September 4, 2011
I’m not sure what to say to you. I have thought about writing to for months, years now maybe, but I didn’t know what I could say that would be constructive, or if I even wanted to say something constructive to you. I don’t want to pretend that your fears are unbased, that I forgive you or that I have somehow separated in my mind who you are from what you do. I haven’t Drew, and when I look at you I do see the soldiers who bulldoze homes and murder children, and murder the fathers and mothers of children. That’s the whole point of the uniform, right? To make you indistinguishable?
But you are distinguishable Drew. I look through your photos on Facebook and I can’t stop crying, and I am forced to remember that the men and women standing next to you in uniform have friends at home looking through their Facebook photos and crying too.
Its easy when immersed in the struggle for things to seem simple. I often tell people that there is nothing complicated about US imperialism, and I firmly believe this so on the levels of history, economy and even morality. But it’s not true on the level of Facebook, on the level of memories and friendships and the pain of knowing that someone you love is doing something horribly wrong. You should know that in some ways you have made this war as complicated for me as I make it for you.
I don’t know why you are in Afghanistan Drew. You say that you “have no regrets, because with this place came the kind of knowledge that would be impossible if you languished in safety.” What makes me so angry about this is that it’s only about you. What difference does it make to the people whose country you are occupying what you have learned from the experience? Can you really be so selfish as to value your own learning process over the lives of other human beings? To talk about “languishing in safety” as if it were the only alternative to imperialism is equally frustrating. Are we “languishing in safety” when we stand side by side with Palestinians, Iraqis and Afghans fighting or freedom, justice and human rights?
I don’t want to preach at you Drew. I don’t want to tell you that it’s not too late, that you can still go AWOL and refuse to submit to their orders. I have always known you have the courage to resist - the question is whether or not you are willing to face up to your own responsibility as a comrade and a human being.
You say that we “find ourselves on opposite sides of this wall that others have built for us,” but the truth is that we build this wall every day with our choices and actions. There is no US imperialism without its military, and there is no military without its soldiers. I was not born on this side of the struggle, I chose it, despite the fact that most of my family stood staunchly on the other side. Every day you make a choice too - to fight a rich man’s war or to put down your gun and begin the real fight. At the end of the day, the choice is always yours. You are a free man Drew, and with freedom comes responsibility. Only you can absolve yourself of the crimes you commit.
In struggle and solidarity, and with hope to soon stand arm and arm again against injustice and oppression,