it’s cowardly to oppose an unjust war and not to
voice that opposition.
I need you and/or your friends and/or
relatives in the military to protect me? Sorry, but I am capable of
defending myself and I do not need your friend or relative to defend
me. As I said above, moreover, I think this latest war heightens the
American peoples’ vulnerability. It endangers us and does not protect
Why would I fly to Iraq? Why would I
need to worry about whether or not they would “show me mercy” if I
wasn’t over there occupying their country in the first place? Iraq
belongs to the Iraqis. If Iraqis don’t want me there than I have no
business going it seems to me.
Of course some of the “insurgents” are
resisting in the most chilling and vicious ways they can. Who has all
the military hardware....the Bradleys, the Blackhawks, the cluster
bombs, the Stealth bombers, the Daisy Cutters...(the list of “our”
awesome slaughter tools goes on and on)? “We” do.
Of course some of the “insurgents” are
monsters. Certainly the be-heading of hostages is unimaginably
So is using bombs and missiles and
artillery shells to cut Iraqi children and other noncombatants in
half. The civilian casualty stories and numbers are simply horrendous
in Iraq. The number of Iraqis, including large numbers of civilian
so-called “collateral damage,” that “we"” have killed through war and
sanctions is also truly monstrous.
Who said we had the right to patrol the
Mekong Delta in the 1960s or the Sunni Triangle or the Tigris and
Euphrates in the 21st century? The world is not our oyster. We do
not own other nations.
Americans were considered to be
terrorists, for daring to resist imperial occupation, during the late
1770s and early 1780s.
Bush and Rumsfeld are liars: Iraq was no
threat to you or I. No threat. Zero. Iraqis, including Saddam, had
nothing to do with 9/11, contrary to what they’ve been telling your
son/father/friend/daughter/husband (etc;) in boot camp and in the
DB sounds like a tough and smart man who
stands up for himself and his comrades.
Good. We need his sort of energy and
skills to be directed against the privileged few, the “Masters of War”
that Bob Dylan wrote about in 1962...the ‘elite’ chiefs who “hide in
their mansions while young people’s blood flows out of their bodies
and gets buried in the mud. They fasten the triggers for the others
to fire and sit back and watch while the death count gets higher.”
They are the cowards we need to focus on a bit more, I think.
“They” are the rulers of the military
industrial complex that Dwight Eisenhower left the White House rightly
warning us about in 1960.
WHEN are you all going to learn to
direct your anger away from the officially designated overseas Evil
Others (generally non-white people you refuse to seriously understand)
you are told to hate and away from people at home who are trying to
stop the madness and make a more peaceful and just world --- fellow
Americans you smear as “cowards” and “traitors” ---- and start to deal
with the real masters, the real rulers, the real cowards, the “elite”
possessors of concentrated wealth and power, who hire their violence
for a pittance and enjoy the comfort of their safe and luxurious
estates while bitter and damaged young men return from distant, unjust
battlefields with missing limbs and shattered souls?
All of our troops who come back and who
have killed --- and its a very one sided war, with more than 100,000
Iraqi deaths to date ---- will suffer enormous negative consequences
from the violence they were ordered to inflict. If you are currently
attached in way to a US soldier in Iraq, I wish you strength and
support as your friend/loved one/relative struggles with recovery and
Meanwhile, I’m afraid that George
“Fortunate Son” Bush will be out on the golf course (""now watch me
hit this drive") and Rumsfeld will be preparing his criminal war
memoirs. Interesting. As a young man, George “Bring ‘Em On”
(remember that comment?) Bush was content to let other poorer and
browner men than him fight a war that he supported. Fifty-eight
thousand Americans died in Vietnam. Countless others were crippled
and maimed. Many never really made the transition back; many Vietnam
War veterans have killed themselves, haunted by the memories of what
they saw, felt, and did in another imperial war ordered by Uncle Sam.
Meanwhile, George “Mission Accomplished”
(that was another good Dubya slogan, wasn’t it) Bush has played a lot
of golf, taken a lot of vacations, and generally enjoyed the unjust
privilege of birth into super--concentrated wealth and special family
But he’s not a “coward” in your mind, I
strongly suspect. That’s curious.
The current ‘war’ is actually
endangering Americans and threatening what’s left of world stability
so that American big shot policy makers can secure more control of
strategic oil resources and thereby more effectively (they hope) rule
the world. It’s all, well largely, about tightening the imperial
stranglehold on that pivotal Persian Gulf petro-spigot.
Many troops know this very well. I hope
more and more of them will rebel and refuse to engage in the current
unjust and immoral occupation of Iraq.
So, no, sorry I am not ashamed of myself or of the many other
Americans who think like I do about all of this. I am an American who
takes seriously the eloquent words of James Madison:
“THE FETTERS IMPOSED ON LIBERTY AT HOME
HAVE EVER BEEN FORGED OUT OF THE WEAPONS PROVIDED FOR THE DEFENSE
AGAINST REAL, PRETENDED, OR IMAGINARY DANGERS ABROAD” (1799).
Empire does not protect us; it oppresses
and divides us. Your letter to me is symptomatic of this, I think.
As is generally known across the
policy-making elite, the Iraqi danger was thoroughly imaginary ---
something Madison and other Founders would immediately grasp.
If anything, moreover, Iraq has been
turned into a dangerous state, a hotbed of terrorism, precisely by
this illegal and immoral and murderous US invasion. We are breeding
untold millions of new terrorists, something that was predicted in key
establishment circles and pointed out by the conservative Catholic CIA
Middle Eastern area expert “Anonymous” in his 2004 book Imperial
Hubris: Why The West is Losing the War on Terror. “Anonymous” has
recently been purged by the Bush administration, along with others who
made the mistake of retaining some minimal commitment to non-partisan
truth-telling in government.
Truth-telling is not cowardice.
Support the troops: bring them home.
American troops: resist this unjust
P.S. You didn’t say anything about