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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Likelier to be killed by “toddler” than “terrorist”—Vet. Rory Fanning to US youth

Pakistan's dead
Counter-recruiter to potential recruits: You “don’t have to” sign up
Excerpt, editing by Carolyn Bennett

 rom Rory Fanning’s “Letter to a Young Army Ranger” 

Created enemies, justified wars
Interminable “Global War on Terror”

“…Our global war is less complicated to understand than you might think, despite the difficult-to-keep-track-of enemies you will be sent after—whether al-Qaeda (“central,” al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, in the Magreb, etc.), or the Taliban, or al-Shabab in Somalia, or ISIS (aka ISIL, or the Islamic State), or Iran, or the al-Nusra Front, or Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria. … [I]t’s hard to keep a reasonable scorecard. 
War dead and Destruction

“Are the Shia or the Sunnis our allies? Is it Islam we’re at war with? Are we against ISIS or the Assad regime or both of them?

Just who these groups are matters, but there is an underlying point that has been too easy to overlook in recent years:

…ever since this country’s first Afghan War in the 1980s (that spurred the formation of the original al-Qaeda), our foreign and military policies have played a crucial role in creating those whom you will be sent to fight.

Terrorizing War
in Afghanistan
Once you are in one of the three battalions of the 75th Ranger Regiment, the chain-of-command will do its best to reduce global politics and the long-term good of the planet to the smallest of matters and replace them with the largest of tasks: boot polishing, perfectly made beds, tight shot groupings at the firing range, and your bonds with the Rangers to your right and left.

“…If you are shipped off to Iraq for our latest war there, remember that the Sunni population you will be targeting is reacting to a U.S.-backed Shia regime in Baghdad that’s done their dirty for years.

“ISIS exists to a significant degree because the largely secular members of Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath party were labeled the enemy as they tried to surrender after the U.S. invasion of 2003. Many of them had the urge to be reincorporated into a functioning society, but no such luck.

“The key official the Bush administration sent to Baghdad simply disbanded Saddam Hussein’s army and tossed its 400,000 troops out onto the streets at a time of mass unemployment.”

Terrorized children 
Slaughtered Innocents

“The number of non-combatants killed since 9/11 across the Greater Middle East in our ongoing war has been breathtaking and horrifying.

“Be prepared, when you fight, to take out more civilians than actual gun-toting or bomb-wielding ‘militants.’

“At the least, an estimated 174,000 civilians died violent deaths as a result of U.S. wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan between 2001 and April 2014.

Wounded for life
“In Iraq, over 70 percent of those who died are estimated to have been civilians.

Afghan children and youth
Wounded for life
“So get ready to contend with needless deaths and think about all those who have lost friends and family members in these wars; and who themselves are now scarred for life.

“A lot of people who once would never have thought about fighting any type of war or attacking Americans now entertain the idea—in other words, you will be perpetuating war; handing it off to the future.

Brainwashed by mantras “Freedom,” “Democracy”

Coming Home
“…If we are really going to empty that duffel bag, there is freedom and democracy to unpack.

“If spreading freedom and democracy around the world was on your mind,” consider this. “Though records are incomplete on the subject,” the domestic police, police within the United States, since September 11th “have killed something like 5,000 people—that is to say, more than the number of American soldiers killed by ‘insurgents’ in that same (2001-2015) period.

In those same years, outfits like the Rangers and the rest of the U.S. military have killed countless numbers of people worldwide—targeting the poorest people on the planet. 
And are there fewer ‘terrorists’? 

Does all this really make a lot of sense to you?

“…Maybe you still believe that the United States is fighting for freedom and democracy around the world and is in existential danger from ‘the terrorists.’ Maybe it seems like the only reasonable thing to do: defend our country against terrorism.

“The media have been a powerful propaganda tool in promoting that image—despite the fact that, as a civilian, you are more likely to be killed by a toddler than a terrorist.… 

“[And] make no mistake: whatever news outlets may say about the changing cast of characters the U.S. is fighting and the changing motivations behind the changing names of our military ‘operations’ around the world—you and I will have fought in the same war.

Endlessly Under Siege 
“It’s hard to believe that you will be taking us into the 14th year of the Global War on Terror (whatever they may be calling it now). I wonder which one of the 668 U.S. military bases worldwide you’ll be sent to.”

Veteran tells his motives and moves

Having recently graduated from college, “I signed up for the military …hoping to make a better world. Instead, I helped make the world more dangerous. I was also hoping that in volunteering I would get some of my student loans paid for. Like you, I was looking for practical help—but also for meaning.

Endlessly Under Siege 
“I wanted to do right by my family and my country. Looking back, it’s clear enough to me that my lack of knowledge about the actual mission we were undertaking betrayed me—and you and us.

“I hope this letter is a jumping off point for you. And if, by any chance, you haven’t signed that Option 40 contract yet, you don’t have to. 

“You can be an effective counter-recruiter without being an ex-military guy. 

“Young people across this country desperately need your energy, your desire to be the best, your pursuit of meaning.  

“Don’t waste it in Iraq or Afghanistan or Yemen or Somalia or anywhere else the Global War on Terror is likely to send you.”

You don’t have to

“I’m writing to you especially because I just want you to know that it’s not too late to change your mind.

“I did. I became a war resister after my second deployment in Afghanistan for all the reasons I have mentioned. I finally unpacked….  Leaving the military was one of the most difficult but rewarding experiences of my life; and my goal is to take what I learned in the military and, as a kind of counter-recruiter,” bring another message “to high school and college students.…”

Fanning concludes his letter.  

“Kids need to hear both sides.

Given the 10,000 military recruiters in the United States working with an almost $700 million advertising budget—there is much work to be done.”

As a social warrior, not a military one, Fanning declares, “The world is worth fighting for.”

Sources and notes

“WE ARE NOT YOUR SOLDIERS! Join Our National Anti ‘Military Recruiters’ Campaign In The Schools And Communities Featuring Iraq and Afghanistan Vets and World Can't Wait,” Rory Fanning, January 14, 2015, “Letter to a Young Army Ranger (From an Old One)… Lead the Way,” Rory Fanning http://www.wearenotyoursoldiers.org/?p=822


A U.S. military veteran and author of Worth Fighting For, Rory Fanning is a housing activist living in Chicago, Illinois. Before this, he was a member of the US 2nd Army Ranger Battalion and did two deployments in Afghanistan as part of the US Global War on Terror.

In a Chicago Tribune online review on November 13, 2014, Pete Reinwald writes that Fanning’s book Worth Fighting For “is at once a journal, a guided tour through sites that mark some of the most shameful moments in U.S. history, and a tribute to an athlete-turned-warrior whom the U.S. government hailed as a hero even as it withheld details about the circumstances of his death. More than anything, the book chronicles one man’s political, social and spiritual revolution.”

A lifelong American writer and writer/activist (former academic and staffer with the U.S. government in Washington), Dr. Carolyn LaDelle Bennett is credentialed in education and print journalism and public affairs (PhD, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan; MA, The American University, Washington, DC). Her work concerns itself with news and current affairs, historical contexts, and ideas particularly related to acts and consequences of U.S. foreign relations, geopolitics, human rights, war and peace, and violence and nonviolence. Dr. Bennett is an internationalist and nonpartisan progressive personally concerned with society and the common good. An educator at heart, her career began with the U.S. Peace Corps, teaching in Sierra Leone, West Africa. Since then, she has authored several books and numerous current-affairs articles; her latest book: UNCONSCIONABLE: How The World Sees Us: World News, Alternative Views, Commentary on U.S. Foreign Relations; most thoughts, articles, edited work are posted at Bennett’s Study: http://todaysinsightnews.blogspot.com/ and on her Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/carolynladelle.bennett. http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/08UNCONSCIONABLE/prweb12131656.htm http://bookstore.xlibris.com/Products/SKU-000757788/UNCONSCIONABLE.aspx Her books are also available at independent bookstores in New York State: Lift Bridge in Brockport; Sundance in Geneseo; Dog Ears Bookstore and Literary Arts Center in Buffalo; Burlingham Books in Perry; The Bookworm in East Aurora


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