Listen Up, Soldier

You’re an American GI, and you signed up because you love your country, you want to defend it, and you also want to improve the quality of your own life in a dead economy. You’re willing to fight anywhere they send you, obey orders like a good soldier, and you think the antiwar movement is completely full of it. As war looms on the horizon, you are rarin’ to go – but how come your commanders and officers aren’t? A recent article in Time magazine informs us:

"As many as 1 in 3 senior officers questions the wisdom of a pre-emptive war with Iraq. The reasons aren’t surprising: the U.S. military is already stretched across the globe, the war against Osama bin Laden is unfinished, and even if the march to Baghdad goes quickly, a long postwar occupation looks inevitable. The military’s assessment of the chances of success are less optimistic than those of the Administration’s theologians."

The grunts, as usual, are just following orders. They accept what they hear in the news media about the antiwar movement as a bunch of nutjob lefties and feel-good pacifists. But what about their own officers, who have doubts about the crazed strategy being touted by the War Party as the key to success in Iraq? Are they pacifists? I don’t think so. So listen up, soldier. Forget the antiwar movement, and listen to General Anthony Zinni , the Marine Corps commander and former chief of the Central Command, who says:

"Attacking Iraq now will cause a lot of problems. I think the debate right now that’s going on is very healthy. If you ask me my opinion, Gen. Scowcroft, Gen. Powell, Gen. Schwarzkopf, Gen. Zinni, maybe all see this the same way. It might be interesting to wonder why all the generals see it the same way, and all those that never fired a shot in anger and really hell-bent to go to war see it a different way. That’s usually the way it is in history."

Time magazine devotes a lot of attention to the new, "streamlined" plan for an invasion of Iraq that Defense Secretary Donald "Know it all" Rumsfeld is trying to shove down the throats of the boys in the Pentagon, who don’t like it much. Retired Army General Norman Schwarzkopf, who led the first Gulf War, says he is "nervous" about the control Rumsfeld is exercising over the buildup. "It looks like Rumsfeld is totally, 100%, in charge," says Schwarzkopf. "He seems to be deeply immersed in the operational planning – to the chagrin of most of the armed forces." Rummy the dummy wants to do it with as little as 50,000 soldiers, and "no more than 100,000." The Rumsfled plan is to zoom straight to Baghdad after a mere 7-day bombing campaign, a "quick victory" scenario that angers many in the Pentagon. They see him as the instrument of the civilian leadership who devise "heroic" scenarios that they are expected to somehow pull off. Retired General Merrill McPeak, formerly the Air Force Chief of Staff during the last Gulf war, is frankly p’oed:

"Rumsfeld is running this on a very short string. I’m sure that’s a source of frustration for Tommy Franks, but this is a Rumsfeld show. He’s really running this buildup, hands on the throttle and steering wheel. If I were there, I’d be contemplating resignation daily."

You can bet he didn’t say this lightly. As a lifelong soldier, and a loyal one, General McPeak’s concern for the welfare of his own soldiers, as well as his country, overcame his natural tendency to simply go along with the commander-in-chief and his civilian advisors. But what has McPeak and a lot of the brass up in arms was summed up by General James L. Jones, four-star commander of the Marine Corps. As the pro-war Brits over at the Telegraph reported:

"One of America’s most senior generals has condemned as ‘foolish’ plans backed by leading Washington hawks to topple Saddam Hussein by using special forces in a repetition of the tactics that succeeded in Afghanistan…."

The "quick victory" scenario is politically plausible, which is why the civies are for it. Get it over and done with, it’ll be a "cakewalk" says the War Party. But does the Rumsfeld "Gulf war lite" plan make military sense? Here’s General McPeak:

"Afghanistan was Afghanistan; Iraq is Iraq. It would be foolish, if you were ever committed to going into Iraq, to think that the principles that were successful in Afghanistan would necessarily be successful in Iraq. In my opinion, they would not."

Oh, but what does a Marine commander know about it? After all, who is he compared to, say, Paul Wolfowitz, one of the political appointees in DoD who has been pushing hard for war – and never served a day in his life, except in thinktanks and government, along with all the rest of the pencil-necked geeks gunning for war?

Time reports that the higher you go up in the military ranks, the more mutinous the grumbling gets:

"There are hundreds of one-star generals and action officers who complain that Rumsfeld’s not listening to the military."

Hundreds! But why isn’t he listening to them? What’s up with this rush to war?

The reason is simple: it’s politics. The President needs to get this over with before election season rolls around, or else do what the whole world is telling him to do: let the UN inspections proceed. But that process that could last as long as a year. The War Party is pushing for unilateral American action now, because of politics, not only in the U.S. but in Israel.

The extremist Likud government of hard-liner Ariel Sharon is in political trouble, and even if he overcomes the effect of the recent scandals and retains the office of Prime Minister, his government is going to be very shaky, and even further to the right. The political price exacted by small but influential ultra-nationalist parties in Israel for their support is a campaign of stepped up repression against the Palestinians, including the idea of "transferring," i.e. ethnically cleansing them. Such a monstrous deed could only be pulled off, however, if a larger war obscured its ugliness, and buried it amid a catalogue of similar horrors throughout the region.

We hear much about weapons of mass destruction supposedly in Saddam Hussein’s possession. Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that he does have them. With a range of 420 miles max, Iraqi missiles would be no threat to Peoria, but Tel Aviv might see some action. That ‘s another reason why Rummy wants to go charging into Iraq outnumbered eight-to-one, before the bombing campaign has time to take out all of Iraq’s major military assets (including chemical and biological weapons): the possibility that, early on in the war, the Iraqis will attack Israel.

Why are the politicians playing with soldiers’ lives, expending them like chips in a high-stakes game of poker? In a word: Israel. It’s the key to the President’s re-election campaign, which will be dependent on a core base of Christian fundamentalists who will do anything Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson tell them to do. They are fanatical heretics who have gone off the deep end and believe that Israel’s plight foretells the end of the world. This is a good thing, they say, because it heralds the Second Coming of Christ. Meanwhile, however, Israel must be totally supported, no matter what crimes Israeli soldiers are ordered to commit.

Look, religion is a private matter, and everybody’s free to have their own, but when the quirks of money-crazed and otherwise deluded preachers start determining national policy – especially foreign policy – we have a problem.

Israel’s amen corner in the U.S. has found powerful allies in the President and his Svengali, Karl Rove, but here’s a question you ought to be asking yourself: how come U.S. soldiers have to be fighting wars on Israel’s behalf? Don’t we already give those guys billions of dollars every year? Why can’t they take on Iraq, a dilapidated fourth-rate military power? Israel’s nukes should be enough to deter Saddam in the same way Stalin and his heirs were deterred all the years of the cold war.

Listen, soldier, you signed up to defend America – not Israel. Is it disloyal to suggest that this war is unwise and not in American interests – or are the warmongers the real traitors, who put Israel and not America first?

I know you would die to defend America. But, say, soldier, do you really want to die for Israel – so that Ariel Sharon and his nut-job Likud party can stay in power?

I didn’t think so.

So what can you do about all this? It’s simple. This war hasn’t started yet, and there are enough people steamed up about it – including your own officers – that it might not happen after all. You may not know it, but you have the right to speak out, to spread your views, because you’re – still – an American citizen. Sure, the Clintonistas tried to take away your right to vote in the last election, and you’re just expected to shut up and follow orders. But they can’t shut down your brain. And they can’t prevent you from surfing the internet, getting information, and networking with people of like-minded views. They can’t legally stop you from speaking out, when the time for it comes.

They say a great many of those heavy biological warfare suits you’ll be expected to throw on at a moment’s notice are defective, and also that that they can’t even ensure you against penetration by toxic poisons. Do you really want to die a horrible death while some civilian fool quails about the glorious "liberation" of Iraq?

It doesn’t have to happen.

This war is not about defending America. It’s about making Israel the dominant regional power in the Middle East – and Osama bin Laden the spiritual and political leader with the most power in the Muslim world. If somebody wants this war more than Ariel Sharon, then that has got to be the man responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks on America. In the first five minutes of Gulf War II, Bin Laden will see the ranks of his underground armies swell with waves of fresh recruits.

Listen, soldier. You have a stake in all this, the biggest stake of all. No one has more of a right to speak out than you. Listen to your top commanders, to the brass with the experience and the inside knowledge about what’s really going on. They are speaking out against this madness, and you must follow them into battle – or else surrender your fate to chickenhawk civilians with a dubious agenda. The choice is yours.

Colonel David Hackworth, the war hero and military columnist, put it well:

"Should the president decide to stay the war course, hopefully at least a few of our serving top-uniformed leaders – those who are now covertly leaking that war with Iraq will be an unparalleled disaster – will do what many Vietnam-era generals wish they would have done: stand tall and publicly tell the America people the truth about another bad war that could well lead to another died-in-vain black wall. Or even worse."

Get in touch with If you are in the military, and want to organize discreetly but effectively against this needless war, you can help spread the message of the patriotic peace movement in the ranks. Don’t worry, you aren’t alone: the voices of military dissent are already rising. Your voice, when it is raised, is going to carry real authority. People will listen: and that’s what the warmongering civies are so afraid of.

– Justin Raimondo

Author: Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo passed away on June 27, 2019. He was the co-founder and editorial director of, and was a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He was a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and wrote a monthly column for Chronicles. He was the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000].