Commentary: A Former Officer Speaks Up

March 30th, 2008 - by admin

John F. Davies / Berkeley Daily Planet – 2008-03-30 22:48:57

(March 28, 2008) — As a former Officer of Marines, I wish to make some comments on this fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, some of which will no doubt be controversial. During the Winter Soldier hearings two weeks ago in Washington D.C., a question was raised about why not many active or retired officers are speaking up against the war.

There is indeed a reason for this, and it has to do with simple survival. Those officers on active duty, of course, risk the end of their careers. But those of us who are retired tend to gravitate toward the corporate world, who by the way, are the greatest beneficiaries of this war.

Speaking from my own personal experience, to openly speak out against the Iraq war risks termination from one’s employment, potential bankruptcy, and social ostracism.

Next I will bring up something that’s also been on my mind, and it’s the anti-war movement itself. While I from the beginning have vehemently opposed this unmitigated disaster in Iraq, I’m still not a pacifist, and do have many disagreements with the organizations who’ve taken it upon themselves to coordinate this movement. Their leadership cadres tend to come from a left radical activist background, and they take stands and actions which alienate many people who would otherwise support us.

A good example of this are the recent attempts to shut down the Marine Corps Officer Selection Office in downtown Berkeley. And to openly disagree with these people brings forth rebukes which rival those of the right wing pro-war supporters whom they profess to despise. With individuals such as these guiding its direction, its perfectly understandable why the anti Iraq war movement continues to be marginalized. But further, I will say that the American public itself is to blame for this war. Our so-called “lifestyle” is at the root of this.

The American economy’s dependence on cheap oil, and the consumer economy that goes with it, require wars like this to continue. Even in communities such as Berkeley and San Francisco, who call themselves “progressive,” one sees the same hyper-consumptive way of life that perpetuates these foreign wars. And it is these same people who do not want to make the connections, as it would call into question their very existence. As a result, brave men and women lose their lives, their limbs and their sanity while some affluent liberal drives their Volvo to their weekend anti-war rally, screams their outrage, and feel they have done something good.

Simply put, the American people are unwilling to abandon their wasteful way of life which consumes so much of this planet’s resources and justifies expeditionary wars such as this one.

Unless we break the hold of corporations and the national security state over our lives, wars like this present one will inevitably continue to happen. As I’ve always believed that one should never bring up a problem without suggesting a solution, I’ll offer some ideas as to what must be done even before this Iraq misadventure comes to its inevitable conclusion.

To start with, two Supreme Court decisions must be overturned: Santa Clara vs Southern Pacific, which gave corporations the same rights as a human being, and Buckley vs. Vallejo, which declared money to be free speech.

Also, the National Security Act of 1947, which created the present militarized nation state, needs to be radically amended so as to stop the abuses of clandestine government agencies.

While I do believe in the need for America to be able to defend itself, I will nevertheless say that these unelected unaccountable institutions must be brought to heel if we are stop the recent spate of undeclared and illegal military adventures.

To paraphrase the words of Lincoln: A democracy and a corporate national security state cannot coexist.

Berkeley resident John F. Davies is a former U.S. Marine.