Monday, October 25, 2010

What To Do

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Posting as Iraq Vet For Human Rights over at Glenn's Place, writer Helen G. (I'm not sure she would want me to use her full name or maybe any name but her pseudonym) asks the right question of all of us, given her own personal experience as a soldier in Iraq, bolstered by the enormous number of documents from soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan now in the public domain thanks to... someone, assumed to be PFC Bradley Manning... who leaked them to WikiLeaks.

What do we do now? And what needs to be done to change the trajectory? To make amends to those who have been harmed?

To the extent I have a larger goal than merely observing and opining on the Passing Show, it is to be found in bringing the present day Imperial Project to a... halt. Right now, it is simply running out of control, almost on its own account, with no discernible objective besides finding and crushing resistance to American Imperial Hegemony. It's a Killer Operation for its own sake. It's insane.

Well, we've been down this road before, actually repeatedly, and it took concerted action by the American People over long years to bring it to a halt. What it took was inducing the Ruling Class to decide to desist.

The Vietnam/Indochina example could be instructive, and in that regard, this is what I posted at Glenn's Place in response to IVFHR's query:

Ultimately it was the decision of the High and the Mighty to end the Indochina debacle, but they didn't reach that decision by accident.

The American People have to position themselves, once again, to convince those in power to STOP IT.

It's not going to be easy. It may not be possible before tragedy overwhelms us.

But there were key elements in how it was done vis a vis Vietnam and Indochina that we should keep in mind.

1) Opposition to and ultimately ending the draft. Without a draft -- or even with one, but with serious resistance to it -- the military could not function as an Imperial Conquering Force.

There is no draft now, of course, but you've alluded to its equivalent: a crypto-draft due to economic circumstances. And it's broader than just the volunteer military: we have to include the vast numbers of mercenaries the Government is recruiting and paying.

What would convince young men and women not to join the military -- even under severe economic strains? As important, what would convince those inclined to become mercenaries not to? How can they be convinced, for example, that serving the Empire isn't "patriotic?" That's what has to be done, and it's an uphill struggle. I'm thinking of how difficult it could be to convince Irish youth not to join the British armed forces when time was. Just so in the United States today. Nevertheless, serving the Empire is not patriotic.

2) Refusing commands. In Vietnam, this phenomenon scared the hell out of the generals and admirals -- and eventually out of the civilian command as well. It was never as widespread as it is sometimes made out to be, but any hint of mutiny or action against authority is terrifying to military commanders, and it is essential that troops and officers refuse to carry out orders -- especially when they are, as they so often have been in our Imperial Escapades, flagrantly illegal. The troops MUST resist and refuse. How do you convince them it is patriotic to refuse orders and resist commands? Got to find ways. Until the troops refuse, commanders will continue as they have been.

3) Congressional de-funding. We the People have to insist that the Congress cease funding the Empire. It's not so much about defunding the wars -- though that has to be done, too -- it is more about defunding the whole panoply of Empire that is like a virulent infection on the Potomac. Our Rulers are in love with their notions of Power bound up with their Imperial Project. In order to convince them to desist, We the People have to be prepared to stop paying for it. And that's the toughest nut to crack. It means real risk and sacrifice by many Americans. There have been calls for a General Strike, for example, with at best a handful of participants nationwide. Yet no other action on the part of the People is going to make much of a difference on the Powers That Be. They have to see that the People are determined. At this point, they are only seeing that from the TeaBaggers -- and that just gladdens the hearts of the High and the Mighty.

So those are essential actions that have to be taken or the Imperial Juggernaut will roll on.

Of course at any moment, China might pull the plug on financing the Empire and the whole thing will fall apart anyway...

And that, I think, is what it will eventually come down to: When China no longer needs or desires the American Imperial Project, they will pull the financial plug, and there will be nothing, short of self-immolation, that the United States will be able to do about it.


  1. Hey Ché,

    Just checked in to find this post - thank you so much for your thoughtful responses. I'm bushed again, but will try to respond more fully later.

    Cheers to you!

    Helen Gerhardt - and yes, you can use my real name.

  2. Helen,

    I understand you've got a lot on your plate, and the fact that you're able to keep up at all is amazing -- and inspiring. Keep at it.

    We won't always agree -- as we've already seen. But the way I look at it, agreement isn't the issue, action is. And you are taking action on many fronts, for the right causes and reasons.

    Good. On. You.