Moral Outrage
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An American veteran on what drives US foreign policy

Michael Prysner joined the Army out of high school in June 2001 and was part of the Iraq invasion force. He worked during the war in Iraq tracking targets and calling in airstrikes and artillery barrages. He took part in nighttime raids on Iraqi homes. He worked as an interrogator. He did ground surveillance missions and protected convoys.

He left the Army in 2005, disgusted by the war and the lies told to sustain it.

“I believed going into the war that we were there to help the Iraqi people and find weapons of mass destruction,” he said. “But it quickly became clear that these two reasons for the war were absolutely false. …I thought that maybe we were there to help the Iraqi people, but all I saw when I was there was Iraqis brutalized and their living conditions deteriorate drastically. Iraqis would tell me we were worse than Saddam.

“I soon realized there was a different purpose for the war, that we were putting in place a permanent military occupation. … I began to wonder what U.S. foreign policy as a whole was about. I saw that Iraq was a microcosm. The U.S. military is used to conquer countries for the rich, to seize markets, land, resources and labor for Wall Street. This is what drives U.S. foreign policy.”

“The reason people were against the war is because there was a constant, senseless death of U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians. It was a squandering of our resources. This has not changed, despite the rebranding of the occupation. U.S. soldiers are still being killed, wounded and psychologically traumatized, especially those on their third, fourth and fifth deployment who were traumatized in previous deployments and are being re-traumatized.

“The U.S. has been able to recruit enough Iraqis to put in the forefront and take the brunt of the combat operations with U.S. soldiers a few steps behind. U.S. soldiers are still involved in combat. … People are still being killed and maimed. … It is still bad for U.S. soldiers.

“And Iraq is completely destroyed. It is a catastrophe for the Iraqi people. To call this current operation ‘New Dawn,’ like this is a new day for the Iraqi people, ignores the fact that Iraqis have no electricity, live with constant violence, have no functioning government, have occupying forces still in their country and suffer rampant birth defects from the depleted uranium and other things.”

Iraq was a prosperous country with a highly educated middle class before the war. Its infrastructure was modern and efficient. Iraqis enjoyed a high standard of living. The country did not lack modern conveniences. Things worked. Factories, hospitals, power plants, phone service, sewage systems and electrical grids do not work.

Iraqis, if they are lucky, now get three hours of electricity a day. Try this in 110-degree heat. Poverty is endemic. More than a million Iraqi civilians have been killed. Nearly 5 million have been displaced from their homes or are refugees. The Mercer Quality of Living survey last year ranked Baghdad last among cities—the least livable on the planet.

[Excerpted from a Chris Hedges’s TruthDig interview]

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