General, man is very useful.
He can fly and he can kill.
But he has one defect: He can think.
This poem by Bertold Brecht was an anthem of the widespread GI Movement against the Vietnam War, and thirty years later it still resonates.
Today there is a growing GI movement against the War in Iraq. It has the potential to tremendously impact the War in Iraq and end US foreign policies of empire. But it needs our help. On December 8-10, there will be three days of action across the US to show widespread public support for the courageous troops that resist. Educational events, rallies, marches and vigils will take place around the US.
In the 1960’s an anti-war movement emerged that altered the course of history. This movement didn’t take place on college campuses, but in barracks and on aircraft carriers. It flourished in Army stockades, Navy brigs and in the dingy towns that surround military bases. It penetrated elite military colleges like West Point. And it spread throughout the battlefields of Vietnam. It was a movement no one expected, least of all those in it. Hundreds went to prison and thousands into exile. And by 1971 it had, in the words of one colonel, infested the entire armed services.
I was part of that movement during the 60’s, and have an intimate connection with it. For two years I worked as a civilian at the Oleo Strut in Killeen, Texas — one of dozens of coffeehouses that were opened near military bases to support the efforts of antiwar soldiers. I helped organize demonstrations of over 1,000 soldiers against the war and the military; I worked with guys from small towns and urban ghettos who had joined the military and gone to Vietnam out of a deep sense of duty and now risked their lives and futures to end the war; and I helped defend them when they were jailed for their antiwar activities.
I made the film Sir! No Sir!, released earlier this year, to tell this suppressed story of the GI Movement.
Today the new GI resistance movement is growing — more soldiers are going public with their opposition, thousands are going AWOL, the first GI coffeehouse opened recently (with internet!), and the antiwar movement is realizing that supporting these soldiers is the next step.
It’s time for us to escalate public pressure and action in support of the growing movement of courageous men and women soldiers who have in many different ways followed their conscience — upholding international law, taking a principled stand against unjust, illegal war and occupation and standing up for their rights. Widespread public support and pressure will help create true support for courageous troops facing isolation and repression, and help protect their civil liberties and human rights.
Like the GI Coffeehouses of the 60’s and 70’s, showing widespread public support for soldiers who resist is one of the best ways those of us outside the military can encourage the growing momentum of GI resistance, a movement that has the direct power, with the civilian movement, to end this war.
Those of us outside the military must match their bravery by escalating our support for all GI resisters. They’ve got to know we’re out here for them!
Supporting GI resistance, together with counter-recruitment and draft resistance, is key to stopping illegal war and occupation ourselves. If the government can’t recruit or draft enough new troops, and if troops refuse illegal immoral orders, it will help end the war and occupation and help prevent the next one.
The December 8 – 10 Days of Action calls for:
1) Support for War Objectors
2) Protect the Right to Conscientious Objection
3) Protect the Liberties & Human Rights of GI’s
4) Sanctuary for War Objectors.
Support the actions or events in your area or organize an event, like showing Sir! No Sir! to a house party of friends or your local community.
If not now, when? If not us, who?
Visit www.CourageToResist.org for more information or to contribute to this campaign.
To get a copy of Sir! No Sir! or see the trailer, go to www.SirNoSir.com.
This letter is also in this week’s “Must Read” section on Michael Moore’s web site, http://www.michaelmoore.com/mustread/index.php?id=784