Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Gainesville Winter Soldier

Last night I went to a Winter Soldier panel Campus Progress co-hosted down here in Gainesville, FL. It was a smaller scale than the one Spencer reported on in DC, consisting of six Iraq veterans, four of whom are with Iraq Veterans Against the War and two who just came forward to talk about their experiences unaffiliated. The event was extremely intense, gripping the audience during each soldier's story and lasting nearly four hours. The stories ranging from witnessing deaths of Iraqis, suicide bombers, self-medicating drug use, lack of veterans benefits, and sexual assault of both American female soldiers and Iraqi women.

Clifton Hicks, who was once suspected of being the author of TNR's disputed "Shock Troops" article, said, "None of us are here to make American soldiers look bad, because anyone in this room is capable of the same thing." Hicks blames the evil of war and not the individual troops. Many soldiers said they were still "pro-military" but opposed the Iraq war in particular. The opinions on pullout varied from immediately and as quickly as possible to a strategic and slow withdrawl. Unsurprisingly, the veterans aren't a monolithic group and don't have one opinion about the war.

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