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Jan 16, 18

On Yellow Ribbons and Counter-Insurgency: From a Veteran

“We have million dollar skills, and we must give them up. Not to Tiger Swan, not to Blackwater, or the local PD, but to those struggling for liberation across the board.”

America has been engaged in the global war on terror for the past 16 ½ years. I could give you details regarding civilian deaths, military deaths, PTSD and homeless veteran statistics, but so can Google. Instead I’m hoping to come at this as straightforward as possible. The history of America is one simply defined by warfare on behalf bourgeoisie class interests, land acquisition, genocide, slavery, and imperialism. Other than the constant turmoil, destruction, and evil that has accompanied American conquest, another constant has remained. That constant is the American soldier.

In our current reality, we are distracted ad-nauseum about support for troops. Inundated with yellow ribbons and hand-shakes. We let the President and media tell us to stand for anthems (don’t). We wave flags, host BBQs, and come just shy of licking the combat boots used to snuff the life out of poor brown folks around the world. I am a veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. A former noncommissioned officer of the US military, and I am as much a war criminal as any imperialist foot soldier in history.

As Americans we are heavily conditioned to the Military-Industrial-Complex and its vitriolic form of nationalism. It pervades our existence. From the toys we play with, the holidays that we take, to the lives and roles found within our own family and social circles. We suffer a deluge of militarization from the schoolhouse to the sportsball fields, blasting us with American Imperialism daily, conditioning us to the inhumanity of our cyber-reality.

I know there are better texts to be found on veteran’s resistance. There are more thoroughly researched dissertations, and you should seek those out, but I can only offer up this small piece, from my heart because, as we enter the 242nd year of American empire, I have a hard time finding any semblance of justice within our current State. I offer this up to my fellow soldiers, my veteran comrades, those on the fence. The constant of American imperialism and capitalist destruction was us, is us, and is you. You are the fodder, the bullet, the bomb, the very visible fist that smashes whenever and where ever the elite seek to exploit. They disguise you as peace keepers, as civil affair specialists, counter-insurgents, special operators, analysts, logisticians, medics, and grunts. You are simply the tools of capitalism. The destroyers of lives. The storm-troopers of an evil empire.

Some part of you knows this already. You are here. You are reading this. You know it in your heart. How many patrols did you do to protect capitalist goods? How many female comrades do you know who have been assaulted? How many times did you protect one warlord from another? How many Taco Bells, Pizza Huts, and Burger King meals did you eat at FOBs and COPs and Joint Bases, while rationing ammo, water, and supplies? How many convoys ended up robbed by enemies and allies? How many drugs did you see traded, poppy fields planted? How many friends and loved ones did you see die, participating in memorial services just to do it again the next day, for no gain, for no value, for 17 years of waste? What about those war crimes that were brushed aside, covered up?

We were washed in toxicity, violent racism and hatred, all while the politicians, the contractors, and our officers profited and were promoted.

The only way this is possible is because we are the constant. We persist and continue to enlist. We embody the bullshit lies we’ve been fed. We revel in the empty thanks of an empty nation. We are endowed with a stigma that guarantees us a shitty steak, at a shitty chain restaurant, one day out a year. We are told that we can use this service to climb the socio-economic ladder, a tool of class escapism. It’s a lie, not worth the paper your DD214 is printed on. Not worth the healthcare, or the paycheck, or the college degree. None of it will buy back our souls. We are the embodiment of capitalist greed.

The very weapons and tools we used to kill others, have come home. They have been transferred back in both practice and implementation. Our community police are kitted with better equipment than we ever were. They are killing PoC, Trans, and those with mental health issues at rates that would be considered war crimes had we pulled the trigger. Our surveillance State has infiltrated everywhere and everything. MRAPs patrol our neighborhoods, while bodies fall around the world, and Northrop Gruman, and Lockheed Martin, and Boeing, and all of the contractors, and stockholders, and politicians make billions on the oppression of neighborhoods around the world.

Standing Rock, Ferguson, forest encampments, J20 prosecutions, antifascist actions, Chicago Black Sites, prisons, and the detention centers sitting on our southern borders are all the products of our militarized police state. The counter-insurgency of the 1960’s has been upgraded to include the weapons that we carried through dusty streets and along mountain ridges. These weapons and tactics were refined with our blood, our sweat, and our youth.

To combat this in any form we must resist. Go AWOL. Don’t show up to formation. Quit going to drill. Spit in Trump’s eye. Throw your medals back, burn your flags, and your bury your commendations. We must resist, and in this resistance, we must recognize our role. It’s not to save. It’s not to lead. It should be to lift up. It should be to impart knowledge, to whistle-blow and teach skills to those targeted by counter-insurgency. Join those fighting in the streets in open rebellion. Lend your knowledge to those confronting fascists in uniform or fascists in khakis. We have million dollar skills, and we must give them up. Not to Tiger Swan, not to Blackwater, or the local PD, but to those struggling for liberation across the board.

There really isn’t just one tool that can confront this synthesized Military-Industrial-Surveillance-Congressional-Complex, but we can help sharpen the ones that do exist. This is asking a lot. It’s a request to have you give up even more after sacrificing mental stability, family, and freedom. It’s asking you to jump on the grenade that is the dishonorable, the other than honorable, to give up that healthcare and home loan. We have wrecked so much of this world. Destroyed so many lives, closed off the futures of millions, displaced even more. We have done it for a uniform; for a gig; for a handshake, an adventure, a degree. We owe it to ourselves, and we owe it to our future. We must resist.


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