The growing crisis faced by the US occupation of Iraq was the key issue in midterm elections, taking place in the US as Socialist Worker went to press.
The rising toll of human suffering and violence has led millions of Americans to question the reasons for the invasion – and many now believe that the US is losing the war.
This shift in attitude has penetrated into the US army. Serving soldiers have found an unlikely spokesperson in Liam Madden, a 22 year old Marine Corps sergeant.
Madden considers himself a patriot, but faced with the disaster in Iraq he has begun campaigning openly for the withdrawal of US troops.
“We should not be in Iraq. The war has been badly conducted and poorly executed. The war is not winnable and can no longer be justified,” he told Socialist Worker by telephone.
Madden served in the Anbar province of Iraq from September 2004 until February 2005.
The mainly Sunni Muslim region is one of the heartlands of resistance to the occupation, encompassing the restive towns of Fallujah and Ramadi. In November 2004 Marines spearheaded the assault on Fallujah in a battle that sparked a general rebellion against the occupation.
During his deployment in Iraq, “we only really cared about coming home and helping our friends to come home, all other opinions were put on the back burner,” said Madden.
“However there is a growing, if silent, anti-war sentiment among the troops. But as professionals we felt we had a job to do and just wanted to get home in one piece.
“Some marines began to oppose the war through personal experience, often the tragic circumstances that you face in Iraq. Others, like myself, questioned the political reasons for the war from the beginning and I became more convinced during my time there.
“I was infuriated at how long we have been in Iraq, and how much longer we were going to stay in a country where people don’t want us.
“I am grateful that I survived with no physical or psychological harm.”
His opposition to the war grew on his return to the US. Madden and a fellow soldier launched their campaign after they went to a meeting on resistance among US troops during the Vietnam War.
Madden made public his opposition to the war. He spoke to the army newspaper, local press and national news.
For a serving soldier to openly campaign for an end to the war carries enormous risks.
“I was expecting hostility, but I have received overwhelming praise from friends and families, and more support than criticism from my fellow Marines,” he said.
“Some things are worth fighting for, I just don’t feel Iraq is one of them.
“The more people who die there, and the longer we stayed there, the more I opposed the war. The more I know, the easier it is to support withdrawal.”
Madden took his campaign, Appeal for Redress, to the anti-war GI Special, a daily newsletter for soldiers.
He wrote, “How long can either the incompetence of our policy makers or, possibly worse, their deceit be tolerated?
“When will we decide to do what we do best, stand up and defend our principles?”
He feels the only option is to withdraw.
“If our staying makes the situation worse, and provokes more anti-US sentiment, then it is undoubtedly justified and logical for service members to advocate the withdrawal of US forces.”
For more on the campaign go to www.appealforredress.org
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