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published Nov 11, 2007
Iraq war is a betrayal of American democracy
By MATT HOWARD
Editor's note: Matt Howard gave this statement at a recent protest at
In 2003 I illegally invaded the sovereign nation of Iraq with 1st Tank
battalion 1st Marine Division. My commander in chief unleashed the
world's fiercest fighting force upon the country and people of Iraq,
and now those of us used and betrayed by him are demanding justice.
Four and a half years after our opening "shock and awe" Bush's lies are
known throughout the world, and yet he continues to act with impunity.
Four and a half years later the Bush regime has unleashed a hell upon
the country of Iraq that only those who have been there can truly
As a two-tour combat veteran of this brutal war, I have a
responsibility to speak honestly and openly about what has been done
and what continues to be done in our name. We veterans know that this
war is not the one being sanitized on the nightly news. It has nothing
to do with the liberation of the people of Iraq; instead it has
everything to do with the subjugation and domination of these people in
the name of U.S. imperial economic and strategic interests.
We did not go to war with the country of Iraq, we went to war with the
people of Iraq. During the initial invasion we killed women. We killed
children. We senselessly killed farm animals. We were the United States
Marine Corps, not the Peace Corps, and we left a swath of death and
destruction in our wake all the way to Baghdad.
Let me say again so that there is no misunderstanding. I stand here
today as a former U.S. Marine saying we are killing women and children
in Iraq. This is the true nature of war. War lends itself to
atrocities. Don't think you can use an organization designed to kill
other human beings for anything humanitarian. That has never been our
mission. That was crystal clear from the moment I was forced to bury
the crate of humanitarian food given to me in Kuwait.
Four and a half years later we as soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines
are done. We are done being told under threat of court martial to run
over children that get in the way of our speeding convoys.
We are done raiding and destroying the homes of innocent Iraqis on a
We are done abusing and torturing prisoners.
We are done being hired thugs for the 160,000 contractors and U.S.
corporate interests in Iraq.
We are done being poisoned by depleted uranium, the unspoken Agent
Orange of this war.
We are done coming home broken, from two, three, four tours of duty
– only to find our commander in chief has actually tried to
CUT funding to the Department of Veterans Affairs. To find our doctors
being told to diagnose us with pre-existing personality disorders
instead of post traumatic stress syndrome.
We are done killing for lies.
So Iraq Veterans Against the War is taking back our history –
the history that has been robbed from us. We are dispelling the myth
that the Vietnam war ended when the Democrats started voting against
it. Instead we are spreading the truth about how the American War in
The Vietnam War ended when soldiers put down their weapons and refused
to fight; when pilots dropped their bombs in the ocean.
We are re-educating the public to let them know that the power
ultimately lies with the people. Just take a look at the thousands of
pages of internal documents from the Department of Defense explicitly
detailing how at the end of the Vietnam war the military had collapsed.
It was literally in a state of mutiny. And that movement is slowly
starting again. Because ultimately in every war waged throughout human
history, those forced to fight quickly realize they have much more in
common with those they are being told to kill than with those telling
them to do the killing.
And we are re-educating the public about the true nature of sectarian
violence. No, the middle east is NOT inherently violent. In fact, in
the 1,400-year schism between Sunnis and Shias – there has
NEVER been a civil war fought. They have always lived in the same
neighborhoods and even intermarried. The United States has caused this
civil war using the classic colonial techniques of divide and conquer.
George Bush is a war criminal who has violated international law, the
Geneva convention and the Nuremburg standards and needs to tried
accordingly for crimes against humanity.
I ask every red-blooded American today: What would you do if your
homeland was savagely invaded and occupied by another country? The
Iraqis will continue to resist and fight until the last American has
left their homeland. Period. End the violence in Iraq? End the
We veterans are speaking out to stop the violence being perpetrated in
our name. When we voted in the Democrats on an anti-war mandate, the
Bush regime expanded the war. As we are marching against further
occupation, the Bush regime is making threats against Iran.
And we will not continue to be silenced by the mainstream media. Top
generals and bottom privates are all speaking in unison now. We know
the truth about the slaughter of upwards of one million Iraqis. Why is
no one listening? We will not stand by as this regime tricks the
country into thinking that if you oppose the war you do not support the
troops. We ARE the troops and we have never felt support from this
administration. Stop mindlessly supporting the troops. Start demanding
that we come home – and maybe think about apologizing to us
when we get back.
Matt Howard attained the rank of corporal in the United States Marine
Corps. He is head of the Vermont chapter for Iraq Veterans Against the