US Troops—A History of Shame
Revolution #039, March 19, 2006, posted at revcom.us
How can you support the troops and not support the war? What is it that the troops were doing, except waging that war?! Those soldiers who should be supported are those who are resisting—or seeking the means to resist—the war.
Bob Avakian, Chairman of the RCP, USA, speaking about the 1991 Gulf War, in "The New Situation and the Great Challenges"
An army is a concentration of the society it is fighting for. The whole character of the imperialist army and its soldiers stems from the fact that it is built and designed to carry out wars of plunder and missions of domination against the oppressed nations of the world and wars of rivalry with rival oppressors.
1991 U.S. War on Iraq
January 16, 1991, the U.S. launched "Operation Desert Storm" against Iraq and its people with a month of massive bombing—followed by a four-day ground war. The U.S. coalition dropped 88,000 tons of bombs. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi people, civilians as well as soldiers, were killed or injured. Bombing destroyed much of Iraq’s infrastructure—including bridges, electrical plants, and water treatment plants. Defeated Iraqi troops fled on the highway from Kuwait City to Basra—together with many civilians. For 48 hours U.S. jets attacked this clogged highway with incendiary bombs—turning it into a firestorm. Over 25,000 civilians and fleeing soldiers were killed on this "Highway of Death."
Invasion and Occupation of Iraq, 2003 to present
It is estimated that over 100,000 Iraqis have died since the March 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. The occupation force of U.S. soldiers have been brutal and murderous, as can be seen in the November 2004 U.S. assault on the city of Fallujah. The city was bombarded, including with napalm-like incendiary weapons. Journalist Dahr Jamail interviewed cameraman Burhan Fasa’a, who witnessed the U.S. raid in Fallujah. Jamail wrote: The military called over loudspeakers for families to surrender and come out of their houses, but Burhan said everyone was too afraid to leave their homes, so soldiers began blasting open the gates to houses and conducting searches. ‘Americans did not have interpreters with them, so they entered houses and killed people because they didn’t speak English! They entered the house where I was with 26 people, and shot people because they didn’t obey their orders, even just because the people couldn’t understand a word of English.... Soldiers thought the people were rejecting their orders, so they shot them. But the people just couldn’t understand them!’"
Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq
U.S. troops have rounded up Iraqis by the thousands and put them in prison without charges, trial, or sentences. In Abu Ghraib prison, U.S. soldiers have terrorized, raped, and murdered Iraqi prisoners. An Iraqi woman had a harness put on her and was made to crawl on all fours while a U.S. soldier rode her like a donkey. A hooded man was forced to stand balanced on a small box, with wires attached to his fingers—he was forced to stand for hours, and told if he fell from exhaustion, he would be electrocuted. Prisoners were beaten to death. Electric wires were attached to their genitals. Dogs were unleashed on prisoners, and prisoners were put on leashes like dogs. Female prisoners were repeatedly tortured and raped. U.S. soldiers forced prisoners to masturbate and piled them on top of each other handcuffed and naked. Prisoners were kept naked in tiny isolation cells, without ventilation or toilets. Photos from Abu Ghraib show U.S. soldiers grinning, laughing, mocking the prisoners as they tortured them, giving a big thumbs-up.
U.S. Invasion of Somalia, 1993
U.S. and allied troops invaded and occupied Somalia in the early 1990s, bringing a reign of terror. U.S. troops considered Somalis less than human and called them "skinnies" or "sammies." On September 19, 1993, the U.S. Army 10th Mountain Division shot missiles into a crowd from a helicopter, killing 100 unarmed people. U.S. troops flew their powerful Black Hawk helicopters low over markets, streets, and neighborhoods at any hour of the day or night. The intense downdraft from the helicopter blades damaged and destroyed entire neighborhoods, blowing down homes, mosques, market stalls, and walls.
U.S. War in Vietnam
By the time the U.S. War in Vietnam ended in 1975, the U.S. military had dropped more than seven million tons of bombs on a country roughly the size of New Mexico. In all, the U.S. war killed an estimated three million Vietnamese people. U.S. troops carried out rape and mass murder of civilians.
On March 16, 1968, a company of U.S. soldiers went into the village of My Lai. A soldier later testified, "The order we were given was to kill and destroy everything that was in the village. It was clearly explained that there were to be no prisoners." An order was given to push all the Vietnamese who had been forced into the area into a ditch. A soldier later recounted: "I began shooting them all. I guess I shot maybe 25 or 20 people in the ditch...men, women, and children. And babies."
Villagers’ huts and crops were burned, their livestock killed. Some of the dead were mutilated by having "C Company" carved into their chests; some were disemboweled. Women were raped. One GI would later say, "I cut their throats, cut off their hands, cut out their tongues, and scalped them."
Over 400 Vietnamese were killed in the My Lai Massacre.
U.S. Invasion of Panama, 1989
On December 20, 1989, over 27,000 U.S. troops invaded Panama. U.S. President at the time, George Bush, Sr., said an invasion was needed to "protect American lives," but the main reason for the invasion was to make sure that the Panama Canal remained under U.S. imperialist control. Heavy U.S. firepower was turned on civilian communities. The poor working class neighborhood of El Chorillo was burnt to the ground. Panamanians estimate that between 2,000 and 6,000 people were killed in this invasion. Many of them were dumped into mass graves.
U.S. War on Afghanistan, 2001
In the first two weeks of the U.S. attack on Afghanistan, in October 2001, two thousand bombs and missiles were dropped by the U.S. and Britain. The U.S. then sent in special operations troops of the U.S. Army Rangers. In the village of Showkar Kariz, in the desert plain near Kandahar in southeastern Afghanistan, people awoke after midnight to a scene of unbelievable horror. Bombs dropped by U.S. warplanes flying high overhead exploded, destroying houses and killing dozens of people. At least 45 villagers died from the air strikes.
Estimates of the number of people killed by U.S. troops run from about 2,000 to 8,000 or more, in the period of the air war from October to February—when 18,000 U.S. bombs, missiles, and other ordnance pounded Afghanistan. Many thousands more were injured.
U.S. Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
August 6, 1945, the U.S. dropped an atom bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. Three days later Nagasaki was bombed. 140,000 people died in Hiroshima and 70,000 in Nagasaki.
Those who raise the slogan "support our troops, not the war" need to ask themselves, how is that any different from witnessing a rape and saying, "I support the rapist, but not the rape"?