Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Former Marine: "I am sorry for the monster I once was."

An Unwinnable War on Terror

"This man was innocent. I don't know his name...He was walking back to his house, and I shot him in front of his friend and father."
-Jon Michael Turner

Picture this, if you can-

It's 3:00 AM in a neighborhood just outside of Baghdad, and you're a 12 year-old Iraqi child fast asleep in your home. Perhaps you're the oldest, and you're sleeping in the same room as your siblings. All of you huddled together to share whatever blankets and pillows you may have.

Then without warning, the wooden door of your home shatters, splinters of wood exploding outward into the living room while giant, hulking men wearing alien clothing and wielding fearsome-looking automatic rifles stomp into your home in combat boots, shouting in a foreign tongue. They look American, but they aren't wearing flags on their shoulders, but instead the emblem of a private corporation that answers to no government.

They force you and your terrified younger brothers and sisters against the wall with your mother. Your father rushes up to the men to stop them, and they grab him by the throat until he can no longer breathe. Or maybe they slam his head into the wall and he falls to the ground, limp, while the armed men ransack your home, accusing you of terrorism. They leave just as quickly as they had entered, without apology, without explanation. Do you try and go back to sleep after such an experience? Do you stay awake, telling your little brothers and sisters that the men are gone, to stop crying? Do you rush to check on your father's wounds?

What would happen the next day, if you were approached by a man who asked if you wanted to get back at the Americans? That you could join a growing movement to push out the imperialists by force if they chose not to leave? What would you do? Would you go back home, powerless and afraid, always fearful of another late-night invasion? Or would you grit your teeth, nod somberly and ask the man what you could do to help?

The war we are waging against terrorism is unwinnable, because the method in which it is waged fosters more terrorism. The only goal this war is meant to accomplish is to continue feeding our addiction to cheap oil, and the military-industrial complex's addiction to money. The "surge" never worked, it just exacerbated already deplorable conditions. Hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians are dead. 4 million more are wandering refugees. Tens of thousands are jailed without trial and tortured. Women's rights are even more at risk in Iraq than ever before. Health care and education for the Iraqis are still in shambles. Trade unions are banned. Baghdad is now divided by 1,500 blast walls and checkpoints. Utility infrastructure is in complete disrepair. The streets are more unsafe than ever. The U.S. embassy in Iraq is now larger than Vatican City. And as we phase out American enlisted soldiers, we phase in private mercenaries; killing machines paid with U.S. tax dollars who answer to no flag.

This war is not meant to be won. It is meant to be sustained.

Daily Atrocities for Corporate Cash

"We were all congratulated after we had our first company commander personally congratulated me as he did everyone else in our company. This is the same individual who had stated that whoever gets their first kill by stabbing them to death gets a four-day pass when we get back from Iraq."
-Jon Michael Turner, former Marine

To accomplish the military-industrial complex's goal of sustained warfare, they need a constant supply of fresh, warm-blooded men and women to guard Iraqi oilfields. These young men and women are trained daily to turn off their morality and conscience so they can become effective killers, and continue to kill in spite of no clear end objective and under growing resistance from the local population. While the president states that we're winding troops down, and while that may be true, our permanent occupation of Iraq has just begun.

Last year, a dozen foreign companies won 20-year contracts to control Iraqi oil fields. According to the above article, 60% of Iraq's oil reserves are now under foreign control, and the market can be manipulated to slash global oil prices to the point of breaking OPEC state's control on Middle Eastern oil. We're keeping 50,000 troops there for now for "advising" and "providing security" although most of them are stationed near oil fields, or "protecting U.S. interests," as the Pentagon would prefer us to say.

While the Iraqi government told us that U.S. troops had to be gone by 2011, our occupation will continue through a coming surge of private contractors. When you wage endless wars where an average of 6 die every month with no draft, eventually someone needs to be there to do the dying so oil companies can continue exporting Iraqi crude. So who does the dying right now?

I linked above to a video of Jon Michael Turner, a former Marine who became disgusted with the war and how it transformed him into someone else. He continues, his voice audibly choking up during certain parts.

"A lot of raids and patrols we did at night around 3:00 in the morning...And what we would do is just kick in the doors and terrorize the families...If the men of the household were giving us problems, we'd go ahead and take care of them anyway we felt necessary, whether it was choking them or slamming their head against the walls."

When describing his first confirmed kill, Turner talked about shooting an innocent unknown person he called "the fat man" in the neck, in front of the man's father and friend. He described the man's screams after being shot, looking at his buddy and saying, "Well, we can't have that," and finishing the job with one more shot.

Turner's third confirmed kill was an innocent man riding a bicycle. The entire video is basically him admitting to wanton murder of innocents, but this is particularly chilling.

"We were excited about the firefight we had just gotten into, and we didn't have a cameraman with us...Anytime we had embedded reporters with us, our actions would change drastically...the man on the bicycle was in the street for about ten minutes before we realized we needed to leave where we were...his body was thrown behind a rock wall, and his bicycle was thrown on top of him."

I think it's telling that these enlisted men admit to acting differently when they're being videotaped, and how much differently they must act when there's no media around to videotape any potential war crimes. And it makes me wonder how different the coverage of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are compared to the coverage of the Vietnam war, which spurred massive street demonstrations. When the blood and guts are whitewashed from your TV screen and when corporate media outlets can dictate what can and can't be shown, it's no wonder the media hardly ever does any stories about war crimes that don't come from a wikileaks post.

Late in the video, Turner talks about how after being attacked by insurgents and one of their own suffering wounds, they take their aggression out by shooting up the minaret of a mosque. It's illegal to shoot at a mosque unless you're sure that you're being fired upon from the inside. 6 minutes into the video, Turner shows footage of a minaret being completely decimated by bullets and artillery due to sheer hate and bottled-up aggression, not out of any fear for their own safety. The ex-Marine ended his testimony with tears in his eyes and emotion thick in his voice.

"I am sorry for the hate and destruction that I have inflicted on innocent people...I am no longer the monster I once was."

What Must Follow

"we went to the market where all the hadji shop,
pulled out our machetes and we began to chop,

"we went to the playground where all the hadji play,
pulled out our machine guns and we began to spray,

"we went to the mosque where all the hadji pray,
threw in a hand grenade and blew them all away."

-Marine Ethan McCord, reciting a marching cadence

In a truly free society where Democratic principles were upheld, there would be accountability for sending young men and women off to die in a war that was never meant to end. There would be accountability for stripping these human beings of their humanity, sending them thousands of miles away from their families and reducing them to beasts who kill innocents without remorse. In a free society, anyone who was caught lying or manipulating evidence to justify invading a sovereign nation would be tried in The Hague for war crimes and crimes against humanity. A free society would call that imperialism, or colonial occupation. They certainly wouldn't call it freedom.

In a free society and a just world, at least one person would be rotting in jail for putting corporate profit margins above life, culture, family and religion.

And one group of Iraq Veterans is calling for the indictment and prosecution of the Bush administration for doing what they did. From the article above:

"The growing body of evidence, including testimony from British officials in the ongoing Chilcot Inquiry, indicates that Bush officials could be charged with criminal offenses against the United States and violations of international law for making false claims to national self-defense.

"Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution vests the power to authorize use of military force in the Legislative Branch, not the Executive. In order to do so responsibly the Congress must be provided with accurate and objective intelligence. Bush officials' alleged distortion of the intelligence picture created a climate of fear and uncertainty in which the constitutional power of Congress was subverted."

IVAW also comes out swinging against the Bush regime for violating international law in drafting a new Iraqi constitution that favors U.S. corporations, and also through violating Geneva Convention rights given to prisoners. These are all very serious war crimes, and there is more than enough evidence to at least indict top Bush officials, if not convict them.

IVAW further alleges that the Bush administration's alterations to Iraqi laws were made for the intended benefit of U.S. multinational corporations and are illegal under international law. Efforts to pressure Iraqi officials to open up the country's oil industry to foreign investment exacerbated the insurgency and undermined the U.S. military's ostensible mission there.

IVAW finally asserts that senior Bush officials are responsible for the illegal treatment of Iraqi and Afghan officials in U.S. custody and that this treatment was detrimental to the security of American citizens.

If we are to truly repair our international reputation, if we strive to be the free society our founders intended us to be, if we as a people truly value freedom, then we must all collectively demand our leaders be held accountable for their actions. And we must stop deluding ourselves into thinking that oppressing people thousands of miles away somehow makes our country safer.

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