Friday, March 11, 2005
US Soldiers against the war
Amadee Braxton: I think that the anti-war movement in the U.S. is going to become more visible. It seemed to be at a high point maybe last spring, 2004, and then of course the election sucked up everybody’s energy and focus. And I think in particular the increasing involvement of military families and Iraq war veterans is going to give a big boost to the anti-war movement in the United States.
OKeefe: When did your organization come together, and what are some of the main kinds of work that you do?
Braxton: Iraq Veterans Against the War was founded in August of 2004 at a national annual meeting of Veterans for Peace, which is a large and longstanding peace organization made up of veterans. It was founded by several Iraq war veterans who came to see that the war was a mistake. The organization has been growing by leaps and bounds. Anytime one of our members speaks publicly we get a lot of emails and phone calls from veterans as well as active duty servicemen and women who are interested in joining.
We're finding that many people who aren’t actively serving in Iraq right now see that the war was a mistake and feel like there’s really no purpose in them being there, they feel like there’s no mission really for them to achieve over there, and they feel very resentful that the government has put them in harm’s way basically for nothing, for the wealth of a few corporations here in the U.S.
What we’ve been doing is reaching out, trying to get more veterans involved, letting the country know where some veterans are standing when it comes to the war.
I think our organization is unique, because we’re calling for immediate withdrawal of troops. We don’t think any slow, prolonged withdrawal is going to solve the problems in Iraq. We think that the U.S. military is an occupying force in Iraq, and the longer we stay there, the more resentment and destruction and death will occur there. And we feel that if you really want to support the troops, you need to demand that they come home now.
A lot of people take the view that, oh, we can’t pull out every troop right away because, you know, Iraq will fall into chaos. And our position is that Iraq is already in chaos, and the reason is because we are there.
OKeefe: I’m wondering if Iraq Veterans Against the War is also consciously looking at the example of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War and the big impact that they had?
Braxton: As I said, our organization was founded at a meeting of Veterans for Peace, which has a lot of Vietnam veterans in it. And Vietnam veterans have played a big role in helping nurture our organization and sharing their parallel experiences of Vietnam with us.
And were seeing a lot of parallels and similar tactics that were used by the Johnson administration, in terms of having an election in Vietnam and thinking that that was going to change everything. This is similar to the situation we just had with the elections in Iraq. And the Bush administration was hailing that that was going to signal a change in Iraq, a kind of turning a corner in Iraq. We know that in 1967 they had elections in Vietnam, and U.S. troops continued to occupy Vietnam and fight there and die there for another eight years. And we don’t want the same thing to happen in Iraq.