A Letter to All of the Veterans Standing for Standing Rock

From Carl Dix

December 1, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


The battle to stop the Dakota Access Pipe Line is nearing a crucial juncture. The authorities have already viciously attacked the Water Protectors of the Standing Rock Reservation and their supporters. They have unleashed security guards and law enforcement officers with attack dogs, mace, sound cannons, rubber bullets, tasers and more on the people fighting to stop the pipeline. They have arrested children, elders and others, marked them with numbers and kept them in dog kennels. They used water cannons on people in freezing temperatures and launched concussion grenades at protesters. This is outrageous—and it recalls the whole horrible history of how this country and system has treated Native Americans.

Now the Army Corps of Engineers has issued an order to evacuate “federal lands” by Monday, December 5, and threatened to arrest anyone who doesn't comply with this order. The Governor of North Dakota has piled onto this attack by issuing his own evacuation order—effective immediately. The Water Protectors have defiantly responded to these threats by declaring, “We aren't going anywhere.”

Shortly before this order was issued, a group of veterans began organizing to come to Standing Rock to support the Water Protectors. The organizers of this mobilization feel that as veterans they have a special role to play in stopping this injustice. While I’m not part of that contingent, I too am a veteran of the U.S. military. In 1970, they ordered me to go to Vietnam. But I was able to find out that this war was being fought to crush other oppressed people, to drown the liberation struggle of the Vietnamese people in blood. So, along with five other soldiers, known as the Fort Lewis 6, I refused these orders. I was sent to Leavenworth Military Penitentiary for two years for taking this stand.

The way I see it, Veterans Standing for Standing Rock could flip the script on the history of savagery the U.S. military has inflicted on Native people in this country. But there is a problem if we see this as “part of the great tradition” of the U.S. military. We need to be clear: the tradition of this military is a bloody, genocidal one, beginning with the way it nearly wiped out the Native peoples of this land! The U.S. military carried out massacres in which whole villages were wiped out, and men, women and children were slaughtered. The U.S. military drove Native people on the Trails of Tears, the long forced marches when tribes were forced from their land to distant areas, with many people dying en route. Every time the government violated a treaty with a tribal group, the U.S. military enforced that violation. And then that same U.S. military, once it had done all this shameful genocidal stuff to the Native American Indians, was sent all over the world to do it to other oppressed people.

Ask yourself this: Who and what have we been sent to fight for over and over again?

The revolutionary leader Bob Avakian has said:

It is not uncommon to hear these days, from government officials and others, that only 1 percent of the population is in the U.S. military but that this 1 percent is fighting for the freedom of the other 99 percent. The truth, however, is this: That 1 percent, in the military, is in reality fighting for the other 1 percent: the big capitalist-imperialists who run this country—who control the economy, the political system, the military, the media, and the other key institutions—and who dominate large parts of the world, wreaking havoc and causing great suffering for literally billions of people. It is the “freedom” of these capitalist-imperialists—their freedom to exploit, oppress, and plunder—that this 1 percent in the military is actually killing and sometimes dying for. (BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian, 1:5)

So why should any of us feel proud of having fought for that “1 percent”—the capitalist-imperialists who run this country? Why should we uphold any part of that? While doing time in Leavenworth for refusing to go to Vietnam, I learned what the real nature of this system was and the actual role the military plays in keeping all that in effect. So I decided to fight, alright—but for the oppressed people, to bring about a whole better world… and to fight AGAINST that system that tried to force me to kill other people who were fighting for liberation. I joined protests with Vietnam Veterans Against the War, and I became a revolutionary, eventually becoming a member of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, led by Bob Avakian.


To the veterans who are coming to Standing Rock to play a different role: I will stand side by side with you and everyone else who is coming together to stop the attack on the rights of Native people and on the environment. Together, we will support these Water Protectors heart and soul.

While we do, let’s talk about the REAL nature of this system and its armed forces. And let’s talk about a truly liberating future where we can get out of this madness. Bob Avakian has written a blueprint for a radically better society—the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America. We’ve developed the strategy to actually win a revolution and to work for it today. And we’ve got the leadership for doing this in Bob Avakian and the party he leads.

Coming to Standing Rock, you are taking an important step. As we fight shoulder to shoulder here, let the next step be beginning the dialogue, the debate, and the organizing for the fight for the future—the emancipation of all humanity.



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