Heres some more info on what we and the troops are not being told!
December 19, 2003
As we approach the holidays, I've been thinking a lot about our kids who are
in the armed forces serving in Iraq. I've received hundreds of letters from
our troops in Iraq -- and they are telling me something very different from
what we are seeing on the evening news.
What they are saying to me, often eloquently and in heart-wrenching words,
is that they were lied to -- and this war has nothing to do with the
security of the United States of America.
I've written back and spoken on the phone to many of them and I've asked a
few of them if it would be OK if I posted their letters on my website and
they've said yes. They do so at great personal risk (as they may face
disciplinary measures for exercising their right to free speech). I thank
them for their bravery.
Lance Corporal George Batton of the United States Marine Corps, who returned
from Iraq in September (after serving in MP company Alpha), writes the
“You'd be surprised at how many of the guys I talked to in my company and
others believed that the president's scare about Saddam's WMD was a bunch of
bull# and that the real motivation for this war was only about money.
There was also a lot of crap that many companies, not just marine companies,
had to go through with not getting enough equipment to fulfill their
missions when they crossed the border. It was a miracle that our company
did what it did the two months it was staying in Iraq during the war…. We
were promised to go home on June 8th, and found out that it was a lie and we
got stuck doing missions for an extra three months. Even some of the most
radical conservatives in our company including our company gunnery sergeant
got a real bad taste in their mouth about the Marine corps, and maybe even
Here's what Specialist Mike Prysner of the U.S. Army wrote to me:
“Dear Mike -- I’m writing this without knowing if it’ll ever get to you…I’m
writing it from the trenches of a war (that’s still going on,) not knowing
why I’m here or when I’m leaving. I’ve toppled statues and vandalized
portraits, while wearing an American flag on my sleeve, and struggling to
learn how to understand… I joined the army as soon as I was eligible –
turned down a writing scholarship to a state university, eager to serve my
country, ready to die for the ideals I fell in love with. Two years later I
found myself moments away from a landing onto a pitch black airstrip, ready
to charge into a country I didn't believe I belonged in, with your words
(from the Oscars) repeating in my head. My time in Iraq has always involved
finding things to convince myself that I can be proud of my actions; that I
was a part of something just. But no matter what pro-war argument I came up
with, I pictured my smirking commander-in-chief, thinking he was fooling a
An Army private, still in Iraq and wishing to remain anonymous, writes:
“I would like to tell you how difficult it is to serve under a man who was
never elected. Because he is the president and my boss, I have to be very
careful as to who and what i say about him. This also concerns me a great
deal... to limit the military's voice is to limit exactly what America
stands for... and the greater percentage of us feel completely underpowered.
He continually sets my friends, my family, and several others in a kind of
danger that frightens me beyond belief. I know several other soldiers who
feel the same way and discuss the situation with me on a regular basis.”
Jerry Oliver of the U.S. Army, who has just returned from Baghdad, writes:
“I have just returned home from "Operation Iraqi Freedom". I spent 5 months
in Baghdad, and a total of 3 years in the U.S. Army. I was recently
discharged with Honorable valor and returned to the States only to be
horrified by what I've seen my country turn into. I'm now 22 years old and
have discovered America is such a complicated place to live, and moreover,
Americans are almost oblivious to what's been happening to their country.
America has become "1984." Homeland security is teaching us to spy on one
another and forcing us to become anti-social. Americans are willingly
sacrificing our freedoms in the name of security, the same Freedoms I was
willing to put my life on the line for. The constitution is in jeopardy. As
Gen. Tommy Franks said, (broken down of course) One more terrorist attack
and the constitution will hold no meaning.”
And a Specialist in the U.S. Army wrote to me this week about the capture of
“Wow, 130,000 troops on the ground, nearly 500 deaths and over a billion
dollars a day, but they caught a guy living in a hole. Am I supposed to be
There are lots more of these, straight from the soldiers who have been on
the front lines and have seen first hand what this war is really about.
I have also heard from their friends and relatives, and from other veterans.
A mother writing on behalf of her son (whose name we have withheld) wrote:
“My son said that this is the worst it's been since the "end" of the war.
He said the troops have been given new rules of engagement, and that they
are to "take out" any persons who aggress on the Americans, even if it
results in "collateral" damage. Unfortunately, he did have to kill someone
in self defense and was told by his commanding officer ‘Good kill.’
"My son replied ‘You just don't get it, do you?’
"Here we are...Vietnam all over again.”
From a 56 year old Navy veteran, relating a conversation he had with a young
man who was leaving for Iraq the next morning:
“What disturbed me most was when I asked him what weapons he carried as a
truck driver. He told me the new M-16, model blah blah blah, stuff never
made sense to me even when I was in. I asked him what kind of side arm they
gave him and his fellow drivers. He explained, "Sir, Reservists are not
issued side arms or flack vests as there was not enough money to outfit all
the Reservists, only Active Personnel". I was appalled to say the least.
"Bush is a jerk agreed, but I can't believe he is this big an Asshole not
providing protection and arms for our troops to fight HIS WAR!”
From a 40-year old veteran of the Marine Corps:
“Why is it that we are forever waving the flag of sovereignty, EXCEPT when
it concerns our financial interests in other sovereign states? What gives
us the right to tell anyone else how they should govern themselves, and live
their lives? Why can't we just lead the world by example? I mean no wonder
the world hates us, who do they get to see? Young assholes in uniforms with
guns, and rich, old, white tourists! Christ, could we put up a worse first
(To read more from my Iraq mailbag -- and to read these above letters in
full -- go to my website:
Remember back in March, once the war had started, how risky it was to make
any anti-war comments to people you knew at work or school or, um, at awards
ceremonies? One thing was for sure -- if you said anything against the war,
you had BETTER follow it up immediately with this line: "BUT I SUPPORT THE
TROOPS!" Failing to do that meant that you were not only unpatriotic and
un-American, your dissent meant that YOU were putting our kids in danger,
that YOU might be the reason they lose their lives. Dissent was only
marginally tolerated IF you pledged your "support" for our soldiers.
Of course, you needed to do no such thing. Why? Because people like you have
ALWAYS supported "the troops." Who are these troops? They are our poor, our
working class. Most of them enlisted because it was about the only place to
get a job or receive the guarantee of a college education. You, my good
friends, have ALWAYS, through your good works, your contributions, your
activism, your votes, SUPPORTED these very kids who come from the other side
of the tracks. You NEVER need to be defensive when it comes to your
"support" for the "troops" -- you are the only ones who have ALWAYS been
there for them.
It is Mr. Bush and his filthy rich cronies -- whose sons and daughters will
NEVER see a day in a uniform -- they are the ones who do NOT support our
troops. Our soldiers joined the military and, in doing so, offered to give
THEIR LIVES for US if need be. What a tremendous gift that is -- to be
willing to die so that you and I don't have to! To be willing to shed their
blood so that we may be free. To serve in our place, so that WE don't have
to serve. What a tremendous act of selflessness and generosity! Here they
are, these 18, 19, and 20-year olds, most of whom have had to suffer under
an unjust economic system that is set up NOT to benefit THEM -- these kids
who have lived their first 18 years in the worst parts of town, going to the
most miserable schools, living in danger and learning often to go without,
watching their parents struggle to get by and then be humiliated by a system
that is always looking to make life harder for them by cutting their
benefits, their education, their libraries, their fire and police, their
And then, after this miserable treatment, these young men and women, instead
of coming after US to demand a more just society, they go and join the army
to DEFEND us and our way of life! It boggles the mind, doesn't it? They not
only deserve our thanks, they deserve a big piece of the pie that we dine
on, those of us who never have to worry about taking a bullet while we fret
over which Palm Pilot to buy the nephew for Christmas.
In fact, all that these kids in the army ask for in return from us is our
promise that we never send them into harm's way unless it is for the DEFENSE
of our nation, to protect us from being killed by "the enemy."
And that promise, my friends, has been broken. It has been broken in the
worst way imaginable. We have sent them into war NOT to defend us, not to
protect us, not to spare the slaughter of innocents or allies. We have sent
them to war so Bush and Company can control the second largest supply of oil
in the world. We have sent them into war so that the Vice President's
company can bilk the government for billions of dollars. We have sent them
into war based on a lie of weapons of mass destruction and the lie that
Saddam helped plan 9-11 with Osama bin Laden.
By doing all of this, Mr. Bush has proven that it is HE who does not support
our troops. It is HE who has put their lives in danger, and it is HE who is
responsible for the nearly 500 American kids who have now died for NO
honest, decent reason whatsoever.
The letters I've received from the friends and relatives of our kids over
there make it clear that they are sick of this war and they are scared to
death that they may never see their loved ones again. It breaks my heart to
read these letters. I wish there was something I could do. I wish there was
something we all could do.
Maybe there is. As Christmas approaches (and Hanukkah begins tonight), I
would like to suggest a few things each of us could do to make the holidays
a bit brighter -- if not safer -- for our troops and their families back
1. Many families of soldiers are hurting financially, especially those
families of reservists and National Guard who are gone from the full-time
jobs ("just one weekend a month and we'll pay for your college education!").
You can help them by contacting the Armed Forces Emergency Relief Funds at
(ignore the rah-rah military stuff and remember
that this is money that will help out these families who are living in
near-poverty). Each branch has their own relief fund, and the money goes to
help the soldiers and families with paying for food and rent, medical and
dental expenses, personal needs when pay is delayed, and funeral expenses.
You can find more ways to support the troops, from buying groceries for
their families to donating your airline miles so they can get home for a
visit, by going to my website, www.michaelmoore.com.
2. Thousands of Iraqi civilians have been killed by our bombs and
indiscriminate shooting. We must help protect them and their survivors. You
can do so by supporting the Quakers' drive to provide infant care kits to
Iraqi hospitals—find out more here:
You can also help the people
of Iraq by supporting the Iraqi Red Crescent Society—here’s how to contact
or you can make an online donation
through the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent
Societies by going here: www.ifrc.org...
3. With 130,000 American men and women currently in Iraq, every community in
this country has either sent someone to fight in this war or is home to
family members of someone fighting in this war. Organize care packages
through your local community groups, activist groups, and churches and send
them to these young men and women. The military no longer accepts packages
addressed to “Any Soldier,” so you’ll have to get their names first. Figure
out who you can help from your area, and send them books, CDs, games,
footballs, gloves, blankets—anything that may make their extended (and
extended and extended…) stay in Iraq a little brighter and more comfortable.
You can also sponsor care packages to American troops through the USO:
4. Want to send a soldier a free book or movie? I’ll start by making mine
available for free to any soldier serving in Iraq. Just send me their name
and address in Iraq (or, if they have already left Iraq, where they are now)
and the first thousand emails I get at email@example.com will
receive a free copy of "Dude..." or a free “Bowling…” DVD.
5. Finally, we all have to redouble our efforts to end this war and bring
the troops home. That's the best gift we could give them -- get them out of
harm's way ASAP and insist that the U.S. go back to the UN and have them
take over the rebuilding of Iraq (with the US and Britain funding it,
because, well, we have to pay for our mess). Get involved with your local
peace group—you can find one near where you live by visiting United for
Peace, at: www.unitedforpeace.org...
and the Vietnam Veterans Against
A large demonstration is being planned
for March 20, check here for more details:
To get a “Bring Them Home
Now” bumper sticker or a poster for your yard, go here:
only anti-war candidates for Congress and President (Kucinich, Dean, Clark,
I know it feels hopeless. That's how they want us to feel. Don't give up. We
owe it to these kids, the troops WE SUPPORT, to get them the hell outta
there and back home so they can help organize the drive to remove the war
profiteers from office next November.
To all who serve in our armed forces, to their parents and spouses and loved
ones, we offer to you the regrets of millions and the promise that we will
right this wrong and do whatever we can to thank you for offering to risk
your lives for us. That your life was put at risk for Bush's greed is a
disgrace and a travesty, the likes of which I have not seen in my lifetime.
Please be safe, come home soon, and know that our thoughts and prayers are
with you during this season when many of us celebrate the birth of the
prince of "peace."