When I was a youngster, guys were required to register for the draft when they turned 18. At the time, the Vietnam war was still raging. A war, we were continually being told by government spokespeople, which we would quickly win.
Not long after the commander of US forces in Vietnam declared that the war would be over “by Christmas,” this deadline passed by without a decisive victory, and instead, the Vietnamese resistance launched the Tet offensive, named after the New Year celebration there. Fighting broke out in every province of the south and the US embassy came under attack. Clearly, the US had been blind-sided by an enemy it could not see.
I was only 9 years old, so this opened my eyes to the fact that our government lied to us. Which made me wonder why I should put my life on the line for a bunch of lying assholes.
I wasn’t alone in feeling this way.
Nothing makes you wonder what is worth fighting for more than the thought that you could be required to throw your life away by a government that could not come up with any sort of rational explanation for why it wanted to make war on the Vietnamese people, nor explain why it could not defeat an enemy it clearly underestimated. The US was, after all, the greatest military force the world had ever seen.
This disillusionment hit hardest on those who were approaching the age of registration. In those days, I was hanging out with people of various ages, mostly older. There were lots of reasons for this, but it was mostly because I was looking for answers to questions I had about life in general, and in the US particularly. One question on many youth’s minds then was “What is really worth laying your life on the line for?”
With race riots constantly in the news, I became more and more convinced that something was terribly wrong with America, and that the government was definitely on the wrong side of history. Politicians who dared to speak out against the established power-that-be were persecuted to the point of assassination. People who stood out from mainstream norms were likewise dealt with by right-wing militias – like the infamous Minutemen – and police. If a “hippy freak” was lucky, the cops would beat him senseless and shave his head, then ditch him on the side of a road, whereas women were raped and often disappeared.
By the time the 70s rolled around, I was convinced that the US was under the control of dark, vicious forces which had to be resisted with everything I did or could aspire to be.
Before too long, I became acquainted with revolutionary newspapers, prairie fire (from the weatherman organization) being one. In discussions with college drop-outs and other like-minded youth in my hometown, we came to the conclusion that if we were going to take up arms for any reason, it would be to overthrow the vicious bastards who ran our country.
We stopped viewing the Vietnamese resisters as enemies. We saw black activists as brothers and sisters in resistance. And we began to talk openly about armed struggle.
In order to end the war in Vietnam and prevent the US from further military adventures abroad, we decided the best method would be to force them to bring their military back home. Because we were willing to fight for a revolution here, and the government would need its troops to defend itself from its own citizens.
This strategy was known as “bringing the war home.”
When word of a potential revolution in the US reached soldiers in the field, their enthusiasm for fighting the government’s battles began to seem somewhat unbearable. They were already tired of the vicious, pointless war, far from home, and had no desire to fight against their own countryfolk – even their own families – if the government commanded them to do so. Desertion, draft-dodging, and insubordination became even more rampant among the troops and youth reaching draft age.
As internal unrest became more pronounced, the establishment figureheads more insistent on “law-and-order,” and more people disgusted with government-enforced violence, dissent began to spread to more of the population.
The shenanigans that brought Richard Nixon out of retirement and into the white house eventually became too gross, even for elements of the establishment to stomach. As Hilary Rodham began to prepare to put the President of the United States on trial for his out-of-control criminality, he decided the time was ripe for decisive action.
In order to save his regime, Nixon ordered the Department of Defense to go to on alert, to prepare for a potential nuclear war, and to put America under martial law.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff refused. They conferred with Nixon and explained to him that the country was already on the verge of revolution, that the Pentagon could not control its troops, and that if called out in the streets, they would likely side with the people against the government. In short, the department of defense told Nixon that a declaration of martial law would provoke a civil war, and the government would lose. And they were not willing to destroy the country to save Nixon’s political career.
Nixon had no choice but to resign in disgrace, after making sure his newly-appointed Vice-President would issue him a full pardon, and spare him the humiliation of a public trial, broadcast coast-to-coast.
In short, we – the people – had won our battle. The government had seen the writing on the wall and backed down, rather than start a civil war.
Sadly enough, though, we lost the war. The government remained in place, another election cycle rolled around, and a friendlier-seeming man was elected as President.
The nation as a whole relaxed. The tension that had been building for years in our society was noticeably absent, and the country was ready to celebrate. The drug-and-party crazed 70s kicked into high gear, and talk of revolution suddenly sounded like echoes of a by-gone era.
Anyone familiar with American history knows what followed – the Reagan “revolution,”the escalation of proxy wars, and Americans punished by the upper class for their insubordination. Millions of factory workers lost their jobs, entire regions were plunged into dire poverty, the Savings-and-Loan industry was plundered, and a secret, dirty war carried out on American dissidents.
This has continued non-stop ever since, and there has been little talk of retaliation by those of us left behind by an economy focused on stock values rather than manufacturing strength, on containing inflation rather than spreading prosperity.
In the 21st century, we have been at war abroad for so long and for so little reason, people don’t even talk about ending the costly, wasteful carnage. Many people are content to think “not in my name” and go along with the government’s atrocities abroad. I’m sure most of them know damn well that the wars in Central Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa are over oil reserves that US consumers demand – even those bleating “not in my name.” I’m also certain there are few Americans willing to do anything to take action against a nation whose main export is violence. After more than a decade of continual, spreading warfare, the American economy is addicted to warfare. And – to be clear – yes, it IS in YOUR name.
There is only one way to stop this. There is only one course of action that can make the US corporate/military state give up its adventurism abroad, and it is the same one millions of us were willing to take more than 40 years ago, and that is to make the government bring their armed forces back here to fight against the revolutionary forces of the American people.
There are literally billions of lives in danger if we allow the fascist American State to continue expanding its warfare economy any longer. And it’s only a matter of time before enough of the world grows weary of American bullying and decides to fight back, just as they finally had enough of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.
If we don’t fight against this vile military police state, we will go down with it, much like Yugoslavia, Iraq, and Libya have already succumbed to international aggression.
We can fight a revolutionary war now, or we can sit on our asses and await an inevitable nuclear war to come.