Words of US Marine recently killed in Iraq
- DC-IMC: Breaking the Silence: Soldiers Speak Out Against War in Iraq
This story gives a synopsis of a recent Democracy Now! program from Pacificia Radio/Free Speech TV. I saw the program a week or so ago and was very moved.
- . . . One Marine who was recently killed in Iraq never allowed himself to be silenced. The night before he was deployed to Iraq, he gave an interview with Pacifica Radio’s Peacewatch program in which he discussed his strong commitment to peace and said the Bush administration was violating constitutional principles and misleading the country into an unjust war. Because the interview was given under the condition of anonymity, and out of respect for the current wishes of his family, the Marine will not be identified in this story.
His friends describe him as a passionate, intense person who had an insatiable appetite for knowledge, loved people, and strived for peace above all else – especially peace in the Middle East. He studied philosophy and peace with a particular emphasis on Middle Eastern affairs, particularly Iraq and Israel. In the months before being deployed to fight a war he did not believe in, he helped organize anti-war campaigns, mainly working behind the scenes.
Ironically, he wrote in letters from Iraq that he hoped to be home last week to celebrate Independence Day with his loved ones. He didn’t return home from the Iraqi desert, but his words and writings, as well as interviews with his friends, leave a legacy of his beliefs.
“It is almost unimaginable to expect that this war is going to create a better peace for anybody with the exception of a very small percentage of people,” he said in the radio interview.
With the country on the verge of war, he looked to the highest ideals of the country for inspiration.
“I believe in the United States. I believe in the Constitution,” he said. “I think it’s perhaps one of the greatest documents ever written. I believe in the idea that we the people are sovereign and we determine our own destiny. We have a democracy and the Bill of Rights and freedom of expression, freedom of speech, freedom of religion and due process. Until the world is such a place that we can really live without the military, individual Americans have to step up and they have to serve.”
However, he said the Bush administration did not make a credible case for war with Iraq and was violating constitutional principles by sending troops into combat.
“The constant rhetoric of the administration is that there’s going to be one person who decides when we go to war … and that is such a blatant violation of every constitutional principle that our founding fathers came up with,” he said.
“The Declaration of Independence talks about creating independence from England based upon the fact that their lives are being ruled and determined by one man. And it’s completely undemocratic to allow one man to decide – or one woman to decide – when we go to war, when we fight, and when people have to sacrifice themselves. And the Constitution is very clear that it is Congress that declares war.
“But even beyond that, it’s we the people that this nation is about,” he continued. “It isn’t about politics or personal agendas or political agendas or economic agendas. And I believe that this war is not the right thing for America because it hasn’t yet been proven conclusively that there is a threat to we the people, and I think that is the sole determining factor as to whether or not this nation should ever go to war.”
He was outraged that a legitimate public debate did not occur over going to war in which multiple views and options could be heard. He explained there were many options to avert combat, such as using money being spent for war to build a grassroots democracy movement in Iraq that would rival the Baath regime, or promoting democracy throughout the Middle East to show people alternative forms of government.
He said the administration was not talking honestly with the American public about potential consequences of a U.S. war on Iraq, such as the potential for urban combat, the psyche of the Iraqi people, the impact on the United Nations, and the fate of the Middle East.
“This could have repercussions in terms of the war on terrorism. It could have repercussions on international diplomacy. It could have repercussions on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. It could have repercussions in terms of our ability to get anything else done in the U.N. And even if we come out scott clean and victorious and there are no American casualties and everything goes the way it’s supposed to go, what does that mean for the world order? It says that we basically can do whatever we want to do whenever we want to do it because we are the world’s sole super power.”
Although he didn’t believe in an Iraqi war, he was a Marine and did not abandon his duty to deploy when his government called.
His friends can only imagine the torment that racked his soul and mind. He was at once preparing for and trying to stop a war. Yet he willingly offered himself as a bridge over the elusive divide between soldiers and peace activists. . .
Yet, even while serving as a Marine in Iraq, he continued to pursue peaceful options. One of his commanders wrote a letter after his death explaining a situation in which he negotiated a peaceful settlement to a potentially deadly situation. A group of Baath Party officials were found inside a house. Because he spoke Arabic, he went into the house and talked with the officials until he negotiated a surrender. His actions potentially saved the lives of both U.S. soldiers and Iraqis.
His friends say he was a prolific writer and kept regular journals documenting his beliefs, and they are now thinking about publishing his journals.
Jeni, for one, says his life and passion for peace has given her hope and inspiration.
“He stood for peace above all else,” she says. “Even being a Marine. Even having to shoot a gun. Even having to shoot at the people that he knew had not wronged him. He stood for peace and he knew it was possible.
“I think it’s really, really easy to get discouraged, and to get overwhelmed by what this administration is doing, and to feel like there is nothing we can do,” she continued. “What can we do? How can I save this world? How can I heal what our country is doing to the world? But I think that in [his] life and in his death, I’m learning that it is possible for me to make a difference. And I don’t have to heal the world by myself. I’ve got plenty of help and all I have to do is reach out and seek it.”