Friday, October 28, 2011

Why Did Injured Occupy Oakland 
Vet Enlist in Bush's Iraq War?

It's beyond tragic that the Oakland, California, police and mayor made terrible decisions regarding the Occupy encampment in front of their City Hall that led to the serious bodily injuries upon a protester on Tuesday night.

Scott Olsen, who was at the wrong place at the very wrong time on the streets of Oakland, remains hospitalized and faces months of medical issues including assorted rehab care services. I wish Olsen all the best in recovering from his police-initiated injuries, and hope he's got decent health insurance coverage.

However, I also want to raise questions about his military service and motives for volunteering to fight in President George W. Bush's war for Iraqi oil, to get a better understanding of this young man. An article in the SF Chronicle provides the basics of Olsen's service:

Olsen joined the Marines in 2006, served two tours in Iraq and was discharged in 2010, according to Iraq Veterans Against the War. Now a systems administrator at San Francisco software firm OPSWAT Inc., he had spent most nights during the last few weeks at the Occupy SF camp, said his roommate, Keith Shannon.

Why did this young man, several years into the Iraq war and much exposure of the flat-out lies, subterfuges and overt manipulation of intelligence, not to mention complaints from peace activists and others over the billions of American dollars spent executing the war, and the tens of thousands of Iraqi civilian deaths and rising death toll for U.S. soldiers decide to sign up to fight in Dubya's war?

Since Olsen was harmed with a cop-tossed projectile and made international news, his friends and Occupy supporters have rightfully rallied to his cause and highlighted his status as a former Marine. At yesterday's Oakland vigil, among the enlarged photos displayed was one of Olsen in Marine uniform bedecked with medals and another as a smiling civilian.

Showing public concern for his well-being and illustrating the fullness of Olsen's short life, personalizes a small piece of the Occupy movement and is beneficial to the national dialogue.

In the coming days, I hope to hear from any and all Iraqi vets, especially those in the veterans' group opposed to the Iraq war, and learn why they risked life and limb for Bush's lies. My brain can't wrap around the idea of why any young American would step up and willingly, without a draft, go off to war for Dubya and his criminal co-conspirators.

That is why I hope as Olsen heals, that the words of the Occupy Iraq war vets speak up about how they traveled from volunteering for Uncle Sam to camping out on urban public space to right a lot of social wrongs, including the Iraq war.

(Photo: Occupy Oakland's October 27 vigil for Scott Olsen. Credit: Occupy Oakland.)


lizatblackrose said...

Well, the propaganda we all grow up with is a powerful thing -- some people just have to see with their own eyes before they overcome it. I think it's more important that he recognized his error and is working to educate others.

I do wish the movement would stop with the "honorable soldier serving his country" business. He looks like a hippie now -- why do they show him in military uniform rather than the way he chooses to present himself now? (I know why, it's useful for propaganda).

Read this, from a friend and fellow IVAW member, it says a bit about how he came to change his views:

Michael said...

hi liz,

thanks for the message. i don't do facebook and that link is accessible only to folks registered for FB. if you can cut-and-paste what is at that link, i'd appreciate it. will also ask others to lemme know what the post says.

and i agree with you about the propaganda aspect of using olsen's formal military photo now.

Unomas said...

The U.S. military does not belong to the Bush family. It belongs and is representative of all Americans whether they believe in the use of arms or not. It serves as a mechanism to build character, to build a sense of pride in one's country, to build a spirit of professionalism in one's work and career. Those who serve do so to honor our country. If the President belittles that sense of honor by sending troops to a senseless war than that is his responsibility and no one else's.