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Supporting Materials for Sir! No Sir!
Growth Of GI Power
The military has begun to admit openly that antiwar GIs, GI papers and coffeehouses are creating problems. General Westmoreland recently told the Senate Armed Services Committee that “there are disturbing indications that deliberate efforts are being made to introduce the divisiveness found in our society into the army.” Westmoreland did not say that the war created the antiwar GI. Men do not need the kind of stupid discipline the military hands out if they believe in what they are doing. When men are asked to fight an unjust war and are then harassed and abused while doing it, they begin to ask questions.
When GIs begin asking questions, the system of military indoctrination breaks down and military discipline is threatened. The brass depends for its smooth functioning on an acceptance of whatever is handed down and an unquestioning obedience to orders. But since our involvement in the Vietnam war, GIs have asked more and more questions about why we are there and whether the people of Vietnam really want us there, and the brass has not given many of them a satisfactory answer.
The GI movement, which the brass would like in sweep under the rug, is getting increasing publicity, even in such publications as Life Magazine, New York Times Magazine, and Newsweek. What began as a series of individual acts of conscience by isolated GIs has led to efforts of GIs to get together to express their protest. One such action was the lawsuit brought by GIs United Against the War, demanding that GIs should have the same rights as civilians. The case is still pending in federal court and was a factor in bringing antiwar GI actions to the attention of the national press.
Another factor has been the antiwar base papers, which are cropping up everywhere. There are now over 30 such papers on bases all over the country and even one in Vietnam. These papers provide a means of communication among antiwar GIs and breaks down the isolation many GIs' feel. They also help morale, because they are a way of expressing criticism and anger, as well as poking fun at the military — which is pretty hard for a GI to do in the normal course of military life. They are a way of striking back at the guys who are standing on your stomach.
As GIs look at who is oppressing them, they are becoming increasingly aware that it is not just the bastard sergeant [sic] handing out shit. It is the guy dumping on him and so on up the ladder. And at the top of the ladder are those who profit from the war — the brass, the businessmen and some politicians in whose interest GIs are being asked to fight and die, while they get rich and fat.
Of course, these generals, businessmen and politicians are not happy with the GI movement. Marine General Lewis Walt said in Life Magazine that “when discipline goes, men die needlessly.” This con artist would make believe that the antiwar GI is responsible for needless death. In fact, the reverse is true: When men die needlessly, discipline goes!! Why should anyone squander his life in the name of discipline or a rotten war. Under the guise of discipline and saving lives the brass want to blame the antiwar GI when it is they that are to blame. At the same time they want to suppress the rights that GIs are pledged to defend. The antiwar base papers represent a grasp for these rights and for the freedom of GIs to think. We believe that when GIs think, they conclude that this war is not in their interest. This brings them in conflict with the system. The brass, of course, wants to avoid this kind of conflict. In the long run, they can't avoid it.
Keep up the pressure.
The Ally, no. 17