Winter Soldier

The last time I went public and traveled against the war -- in some mass action -- was during the third anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq, when we marched and caravaned from Mobile, Alabama to New Orleans on the Veterans and Survivors March for Peace and Justice.

Then we had the elections where the Democrats gained control over Congress. Many had high hopes that this would signal the end of the war; but many of us saw this election as a necessary step to expose Democratic complicity in the continuation of the United States' bloody military occupation of the people of Iraq. We had won the public debate on the war. Most of America now opposes it. But, of course, we had not broken the network of ruling class relations within which our elected representatives are inextricably embedded... nor have we yet broken the naivete of an ever-hopeful population that elections can end imperialism.

The Democratic Party, along with the US press, have succeeded in collaborating with the Bush administration to bamboozle the public into believing that there is something called "progress" in the occupation -- which the overwhelming majority of Iraqis oppose. So, once again, the Democrats, the press, the antiwar groups who are joined at the hip with the Democratic Party, and now the exploding housing bubble, have taken the war off the table and slashed the Achilles tendon of the antiwar movement... with some exceptions, and one very important exception.

Iraq Veterans Against the War continues to engage in thoughtful, sometimes provocative, and militant opposition to the war; and they are appealing to a group far more critical to the occupation than spineless Congresspersons and Senators: the members of the armed forces themselves. IVAW is calling for resistance from within the ranks; and though the Boeing-Serle-ADM press has refused to cover it, that resistance is growing.

This year, there will be several events marking the March anniversary of the terrible collective sin of this imperial occupation. There is one, in particular, that I would ask people to connect with, support, and assist with the reporting via a netroots media-bypass. Those are the upcoming Winter Soldier hearings from March 13-16 in Washington, DC.

From >a href="">IVAW's website:

This spring, Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) is revealing the reality of the U.S. occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. In what will be history's largest gathering of U.S. veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as Iraqi and Afghan survivors, eyewitnesses will share their experiences in a public investigation called Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan.

Winter Soldiers, according to founding father Thomas Paine, are those who stand up for the soul of their country, even in its darkest hours. With this spirit in mind, IVAW members are standing up to make their experiences available to all who are concerned about the direction of our country.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time America has needed its Winter Soldiers, in 1971, over one hundred members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War gathered in Detroit to share their stories with America. Atrocities like the My Lai massacre had ignited popular opposition to the war, but political and military leaders insisted that such crimes were isolated exceptions. The members of VVAW knew differently.

Over three days in January, these soldiers testified on the systematic brutality they had seen visited upon the people of Vietnam.

Over thirty years later, we find ourselves faced with a new war. But the lies are the same. Once again, American troops are sinking into an increasingly bloody occupation. Once again, war crimes in places like Haditha, Fallujah, and Abu Ghraib have turned the public against the war. Once again, politicians and generals are blaming "a few bad apples" instead of examining the military policies that have destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan.

Once again, our country needs Winter Soldiers.
From March 13-16, 2008, Iraq Veterans Against the War will gather in our nation's capital to break the silence and hold our leaders accountable for these wars. We hope you'll join us, because ours is a story that every American needs to hear.

Click here to sign a statement of support for Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan.