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Saturday, March 25, 2006

more on anti-recruitment -- leaflet work

As we have said before, LI is extremely tired of the discussion about what the Democrats could do about the war. Or the Republicans. We could give a fuck. We wanted to know what we could do about the war. Which is the start of this project which I am tentatively calling: killthewarinyourgarage. You get a little taste of the army's plight in this oped at WAPO.

LI has been busily working at the anti-recruitment leaflet we mentioned a couple of posts ago. Mr. VD has sent us a graphic, and we've been assured banner space at one left leaning blog. Actually, as the leaflet idea gets more concrete, it might be the case that the website we get will hold several different leaflets. My friend Dave in the Great Pacific Northwest promised to help me on the graphix too.

The tone of the leaflet is the deflated boner in the mix for LI. We are well aware that our black humored, bile & candy prose is inappropriate here. We don't want to appeal to the 18-25 set that goes to anti-war demos, cause, like, why? -- we want to appeal straightforwardly to those potential recruits who may be Republicans, may be evangelical Christians, may be hardworking 4 H-ers, and most likely come from families that "support our troops." So, there is a no irony rule here.

Anyway, this stuff below is what we are mulling. I'd love to hear suggestions about this. Mail me at rgathman@netzero.net. Evidently, certain parts of this are not satisfactory at the moment. In particular, we want to get across the point that patriots can chose not to fight in a war that they believe is badly led. The quotes from Bush and Cheney are about that. But it is a subtle point, and I don't think I've made it well, yet. There is a part of me that wants to strongly insinuate how evil these people are -- and that is completely stupid and self indulgent. Rather, I need to simply suggest that every generation makes its choices, and that there is no shame in chosing to wait until the army is out of Iraq to enlist.




Before you talk to an army recruiter, there are a few facts you should know:

· 11,852 members of the military had been wounded in explosions - from so-called improvised explosive devices, or I.E.D.'s, mortars, bombs and grenades as of January, 2006
· American military deaths numbered 2,225 as of Jan. 20; American military wounded: 16,472
· More than half wounded in explosions sustain head injuries
· The Government is looking for ways to cut down on helping the wounded pay for their treatment over the years: the Pentagon’s top personnel officer, David Chu, wrote in January, 2005 in the Wall Street Journal: "The amounts have gotten to the point where they are hurtful," David Chu Pentagon's top personnel official
Your benefits will almost certainly be cut. If you are the victim of an IED (Improvised Explosive Devise), your lifetime care will depend on benefits coming from Washington. And Washington has to cut benefits. Bottom line: you will be out on the street: “At least tens of thousands of veterans with non-critical medical issues could suffer delayed or even denied care in coming years to enable President Bush to meet his promise of cutting the deficit in half if the White House is serious about its proposed budget.
After an increase for next year, the Bush budget would turn current trends on their head. Even though the cost of providing medical care to veterans has been growing by leaps and bounds, White House budget documents assume a cutback in 2008 and further cuts thereafter.” – ABC, February 27, 2006.
In this part, I am going to put in a description of IEDs and some of the destruction they have wrought.
· Who wants to continue this war? Not the American people. Polls show 56 percent of the American people think the Iraq war was a mistake. And when people don’t support a war, don’t be fooled by “we support the troops” rhetoric. If you join now, you have a higher chance of injury or death and a lower assurance you will get benefits to help you get over it, and an even higher chance that any money they promise you will be inadequate.
· If someone offered you a ten thousand dollar bonus to work in a butcher shop, would you? Would you if you couldn’t get out of the contract? Would you if you had a one in six chance of injury? Would you if 2.5 of your fellow employees died per day? Think about it – why take the risk of chronic pain, death, and possible mental stress for years to come unless there was a larger cause you were fighting for? So, let’s look at that larger cause. First, let’s look at the patriotism of the men who started the war and are continuing it. Then, let’s look at the reasons the war was started and is continuing. Finally, let’s look at the positive side of not feeding the war machine – or, Getting America back to the Constitution.
·
· Patriotism
So you want to serve your country? You can serve it in many ways. But you don’t have to go to an unpopular and unwinnable war. History shows us many American patriots that avoided war. Did you know President George Bush avoided going toVietnam? Here is what he said about the topic
“Russert: Were you favor of the war in Vietnam?
President Bush: I supported my government. I did. And would have gone had my unit been called up, by the way.
Russert: But you didn't volunteer or enlist to go.
President Bush: No, I didn't. You're right. I served. I flew fighters and enjoyed it, and provided a service to our country. In those days we had what was called "air defense command," and it was a part of the air defense command system.
The thing about the Vietnam War that troubles me as I look back was it was a political war. We had politicians making military decisions”
Vice President Cheney avoided going to Vietnam. Why? As he told a newspaper: "I had other priorities in the sixties than military service." While others were going to war, Cheney was getting ahead. That was the smart thing to do.

Karl Rove, President Bush’s top advisor, was draft age during the Vietnam war. He didn’t go. Neither did Vice President Cheney’s top advisor, Scooter Libby.

· These men and others like them were able to use the years that others spent in Vietnam getting ahead. They are now sending other men off to Iraq. Does that sound like a fair deal? It isn’t. If it is right for America’s highest ranking officials to avoid a mismanaged war, if this is patriotism, then it should be all right for you. Having “other priorities” means finding other ways of succeeding in this country. Patriotism is contributing something positive, no matter what.
· Don’t be the last soldier to die, or have a shattered spine, or a torn off limb, in a war with no mission end point. Unless we the people exert ourselves through not volunteering, the war will go simply go on and on, since nobody is willing to stop it. But YOU CAN STOP IT.

6 comments:

Paul craddick said...

Roger,

I think this 'campaign' of yours is quasi-addlebrained, but I must admit to being impresssed w/ the proposed rhetoric for the pamphlet.

It shows real insight that you're not addressing some unwashed MoveOn.org type.

roger said...

Paul, talk about a backhanded compliment! and to imagine, I saved you from committing a dastardly deed out of sympathy for Victor Hugo's characters.

Actually, to do this pamphlet right, I will have to push buttons that normally don't concern me too much. Ones that would infuriate you. But these are times that try men's vanity -- including the intellectual vanity of trying to be sophisticated and complex, when you just need a crowbar.

Nate said...

Roger,
Thanks for this. I need to read it again when I'm more awake. Your opening four lines or so really hit home. I'd love to talk with you about this further eventually, I think a viable and long term anti-militarist politics is a pressing issue. I think the refusal of war would best start (paralleling your comments on Tronti) by trying to understand the specifics of the processes of production and finance of war, including the securing of adequate raw materials for the death machines (ie, young people to be sacrificed). In the meantime, you might be interested in some material at No War But The Class War:
http://www.geocities.com/nowar_buttheclasswar/

Best wishes,
Nate

Anonymous said...

There is a link to this on dKos. You can find more comments at: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/3/26/92751/5225

roger said...

Anonymous, thanks for that link. There are some interesting reactions there, having to do with: why make another anti-recruitment appeal?; shouldn't we let the Republicans fuck up completely, so we can crow about it later and say it wasn't our fault; and this is a naive appeal that doesn't comprehend why people sign up for the military. The third one is something I am interested in. As Nate says, there is a class component to signing up. Looking about for the demographics of recruitment, you find that recruiters are increasingly going to the country to get high school kids, that there has been a considerable drop in the level of urban kids, and also drops in the levels of blacks and Pacific Northwesterners, and a slight rise in the number of hispanics.
The commentor at the DailyKos who said this read like a 2004 election piece is, I think, mistaking the mention of Bush and Cheney's record for one of blame - I am, instead, using them as templates to imitate. This is very tricky, because the field has been so littered here with rhetorical devises that one automatically assumes that the mention of a "chickenhawk" precedes yet another demand that said chickenhawk hie himself to Iraq. Instead, I am urging that the powerless imitate the powerful.

I keep thinking that my ideal audience consists of high schoolers in Las Cruces, New Mexico or Hibbings, Minnesota -- places in which the military represents a real opportunity for economic and social advancement.

But the countryside also contains a reservoir of individualism and suspicion of the state -- for good reason. I believe the fairness issue -- is it fair that they ask you to go? -- can mesh with the social disruption issue -- are you prepared to spend all of your money on rearranging your life as you are deployed three or four times -- are you prepared for the grief of your parents, wife, kids -- which can mesh, ultimately, with the appeal to patriotism -- a cowardly congress that refuses to declare war for a concrete cause allows a president to use soldiers like mercenaries for as long as he choses. You can make a difference simply by refusing to go NOW. That kind of thing.
This will neither be anti-military, per se, nor even anti-Bush, per se -- it will be aimed squarely at not going to Iraq.
Anyway, thanks for the link to the Kos. I found those remarks helpful.

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