Revolution #50, June 11, 2006

The Haditha Massacre Concentrates the Nature of the US War on Iraq

The foul massacre perpetrated by U.S. Marines at Haditha must be condemned by everyone who opposes injustice. This incident concentrates everything that’s wrong with the U.S. war in Iraq, including the attempt to bury the murders with the lie that the victims of the massacre were killed by bombs exploded by Iraqi insurgents. (Do these lies remind anybody of Bush’s claims of “Weapons of Mass Destruction” in Iraq?)

After a U.S. soldier was killed in a bombing, Marines gunned down several men who were near a checkpoint. They went into a house and killed an entire family. And then went into other houses. When the massacre was over, five hours later, 24 people—men, women and children, ranging in age from two-years-old to grandparents, had been killed, some of them execution-style.

Despite government claims to the contrary, this was no isolated incident. Stories about other massacres committed by U.S. troops are starting to come out. These atrocities reflect the nature of the war the U.S. is waging. Remember how they began the war with massive bombing runs they called “Shock and Awe”? Remember the times that Iraqis were gunned down at U.S.-manned checkpoints? Remember the leveling of Falluja? Remember Abu Ghraib?

This is what an unjust war comes down to. An imperialist power wielding high-tech weaponry to pound an oppressed country into submission. Occupying troops committing atrocity after atrocity against the people.

We’ve seen this before—I know about this from the Vietnam War. I was in the U.S. army back then, and they gave me orders to go to Vietnam. I decided I had to find out what I would be a part of if I went. I talked to everyone I could find who had done time in ‘Nam. I already knew about the My Lai massacre where U.S. troops destroyed a whole village—killing hundreds of men, women and children and burning down the whole village. What I learned from talking to GIs was that the foul massacre at My Lai concentrated Standard Operating Procedure for U.S. troops in Vietnam—that it seemed like everyone over there was the enemy, so everyone was fair game to be killed or brutalized, including women, children and old people. All this is why I refused to go to Vietnam—because I refused to be a part of the criminal war the U.S. was waging in Vietnam.

I got sent to jail for two years for refusing to go to Vietnam, while the real criminals—the officers who ordered the My Lai massacre, the GIs who participated in it, to say nothing of the architects of the whole war—basically went unpunished. But I have no regrets. The stand I took, to refuse to fight in an unjust war, was the right stand to take during the Vietnam War. And this experience was a big part of how I came to see that this system is rotten to the core—and a big part of how I became a revolutionary communist.

The war the U.S. is waging in Iraq is, like the war in Vietnam, a criminal war. No one should be a part of this kind of war. And people who oppose this war need to support the troops who refuse to fight in it.

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