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Caputi writes: "What we did to Fallujah cannot be undone, and I see no point in attacking the people in my former unit. What I want to attack are the lies and false beliefs. I want to destroy the prejudices that prevented us from putting ourselves in the other's shoes and asking ourselves what we would have done if a foreign army invaded our country and laid siege to our city."

US soldiers outside Fallujah, Iraq, April 2004. (photo: Stefan Zaklin/EPA)
US soldiers outside Fallujah, Iraq, April 2004. (photo: Stefan Zaklin/EPA)

I Am Sorry for the Role I Played in Fallujah

By Ross Caputi, Guardian UK

25 December 11


t has been seven years since the end of the second siege of Fallujah – the US assault that left the city in ruins, killed thousands of civilians, and displaced hundreds of thousands more; the assault that poisoned a generation, plaguing the people who live there with cancers and their children with birth defects.

It has been seven years and the lies that justified the assault still perpetuate false beliefs about what we did.

The US veterans who fought there still do not understand who they fought against, or what they were fighting for.

I know, because I am one of those American veterans. In the eyes of many of the people I "served" with, the people of Fallujah remain dehumanised and their resistance fighters are still believed to be terrorists. But unlike most of my counterparts, I understand that I was the aggressor, and that the resistance fighters in Fallujah were defending their city.

It is also the seventh anniversary of the deaths of two close friends of mine, Travis Desiato and Bradley Faircloth, who were killed in the siege. Their deaths were not heroic or glorious. Their deaths were tragic, but not unjust.

How can I begrudge the resistance in Fallujah for killing my friends, when I know that I would have done the same thing if I were in their place? How can I blame them when we were the aggressors?

It could have been me instead of Travis or Brad. I carried a radio on my back that dropped the bombs that killed civilians and reduced Fallujah to rubble. If I were a Fallujan, I would have killed anyone like me. I would have had no choice. The fate of my city and my family would have depended on it. I would have killed the foreign invaders.

Travis and Brad are both victims and perpetrators. They were killed and they killed others because of a political agenda in which they were just pawns. They were the iron fist of American empire, and an expendable loss in the eyes of their leaders.

I do not see any contradiction in feeling sympathy for the dead US Marines and soldiers and at the same time feeling sympathy for the Fallujans who fell to their guns. The contradiction lies in believing that we were liberators, when in fact we oppressed the freedoms and wishes of Fallujans. The contradiction lies in believing that we were heroes, when the definition of "hero" bares no relation to our actions in Fallujah.

What we did to Fallujah cannot be undone, and I see no point in attacking the people in my former unit. What I want to attack are the lies and false beliefs. I want to destroy the prejudices that prevented us from putting ourselves in the other's shoes and asking ourselves what we would have done if a foreign army invaded our country and laid siege to our city.

I understand the psychology that causes the aggressors to blame their victims. I understand the justifications and defence mechanisms. I understand the emotional urge to want to hate the people who killed someone dear to you. But to describe the psychology that preserves such false beliefs is not to ignore the objective moral truth that no attacker can ever justly blame their victims for defending themselves.

The same distorted morality has been used to justify attacks against the native Americans, the Vietnamese, El Salvadorans, and the Afghans. It is the same story over and over again. These people have been dehumanised, their God-given right to self-defence has been delegitimised, their resistance has been reframed as terrorism, and US soldiers have been sent to kill them.

History has preserved these lies, normalised them, and socialised them into our culture: so much so that legitimate resistance against US aggression is incomprehensible to most, and to even raise this question is seen as un-American.

History has defined the US veteran as a hero, and in doing so it has automatically defined anyone who fights against him as the bad guy. It has reversed the roles of aggressor and defender, moralised the immoral, and shaped our societies' present understanding of war.

I cannot imagine a more necessary step towards justice than to put an end to these lies, and achieve some moral clarity on this issue. I see no issue more important than to clearly understand the difference between aggression and self-defence, and to support legitimate struggles. I cannot hate, blame, begrudge, or resent Fallujans for fighting back against us. I am sincerely sorry for the role I played in the second siege of Fallujah, and I hope that some day not just Fallujans but all Iraqis will win their struggle. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

-9 # fredboy 2011-12-25 13:16
Sorry, but "I am sorry" doesn't cut it.

We again raped and annihilated a nation's people.

That can never be forgiven.
+153 # wantrealdemocracy 2011-12-25 13:59
It is true that we can never be forgiven. What we have done, over and over again, is not forgivable. What we must do is never to allow our nation to do so again. You know 'our' leaders are preparing to attack Iran. There is terrible evil in our 'leaders' and we, the people, must reject them. The horrors of Fallujah include the use of nuclear weapons. The people in the army follow the orders of their superiors who are in no way superior in ethics and moral values. It is time for all of us to stop being 'good' Americans. We must not follow orders of evil nor vote again for any members of the two corporate political parties that have aided the evil direction of the government of the United States. Make a New Year's Resolution to stand up and resist evil---which, in simple terms means, do not be a 'good american' but be a decent loving human being on the planet Earth. Those who want peace on earth must get over greed and learn to care for others and share the bounty of our mother the earth. May it be so.
+127 # noitall 2011-12-25 14:18
At least he's speaking out now. His voice carries weight. With other kids and soldiers that haven't been 'there' yet, these words might ring at the right moment, before they destroy innocent or riteous lives and their own in the process.
+93 # noitall 2011-12-25 14:37
Wow! a THINKING soldier or Vet. Now there is something big daddy doesn't want to have catching on. It seems the only one in our government that adheres to his oath are our soldiers. Trouble is, a part of that oath is to obey all orders and all too often, those orders are coming from mad men. Here is a problem that I hope this letter reaches: the Veterans. Most veterans seldom talk about the unjust aspect of 'their' war. For many it was the high point of their life. They romanticize it and make it bigger in life to young, impressive ears, perpetuating the neverending line of fodder for the military. Veterans! help our young to support only a just military. One that exists for the People and not for the hierarchy and big money. All soldiers know the difference between right and wrong. It is the fighting of this knowledge that leads to PTS and life-long nightmares.
+44 # John Locke 2011-12-26 11:15
Get the army out of our High Schools...separ ate education from the armed services and that could be a good start...
+68 # tonenotvolume 2011-12-25 15:23
He stated his position and feelings eloquently without casting shame on anyone other than our political and military leaders. You, on the other hand, assign him all the shame and stand in judgement from your safety and warmth and relative wealth. Your mealy-mouthed comment leaves you blameless.
+24 # Bill Clements 2011-12-25 17:32
A harsh judgment. The sad fact is that when you refuse to forgive others, you're actually hurting yourself the most.

“The remarkable thing is that we really love our neighbor as ourselves: we do unto others as we do unto ourselves. We hate others when we hate ourselves. We are tolerant toward others when we tolerate ourselves. We forgive others when we forgive ourselves. We are prone to sacrifice others when we are ready to sacrifice ourselves.” -Eric Hoffer
+3 # Stacey Kengal 2011-12-27 12:32
Yes, it's an amazing system, Mr. Hoffer observes. Somebody knew what they were doing when he/she/they/us/ them/we/it/all designed it.
+38 # William Bjornson 2011-12-26 00:28
And, for further reading, Major General Smedley Darlington Butler, the most decorated U.S. soldier and United States Marine in history:

He wrote a book after he retired: "War is a Racket" about his 30 years as "a thug for Capitalism"

He went on a speaking tour to make Americans aware of what we are made to be by our elite. He died at 59. He was descended from Quakers. He was THE Marine's Marine. HIs memory is largely ignored by official Marine Corpsdom for reasons that will become obvious to you if you learn.
+59 # pgobrien 2011-12-26 01:47
"I'm sorry" absolutely cuts it! He didn't say he should be forgiven. He said nothing of forgive and forget. He said he's sorry. It's amazing and about time that someone who was there spoke up. It's necessary. It's at least one person who was there recognizing a reality. Onward ...
0 # Stacey Kengal 2011-12-27 12:29
As Tonto said to the Lone Ranger when they were surrounded by Indians and the masked-man exclaimed, "Tonto, we're surrounded by Indians!"

"Whachoo me "we"?, Kemosabe?

Forgiveness is of God and His Mercy endless. As we forgive so are we forgiven.
+2 # Robyn 2011-12-30 07:03
Quoting fredboy:
Sorry, but "I am sorry" doesn't cut it.

We again raped and annihilated a nation's people.

That can never be forgiven.

Well said
+142 # maddave 2011-12-25 13:21
Quote: How can I begrudge the resistance in Fallujah for killing my friends, when I know that I would have done the same thing if I were in their place? How can I blame them when we were the aggressors? Unquote

There! Somebody finally said it out - loud and in public! This is the sum of all feelings within the populations of the countries and peoples over whom the USAhas imposed its Empire!

We of all people - we who claim to love and practice Freedom and Democracy - ought to know that this is the expected response of those whom we attack - fo]0r whatever reason!
+7 # karenvista 2011-12-27 22:42
[quote name="maddave"] "How can I begrudge the resistance in Fallujah for killing my friends, when I know that I would have done the same thing if I were in their place? How can I blame them when we were the aggressors?"

And Wikileaks tells us why we really obliterated Fallujah and its citizens:

"On 31 March 2004, four American Blackwater contractors were killed and images of their bodies being burned and mutilated were broadcast on television around the world. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, CENTCOM Commander GEN Abizaid, and Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) Ambassador Bremer decided a military response was needed immediately. Fallujah had become a symbol of resistance that dominated international headlines."

Bush & Cheney's revenge for their friend Eric Prince of Blackwater.
+1 # soularddave 2013-08-18 08:04
Exactly. You remember the History well. The "original sin" was perpetrated by private contractors in their lawless assault and methods. Army brass just compounded the sin.
+116 # Stephen 2011-12-25 13:52
Wow, thank you. You have courage and conscience enough for many.
+92 # jwb110 2011-12-25 14:31
Thank you, Mr. Caputi.
+90 # lobdillj 2011-12-25 14:36
It would be unfair to condemn the returning warriors for the atrocities they committed in the war, because they were naive and perceived their enlistment to be a noble sacrifice that, although it might get them killed, was proof of their patriotism. That was the result of a wrong and cruelly fraudulent public policy based on “Father knows best.”

This flaw in the design of our constitution needs to be corrected. The only justification for war is an obvious threat to our families, homes, and our sovereignty. The present system does not prevent war for other reasons that usually are the result of sociopathic motives on the part of decision makers.

This nation needs a full, open, and honest discussion of war, our flawed system of government, and the wages of war that have traditionally been swept under the rug and have conned a trusting people over and over again.

As a 74 year old male I have often thanked God that I wasn’t fed into the maw of the war machine. I almost was sent to Vietnam as an enlisted member of an Air Force Reserve hospital unit. For some reason, never explained, after we had been given our shots, written our wills, and gone to summer camp expecting to be sent into the war, our unit was not sent. I was planning to do what my 29 year old brain had been taught was my sacred duty, without question or hesitation. Today, I couldn’t even sign the enlistment papers. I would go to Canada instead.
+35 # Bill Clements 2011-12-25 17:34
I so completely agree with everything you've so eloquently and wisely written.
+26 # maddave 2011-12-25 19:30
[quote name="lobdillj" ] It would be unfair to condemn the returning warriors for the atrocities they committed in the war, because they were naive and perceived their enlistment to be a noble sacrifice that, although it might get them killed, was proof of their patriotism. That was the result of a wrong and cruelly fraudulent public policy based on “Father knows best.” unquot

lobdillj: You are headed in the right direction but you don't go far enough. Whenever ANY country considers going to war with another, the firsr matter at hand is to unleash the propaganda machine and dehumanize - demonize - the enemy country, its people & their culture. Our propaganda MUST condition our brothers', sons', fathers' minds to despise & hate "the craven, Godless enemy who wants only to destroy us, our God and our freedoms". When that message has ben delivered and accepted by all (Americans) then - and only then - can our aged leaders loose our weapons and men - you and me - upon our enemy (whose wealth & natural resources we covet & crave) - confident in the knowledge that our men will not hesitate to pull the trigger or drop bombs on on our enemy . . . who, if truth be told, are no different from you and me - whose lives, loves, dreams and aspirations are the same as our own.
+20 # maddave 2011-12-25 19:53
[quote: - "lobdillj": ]It would be unfair to condemn the returning warriors for the atrocities they committed in the war, because they were naive and perceived their enlistment to be a noble sacrifice that, although it might get them killed, was proof of their patriotism. Unquote]

You are headed in the right direction, but you do not go far enough! When (even) contemplating a war, the very first order of business is to propagandize, demonize, & dehumanize the prospective enemy. Our population - and especially our troops - need to b certain that those whom we will kill and subjugate - regardless of age, sex or infirmity - are "Godless, hate-filled non-humans whose only desire in life is to destroy our freedom, our democracy and our God.

The least thing that our rear-echelon leaders want or need is for our military men - our brothers, sons, fathers, husbands - to harbor any compassion, pity or empathy for those whose wealth and resources we covet and crave. Otherwise he (or, now, she) may hesitate in pulling the trigger or dropping his bomb upon people who - if truth be known - are no different from ourselves - who have the same life, loves, dreams and aspirations.

Their only sin is that they live in a country that is rich in, for example, oil!
0 # ProfessorManque 2017-08-23 12:28
Supposedly being naive and having good intentions are of course transparent excuses meant to avoid personal responsibility. They were adults of at least normal intelligence and are naturally responsible for making the ongoing atrocity that was the war as well as the periodic atrocities at Haditha and Mahmoudiyah and many others. There culpabiity is obvious and in no other context would anyone even try to make such ludicrous excuses for the victimizers, only ethoncentrism and the cult of the US military permits such flapdoodle to be taken seriously.

"Just following orders" was discredited at Nuremburg, and every 1st grader knows doing something wrong because someone told you to in no mitigates your guilt. US military were required by the UCMJ as averred in their oath of induction to disobey those unlawful (and immoral) orders to make an unprovoked war against a weak country that posed no threat to the US.

Marc Ash figured this out only after it was too late, which is certainly better than the vast majority who remain unrepentant, but we of course need more folks like Lt Ehren Watada who figured it before hand and correctly refused to follow those unlawful orders
+56 # JohnnyK 2011-12-25 14:38
We must make sure that this never happens again.
+2 # X Dane 2011-12-29 02:35
No disrespect Johnny, But how many times have we heard that phrase? And still it happens again, and again, and again.

We need to reinstate the draft. When most of our people have somebody in danger it may not be so easy to order young people into war.

Now it is way too easy, when only one per cent of our population does the fighting, killing, suffering and dying.

The military does not want the draft, I realize that, for it will not be so easy to get the country into war.

I can well understand that so many returning veterans commit suicide. They feel the same as Ross Caputi, but maybe they can not express what they feel and not ask for forgiveness.
+60 # Mainiac 2011-12-25 14:42
A follow up comment has to say that all those who are being ordered for a first or another tour of duty should REFUSE TO GO. These are illegal wars and the Military Code of Justice says that members of the military should not obey illegal orders.

When men refuse to fight, the wars will stop.
+57 # guidoS 2011-12-25 14:42
To stand in the other's shoes. To see life and circumstance through the other's eyes. To feel the other's fears and grief. To suffer the other's pain and loss. This is to know what it is to be human. It is the birth of Love. Love forgives all. And, having awakened Love in yourself, you are already forgiven. Forgive yourself, for you acted in ignorance and fear. Now awakened, go and do what Love commands.
+17 # jon 2011-12-25 16:34
gweick, very well said!
+11 # maddave 2011-12-25 19:59
gweick: If you are sincere in this comment (with with which i heartily agree in principle) don't even THINK about giving up your day and joining the Army. You won't like it.
+68 # barryg 2011-12-25 14:44
I ma a vietnam vet and this expresses my experience and how I feel better than I ever could. Thanks and may it go viral.
+47 # soularddave 2011-12-25 14:45
Quoting Stephen:
You have courage and conscience enough for many.

Which brings us to the question of Private Bradley Manning: Hero, or villain? These are the BIG questions we must face as a nation repairing ourselves after what amounted to a war.

Now we must stand and face ourselves.
+54 # noitall 2011-12-25 15:36
One who brings forward truth to protect his Republic is always the hero in my book. Manning is the victim of propaganda and the guilty fearful.
+20 # Pancho 2011-12-25 15:50
There should be no question at all about whether he was a hero or villain.

If he was a villain, he would have been greeted as a hero, for however briefly those who knew him remembered. He would have been praised by every draft-dodging politician and demagogue who wanted people to think he wasn't working for his or her own interest and whoring for the 1% and the American Taliban.
+29 # maddave 2011-12-25 20:27
[quote name="soulardda ve"]Which brings us to the question of Private Bradley Manning: Hero, or villain? These are the BIG questions we must face as a nation repairing ourselves after what amounted to a war. [Unquote]

Like all good messengers - and in the finest traditions of the military service - Manning will be sacrificed as an example to all of his ilk who might otherwise have the courage to blow the whistle on the illegal/immoral orders and actions of his/our leaders.

Concurrently, the real war criminals who hornswaggled us into protracted wars in Iraq/Afghanista n - Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Tenet, Feith, Wolfowitz, Pearle, etc - get free rides and continue to live rich, full lives in the lap of luxury.

Not only does "The 1%" own nearly 50% of the wealth in the USA, but they and their friends are now immune from scrutiny or prosecution - even for the crime of genocide.
+33 # Helliem 2011-12-25 14:48
I'm sorry you did too, What can we all do to stopmthis brainwashing of Americans?
+27 # Carolyn 2011-12-25 14:49
There can be no physical life on earth without opposites -- man/woman, good/evil. We can never get rid of evil. What you have experienced is the futility of war. War is an extension of evil.

No soldier is responsible for the orders to destroy Fallujah. The orders for war came from Bush and Cheney. Since the beginning of time, war has been used to gain control of territory and its resources, regardless of the human suffering. By joining the armed forces, you have learned at first hand the horrors of war
IIt is doubtful that the people or the planet can survive the devastation of another world war, a thermonuclear war. The leaders of our country do not concern themselves with the cruel suffering and devastation of war.
+26 # Pancho 2011-12-25 15:56
I disagree.

The "Good Soldier Schweik" was not the first or the last representation of cannon fodder to be coerced or impressed or conned by recruiters or society in general to sign up in a genocidal and imperialistic war.

soldiers and sailors and airmen and women can drag their feet and speak their minds, if they find themselves in these awful circumstances.

There have been studies in the past that found that a surprising number of infantry have fired over the heads of the designated "enemy." The military is not comprised entirely of psychopaths, morons and true believers.
+32 # Peace Anonymous 2011-12-25 14:59
The sad, very sad part of this story is that it is only one story, about one city. I do not wish to minimize. Fallujah is a dark and ugly stain and if it troubles you the big picture will keep you awake for a long, long time.
+18 # noitall 2011-12-25 15:41
It is this war's Mei lei. Every war has to admit to one, otherwise people might think there were many, and probably rightly so. but now that we've admitted to one, who will ever know of the others? who would ask? Problem solved. Thank you media for protecting our innocence.
+13 # mjc 2011-12-26 10:13
There were many, many more "Mei lei" incidents in Iraq, documented over the ten years we've been bent on establishing an American empire in the Middle East. Much like the much criticized Germans in WWII who claimed only that they had been following orders, the American soldier can now follow that the best excuse for senseless violence against civilians.
+35 # oldgrayactive 2011-12-25 15:25
join VETERANS FOR PEACE and be active all!! your voices carry a lot more weight than old and gray folk, despite our wisdom.
0 # 8myveggies 2013-08-18 02:18
And let's fight against ageism as well!
+32 # Sully747 2011-12-25 15:28
Made me cry…… x-USMC
+29 # Jude 2011-12-25 15:34
The comment from gweik is wise, and I second also Barry G's wish that Mr. Caputi's trenchant and heartfelt statement goes viral. And to lobdillj--it pains me to tell you that coming to Canada is no longer an option. Despite what the people of Canada would want, and despite our history of welcoming Viet Nam conscientious objectors who have turned into extraordinarily good citizens--after all, we got the best thinking young Americans then in a reverse braindrain--our current government is as fascist as the Bush government ever was. I am ashamed to say that Canada has sent Iraq war resisters home.
+21 # Alexis Fecteau 2011-12-25 15:36
FALSE = "History has defined the US veteran as a hero"

History defines the US veteran of this Iraq abortion as the war criminal that he is - willingly following the illegal orders of worse war criminals to kill innocent men, women, and children.

Only US corporate propaganda and politics define the US veteran of this invasion as a hero.

And don't tell me I don't get it, I am a 22 year veteran of many conflicts including the gulf war I.
+17 # Gord84 2011-12-25 15:55
There are few heros and everyone involved - both sides in the conflict - are first and foremost victims.
+18 # Doubter 2011-12-25 17:17
Bradley Manning is the only "hero" I can think of offhand..
+29 # historywriter 2011-12-25 15:58
Thank you, all of you, for giving me more hope.
It doesn't matter if its only one city; it stands for all cities.
How do we prevent it again? So much is invested in the war machine--corpor ations, financial systems, who knows what is tangled up in it--that bringing it down looks impossible. Refusing to go into service is one hard possibility. We haven't had a declared war since 1941. How do we stop that?
If veterans would keep telling their stories themselves to all of us who never had to go to Fallujah or anyplace else, that might bring it about.
Veterans for Peace is a locally organized group of people that is active in many cities--or apparently people can begin one. Check out the Veterans for Peace website. It's full of good information.
+49 # sandyboy 2011-12-25 16:04
To the person who said sorry doesn't cut it: it's a start. If a soldier can say: I loved my friends,I'm sad they died, but I realise we were wrong and refuse to demonise those who killed them, that is an amazing thing that few can do. This guy is brave cos he's going to take a lot of abuse from Repub 'patriots'for his honesty.
+30 # Sully747 2011-12-25 16:21
Made me cry……As an x-USMC of the sixties we heard it all before.. Never again.. said Colin Powell, John Kerry and thousands of others. But,.. it did happen again, and again , and again…
+35 # lincolnimp 2011-12-25 17:30
This is what has needed to be said and recognized since the beginning of the knee jerk reaction of President Bush and his bullyboy idolators. It needs to be said again and again and again until the point is made "WE WERE THE AGGRESSORS-NOT THE HEROES."
+17 # Marjory Munson 2011-12-26 04:57
I agree that we need to get this point. However, a start is to recognize that Bush and his idolators were not reACTING, they were ACTING. Their action against Iraq had been planned and was lying in the swamp awaiting an excuse.
+31 # wfalco 2011-12-25 18:08
Caputi writes from the heart and that is all he may have left after witnessing and being involved in chaotic slaughter.
Those of you who condemn a young man like this by saying things like "I am sorry...doesn't cut it" are only showing their own ignorance.
It is humanistic to be able to emphasize with another's plight (as Mr Caputi boldly does in his article.)To those critics of these young men I would suggest trying a little empathy.
Many are of a humble upbringing. The best option, in their eyes, is to join the military after high school. It's a job with promises of adventure and help with college tuition.These youngsters have not yet formulated a personal political philosophy. Those from the upper classes already have their plans laid out for them by Daddy- and it certainly does not involve service to country. I remember being a poor 18 year old. I stumbled into college with the help of Pell Grants and a partial scholarship-the only thing that kept me from enlisting (and I almost quit school at one point to go ahead and enlist in the Marines.)
Caputi's story is about growing up and developing a core belief system-except his development was not within the Ivy covered walls of a fine institution, but in the streets of hell.
+29 # RMDC 2011-12-25 18:11
Thanks Ross. It is good for soldiers to say this. It is simply the truth and the truth is important for everyone. The truth sets one free.

But another truth is that soldiers like Ross did not make the decision to destroy Fallujah or to invade Iraq. Those who did -- the neo-cons -- also need to be held accountable. I see no value at all in prosecuting people like Ross who were caught up in a machine that they neither understood nor wanted. but I do see a tremendous need in the world now to prosecute the political and military leaders who caused this great crime against humanity.

Why is this published in the Guardian and not the New York Times or Washington Post. Did they refuse it? I would bet they did.
+16 # colvictoria 2011-12-25 18:55
Thank you so much Mr Caputi for your honesty and sincerity about what happened in Fallujah. If we do not want these things to happen again then people of conscience must not take up arms and not join the US military because this is what soldiers are trained to do.
It is disconcerting to watch our President and his wife go on national TV thanking our soldiers for their heroic service during this holiday season. How many Fallujah's are happening under Obama's watch right now in the Middle East? in Africa?
Obama is the same as Bush and all the Republicons and he will not get my vote in 2012.
Mr Caputi needs to go on a national speaking tour to tell young people (considering to join the military) about what happened in Fallujah. His story will surely have an impact on impressionable teens. And maybe we will have ONE LESS soldier coming home in a body bag and ONE LESS town left blood soaked and ruined like Fallujah.
+26 # irvingwood 2011-12-25 18:56
As a Canadian who protested against the Vietnam War and all wars that followed I am ashamed to say that there is no longer a welcome from the Canadian government for U.S. war resisters. The neo-con, tea-partying right-wing govt. we have now is a clone of the Republican Party. But come anyway and hide out, because the people of Canada will still welcome you and help you all they can. With the suicide rate amongst returning veterans now exceeding combat deaths the damage these wars are doing to the fabric of American society can only worsen. I respect your sincerity, honesty and courage. I just wish you hadn't gone. Please all US servicemen refuse to be a party to these imperial wars. As with Vietnam, accounts of atrocities will continue to surface. Beat the poverty draft. Refuse to kill for US corporations. It will take courage, but the damage to your psyche will be a lot less. Resist now!
+24 # futhark 2011-12-25 19:02
This failure of imagination as to what your reaction would be if Iraqi, Afghan, or Iranian troops invaded or bombed the United States to liberate it from an evil regime is beyond comprehension.

My college roommate's mother endured the American bombing of Central Europe during World War II and later brought her family to America. My roommate told me she often said that American had no idea of the terror felt by those huddling in basements while the city in which they lived was being destroyed and its residents were literally barbequed.

One of the most useful tools used by the Neocons in promoting both gulf wars was the image of the "smart bomb" and the myth of "surgical strikes" against an enemy of pure, distilled evil. This reduced the horror and destruction of war to the level of a video game, glorifying the technically superior forces over those who were fighting to defend their homeland.

War is such a dirty, ugly business, especially in this era of drone strike assassinations and cruise missile attacks that we must be forever on our guard against those who would represent it as an honorable enterprise or a contest of technical prowess.
+15 # RMDC 2011-12-25 20:43
Well said, futhark. I'm a member of the War Resister's League. It has the motto "as long as we glorify war our children will go out to fight the next one." Telling the truth about war is the best preventative. What if Cheney/Bush/Oba ma told us we had to go somewhere to fight so that we would not have to fight them in the streets of the US, and everyone responded "hell, no, we won't got."
+9 # Firehawk70 2011-12-25 19:53
Of course this is the case. Not every German soldier in WWII was an antisemitic psychopath. Most were sons and brothers and fathers who were told that they fight or die (or their families die) as well as the powerful propaganda. In the case of Vietnam I'm not sure but I suspect there were similar motivations. And clearly we all know about Saddam's propaganda and familial threats (patterned after Hitler) so the motivation of Iraqi soldiers is equivalent to the Nazis.
American soldiers walk in like some beacon of goodness, slaughtering sons and brothers and fathers who have been forced to fight and we wonder why there is resentment. I'm not saying all enemy soldiers are innocent but I bet the majority are.
And in fact, we also know that not all American soldiers are innocent. Some of our own have committed atrocities throughout all wars.
+6 # maddave 2011-12-27 01:27
Quote Firehawk70 : "In the case of Vietnam I'm not sure but I suspect there were similar motivations." Unquote

I was there. My Viet Nam Campaign Medal bears four stars.

We were intent upon stamping out Communism lest it spread (Domino Effect) throughout Southeast Asia, but Communism, per se, in South Viet Nam was largely a non-existant myth. In North Viet Nam it communism under Ho Chi Minh was little more than an anti-colonial organization opposed to the re-implementati on French domination following WWII. It was a war of National Liberation - period!

In he SVN villages the people wanted only to grow their rice and to be left alone, but they became pawns in a game that was being fought out of Saigon & Washington. We took villages over for a while & either killed or arrested the "communists" that we found. We'd leave and theVC would take over on the next day and kill or conscript the anti-communists that we had just created. The poor bastards didn't have a chance, and all they wanted was to be left alone!.

For background on the war in S E Asia, see: Street Without Joy, Bernard Fall . . . this book began my education regarding the Vietnamese's motivation.
+11 # geraldom 2011-12-25 20:03
Why is that only after a soldier commits egregious acts against humanity does he seek repentance? Why can’t soldiers know, beforehand, what they’re about to do is illegal & immoral, that they will in fact be committing war crimes & crimes against humanity, that truly innocent lives will be lost, men, women, & children, all for ignoble goals of world conquest & empire, not to mention control of a sovereign country's energy resources.

That's the problem with countries like the U.S. who desire world conquest & will do almost anything to justify an illegal invasion, lie, cheat, deceive, & frame the innocent by perpetrating false flag events like the Gulf of Tonkin to justify the illegal invasion & occupation of Vietnam, & 9/11 (by the Bush admin) to justify the illegal invasions & occupations of Afghanistan & Iraq, & now possibly Iran who the Obama admin is now accusing of having possible ties to the 9/11 attacks.

And countries like the U.S. will always have a fresh crop of idealistic loyal well-trained soldiers who have been so brainwashed & dehumanized & taught to hate who we defined as our enemies so that they will be able to murder & maim them without any regret or remorse, be they men, women, or children. And, when soldiers come home from fighting illegal wars like this, maimed and wounded for life, physically and/or mentally, they will get thrown aside like so much used goods because fresh soldiers will be waiting in the wings.
+15 # RMDC 2011-12-25 22:11
Menscher says, "Why is that only after a soldier commits egregious acts against humanity does he seek repentance? Why can’t soldiers know, beforehand, what they’re about to do is illegal & immoral, that they will in fact be committing war crimes & crimes against humanity, "

The answer is quite simple -- it is the US propaganda system that includes not just the news media which makes most people think that foreign leaders like Saddam, Qaddafi, Kim Jon Il or Kim Jong un, and the rest are out to get us. The US is the great victim. Everyone wants to invade us and take us over. And our movies glorify soldiers and war. Kids grow up thinking soldiers are heroes.

Most people enlist in the military for good reasons. It is only later that they find out they've been lied to and manipulated.

I don't say this about the career officers who graduate from the military academies -- West POint, Annapolis, and the rest. They are true psychopaths. Who would make a profession out of killing innocent people in other nations? Only they don't say it that way. They say they are defending America. But they are lying to themselves, just as psychopaths do.

Here's where Ross is right. We need the truth about war. And the truth about the people who to go fight it and the truth about the people who send them to war. .
+15 # fredboy 2011-12-25 20:06
It often takes more courage to disobey an order than to "go to war" as ordered. Far, far more courage. Don't desert your morals, your values, and your goodness because an order arrives wrapped in a flag. Because that is the real act of desertion that will last your entire life.

Remember, the ongoing line of defense offered by Nazi war criminals was "I was just following orders."

And yes, if another nation invaded the United States many of us would counterattack and risk our lives to protect our families and neighbors. The enemy would call us insurgents; our families and neighbors and others fighting to defend our land would call us patriots.
+17 # WaldenPond 2011-12-25 20:09
Thank you for the courage and care to write this. I hope it encourages more of our armed forces to reflect on what they have done in foreign lands, to people who never attacked us, never threatened to attack us, and were unable to attack us.
+20 # Pikewich 2011-12-25 20:21
One of the terribly sad things about war is that we often have much more in common with the "enemy" fighters than we do with those who lie us into going out to kill them.
+18 # sharag 2011-12-25 20:25
I well remember the build up to the second siege of Fallujah. I was in Wales, U.K. where news of the war was not so stifled. It was clear from the way it was being amassed that it was a revenge attack with British forces being used as back up to the U.S. and to block escape from the city of any who tried. An attack that would level the city and anyone left standing in it. People in the U.K. were outraged about this, but with little effect. I listened to Tony Blair on BBC radio make a public promise that Fallujah would be rebuilt as if it was some sort of justification for what was about to happen. He was lying of course and that was clear while he spoke. He always lied.

Fallujah, it was all out aggression of the worst kind and the soldiers who were sent to fight there have every right to feel its pain too, and to speak out about this injustice.
+15 # J. Glenn Evans 2011-12-26 02:13
Thank you, soldier, for having the courage to speak out and admit that we were wrong. Things will not really change until the mass of people start thinking for themselves, turn off the corporate media that has been brain-washing the American people. This next election let's replace those people in Congress who have trashed our Constitution by passing such laws as the Homeland Securities Act, the Patriots Act and now the NDAA that authorizes the president through the military to incarcerate indefinitely or even take out American citizens without benefit of a trial to ascertain their guilt or innocence of being a terrorist. Such acts as these trash our Constitution. It's time we become a true member of the family of nations and quit try to rule the world as an empire
J. Glenn Evans
+14 # 2011-12-26 06:51
As a Vietnam veteran, I feel free to say "Ditto". For ANYONE who chooses to disagree with the above shows their true colors when it comes to the issue of humanity.
+12 # bobby t. 2011-12-26 08:21
i remember a line from the times back in the sixties. a general in nam was looking at a village that had been leveled and everyone and everything, including goats, had been killed. he said, "this is peace." remember the book 1984, and the statement "war is peace?" it is doublethink.
look at all our video games, and then tell me that we don't train our youngsters to kill the "enemy" ....
for too many, enlisting is the way out of horrible poverty. free college? how about food, clothing and shelter?
bring back the draft and see how many wars we get ourselves into. smartest thing the milo minderbenders of this world ever figured out. they saw this coming. did we win the war in iraq? they are starting to kill themselves again. fat good we did there. to smile and smile and be a villian....corp orate killings. lots of war profits made. as an ex sailor i salute you for your heroic statement. you are the man....
+7 # tm7devils 2011-12-26 08:41
One could only hope that the "Ghost of War Past" visits the civilian and military perpetrators of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq...every single night for the remainder of their lives.
Here's an idea - every person who reads this article should send it by email, or Twitter, or Facebook, or whatever - to all those perpetrators along with your own personal note regarding your feelings. In effect, we would become the "Ghost".
There is a catch be effective, the person that the "Ghost" visits must be a critically thinking and moral person - otherwise there is no remorse.
+6 # carurosu 2011-12-26 09:50
While there are noble and decent americans, such as write on these columns, U.S.A. has hopes of being great.
+11 # Vermont Grandma 2011-12-26 10:07
Many thanks to Ross Caputi for reflecting on his actions in Fallujah and sharing his reflections with us. It is not easy to do what he did, but so important for him, and those complicit in his acts as citizens of the country he soldiered for, to read his insights. Decades ago, in a book titled Sunflower, Simon Weisenthal wrote of a personal experience with a Nazi soldier compelled to share his insights on the wrongs he had done before dying. It is a compelling book sharing Weisenthal's searching relating to how to respond to someone who acknowledges having done things that have cause grave harm to others.
Perhaps if Mr. Caputi and his fellow soldiers in Iraq had had the opportunity to read Sunflower before deploying to Iraq, the destruction of Fallujah, the killing of its citizens by US soldiers might not have occurred. Perhaps Mr. Caputi's writing will help another solder to turn away from what Mr. Caputi and others did in Iraq...
+12 # dipierro4 2011-12-26 11:03
Some six million people worldwide demonstrated to oppose the invasion of Iraq. The wrongness was obvious from the start, to those who didn't want to avoid the truth.

Mr. Caputi is a credible voice to address these issues - now that the harm is done. Unfortunately, in the American political culture, those of us who spoke up in 2003 are not considered "credible."

Someone said years ago that you can't be "credible" about war issues in America unless you spent years being wrong first. They were referring to Vietnam at the time. It was true then, and unfortunately it still is true. And it does us little good.
+8 # guaznu 2011-12-26 13:24
It is more than time to confront the status quo in the international judicial system that effectively condones Imperialism of the United States. by fostering a Nuremburg Like Trial addressing the current and earlier generation of Crimes against Humanity of this empire. If nothing else this will show the lie in the discourse which the United States needs to get away with mas murder.
+7 # amye 2011-12-26 13:41
Well spoken, and well written! Its a true paradigm shift in thought about war! However, there is still a paradigm shift that has not been made in this article. That is the comments about how the deaths of close friends were justified. Unfortunately and sadly the deaths of war are never justified! War is not a justified means to an end ever! We as human beings should never kill each for any reason ever! When we all realize that then the complete paradigm shift will be made!!
+14 # Texas Patriot 2011-12-26 13:48
The arrogant military madnesses perpetrated upon Fallujah, Iraq, and Vietnam by the shining city on the hill were far from new in American history, unforunately.

For example, the U.S-Mexico War of 1846-1848 was a nakedly imperialistic war, motivated by and resulting in the American conquest of vast territories of the Republic of Mexico, which became the states of New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah, and half of Colorado.

In the 1847 siege of Vera Cruz, American general Winfield Scott subjected the city to a vicious artillery bombardment that he deliberately aimed at the civilian population in order to pressure the Mexican military to surrender. Large portions of the civilian housing were reduced to rubble and hundreds of women and children were killed. During the bombardment the British and French consuls in the city asked Scott to permit the civilian population to leave the city but Scott refused. It was a terror bombardment, pure and simple.

The memories of that war of invasion, occupation, conquest and terror live on today in the cultural DNA of the victims' descendants, just as the memories of Fallujah will live on for many generations in the descendants of the invaded, occupied, and terrorized.

Right-thinking, patriotic Americans must never stop demanding that their country cease being an instrument of terror toward other peoples. Self-defense, yes when necessary; aggression, never again.
+11 # historywriter 2011-12-26 19:20
Most Americans think of the United States as a peaceful nation, driven to war only by bad people like Saddam Hussein. We do, as it was said before, think of America as a "city on the hill," the exceptional nation.
But our violence toward others started before we were even a country. Europeans came to his country, grabbed the land that the Native Americans were inhabiting, signed treaties, and then violated them. Most money due the Indians was never received.
Then our great wealth was borne of free labor--that of the slaves.
There is a dreadful history in all of this, and the stories about the Europeans' attempts to wipe out the Natives and the violent treatment of the slaves belies the stories we tell ourselves.
We should know this history. We should know what we have done under different guises. If the United States realized its history is quite different from most of what is taught, I wonder if we would begin to see ourselves honestly and begin to treat others differently.
+11 # kitster 2011-12-26 17:33
wait a minute, wait a minute!!!

we are the germans of the 21st century. we did nothing to prevent the iraq irrationality. we cheered as w invaded to right (?) the 911 wrong.

where was the hue and cry from congress as the supreme court-crowned cabal at the top unleashed the pit bulls of perdition on the people suppressed by the sad sack mad man, saddam hussein? where was the pandering press who embedded their entourage to encourage empathy with the empire builders here at home? a few lonely citizens yelled themselves hoarse...but who listened as we harmonized our hosannahs to the our victorious (?) hordes?

make no mistake about it...we are the hollow men. we are the stuffed men.

make no mistake about it. our leaders are but an extention of our real enemy and collaborator in all this carnage.

the enemy is us.

we must never let this miasma happen in our name again. or we may suffer the consequenses next time.
+7 # historywriter 2011-12-26 19:26
I think the murdered Sen. Paul Wellstone was the one senator who voted against the war. I'm sure many others had doubts and some knew that all those WDM were myths. But they were afraid the voters--US--wou ld call them weak on terror or whatever and not re-elect them.
America is supposed to be tough. Why is not OK to be caring, compassionate, and intelligent instead? Why didn't we focus our anti-terroism efforts on the actual terrorists? Why did W totally ignore all the warnings; Richard Clarke had been trying to tell him and Cheney what was going to happen, at least in a general way?
Because, it was all about oil. Money. Defense contracts (Halliburton, anyone?).
+2 # X Dane 2011-12-29 04:42
Historywriter, W ignored Richard Clarke because he WANTED to go to war with Iraq.
He WELCOMED 9/11 as a great reason to do so. Poul O Neil, treasurery secretary said so and wrote in his book that W said immediately after 9/11, now we go into Iraq. The Neo cons wanted to take Iraq while Clinton was in office, but he did not want to. They realized, that they could manipulate W, and made sure he was "elected". The rest is history
+3 # Firehawk70 2011-12-26 21:51
@Kitster. Only to a small degree. I thought about making the same statement, but understand that Germans were under the same control that Saddam used. "If you know of someone who is against the state, you must turn them in. If we find out that you knew about someone and didn't report them, we'll kill you, and probably your family too." Its a little difficult to blame people who are shown (fake) footage of Allied soldiers stopping German trains and slaughtering everyone on board. After awhile they might have known the truth, but not everyone, and not until later. They had no twitter and you'd be killed for spreading truth.

But yes, too many Americans re-voted for those killing policies in 2004. The election was likely stolen by a few percent but bad Americans enabled most of that 48% with their hatred and ignorance. We have no excuse for not knowing the truth. People watch Fox News because they love the substance of those lies. They want to hate Muslims. They want to hate the poor and lazy.
+5 # maximls35 2011-12-26 20:17
The article and responses to it are powerful and moving.

What keeps us from knowing that the people who suffered in Falluja are the same as those trapped in the WTC? They had sisters and brothers hoping they had somehow survived. They had jobs and petty annoyances and ambitions. Many of them had no chance to say goodbye.

Every joke told on our late night TV about cab drivers who can't speak English helped kill them.

+4 # maximls35 2011-12-27 20:24
Kitster says the enemy is us. Although I agree with the sentiment, the fact is we, the 99%, have neither opportunity or motive to start a war or commit atrocities like Falluja. I think it's important to make that distinction, and to realize that these senseless horrors aren't really senseless. They happen because their is a layer of people at the top who think like corporations, heartlessly.

+4 # clem 2011-12-28 17:40
General Smedley D butler
by Mark Clemons on Monday, August 1, 2011 at 1:38pm
He had started letting loose before retirement. In August 1931, according to Jules Archer, he used the "racketeer for capitalism" epigram that appeared variously in his speeches and writings thereafter. Most frequently cited was the 1935 Common Sense article:
"I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purifly Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-12. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras "right" for American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested... . Looking back on it, I feel I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three city districts. We Marines operated on three continents."
In January 1932, Nation reported him characterizing the U.S. military as "a glorified bill-collecting agency" and saying he "wouldn't want to see a boy of mine march out with a Wall Street collar about his neck."

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