The following letter is being circulated by the Our Lives, Our Rights campaign, a project of March Forward!.
'Refuse to fight in Afghanistan!'
An infantry vet's open letter to US troops
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The following was written by former Marine Corporal Ryan Endicott, who is a co-founder of the Our Lives, Our Rights campaign. The campaign is spreading this message among active-duty troops throughout the military. Help us reach as many service members as possible by making a donation today!
To my fellow Marines:
The author in Ramadi, Iraq in 2005
In March of 2005 I deployed to Ramadi, Iraq as an infantryman. I remember being more excited than anything else. I was excited because I believed that I was serving my country, protecting my family and helping an oppressed people fight for their liberation. However, after taking part in combat and witnessing the war first hand, I came home a different person.
Nearly 5,000 Marines, sailors, soldiers and air force members gave their lives in Iraq; including 16 Marines from my battalion in Ramadi. And today, we recognize that these troops were sent to kill, and be killed, for the profits of a tiny few. Today, as more evidence surfaces as to the oil interests, defense contracts and war profiteering taking place in Iraq, we see that our government will stop at nothing to expand its power.
There is no longer any doubt that the war in Iraq was waged for corporate profits. We see that the government has no qualms about sending brave men and women in uniform from Main Street to their deaths for the interest of Wall Street. We see that the government has no qualms about terrorizing and killing innocent people around the world for the interests of the super-rich. And lastly, we see that this government has no qualms about what happens to those veterans who do return home and suffer the highest unemployment rates and the highest homelessness rates, and receive criminally inadequate treatment for PTSD.
It does not take a military strategist to see that continuing to send us to kill and be killed is a desperate and hopeless action, in a war against people we have no reason to fight in the first place. Even General Petraeus says, “I don’t think you win this war. … This is the kind of fight we're in for the rest of our lives and probably our kids' lives.” The former British commander in Afghanistan has stated that the war cannot be won, and that “American strategy is doomed to fail.” So, between these admissions, and the absolute criminal negligence resulting in the mass homelessness and suicides of our returning veterans, it becomes crystal clear that we are being sent to these occupations by people who admittedly do not have our best interests, or the Afghan peoples' interests, at heart.
As with the Iraq war, it has become obvious that we are giving our lives, our limbs and our minds not for freedom, not for liberation, but for profit. Like Iraq, Afghanistan is just another resource-rich region of the world that is not yet in the grip of Wall Street.
As the months pass, and more active-duty troops die as a result of suicide than in combat, it is now time for the veterans of this country to take a stand.
The author speaking at a March Forward!
rally that shut-down a military recruitment
center on the anniversary of the Afghanistan
If I could turn the hands of time back to February 2005, I would have refused to deploy to the criminal occupation of Iraq. In doing so, I would have been truly fulfilling the oath I took when I raised my right hand and swore to defend the people of this country. When we swore our oath, we swore to protect the people of this country against all enemies foreign and domestic; and today, it has become undeniably clear that the biggest enemy of the people of this country is not poor people in Iraq or Afghanistan, but the millionaire politicians, the Wall Street bankers, oil tycoons and defense weapons contractors who throw our lives away for their own gain.
It is not the poor Iraqi or Afghan who is struggling to feed his family who threatens our families in the States. It is the corporate CEOs who lay off hundreds of thousands of workers to protect their multi-million-dollar bonuses. Our enemies are the bankers who take our houses, the government officials who slash our social services and our opportunity to get a decent education. The real enemies of the veterans are not found in the farmlands of Afghanistan but in the halls of Congress. The members of Congress sleep well at night in their million-dollar mansions, while the veterans who risk their lives following orders sleep on the streets.
The war in Afghanistan is far from over. We will be sent over and over, on increasingly bloody deployments, to a war most Americans and Afghans oppose, to a war killing countless civilians, to a war that is lost, and a war that we have no reason to fight.
It is up to us, as the veterans of the U.S., to stand up and fight back. It is not just our right but our sworn duty. It is our sworn duty to stand up against oppression, imperialism and colonialism. As Marines, we are supposed to live our lives with honor, courage and commitment, and being sent to our deaths for colonial conquest is neither honorable nor courageous. However, standing up and refusing to deploy to a war for profit is both. The most honorable and courageous act you can do is to lay down your arms and refuse to fight this immoral war.
Corporal Ryan Endicott