An Open Letter to the Winter Patriot

By Mitch Green, a Ph.D. student at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. Cross posted from New Economic Perspectives

The following letter reflects my view on the subject of civil disobedience…I offer my opinion as an Army veteran, student of the economy, and critic of an ongoing effort to wage economic war on the vast majority the population. If these words move you, I urge you to consider honestly the consequences if you decide to act.

As the Occupy movement continues to grow in defiance of the heavy-handed police action determined to squelch it, a natural question emerges: What point will the military be summoned to contain the cascade of popular dissent? And if our nation’s finest are brought into this struggle to stand between the vested authority of the state and the ranks of those who petition them for a redress of grievance, what may we expect the outcome to be?

If history is our guide then we know that story all too well. Behind a thin veil of red, white and blue stands a nation that has used its military might to respond forcefully to any public contempt for the very institutions which bind us in exclusion from the liberty those colors evoke. Just as a training collar keeps a dog in check, a highly militarized police force responds mercilessly, sharply, and without hesitation with an array of chemical warfare and thuggish brutality. And where they fail, divisions of soldiers stand ready to deliver a serious and painful lesson to all who demonstrate their unwillingness to wait for democracy.

This has been the history of democracy in America. The ink on the pages that chronicle the use of state violence towards an unruly citizenry is dry. We cannot rewrite them. We read them in lament. But for each new day history waits; at the dawn of each morning we are presented with the gift of creation. The prevailing thought woven into the fabric of our society today, threaded through both patterns of conservative and liberal ideology, remains the recognition that something is very wrong with the world. Naturally, we form the question: Can we do things differently? Once we animate that thought and present it to society as a question demanding an answer, we begin to sketch out our draft of the world in the pages of history.

I call upon my brothers and sisters in the armed forces to ink their pens and help us write these next few, and most important pages in the history of our social life. Soon, it is quite likely that you will be mobilized to aid the police in their effort to contain or disperse what their bosses see as an imminent threat to the sanctity of their authority. As that day draws near, I remind you of these familiar words:

I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.

Those that take this oath seriously are faced with a terrible conflict. You must battle internally between the affirmation that you will place your body between the social contract embedded in the Constitution and those that seek its destruction, while maintaining your loyalty to the government you serve and the orders issued by its officers. Sadly, society has placed a twin tax upon you by asking that you sacrifice both your body and your morality. This tax has been levied solely upon you overseas, and soon they’ll come to collect domestically. Your government in its expression of corporate interests relies upon your tenacity to endure, and your relentless willingness to sacrifice. And so you do.

Now, more than ever we need your sacrifice. But, I’m asking you to soldier in a different way. If called upon to deny the people of their first amendment right to peaceably assemble and petition their government for a redress of grievance, disregard the order. Abstain from service. Or if you are so bold, join us. Make no mistake: The consequences for such decisions are severe. You will be prosecuted under the full extent of the law. But sacrifice is your watch word.

Thomas Paine wrote in 1776:

These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.

Today we are faced with a new revolution. This time we are fighting to preserve our democracy, rather than to establish a new one. And just as a grateful nation relied upon the Winter Soldier to deliver us from the colonial yoke of oppression, we ask that you aid us in our struggle to be free from the bonds of debt peonage and false representation. In return we will stand in your defense as the elite, who have gained so much from your service, attempt to strip you of your hard won honor.

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  1. LA-CC

    In these decades of declining opportunity for the poor, many young men and women choose to join the military because it seems the only economic hope they have. And then, to compound the burden, the powerful blithely send them off to risk their life and limb (and more) for their money interests and drain the people’s purse in the process.

    I have been encouraged to see this generation of young soldiers waking up to the farce and speaking out. Most of them say they did not go fight for plutocracy, oligarchy, and privilege of the 1%. Good on them!

    Much of the huge defense budget we see goes to the contractors who profit. Some of the married young soldiers (especially if they have children) will qualify for food stamps. On top of the financial and risk of physical injury, those who might use the social safety of such things are lumped into the group now openly slandered as “lazy moochers!”

    1. Stelios Theoharidis

      A few veterans that I know are publishing articles in blog form in support of the occupy movement. They are also working in conjunction with Occupymarines If any vets would like to support or write articles, contact information should be on the page.

      Sorry for the shameless plug for some friends, but, it seemed relevant.

  2. LA-CC

    I misspoke – I shouldn’t have said ‘most’ of them are saying they didn’t fight for this… but ‘many.’

  3. psychohistorian

    Thanks for the pointed words.

    I know good people in the military. I just hope that there are good people in the right places as the global inherited rich tell their puppets to smash dissent in America.

  4. Richard Kline

    And as is so clear in that oath, and made clear intentionally by those who crafted it long since, the affirmation to defend the Constitution _precedes_ the declaration of obedience and to the chain of command under that civilian executive. And I do believe that most who swore that oath did so in good faith, knowing what it meant. They will be tested in that understanding likely yes. I think that most will stand with their pact with a common society, not with a tiny and wealthy minority who have absconded with authority to further their own selfish interests.

  5. Stud Gerbil

    You are hopelessly romantic and naive if you believe that returning troops will not fire on crowds of peaceful protestors out of some sense of Constitutional patriotism.

    They will do what they are ordered to do, and so will their commanders, and their commanders as well. And we know who is giving the orders at the top.

    Watch history being made when the troops start returning from our illegal wars overseas and start waging illegal war at home against neighbors that hardly know each other anymore.

    Why do you think we’ve been using Guard and Reserve troops over there in the first place?

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      You’re probably right. They’re *neuronal circuits* have been ruined for anything but *following orders* of the worst tyrants on the planet. (xref: Gabor Mate, M.D. for *How it Works*.

    2. Todrupe25

      You would be surprised at how many Soldiers(myself included) are angry and have lost faith in our leaders, from the top down. I for one, would not fire on peaceful protesters beacause that would be denying 1st amendment rights. We took an oath to defend the Constitution, not repeal its contents, angainst ALL enemies, foreign, AND DOMESTIC!

  6. aeolius

    A student of history may remember the fate of the Bonus army.
    It was composed of WWI vets and their families who in 1932 demanded a bonus to veterans. It encamped near Washington.
    After some peripheral shooting, Hoover sent good ole Douglas MacArtur then Secy the Army. He with calvary and six tanks trashed the camp and scattered the marchers
    plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

  7. woodrow wilson

    “Make no mistake: The consequences for such decisions are severe. You will be prosecuted under the full extent of the law. But sacrifice is your watch word.” –

    Let me get this straight, coming from a fellow Veteran of both the military and law enforcement. You want a twenty-something, maybe just recently discharged, returning from deployment, just starting his/her life to jeopardize their entire future?

    First you’re naive. The only way you would get any group of veterans large enough is through the Command level, that means Brigade size, anything smaller and you’re wasting time, and quite possibly setting up a smaller group to be made an example of.

    “This time we are fighting to preserve our democracy, rather than to establish a new one.” –

    Then you better take a focused look at the 535 Gerrymandered Representatives in Washington D.C. Or maybe you believe “Vote the bums out” works? Everything starts and ends with them, they make and change the laws that enable the looting.

    At the same time, don’t think there are those of us that are not sympathetic or listen to the MSM. We are out there, we have tools and knowledge but not the tactical supports, especially with the current crop demonstrating.

    “highly militarized police force responds mercilessly” –

    You better get that straight and understand fully what that means, and you better convey that to the people you’re asking to make sacrifices too. Most of law enforcement is ex-military, within that, here in MA, we have many specialties specifically catered to combat tactics. One group for dealing with large groups, The Tactical Patrol Force, and the higher specialty of Special Operations Units, taking the best from individual departments, not including the roughly 2,000 State Police who have their own units. These people TRAIN constantly.

    Some are extremely intelligent, but some will do whatever they’re told, no matter how obscene. If there’s no Command, or a bad OIC, all bets are off.

    So your “call” sounds in theory really nice, but this poster believes you have no idea what you’re advocating or getting yourself into. If you do, you first.

    1. Nonanonymous

      I tend to agree. I was with the dissenter until he called for disobedience of orders.

      The police are not going to call on the military, they don’t need to do that, they can handle it themselves. Yes, even expanded riots. I wouldn’t want to be caught in such a mob and will avoid it if at all possible.

      If civil unrest occurs, it won’t be protesting anything other than a lack of basic human necessities, or a sense of entitlement, which we’re seeing in Europe. In that case, the military may be used as a peace keeping force, but there will be specific rules of engagement, which won’t involve the use of force. Police actions will continue to be performed by law enforcement.

      Unfortunately, while I agree the protest on general terms, so to do I agree with the tea party protest. They’re both protesting the same thing, but the tea party has done so without disturbing the peace. The OWS movement should take notice, not call for wider disturbances, unless they are what some consider them, anarchists and socialists bent on the overthrow of government, not it’s reform.

    2. Patrick L. Pellett

      I am also a former military serviceman and would like to offer a counter point to your assertion that any military coordinated action not to attack protesters would have to happen on a command level.Individual soldiers printing their own pamphlets and especially African American soldiers resisting in Vietnam forced the end of that conflict as command structures were breaking down.The entire military in Vietnam was on the verge of collapse.Its not a history many know about but it is true and was one of the main engines to end the war.

      I have faith in my brothers and sisters in the military and once they understand their power as individuals things will change very quickly.This is how the Berlin Wall fell,soldiers deciding to stay connected to their humanity and not kill their fellow citizens.

      I will close with the sermon of Bishop Romero the day before he was killed while giving mass.

      “Brothers, you came from our own people. You are killing your own brothers. Any human order to kill must be subordinate to the law of God, which says, ‘Thou shalt not kill’. No soldier is obliged to obey an order contrary to the law of God. No one has to obey an immoral law. It is high time you obeyed your consciences rather than sinful orders. The church cannot remain silent before such an abomination. …In the name of God, in the name of this suffering people whose cry rises to heaven more loudly each day, I implore you, I beg you, I order you: stop the repression”

      The day following this speech, Archbishop Romero was murdered. — Archbishop Oscar Romero

    3. Fiver

      First, he was only “calling” for a refusal to actively participate in violent repression.

      Second, as you appear to be saying that we are already past the point of no return, i.e., in a state of de facto fascism wherein the military will “follow orders” no matter how wrong, then is it not every single individual’s first duty to refuse or otherwise oppose? Do we really want some version of a Hitler, because that’s where this is headed.

      1. Woodrow Wilson

        “Do we really want some version of a Hitler, because that’s where this is headed.” –

        It’s already not too much different, instead of one individual, we have a few hundred working together and keeping each other in check. What we see on MSM is just theater.

    4. LeonovaBalletRusse

      woodrow, you speak the stark, granite truth. They are not fit to do anything else, and that’s the the 1% designs it.

    5. Thomas Jefferson

      If you are ex-military and did any time outside the wire you should know urban gorilla warfare. Gorillas always have the upper hand. If it comes down to vets on one side and police/active duty on the other not very many souls would want to be patrolling Americas streets as hired henchman for the plutocracy. I have learned from the best at waging 360 degree nonlinear battle and I am not alone.

      1. Woodrow Wilson

        “If it comes down to vets on one side and police/active duty on the other not very many souls would want to be patrolling Americas streets as hired henchman for the plutocracy.” –

        You can always find hired guns, that supply is endless.

        As for your other comments, everyone at some has to go out, abet mine time in was when it was “popular” the first time. If you have the same knowledge that I have, then you too know as well as I do, a small group can bring an entire State to it’s knees without firing a shot (at another human). Until/If that day is ever needed, I’ll be on the sidelines.

  8. McTavish

    I believe this is naive as well, although I cherish a hope that it is not. Our military has been indoctrinated since Vietnam in some very corrosive beliefs: the myths of American exceptionalism and that America is engaged in spreading and defending democracy around the world. The cult of technology and weaponry is a siren call for many. They have been trained to kill and been sent to wars where war deforms and traumatizes them. When they come home their needs for treatment and a job were and are largely unmet, even before the crisis. Some time back I read a piece by a writer who remarked that war fills some fighters with revulsion and a desire to never fight a war again, others with an increased lust for war such that they remain warriors or come home shattered and unable to function. I seem to remember he stated that it breaks down into thirds. He offered no research citations, however. I suspect a certain number will resist, the majority will not. Just as in the police, the military fulfills a personal psychological need, and often now not a healthy one. The military is a place where the cult of masculinity is very strong, as it is in the police forces of the country. Also, the military is a focus of the religious right who have taken over the chaplaincy with few dissenters and who have melded a ferocious nationalism with a deformed Christianity and therefore fundamentalism has made considerable inroads into the military. It is a place where sexual exploitation is routinely practiced and condoned, both among and between members and through administrative arrangements for the availability of prostitution in the surrounding communities around the world. Inasmuch as males are the plurality of members, they suffer the most sexual abuse, overwhelmingly from other males. Their abuse and the rampant abuse of female members is swept under the rug by fellow recruits, officers, and the military hierarchy, regardless of the periodical studies done by the Pentagon aimed at changing the culture. Sexual exploitation is a given in war. Some undoubtedly will change their allegiance but the example of the brutal assault by our president and military on Bradley Manning and others surely frightens many into acquiescence, however strongly they detest the oligarchy. However, there is a scenario that may bring more over time out from under the influence of the military and that is the inevitable failure of our military endeavors over time throughout the world. We have already failed in Iraq and Afghanistan and other places but are not facing it. Our leaders are pouring more and more money into the military and the national security state and the war on drugs and the war on terrorism. In time that will lead to break down at home and abroad. Because that also means a more authoritarian, punitive, repressive state, even then will they stay to put food in their mouths and a place to sleep at night and protection from death or incarceration, or will it lead to a realization of the evil they are doing at the behest of our leaders and a revolt against them? We shall see. Now and in future, we do and will need more than “good Germans.”

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      AND they are accustomed to the *right* to get any drug and sex object they desire. This is the privilege of the Beast of the 1%.

  9. JohnB

    Think you can’t or fight against thuggish police units? Boycotts, strikes, civil disobedience and refusing to pay taxes to “starve the beast”, quit being a consumer chump, watch and learn from what’s happening in Syria, Egypt, Libya etc.


  10. lambert strether

    One reason the “you’re naive” framing really frosts me, whenever it’s used, is that it assumes that the poster didn’t actually take the framer’s ideas into consideration.

    In reality, we can’t know. The Egyptian Army, in Tahrir Square, did not shoot. The Chinese Army, at TAM, did. Both were large conscript armies. Ours is a small volunteer army, and overtaxed by wars that the populace is not really enthused about. (Small relative to the scale of the continent, that is.)

    From the Barcalounger:

    Basically, I’m of the opinion that the slower and longer and more pervasive the Occupy build, the better. “All walks of life,” “safety in numbers.”

    The Army could (perhaps not would) pacify Oakland. But not Oakland and a few hundred Iowa cities.

    (Consideration might be given to Occupying whichever sleazy foreclosure mill is targeting soldiers…)

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Sorry to ask, but what about those rural areas in Iowa and elsewhere filled with meth addicts who gave up long ago? (xref: “METHLAND”).

      The 1% has done an excellent job of *softening the ground*.

  11. Paul Tioxon

    It is important to reach out to all sectors of society, including the military, who are a lot more aware of what is going on than may be given credit for. It is also important to understand that street action is a preliminary wake up call, and not the final goal. To take power in this country, you need to occupy the electoral offices and the triggering mechanism for victory is a clear majority of votes. There is a reason why over half of Congress is comprised of millionaires, the richest at a reported $451.1 million, Daniel Issa(R) CA and charirman of the house oversight and government reform committee. He investigates!

    If the wealthiest, the 1%, fall all over themselves to get elected into the terrible, awful, tax and spend government instead of taking their valuable time to make more money with the profits they have piled up for themselves, it is because the mechanism of state is the engine of capitalism as well as its sword and shield. The Koch brothers aren’t spending directly on candidates and astro turf groups on a local level because of the ineffectiveness of controlling the elected offices across the land from congressional districts, to governors mansions. Grover Norquist has not tirelessly and relentlessly lobbied politician after politician from offices high and low to sign a pledge to not raise taxes while in office and then hold a knife to their throats if they do not comply by primarying them and replacing them with more cooperative candidates.

    If the goal of OWS and the Occupy Movement is not to take power, than what is it they are doing? While they inspire, motivate, and bring forth clarification of our politics from the level of talk show bullshit and readers digest patriotism, they also transmit the urgent need for a democratic change of the status quo. And that is to replace the people in office and then replace the policies of state and use the bureaucratic structure to defend the people operating out in the community as they build their lives, rebuild their broken dreams, and have a better life than the one they are faced with now.

    The Occupy Movement is the lobbying effort of the people who can’t afford the rent on K Street. Who can’t afford the Gucci loafers, the high powered PR, the sumptuous restaurant meetings to wine and dine the officials who can make or break legislation. The Occupy Movement is the TV channel that the people can’t afford to preach the 700 gospel of conformity because no one donates money like bible cult members do to hear the same story retold for 2000 years, I guess they keep forgetting the ending. The Occupy movement is all the things that could not be done because the money making machine labels you as a failed artist, a loser that needs a bath, or some other tired, lame attack that crowded out the authentic discussions about what is needed by the public and replaced it with gay marriages, abortion and Obama bashing, right, left, middle of the road talentless Jay Leno observations about personalities instead of the policies in place that persist after each administration passes on into its presidential library and pyramid complex.

    Occupy in Ohio got a union busting law overturned by voting, occupy Wisconsin is recalling a Governor, through petition to get on the ballot. There is a straight line between point A, arousing the passions, and motivating people to action, from OWS, to point B, voting to take control of state power. It is never enough to stay in our heads and rationally know something needs to be done. We are not one dimensional beings that only need to think to act, what motivates us, what gives us courage is not the quality of our analysis or the rightness of our debunking, but the feeling in our body that it is time to move, to act, to get up and do something, anything. OWS is a lot of things to a lot of people, but for all of the motivation it provides, it can just as well be seen as the heart calling out for what it wants, it will know it when it sees it.

    Occupy Movement actions going forward will have a lot of different reasons, goals, complaints, solidarity with other groups, but they will not just be cannon fodder for the Homeland Security overreaction. When the politicians and local chancellors see political dissent as criminal behavior warranting the riot gear response teams of the police, the people do not have to keep running into that buzzsaw. It would be time to change tactics.

    And dissent is not just going to be out in the street. It’s here on this blog. It will be in so many places, that it will deny the usual service of the prevailing economic order. And, it will motivate the changes needed to win the battle for control of the state. If you want the rule of law, you need the mechanism of justice, the courts, the attorneys general, the oversight committees to operate to root out corruption, prosecute the law breakers, and put them in jail. If you want stable markets that contribute to the social order by producing prosperity for all of the people and not just the ones with the most net worth, you need to control the regulatory bodies. It all goes back to democratic participation in a democratically controlled republic. We do not have to fight to install that, it is already there, we do need to show up in great enough numbers to put candidates in place that will get our message and do what we say. The voter suppression tactics of partisan politics and the existential world weariness of cynical beaten down intellectuals who have degenerated into misanthropic I can’t stand anyone who runs for office, or the let’s completely rebuild society from the bottom up before we do anything so practical as register to vote crowd are non-motivating, spirit dampening political dead ends.

    1. William

      Excellent compilation of what the OWS is doing and attempting to do, and what it means.

      As for those who say the riot police are all-powerful, yeah looks that way against those who don’t fight back. But just wait and see what happens when the REAL riots start (I’d say later in 2012). Then we’ll be reminded how bullies collapse in the face of real rage and force. The 1% will then be lamenting the lost opportunity the OWS provided. Also, remember that local police have a choice of whether or not to go to work, and many will choose not to.

    2. Aquifer

      Good to see a defense of the electoral process as a potentially useful venue. I say “potentially” because, IMO, for at least the last couple of decades we have not explored its potential to make change but instead have used it as a political sideshow version of American Idol or Dancing with the Stars, and have allowed ourselves to to be convinced that there are only 2 “teams” allowed to play, “theirs” and “ours”. We vote for the one with “our” team colors, even if (s)he is demonstrably NOT what we need to help better the lives of ourselves and our countrymen.

      TPTB are happy about this – they don’t want us to pay real attention. They want us to restrict ourselves to their choices which cross the spectrum – from A to B. Anyone they haven’t bought “can’t win”, so they insist through the MSM, and sadly this meme is echoed in far too many “progressive” arenas.

      i have voted indy for 16 years now – i invite others to join me. Here’s a suggestion to check out for starters …

      She won’t have the blessing of the corps or the MSM, but just maybe, that of OWS, if (when?)they will consider the need, which, IMO, is quite real, to go that route. Time’s a’wastin’, folks …

      1. aletheia33

        i checked out this link when you posted it before and i’m interested.
        how can one get more information about jill stein?

  12. wafranklin

    “I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half.” Jay Gould Forget the high flown rhetoric. Simply look at how people react to simple bribery, the better concealed the better.

  13. Gil Gamesh

    Eloquent. As our economy and political order continue their collapse –and rest assured, those very few that benefit most presently will ensure that collapse as they grasp for more and more– it seems inevitable that the military will be called to maintain “law and order” and forcibly suppress dissent, protest and civil disobedience. US elites would be far rather see thousands dead on the streets than relinquish an ounce of power, wealth or privilege. This story won’t end well…too much bad faith for far too long.

    1. Joe Rebholz

      The story is not over yet. We do not, cannot, know how it will end. It might end with military suppression of the US population. This will be more likely if the occupys allow violence to creep into their actions. If our actions are turned into riots we are likely doomed.

      1. Gil Gamesh

        The State will do all it can to provoke the OWS protesters to violence. The prospect of mass, sustained non-violent protest cannot be allowed to come to pass..far too threatening to Power. And as far as we have devolved, it is not feasible –yet– for the authorities to use lethal force against peaceful civilians (though note the strenuous efforts by many politicians and media to marginalize and demonize OWS, to convert these people into the non-human Other, so that they may be killed with impunity). Is there hope? Of course: OWS is the best thing here in 40 years. Are the odds good that genuine, fundamental, radical changes — grounded in justice and peace– to our politics, economy and civil order will result? The resistance of reaction will be intense, overwhelming. You know 99% of those soldiers, if ordered to kill their brothers and sisters, will obey.

        1. Lambert Strether

          The 1% expects violence, has planned for violence, foments violence, and enjoys violence — at least among the proles.

          So, you can attack the enemy at his strongest point. Or not.

        2. F. Beard

          Actually, only 1 in 3 US soldiers would fire on the US population according to a poll of the US military.

  14. El Snarko

    The absolute BEST pic of you.

    Now to the Haldane matter. It dosent. Without willingness to impelment regulatory activity the rest is just opinion. Capital is now, and perhaps always has been, not just trans national, but SUPRA-national. I would love to find an online course or a few books that could look into this in both European history and also that of ROme ect. I suspect that this has been THE underappreciated force tha has shaped history, war, trade and conquest at least from the Crusades and probably before. It seems much of French history and the social structure of England is all about asset control and centralization.

    Everything old is new again. Meet the new boss….Perhaps the difference between Obama and Boehner is merely the knee upon which they kneel when they meet the bankers?

    1. Joe Rebholz

      Are you being paid to insert nonsense into our comment threads? Or are you perhaps a computer program?

    2. LeonovaBalletRusse

      El Snarko, quite right. It’s the technology that compounds their power so dreadfully into the monstrous global machine. I recall the scene *downstairs* in Lang’s *Metropolis* — the monstrous maw of the devouring mechanical Beast.

  15. Mark

    Perhaps instead of occupying the justifiably angry OWS participants around the country would be more effective getting the poor and disenfranchised registered to vote. We do stiil have an elected government. As long as the corrupt get re-elected year after year protests and civil disobediance will be seen as nothing more than a nuisance. The MSM and Fox also need to be exposed as the propaganda machines they are and people educated. Plan B would be buying an assault rifle, a bullet proof vest, gas mask, helmet and a few hundred rounds of ammo.

  16. Dave of Maryland

    What point will the military be summoned to contain the cascade of popular dissent?

    Where did this come from? Regular army troops sent to shoot civilians are notable by their absence in US history. The exceptions: National guards sent to Kent State, MacArthur breaking up the Bonus Army, the early revolt quashed by G. Washington himself.

    For the rest, when regular police weren’t enough, hired goons were sent in. Pinkertons at the Haymarket in Chicago. When army troops were used, it was generally to quell rioting, as when Eisenhower sent troops to Little Rock in the 1950’s. There is also the West Virginia coal mine war (I think that’s where it was) back in the 1920’s (?), where federal troops were sent to quell a full-scale war then underway.

    With a few exceptions, the US army has operated as a peace keeping force.

    Which does not mean it can’t change, only that historical precedent does not drift in that direction. So far as I can see, militarized police are more than powerful enough to handle whatever might happen – to our shame.

    1. Gil Gamesh

      Standing armies are relatively recent in our history. In any event, militarism has infected the body politic since the birth of the National Security State after WWII (see Chalmers Johnson)and we are off the charts, so to speak. Yes, our social controls are quite effective, and there has been little or no need to impose overwhelming, military force domestically (let’s assume that legal constraints such as posse commitatus really aren’t constraints to State power (after all, POTUS can murder an American at his pleasure). However, a perfect storm is upon us: environmental collapse, peak oil, and a global financial system drowned by debt. Desperate times, they will say. Hence, the writers justified concern about being asked to shoot Americans. It’s a real prospect. And that is tragic.

    2. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Dave, it’s no longer the U.S. Army, it’s the Storm Troops of the 1% Global Reich, it’s *military contractors* like Blackwater Squared, and that’s on top of the population zonked on heroine and meth. Oh, they’ve thought of everything.

  17. CM

    Time to revisit the 29 palms questionnaire, in which US soldiers were asked if they agree/disagree with the question:

    “46. The U.S. government declares a ban on the possession, sale, transportation, and transfer of all non-approved firearms. A 30-day amnesty period is established for these firearms to be turned over to the local authorities. At the end of this period, a number of irregular citizen groups and defiant individuals refuse to turn over their firearms to authority. Consider the following statement: [SD D A SA NO]

    “I would fire upon U.S. citizens who refuse or resist confiscation of firearms banned by the United States government.”

  18. Maureen Curtin

    For those who think that it’s naive to imagine returning U.S. military might be able to see through the corruption of the 1% and join in solidarity with the 99%, let me share a story. I’ve been teaching a course this semester called “A Brave New World of Work: Telling Tales for a New America.” We’ve been looking at the current crisis of work by examining the critique of capital that emerged 160 years ago. The class took a fantastic turn in late September as we began following the movement to Occupy Wall Street.

    At first, I shared videos, but before long my students were sending them to me. One woman sent me a video of a retired U.S. Marine boisterously confronting the NYPD in Manhattan. It turns out, she’d received the video from her boyfriend, a soldier in the U.S. Army who’s done a tour in Afghanistan. He was “shadowing” our class and asked permission to travel from his base to join us in discussion. He led a careful critique of the SWAT response to the Occupy Oakland protesters, while also linking his support for the movement to his support for unions.

    I don’t want to draw grand conclusions from the anecdotal, but I was nonetheless moved to hope by his words and actions. In the weeks since, my own students have begun to see that there’s something gravely wrong with the militarized response to dissent in the U.S. Like all teachers, I wasn’t sure these dialogues would yield anything, but now I see more clearly. We must keep the dialogue going and challenge complacency while fostering the only thing that really gives people hope: connection and solidarity.

    1. Lambert Strether

      One thing the remember about the military is that it’s still “a career open to talents,” of which there are very few left in this country. Many officers — who aren’t all from the Ivies, by any stretch of the imagination — are highly educated and imaginative; one thinks of Paul K. Van Riper, now retired (bien sur). Of course, to reach a certain level in the military, it’s most likely that you have to exemplify a certain complex form of stupidity (see under Petraeus, David), rather like university professors who become Deans. So I don’t want to carry this too far.

      None of this is monolithic. The 1% would like the make things monolithic. We (I would argue) wish to split the monoliths.

      The restoration of Constitutional government wouldn’t be a bad objective. Some still value their oaths and honor.

  19. Kathleen4

    I am proud of Mitch Green and his call to his brothers and sisters in the military. His writing is predicated upon a humanitarian crisis that is already facing us today and escalating. I am eeriy reminded of Blackwater troops being “first responders” during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which was highly militarized. On the other hand, the service men and women of this country have a wealth of experience to draw upon from their overseas experience(s). Their experience is not just tactical(in the orginizational sense), but involves humanitarian action. We(the 99%) could benefit from their training in humanitarian efforts, as well as protection from those who so choose to suppress the redress of grievances.

  20. Eureka Springs

    Well Occupy Fayetteville/Bentonville/North west Arkansas was wiped out by storms last night. Tents, food, electronics destroyed… all but the raised platforms we built and bolted our tents upon. The core groups worked tirelessly for weeks to make it happen… Despite a friendly local mayor and city council we likely do not have the resources to rebuild.,,, winterizing and maintenance was going to take all we had. It may sound silly, but working the info booth there, holding committee and General Assembly meetings was a thrill… talking with new comers and passers by who had no idea is something this movement really needs to try to maintain… it’s empowering for all in a face to face manner which cannot be duplicated.

    I know more than most about camping… setting up well, etc… It wasn’t the failings of some young inexperience city kids trying to camp for a first time.. we did a good job. I think what failed us most was the poor quality of tents made these days.

    Makes me worry abut the winter for so many across the land. Made in China tents could end the occupations, How’s that for irony?


        1. Foppe

          I mention churches because it’s a bit easier to get large groups inthere, but for most smaller townships homes would probably work as well yeah..

    1. aletheia33

      dear eureka springs,
      ah it is sad and hard isn’t it. my sympathies. i hope you can all recooperate from this disaster in decent comfort for the time being.
      meanwhile, please keep in mind that none of the great work you have done is wasted. the act itself and all the people coming together, deliberating, working, sharing is what matters, and HAS BEEN ACCOMPLISHED. what has happened in everyone’s hearts during that effort cannot be erased or diminished by a few tents blowing away. it will only grow. (don’t mean to minimize the loss of the tents and everything else–just that i know this will not stop your endeavor but only make it stronger.) do not give up or be discouraged. grieve what’s been lost, that’s important to do. then let it go and move on.
      way will open.
      thank you from the bottom of my heart for doing work that i and so many others cannot do.
      we will prevail.

    2. WITarnation

      Kudos for your political, organizational and operational efforts. The loss of your well-built infrastructure is a loss to all of us supporting and participating in the Occupy Movement, and it must be extremely frustrating for your group after all of your concentrated effort.

      However, when one considers the age of the Occupy Movement within the context of the last 20 years and within the context of late-20th Century history, I think we can all agree that this movement is in its infancy and that it is only the beginning of a lengthy period of action and change. We’re just getting started. And the spring of a very unique and critical election season is right around the corner.

      Your efforts are hardly in vain. Occupying through the winter is not necessarily a crucial objective. It’s too early to predict how a hiatus might effect the movement. It would certainly be translated as a “win” by the terrified 1%*, their hired representatives and the media. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Let them crow. There is *very* little chance of a dilution or evaporation of the energy and strength of the movement and the general dissatisfaction that fuels it, which is common across the entire political spectrum.

      In the short term, your winter might be spent in performing a post-mortem analysis of your structure and organization. Even the most stubborn climate change deniers agree that the weather has become increasingly severe and unpredictable. There will be more storms to survive. Your experience, if documented well and distributed via internet, could prove invaluable to current and future Occupy camps.

      Again, this Bay Area 99%er sends you thanks and congratulations for your efforts. I also mourn the loss of your camp and send you condolences. But I know you’ll be back. And we’ll be right beside you.

  21. All options on the table

    Some people vilify the Oath Keepers as a bunch of gun nuts, dammit, but I like them. Those heroes at UC Davis, they were lucky. Peace might not work in the end. This police state holds peremptory norms of law in contempt. Clearly the response of this state, at all levels, to dissent is precipitous escalation of violence up to and beyond the threshold of International Criminal Court Statutes Article 7.1.k. Since the US police state hides from the ICC and will fight to the end to preserve its official impunity for crimes, at some point people are going to require recourse to rebellion. At that point it will be useful to have principled people with relevant training and experience. They know the weak links and choke points of the police state. These guys know what IEDs can do to an occupation force like our militarized corporate police. They understand how threatened populations enforce the legal mandate of self-determination when rights and rule of law are gone.

    1. 2laneIA

      I remember this kind of exhortation from the 60s. It didn’t work out too well, then, and won’t now. You are not going to overwhelm the monster the Patriot Act has created with violence. You will not get the people on your side by blowing up cops with IEDs, leaving aside the moral questions inherent in such activity. Nonviolent protest and resistance is powerful, and will prevail eventually. The people who undertake facing the spray cans and rubber bullets are very brave. We should never become desensitized to the violence that is being used against them.

    2. All options on the table

      Who said overwhelm? It’s all about costs. OWS’ only cost to the police state is reduced legitimacy. When the state beefs up its repressive capacity, as this state has been doing for some years, it relies less on legitimacy. And official statements and repressive actions make it clear the state doesn’t think it needs legitimacy. In a case like that moral suasion hits them where they don’t hurt. With no limits on official violence this country is more and more a state of nature, only with power disparities you wouldn’t find in natural equilibrium. Peace is great, it’s the defining idea of our time, but it requires a certain stage of development, and this state has been relapsing back toward savagery despite what people want.

      1. LeonovaBalletRusse

        All options – It’s plain: this IS the Fourth Reich ruled by the greediest, most ruthless tyrants on earth, with the best technology on earth, and the most prepped *neuronal circuits* for deadly force in the bodies of soldiers on earth, forming the most implacable machine on earth.

        Only some level of *compromise* is possible: a *check* rather than a *check-mate*, and for this we need friends from the 1% and their minions, or soldiers brave enough to *turn coat*.

        We have been warned for decades about the *coming dystopia*. Have we been able to stop it so far?

  22. Bagbalm

    If a young soldier can not understand the Constitution, then requiring an oath of him is a farce and a fraud, because that oath is a contract that requires a meeting of minds.

    If that young soldier is not allowed to exercise the understanding demanded of him by his oath then his superiors have voided that contract and he is released by the other party not performing.

    If this basic morality is breached then the only proper response is demonstrated by the Nuremburg trials.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Bagbalm, quite right. Where are the *Allied forces in sufficient number, now that *the enemy is us*?

  23. Hugh

    There are cycles of action and reaction between the 99%, what used to be called the masses, and the powers that be with increasing force: police, militarized police, National Guard, and regular military. What is interesting here is that our elites are already using militarized police against even non-violent protests. Each escalation of force brings short term gains to the authorities but undermines their overall legitimacy, that is while they win the battles they set themselves on a track to lose the war. The forces the elites use to repress begin to question whether making war against their fellow citizens is what they signed up for and critically whether they are on the right side. There will always be some who will stick by the status quo no matter what but many will not. Cracks appear usually between low and mid-level service people on the one side and the top echelons which have been chosen for loyalty to the elites. The great fear in such organizations is a loss of cohesion. When there are defections and cohesion begins to break down, many higher level officers will militate for preserving their organization even at the expense of abandoning the current elites. That’s generally the history of these things. Other ideas are welcome.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Hugh, that’s why *resistance* is the only way. But if they *bomb Iran*, and whatever else they deem it *necessary* to bomb with nukes or other means, we’ll know that they won’t stand for *resistance* from us.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      From local *policeman* to *global policeman* is the road to riches nowadays. This is the purpose that *austerity* at the State level *serves.

      Indeed, “The Shock Doctrine* came home to roost. Did *Patriots* mind when it was used abroad? In Late Stage Capitalism, it’s *our night in the barrel*, it’s just that simple. Didn’t we have our day in the sun?

      This is the *Capitalism*, start to finish. It’s stark.

  24. Keith

    I am a veteran, no longer on active duty. Thank God I will not have to make such a choice.

    I think it is significant to note that in the oath, the promise to support and defend the Constitution comes BEFORE the promise to obey orders. Service members must ask themselves, how could it be Constitutional to move against people whose only “crime” is to exercise their First Amendment rights?

  25. Tim M.

    I agree with the sentiment of the letter, but the Posse Comitatus Act ( ) puts serious limits on the ability of any government officials to use Federal troops to “execute the law” in the US.

    It isn’t to say someone won’t try (they have as recently as 2009). However, they will get slapped down hard by the courts after the fact. There are a few exceptions, such as open insurrection or the use of a nuclear/radiological weapon, but for the most part any government official including the President is prohibited from using troops against the people of the United States.

    So as long as protests remain peaceful, legally they can’t employ US armed forces for much more than traffic control

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Tim, the Posse Comitatus Act is a distant dream. Remember Hurricane Katrina and the Great Flood of 2005? Governor of Louisiana, Kathleen Blanco, reminded us of this Act in the face of rampaging *Blackwater* Storm Troops for Bushie and Brownie’s nefarious ends. Blackwater troops trumped the local police, they entered the homes of citizens without warning and confiscated ALL arms for “safety’s sake.”

      This was a *trial run*, friends and countrymen.

  26. 68w

    I think you know better than to ask this of us. It’s not going to happen. As a supporter of OWS and a vet, why don’t you find a better solution? While I support OWS, I guarantee that disobeying orders will ruin my future much more than this current economy (as bad as I think it is).

  27. Fiver

    ust quickly:

    While it’s hard to imagine the need for a military deployment given how large and heavily militarized police forces are, that difficulty (imagining) evaporates once the enormity of the stakes become clear over the next few years. This is not “only” a financial crisis. This is the end of an historical epoch driven by the enormous superiority of Western technical/organizational power both economic and military. But as Gil Gamesh and a couple others alluded to, this crisis is fundamentally about having hit LIMITS. We grew billions of people from oil, and savaged the environment in the process. Now both sides of this mindless, consumptive stupidity are about to severely chomp our asses.

    The US elite has determined that instead of acknowledging reality, it will beggar the rest of the world to maintain its own position. It it only a matter of time before Bernanke goes for broke trying to print another asset bubble. He will partially succeed, though most people now hurting will go on hurting. But when this final effort fails, and badly, that’s when we’re looking at major domestic conflict to go with on-going, and worsening, global conflict.

    Which brings us back to how the military fits. I for one can readily see something akin to global civil war, or at least widespread, serious global civil strife. In the States, it could so, so easily take on a form that resonates with the Civil War. Just look at where the bases largely are. I can also easily imagine the military itself splitting.

    To “pooh-pooh” such scenarios through some sort of belief in US “specialness” is well and truly blinkered.

    I commmend this young man, am sure there are many more like him, and wish them all well in the rather dismal future that is to come.

  28. RBHoughton

    America did have thirty years of democracy until Napoleon got screwed by the Tsar, allowing the British to send an army of veterans from the Peninsular War to trash Washington and place the New England merchants in command of USA. I suppose the wish now is to return to those happy days before 1812. How do you do that?

    When George III and William Pitt sought to crush the democratic infection in Britain that was spreading from France, some reform societies with branches throughout Britain proposed to call a convention of representatives of those branches and assume the government of the country. They had an irreproachable case in equity and justice and an immense following.

    Their meetings were made illegal, their leaders banished and followers dispersed. The failure of reform was due to the civil power calling on the military for help. The soldiers were as disadvantaged as the reformers but recognized no limit of their loyalty to the King.

    That seems to be the matter that today’s reformers need to address. A Vet recently wrote that West Point teaches “democracy is mob rule.” That trite view harks back to Athens and overlooks America’s own achievement and Tom Paine’s contribution.

    There is an extra difference in USA in the dynamic between State and Federal authority. There appear to be some states from which capitalists have withdrawn their investments and unemployment has surged. Reform should be focused there and the police / militia invited to assist.

  29. Jim

    I thought the UCMJ said any illegal order had to be disobeyed and the issuer of the order detained for trial. Has It changed so much since 96 , when I retired. Same with the use of chemicals against civilians, and the use and targeting of civilians in a warzone.

    1. redleg

      It did when I was discharged in 2001, but perhaps . Perhaps I was an exception, but in my ethics classes we went over this every day: you are obligated to say NO to an order that you believe to be unlawful. No option, you must. As officers and leaders, we must always do the right thing. There is no room for errors in judgement as people could get killed or maimed.

      In basic training (I was enlisted before getting commissioned), one of the instructors was speaking about the Oath we took when we enlisted. He pointed out that it was not to a person, which was unique in the world. He noted that we were obligated to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Someone asked what a domestic enemy was, and I said it was anti-war protesters (mid-1980’s – they were still around). The instructor let me have it, “explaining” to me that the protesters deserved respect because without the Constitution that we vowed to defend they couldn’t do what they were doing. My ears and ego still hurt from that and I will never forget it – protest is the embodiment of the Bill of Rights and therefore the right to protest is sacrosanct.

      Those currently in the military would have a tough decision to make. I believe that the FORMER military leaders must take the lead on this one, as we can speak freely. Rank does not indicate leadership ability, however I think that it is very important for former E8+ and officers to LEAD.

      To my fellow (former) officers: If you do not support the occupy movement, you must support its right to peacefully assemble AND condemn the use of disproportionate force that has been used against it. I remind you that you took an oath…

  30. Angry Voter

    The people I know who hate the crooked occupational government the most are combat veterans.

    For some it takes a couple of tours but eventually everyone can see that the government is a tool of the 1% and they use people and then leave them stranded when they can’t be used any more.

    Now the banking cabal is conspiring to steal veteran, widow and orphan pensions.

  31. Psychoanalystus

    It is unlikely that any American armed forces will be involved in a domestic conflict. The idea is to keep them overseas, either on bases or in imperial wars, such as the upcoming one with Iran.

    What I think is far more likely to take place is the involvement of one or both of these:

    1. Involvement of private American mercenary corporations such as Blackwater, who would have no trouble shooting unarmed civilians.

    2. Involvement of foreign forces, as was the case with the Saudi armed forces in Bahrain, earlier this year.

  32. Kord

    This is the most retarded conversation ever. Sending in troops would be a violation of Posse Comotatus. It is illegal to send in troops inside one’s own borders. This law was placed during the Restoration.

    1. Frank Powers

      You are totally wrong.

      Contrary to popular belief, the Act does not prohibit members of the Army from exercising nominally state law enforcement, police, or peace officer powers that maintain “law and order”; it simply requires that any orders to do so must originate with the United States Constitution or Act of Congress.


  33. Mario

    I think the time is near to take care of the business at hand here in THIS country…..our politicians only govern for their interests and not for those who actualy have believed in their double-talk and voted for them…..if the government wants to use our own brothers and sisters against us to protect their ill gotten gains then we will need to do what it takes to protect our constitution as it was written for US!!!!! As it starts off “WE THE PEOPLE”…..not “WE THE GOVERNMENT” i feel the time is drawing near for sweeping change in our governing body……

  34. kstills

    This website is being overrun by unhinged, delusional paranoid leftists.

    What used to be one of my ‘go to’ economic web sites is now not much more than a collection of overheated conspiracy theories.

    A) OWS is not growing in size. Whatever goodwill it had in the beginning, because of it’s similarity to the goals of the Tea Party, has been squandered by the actions of the individuals who have taken part in the protests.

    Polling does not lie by much.

    B) The thought that the military would need to be called in to handle these idiots is also laughable.

    There is a significant case to be made that there will be future unrest in this country, but as one of the commenters pointed out this will be the result of a lack of basic necessities like food and energy.

    Thinking that folks will rally to the defense of college students who have been pepper sprayed for resisting arrest is beyond idiotic.

  35. Josh

    Entire units of the Syrian military are defecting and attacking the structures of repression in Syria. Similar events transpired in Libya. Some military units and individuals will likely take part in repression. Many others will refuse to do so. Others will actively join citizen resistance. Overall, I think that the military will refuse to go after their own mothers and brothers.

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