Tag Archives: GIs

PL’s Ideas Inspire GIs’ Exposé of Brass’s Corruption

Recently, a company commander in the Middle East held a meeting to tell everyone how good a job they’re doing. This has become such a repetitive occurrence that the words coming out of his mouth seem like a memorized speech. You can feel the tension as everyone gathers around him.

The issues on everyone’s mind are not about the good job everyone is doing; they’re about the long hours that soldiers have to work and about the petty rules the leadership has enforced for the entire company. The silence is noteworthy because everyone takes a look at each other, and everyone knows exactly what is going on.

At this midpoint of the deployment, morale is at its all time low. After all, who can ever make sense of an 18-hour-work-day? Or justify such babysitting rules as evening curfews?  Who is able to agree with the multiple article 15’s/counseling statements for crimes like talking back, faking illnesses, and missing a doctor’s appointment? Or who can make sense of growing Afghani civilian deaths, or a million Iraqi deaths, or thousands of U.S. GI deaths so that U.S. bosses can control the region’s oil, oil pipelines, and profits?

The hypocrisy of the commander’s praise was clear to everyone. At this little meeting, the smirk on one soldier’s face, the readjusting of body positions, and the quiet coughs and comments capture the mood a hundred times better than the commander’s useless speech.

A month later soldiers decided to write a leaflet exposing the corrupt and incompetent leadership of this company. The leaflet was posted everywhere on the base. It denounced the leadership for not caring about its soldiers. It pointed out that the leadership took measures simply to make sure they looked good; the shinier the brass, the better the chance of promotion. These deployments are career-makers for officers seeking promotions. And the culture of this Army breeds leaders who take advantage of their power; these leaders work soldiers into the ground just to make themselves look good. This is the culture of capitalism, especially capitalism in crisis pushing soldiers more and more. Ask any maintenance soldier in our unit, and that soldier will express how mechanics are worked like mules.

When this leaflet was discovered, the first sergeant was taken into custody by the military police. No one knows why; perhaps for his protection. The entire company was called for formation, where the remaining leadership lashed out in fear. This may not be common across the board, but it was something to behold on this day. As one soldier said, it was “great to see how angry they got.” The officers were scared!

Rank-and-file soldiers, who had received political literature that is still discussed, created the leaflet. Many agreed with the literature that was distributed to them before they deployed. In fact, many in the unit became close friends in discussing this literature. This literature led to some soldiers sharing CHALLENGE and conversations about anti-racist, anti-imperialist, and communist politics with many friends. Since the leaflet there have been many political discussions. The response of the leadership was retaliation. But that was fine with us. After all, this is the Army. If they give us a hard time, you bet it’s worth giving them worse.

In the midst of enormous lay-offs that have sky rocketed unemployment, this rebellious atmosphere is needed everywhere. Racist capitalism haunts us all, and we must organize and fight it all together, to destroy it with communist revolution. More soldiers can join this fight.

Red Soldier

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In Opposing Imperialist War:GI’s Must Fight Racism, Sexism

In late August, Veterans for Peace (VFP) and Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) will have their national conventions with military families participating. These groups’ leaders put their hopes on politicians to end the war in Iraq. But all politicians represent the interests of capitalism — profit wars, racism, and sexism. The Progressive Labor Party is organizing to fight the ruler’s agenda, not with false hopes of change from elections, but by building an international communist movement to smash imperialism and its racist, sexist warmakers.

While some activists honestly feel fighting racism is a distraction to the goal of ending the war, anti-racist unity helped anti-war troops contribute to the collapse of U.S. ground forces in Vietnam. A majority of Vietnam-era GI rebellions centered on fighting the racism against black and Latin soldiers along with fighting against the war. Fighting the military’s anti-Asian racism was also vital to building solidarity with “the enemy” which led to US troops fragging — killing — gung ho patriotic officers, rather than killing and dying for U.S. imperialism.

Today, fighting racism is still crucial to fighting imperialism.  Limiting the argument to the Iraqi War being bad because U.S. troops are being killed supports U.S. rulers’ racist agenda of having troops see Asian, Arab, and Muslim workers as subhuman. The wars, in both Afghanistan and Iraq, are wrong because they’re killing our class brothers and sisters, not just U.S. troops. Liberal “anti-war” politicians, like the 13 congressional democrats who wrote a support statement to anti-Iraq war troops, condone the racist anti-Muslim lies and support the U.S. war in Afghanistan.

Even though many in the U.S. military honestly believe in the ideas of national honor and pride in the US constitution, the history of US ruler’s racist terror — from slavery and the Indian wars to recent police murders, raids against immigrant workers, and the murder of millions in Iraq and many thousands in Afghanistan—contradicts these “patriotic” ideals and proves they are a lie. But instead of winning and developing anti-racist activists through education and action, some IVAW leaders want to appeal to a patriotism that makes unity with the ruler’s politicians more important than unity with workers worldwide.

Many anti-racists aren’t duped.  Black youth are resisting enlistment and black troops are opting for support jobs in part because of the memory of Vietnam-era racism, which led to disproportionate higher casualties among black and Latin soldiers.

Within IVAW, members have raised and led fights against the racist nature of imperialism. But some IVAW leaders say they don’t want to alienate “middle America” by talking about racism.  The leadership dropped a planned panel on “racism within the military” during the group’s Winter Soldier testimonies. IVAW’s active membership, like other military peace groups, remains mostly white. This poses no problems, however, if you want to capture the spotlight of the racist media and reach racist politicians, instead of building a multi-racial movement to fight imperialism.

Like racism, sexism aids imperialism. Capitalists win male troops to kill and die for profits using a sexist macho warrior role. The U.S. military’s tolerance of sexism within the ranks leads male troops to direct anger and lack of control over deployments into seeing female troops as “walking mattresses” or sexually attacking fellow troops instead of the bosses. Sexism within IVAW led, in part, to the formation of the Service Women’s Action Network, a liberal feminist veterans organization. Uniting working-class men and women to fight sexism is among PLP goals.

The unity of multi-racial male and female working-class troops against the military’s racism and sexism will lead to a stronger movement that can land a powerful blow to imperialism and recruit to PLP.

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