by Carl Dix
This article originally appeared in Revolution.
"Don't sign up for America's wars under the leadership of 'commander
in chief' Barack Obama."
Barack Obama is going to the White House-the first Black
president-and he's calling for a new spirit of service to
America. Well I got a question, especially for Black youth-are you
going to sign up to fight America's wars now? When Bush was talking
about staying the course in Iraq till victory is achieved, most of
you all weren't buying it. But now your chests swell with pride when
you think of Obama becoming the commander-in-chief of the free
world. Some of you all are thinking maybe you would fight for an
America that has Obama in charge.
Don't do it. The nature of these wars hasn't changed. They still
come down to raining death and destruction on people who haven't done
a damn thing to deserve that kind of brutality. Is having a Black
commander-in-chief enough to get you to enlist in America's wars for
empire, to kill people, and maybe die yourself, trying to keep
America's stranglehold on the world in effect? Or are you going to
stand with people around the world in opposition to these wars? Are
you going to buy the poison Obama is selling and think, and act, like
an American? Or are you going to start thinking about what humanity needs?
You all aren't the first generation to face this question. Back in
the 1960s, the U.S. sent hundreds of thousands of young men to
Vietnam-to kill people and maybe get killed yourself to serve the US
empire in trying to drown the Vietnamese people's liberation struggle
in blood. They tried to send me over there, but thanks to the
powerful movement of resistance to that war, and what I learned from
GIs who had gone to Vietnam, I refused to go and kill people in
another land. I had more in common with them than with the people
who ran this country. And with all the hell Black people were
catching in the U.S., I felt my fight was here. I got sent to
Leavenworth Military Penitentiary for this "crime." Other GIs
refused to go out and fight the "enemy" or resisted in other
ways. And many who did go came back to the U.S. and got involved in
resistance against the crimes of the system. Some of them joined the
Black Panther Party and promoted solidarity with the struggle of the
Vietnamese people. I became a revolutionary communist back then, and
I've been on that tip ever since.
Some things are different today. The U.S. is going against a
different kind of enemy, Islamic fundamentalists, who don't represent
anything good, and there isn't a powerful movement in opposition to
these wars at the moment. But one thing is the same-these are wars
for empire. They're going to send you to murder people at wedding
parties in Afghanistan, terrorize children in their homes in Iraq and
run their torture chambers. No one should join up to fight or give
support to these wars!
Bombs dropped on villages in Iraq or Afghanistan or Pakistan by U.S.
war planes won't be any less destructive if Obama is the
commander-in-chief of the pilot dropping them! Israeli cluster bombs
spread in Palestinian villages and refugee camps won't kill any fewer
children if Obama is authorizing the military assistance instead of
George Bush! Threats to attack Iran won't be any less warmongering
if they are uttered by Obama instead of Bush!
So again I ask you-are you going to approach these wars thinking like
an American? Are you gonna follow the example of the Buffalo
Soldiers? They were Black cavalry units formed in 1866, made up of
former slaves who had fought in the Union army in the Civil
War. They were sent off to fight in the murderous and genocidal
"Indian wars," driving the native inhabitants off their lands to make
way for the expansion of America, "from sea to shining sea." And
while the Buffalo Soldiers were fighting the native inhabitants for
America, Black people in the southeastern U.S. were catching hell
from the KKK and mob violence.
Some people think the legacy of the Buffalo Soldiers is something to
be proud of. Colin Powell kept a Buffalo Soldier statue on his desk
when he was a top official during both of the Bush
presidencies. Colin Powell, who tried to cover up the My Lai
massacre during the Vietnam war, who was a major architect of the 1st
Gulf war and who went to the UN and lied thru his teeth to justify
the invasion of Iraq in 2003, finds the Buffalo Soldiers
inspiring. He called them "the wind beneath my wings" and especially
cited their "loyalty." Later they were sent by the U.S. to fight
Mexican Revolutionaries like Pancho Villa. This is a shameful
legacy, and it's no wonder that a war criminal like Colin Powell is
inspired by it.
If you follow in the footsteps of the Buffalo Soldiers, you will be
called on to do just like they did: commit horrible acts against
people who have done nothing to you, and you will do it in the
service of a system that has carried out terrible crimes, including
against the masses of African-American people, and you may end up
giving up the only life you have in the service of that foul system.
DON'T DO IT! Don't sign up for America's wars under the leadership
of "commander in chief" Barack Obama and carry forward the legacy of
the Buffalo Soldiers. Instead get with a cause that's in the
interest of humanity, and is something worth fighting for-making
revolution to wipe imperialism off the face of the earth!