March Forward; March 20



War veterans and resisters say “All Out for March 20th-National March on Washington!”

Dearest Special Beings . . .

If you have yet to see, hear, read, or feel the commitment of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans against the Middle Eastern wars, here is your chance.  If you have not experienced the pain the family and friends of troops feel, now you can.  If you think you can only show your support for soldiers by endorsing the wars, then, please ponder the words of Winter Soldier Michael Prysner.  He and the experienced troops who walk with him wish to ask for your help.  Peruse the passage Prysner presents in this mail.

Please ponder how the wars affect you personally, politically, and even fiscally.  Consider the many communities in this country and abroad deprived of funds, all in an effort to participate in and pay for warfare.  Try to imagine the many lives and limbs lost, not to mention the emotional traumatic stress.  Perhaps, you have already actively considered how our culture has changed, all because we engage in costly battles.  

If you had wanted to speak out, and have not, or if you want to communicate in a manner that might touch the President and Congress, please join our servicemen, woman, kin, and acquaintances in a March Forward.

For details, please read on.  I thank you.


In March of 2003, I was sent to invade Iraq amidst the largest anti-war demonstrations in history, with an equally senseless war already being waged in Afghanistan. Myself, and countless other veterans, went believing the lies spewed by Washington, but saw first hand the criminal and imperial nature of that war, and every war waged by the U.S. Our experiences compelled us to stand up and fight back.

Many of us joined together to form March Forward!, and have been building resistance to these wars, both in and out of the military. This video was made by our members, all of whom are veterans and active duty soldiers, to help us publicize the next step in our struggle to end the wars-the national mass anti-war protests in Washington D.C., Los Angeles, and San Francisco on March 20th, seven years after the brutal invasion of Iraq.

Help us make our voices heard. We need you all behind us on March 20th to stand united against the crimes of this government-but we also need your help in spreading the word. Please circulate the above video to everyone you can, and be a part of the growing movement against the U.S. war machine.

Visit March20.org to learn more about how to get involved.

To learn more about March Forward! please visit MarchForward.org.

In solidarity,

Mike Prysner

U.S. war machine the real enemy, not Iraqis

© copyright 2008 Michael Prysner.  Party for Socialism and Liberation

Originally Published Wednesday, October 24, 2007

An Iraq veteran’s perspective

When I volunteered as a soldier to be a part of the initial invasion of Iraq, it was under the assumption that our intentions were just.  U.S. troops-most of us from working-class backgrounds-were fed countless stories of the supposed brutality of Saddam Hussein, and the plight of the Iraqi people.

I truly began to understand the nature of the “liberation” that the U.S. military was bringing to Iraq after one particular mission-one that I struggle with everyday, and one that I share with a great deal of shame and regret.

I still have not discovered the reasons for being sent on this mission.  There was a block of about 10 homes in an Iraqi city, all with families living in them.  Our orders were to force them to leave.  We drove our unarmored Humvees as occupiers through a newly “liberated” Iraqi neighborhood.  We found the block of houses, set up security and began knocking on each door.

Each family, “free” from Saddam’s “dictatorship” was greeted by rifles in their faces and eviction notices.  As they argued with us, confused and panicked, all we could tell them was that they had two days to leave.  We did not tell them where to go, why they had to leave or offer any compensation.  All we provided was an “official” letter ordering them out of their homes.

When we returned two days later, none of the families had gone.  The instructions from the military brass were clear: empty the houses no matter what.  We were given no reasons or explanations.  Only orders.

The orders did not tell us what to do with the Iraqi children in the homes, or the old man who could not walk.  We barged in the houses, rifles first, and began removing people.

A young Iraqi girl who spoke English tried to reason with us.  She tried to understand why this was happening and what they were supposed to do.  All we did was tell her we were sorry, as we dragged her family crying onto the street.  That day was spent being spit on, being told we were “worse than Saddam,” and being forced to turn our heads as crying families begged us to let them stay.  The men who refused to leave were zip-tied and brought to jail.  The women and children were told only what prison their family members were being taken to; we left them standing in the street as we drove back to base.  This was the “liberation” that the U.S. military occupation brought to Iraq.

International solidarity

Not a day has gone by that I haven’t been haunted by the desperate faces of those newly homeless families.  The oppression of the colonial occupation of Iraq is something that weighs heavily on my mind.

Everyday, the U.S. government throws families onto the street.  In Iraq, it is with threats and violence.

There is no colonial occupation in the United States, but workers also are losing their homes and apartments to make way for the rich.  Workers here are faced with racism, bigotry and poverty-all aimed at them by the system and a massive media-based propaganda machine.

Families in Iraq are not our enemies.  The hungry and impoverished workers in Iraq are the same as workers who struggle to survive in the United States..  And it is working-class people in this country who are deliberately targeted by military recruiters.  The politicians in Washington send oppressed people overseas to kill, humiliate and oppress others.

This does not serve our interests; it only serves the interests of the war profiteers.

Real liberation will come when we-soldiers, workers, immigrants, students and families-no longer let the ruling class divide and create barriers between the exploited in the United States and the exploited abroad.  Soldiers should refuse to fight and, instead, bring the struggle home.  Real liberation will come when we struggle together against our common enemy, instead of being used against each other to profit the rich.

A people’s strategy against perpetual war

© copyright 2008 Michael Prysner.  Party for Socialism and Liberation

Challenging the bipartisan imperialist consensus

On the outset of the invasion of Iraq, I sat strapped in a cargo plane that swooped through the night sky dodging anti-aircraft guns. As we sat in darkness, not knowing if we would ever reach the ground, we suddenly dropped quickly from the air and slammed hard against a makeshift runway. Our plane was the first to land in the north. Our mission was to get in quickly, take the required territory and be relieved by heavy armor.

As we took our first steps on Iraqi soil, we expected to get back on a plane and leave within two months. Month by month, our deployment was extended. We read of the overwhelming military defeat across the country, and wrote home to our families that we would see them soon. We began to pack our bags as we watched the president declare the “mission accomplished,” expecting our return orders to come any day. We watched the blazing summer come and go, just trying to get through one more month.

We grew bitter as we ate a Thanksgiving dinner of macaroni and stale bread as the president smiled for photos in Baghdad holding a giant fake turkey. We spent the day dodging bullets when Saddam Hussein was captured, thinking maybe-just maybe-it was finally over. Even as we strapped back into a cargo plane a year after we landed, we expected to circle right back and continue to watch the months pass through a rifle sight. This was a reality for some; many in my unit were sent back within two months of returning home. Anyone who could not find a way to get out of the army was stop-lossed and sent back for at least one more tour.

Essentially, my year of watching the months pass represents the Iraq war as a whole-thinking it was going to end, but seeing only an increase in the size and brutality of the occupation. With the “end of major combat operations” declared in the early months of the war, we saw all-out sieges on Fallujah, Basra and other cities where the Iraqi people had stood up to the occupiers.

The American and Iraqi people demanded that the troops be withdrawn, yet they got the opposite-a massive troop surge. The surge, sold to the public as a temporary measure to bring an end to the war, has served as a justification to keep the number of soldiers in Iraq well above pre-surge levels. Furthermore, the number of U.S. soldiers occupying Iraq has been supplemented by private mercenaries, paid generously by the Pentagon to terrorize Iraqis with no legal consequences.

To ring in the New Year-the fifth of the occupation-2008 began with the war’s largest bombing campaign on one of Baghdad’s most populous suburbs. Month by month, the body count rises and the imperialist occupation of Iraq deepens.

Why not just vote for change?

In 2006, the masses of American people opposed to the war put their hopes in the Democratic Party, handing it control of Congress in what was widely understood as a vote against the war. Since then, funding for the war has continued to flow unimpeded and General Petraeus and the Bush administration have continued on their destructive warpath. In June alone, Congress approved $165 billion to fund the war without restrictions.

Now, many who still fail to recognize the true loyalties of the Democratic Party have thrown their support behind another Democrat posing as an anti-war candidate. Barack Obama, who began his campaign promising a total withdrawal from Iraq within 16 months-simultaneously pledging imperialist intervention elsewhere in the Middle East-has also begun to shift his position to prolong the occupation.

Obama now promises, using ambiguous language, to remove “U.S. combat troops” from Iraq. “Combat troops” do not include residual forces such as “counterterrorism” units, military training personnel and force protection units. Nor does it include private contractors and mercenaries, which number over 180,000.

Obama’s Iraq policy co-coordinator, Colin Kahl, advocates a residual force of up to 80,000 U.S. troops. Obama advocates a “careful” withdrawal, essentially subject to the advice of military commanders. General Petraeus, widely known for promoting a massive, brutal and indefinite occupation of Iraq, has Obama’s full support as the new commander of the U.S. Central Command. This position gives General Petraeus full control over the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as all U.S. military operations in the Middle East, East Africa, and Central Asia.

Those who believe that they can “vote for change” will be voting for a slightly modified imperialist policy.

Charting an independent path

The reality is that the war against Iraq will continue unabated. This is glaringly evident in the new security agreement now being forced upon the Iraqi people. Keeping with the trend of further entrenching and increasing the occupation while the Iraqi masses are demanding an end to it, the security deal will guarantee the U.S. military 58 permanent military bases in Iraq-nearly double the current number-while once the public was assured that there would be no permanent military bases.

The security plan will strip Iraq of whatever sovereignty it has left, cementing its de facto status as a U.S. colony. It will give Washington control over Iraqi airspace and the ability to use Iraq as a staging ground for military attacks elsewhere in the region. It will grant U.S. troops and private contractors full immunity from Iraqi law, giving them the right to raid any house and to arrest and interrogate Iraqi citizens without permission from the Iraqi government

Not only does the security plan demonstrate the U.S. government’s determination to forever control Iraq, it sets the stage for further conquest in the Middle East.

There is no doubt that, if politicians in Washington get their way, the war will continue for years to come. Months will pass as they debate the complexities of the war and develop new strategies aimed at giving the appearance that the end is just around the corner. Months will pass and the lives of Iraqis will continue to be destroyed and soldiers will continue to strap into cargo planes only to be snuck home at night in flag-draped coffins.

The plan to permanently occupy and terrorize Iraq is staring us in the face. We cannot vote for change; change will come the way it always does in society-through the efforts of a dedicated, militant mass movement against the heinous crimes of those who claim to represent us. Without such a movement, the imperialist plans for the Middle East will stay on course, and war will be a permanent reality.

The author is an Iraq war veteran and the Party for Socialism and Liberation’s congressional candidate in Florida’s 22nd District. Click here to read more about his campaign. Click here to read more about other PSL candidates running in local and national elections.