July 07, 2003

A Former Special Forces Soldier Responds to Bush's

In 2000, the Bush cabal was frantic to get the
absentee ballots of military men and women counted
(why is another question for another time). Indeed,
they were so frantic they even forced the counting of
many ballots that arrived past the deadline for
absentee. Even the NYTwits acknowledged that...But of
course they soft-pedaled the fact that the number of
absentee ballots illegally counted was greater than
Bush's phoney margin of victory (it wasn't that close,
Gore won by much more than a few hundred hanging
chads). But I digress...The point is that in 2004 "all
the _resident's men" will be frantic to AVOID having
the absentee ballots of men and women in the military


July 3, 2003

A Former Special Forces Soldier Responds to Bush's
Invitation for Iraqis to Attack US Troops
"Bring 'Em On?"

In 1970, when I arrived at my unit, Company A, 4th
Battalion/503rd Infantry, 173rd Airborne Brigade, in
what was then the Republic of Vietnam, I was charged
up for a fight. I believed that if we didn't stop the
communists in Vietnam, we'd eventually be fighting
this global conspiracy in the streets of Hot Springs,
Arkansas. I'd been toughened by Basic Training,
Infantry Training and Parachute Training, taught how
to use my weapons and equipment, and I was confident
in my ability to vanquish the skinny unter-menschen.
So I was dismayed when one of my new colleagues--a
veteran who'd been there ten months--told me, "We are
losing this war."

Not only that, he said, if I wanted to survive for my
one year there, I had to understand one very basic
thing. All Vietnamese were the enemy, and for us, the
grunts on the ground, this was a race war. Within one
month, it was apparent that everything he told me was
true, and that every reason that was being given to
the American public for the war was not true.

We had a battalion commander whom I never saw. He
would fly over in a Loach helicopter and give cavalier
instructions to do things like "take your unit 13
kilometers to the north." In the Central Highlands, 13
kilometers is something we had to hack out with
machetes, in 98-degree heat, carrying sometimes 90
pounds over our body weights, over steep, slippery
terrain. The battalion commander never picked up a
machete as far as we knew, and after these directives
he'd fly back to an air-conditioned headquarters in LZ
English near Bong-son. We often fantasized together
about shooting his helicopter down as a way of
relieving our deep resentment against this faceless,
starched and spit-shined despot.

Yesterday, when I read that US Commander-in-Chief
George W. Bush, in a moment of blustering arm-chair
machismo, sent a message to the 'non-existent' Iraqi
guerrillas to "bring 'em on," the first image in my
mind was a 20-year-old soldier in an ever-more-fragile
marriage, who'd been away from home for 8 months. He
participated in the initial invasion, and was told
he'd be home for the 4th of July. He has a newfound
familiarity with corpses, and everything he thought he
knew last year is now under revision. He is sent out
into the streets of Fallujah (or some other city),
where he has already been shot at once or twice with
automatic weapons or an RPG, and his nerves are raw.
He is wearing Kevlar and ceramic body armor, a Kevlar
helmet, a load carrying harness with ammunition,
grenades, flex-cuffs, first-aid gear, water, and
assorted other paraphernalia. His weapon weighs seven
pounds, ten with a double magazine. His boots are
bloused, and his long-sleeve shirt is buttoned at the
wrist. It is between 100-110 degrees Fahrenheit at
midday. He's been eating MRE's three times a day, when
he has an appetite in this heat, and even his urine is
beginning to smell like preservatives. Mosquitoes and
sand flies plague him in the evenings, and he probably
pulls a guard shift every night, never sleeping
straight through. He and his comrades are beginning to
get on each others' nerves. The rumors of 'going-home,
not-going-home' are keeping him on an emotional roller
coaster. Directives from on high are contradictory,
confusing, and often stupid. The whole population
seems hostile to him and he is developing a deep
animosity for Iraq and all its people--as well as for
official narratives.

This is the lad who will hear from someone that George
W. Bush, dressed in a suit with a belly full of rich
food, just hurled a manly taunt from a 72-degree
studio at the 'non-existent' Iraqi resistance.

This de facto president is finally seeing his poll
numbers fall. Even chauvinist paranoia has a
half-life, it seems. His legitimacy is being eroded as
even the mainstream press has discovered now that the
pretext for the war was a lie. It may have been
control over the oil, after all. Anti-war forces are
regrouping as an anti-occupation movement. Now,
exercising his one true talent--blundering--George W.
Bush has begun the improbable process of alienating
the very troops upon whom he depends to carry out the
neo-con ambition of restructuring the world by arms.

Somewhere in Balad, or Fallujah, or Baghdad, there is
a soldier telling a new replacement, "We are losing
this war."

Stan Goff is the author of "Hideous Dream: A Soldier's
Memoir of the US Invasion of Haiti" (Soft Skull Press,
2000) and of the upcoming book "Full Spectrum
Disorder" (Soft Skull Press, 2003). He retired in 1996
from the US Army, from 3rd Special Forces. He lives in

He can be reached at: stan@ncwarn.org

Posted by richard at July 7, 2003 12:12 PM