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VIEWS AND VOICES
A Marine who opposes the war

March 2, 2007 | Page 4

I WANTED to share with my experience talking with a young Marine who is going to be in Iraq shortly after her training this month.

I was in the Mission District of San Francisco selling Socialist Worker. We were talking to people about Agustín Aguayo, a conscientious objector who had been to Iraq and refused to load his gun. As I was asking people to sign a petition in support, a woman looked over her shoulder and said, "I'm a soldier, and I'm going to Iraq next week."

I asked her what she thought about the war. At first, she was hesitant because she thought I was going to yell at her--she said she had been yelled at earlier in the day by antiwar protesters. I said, "No, I want to know what you think."

She basically said that she's against the war and considers herself anti-war. She explained how being in the military was the only way for her to get a college education and have a job right now. Before she joined the Marines, she didn't have a way out of the poverty that she faces every day. She tried to go to college and couldn't afford it.

She, of course, had mixed ideas. In one sentence, she'd start to say "We're fighting for America." Then she would stop herself and say, "I know its about oil," and "We're not there to help people or protect America."

What you can do

Go to the Iraq Veterans Against the War Web site for news and updates about war resisters and other initiatives. Active-duty soldiers can register their discontent by signing the Appeal for Redress. Troops who need advice about their rights should go to GI Rights Hotline Web site or call 800-394-9544 from the U.S. or 510-465-1472 from outside the U.S.

 

It really came down to her needing a job and helping to protect her fellow soldiers, who she now considers her family, by going to Iraq with them.

We talked about how it's horrible that she had to join the military, pick up a gun and go to fight a war in another country in order to get a job and education. When she mentioned it was better for her to go willingly rather than have a draft, we talked about how there is a draft right now--the poverty draft.

I toldher the story of my brother, which is very much like her own. He joined the Navy shortly after high school because he felt he had no other choice. He had tried to go to engineering school, but couldn't handle working the full-time night shift while going to school full-time during the day.

When his frustrations became too much to bear (actually, when the cops confiscated his car for having bad registration tags), the recruiters were right there to scoop him up. They had continued to call him on a weekly basis, even while he was trying to go to college.

We also talked about the percentage of soldiers who are against the war, both at home and in Iraq, who want to come home now. Also, the Iraqis who overwhelmingly want the U.S. to leave. We talked about how she would not be alone in Iraq with her anti-war sentiments.

I wanted to relate this story because I think my conversation with this young Marine is a window into what soldiers are thinking as they are leaving to Iraq for their first tour. Many are leaving being against the war.
Ragina Johnson, San Francisco

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