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Killers in the Classroom

Sunday 11 February 2007

Killers in the Classroom


By Dr. June Scorza Terpstra

During a heated debate in a class I teach on social justice, several US Marines who had done tours in Iraq told me that they had "sacrificed" by “serving” in Iraq so that I could enjoy the freedom to teach in the USA. Parroting their master’s slogan about “fighting over there so we don’t have to fight over here”, these students proudly proclaimed that they terrorized and killed defenseless Iraqis. They intimated that their Arab victims are nothing more to them than collateral damage, incidental to their receipt of some money and an education.

A room full of students listened as a US Marine told of the invasion of Baghdad and Falluja and how he killed innocent Iraqis at a check point. He called them “collateral damage” and said he had followed the “rules”. A Muslim-American student in front of him said “I could slap you but then you would kill me”. A young female Muslim student gasped “I am a freshman; I never thought to hear of this in a class. I feel sick, like I will pass out.”

I knew in that moment that this was what the future of teaching about justice would include: teaching war criminals who sit glaring at me with hatred for daring to speak the truth of their atrocities and who, if paid to, would disappear, torture and kill me. I wondered that night how long I really have in this so called “free” country to teach my students and to be with my children and grandchildren.

The American military and mercenary soldiers who “sacrificed” their lives did not do so for the teacher’s freedom to teach the truth about the so-called war on terror, or any of US history for that matter. They sacrificed their lives, limbs and sanity for money, some education and the thrills of the violence for which they are socially bred. Sacrificing for the “bling and booty” in Iraq or Afghanistan, The Philippines, Grenada, Central America, Mexico, Somalia, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, or any of the other numerous wars and invasions spanning US history as an entity and beginning with their foundational practice of killing the Indians and stealing their land.

Many of the classes that I teach now include students who “served” in the US military and security corporations. There are also many students who intend to join the US military upon completion of a degree because with the degree they get a bigger “sign on” bonus of ten to fifty thousand dollars. Their position is supported by many of the student body, who, vegetating according to the American Plan, believe they should “support their troops”. The excuses that they give for joining or intending to join the US military terrorist training camps are first and foremost motivated by a desire for money. One student proudly said that he is willing to kill for money, a better standard of living and an education. Another student, who had done two tours of duty to the Empire in Iraq, justified killing and torture, citing the importance of staying on top as the world’s number one super power so that his family could have the highest standard of living and unlimited access to the world’s oil supplies.

Yet another soldier-student said that there would always be wars and someone had to do it. The”it” is killing, rape, and plunder for profit. Some of the soldier-students agreed that military terrorism was thrilling. Stopping and killing people at checkpoints in order to maintain a comfortable lifestyle in the USA was worth the risk of being killed or maimed. Little did they know that the very education they would kill for could include a course on social justice in which they would be compelled to examine their motives, beliefs and actions in an evil, illegal, immoral and unjust invasion and occupation of a people who never hurt or harmed them or any of their fellow citizens.

To be fair, in this week’s discussion in class there was some mention that some of the student’s intentions had been honorable at the time that they joined the military. They wanted to “help other people”. A few woman students who want to join the military commented that they would be working to “free and defend” people here and abroad. However, for the most part and by their own admission, personal financial gain was their main focus in signing on. Their bottom line was getting the money and their thrills by joining and belonging to the biggest terrorist organization in the world, the USA.

What appears to trouble the soldier student is that the rhetoric of fighting for freedom and democracy is a lie that cannot blanket the horror and guilt of their terrorism. They do not want to hear that participation in invasion and occupation, murder and pillaging, is logically inconsistent with any legitimate concept of freedom or liberation. They know the greed and programmed lust for violence that motivates them. They expect that if they can make it out alive, they get some money, a comfortable lifestyle and an education. Their plan is to secure the oil, the diamonds, the gold, the water, the guns, the drugs, and the bling for their masters, who they hope will cut them in on the swag. They say that someone has to be on top and they want to be on the side of the strong, not the weak. Robbing Hoods, not Robin Hoods.

And now, here they sit in my course on social justice, terrorist war criminals, wanting high paying “criminal justice” jobs in a university Justice Studies program. They want approval, appreciation and honors for terrorism, torture, and murder. They want a university degree so they can get an even higher salary terrorizing more people around the world with security companies such as Blackwater or Halliburton. They want that appropriately named “sheepskin” so they can join the CIA, FBI, and other police and track down and terrorize US residents here.

These military and mercenary terrorist-students are trained in terrorist training camps all under the USA, funded by American taxpayers. In fact, people under the USA are “sacrificing” their health care and their children’s educations while donating their tax dollars to these terrorist training camps. These terrorist camps train money hungry working class stiffs to murder, steal and plunder for the power hungry US corporate war lords.

There is a saying that “if you do the crime, you do the time”. My response is that “If you do the war crimes, you will do time in hell, whether the hell of war trauma and shock, of diseases such as those caused by depleted uranium, the old-fashioned traditional hell, fire and brimstone assigned to malefactors…or the hell of sitting in a social justice class and discovering what the hell you are in hell for, or are about to be.

Forum posts

  • Hey Prof.

    So I can see your perspective, and think that students enrolling in a course on Social Justice ought to be prepared to examine the roots of their privilege or experiences, regardless of background. But you may want to consider being just a little bit compassionate yourself. For many people, the military is the only good job with a decent health plan that comes to recruit them. Many people aren’t ardent pacifists, and honestly believe that they are serving a greater good. And some people, to be fair, do enjoy violence, as you would expect from a violent, militarized culture.

    But I think it is incumbent upon you, the older, better educated instructor to be able to look past people’s function to their humanity. Many of the former service members in your class bear deep psychic wounds, and it is both cruel and irresponsible to dehumanize them, gloat, and tell them they got what they had coming. Attacking people only hardens them into caricatured positions that sit readily on hand, listening and engaging draws people out and creates the space for them to think critically and to participate in class discussion.

    Maybe, to be frank, that is not the objective of either your course or the blog. Maybe the objective is to make racist claims about Jewish people, as your commenter does, or to browbeat individual soldiers as an expression of feelings of rage and impotence vis a vis the larger political projects of the government. I only hope you subject you own actions to as much scrutiny as you do those of your students.

    • To see the humanity beyond the function, as you say, is social justice praxis. When the function is to terrorize, kill and destroy humans whose humanity and very life is at stake, then we must be clear about just what causes that psychic pain of the soldier. Much of what you say is very important and I absolutely hold your wise words about compassion simultaneously with the knowledge of that real choice US young people make when joining the military for money.

      While I know that the function of Bella Ciao is to critique and examine world events I cannot say why the commentary has thematically been so off but perhaps that is the intent of the internet provocatuer at work.


  • We should step up and claim Iraq as our own and take its resources. Or else we should go home and let them figure out their own country.

    What concerns me even more than the Iraq War is the daily stream of halftruths, ommissions, and outright lies coming from our leaders. OUR LEADERS ARE LYING TO US!!! THEY HAVE BEEN CAUGHT LYING REDHANDED!!! WHY ARE THEY STILL IN OFFICE!!??!!??

  • I’d give it a 7/10 i liked the cotton candy cocoons.

  • here’s a link to some videos of what the occupation of Iraq feels like to the Iraqis - maybe you could show this in your class.

    I recently got into an email conversation with a Vietnam Vet, who went on to spend the rest of his life working on military systems. He was so proud of himself for designing weapons for Gulf War I that ’saved lives’ and he is really anti-war this time around. He says the military-industrial complex is out of control and will keep on growing and dominating our country until we crash.

    Now, he thought Vietnam was a bad war, Gulf war I was a good war, and this war a bad war. He claimed he has PTSD - and that I made it worse by not respecting him. I made it clear that I respected his service (I figure either he was drafted and felt he had no choice - or he was a dumb kid who believed his government’s lies when he enlisted) but I had no respect whatsoever that he spend decades of his life developing weapons for Americans to use against other people who were either innocents or probably forced to fight.

    But what was really interesting to me is the fact that he claimed that my behavior reminded him of the disrespect that he was shown when he came back from Vietnam.

    First, I do believe all people are deserving of respect for just being human - but that does not include respect (and/or approval) for their behavior.

    Second, in light of all the horror that they surely went through in war - and put the Vietnamese through- why on earth is a show of respect (which I think really meant APPRECIATION to him) be so important? I started thinking ex-military = cry baby, maybe? I mean really, they are supposed to be rough and tough, why would the words of a middle aged women saying "I do not respect what you did with your life" be considered so out of line?

    It hardly compares to what you go through in war.

    • I definitely agree with what you are saying and I faced this exact same dilemma during and post Vietnam with Vets. While it’s likely that soldiers started out thinking they were saving the world, once they are in a war they have to do some fancy internal work to come up with a new reason for what they’re actually doing. The loss of purpose and reason for being that may have been wrapped in the flag now has no reasonable source is pretty dangerous during and post service. Even if they started out just looking for money, they could not have had any idea what they were really getting into and this is where those of us teaching have a responsibility. I believe that they do have some internal traumatic response to killing people- at some level. So if that’s true, everything they spout in class is an attempt to keep the reality of their trauma at bay. Trauma also tends to reduce one to black and white thinking, because ambivalence is much more terrifying, being rooted in the trauma itself. That’s probably one reason the army gets people to follow orders- any real thought about what they were doing would really muddy the works. Likewise, it’s easier to have NO concern about the “enemy”, see their own actions as “following orders” so therefore not accountable to the people whom they have invaded and are destroying, and always keep the “good guy/bad guy” mentality. When we challenge these ideas in vets, we are messing with their traumatic defenses and they are terrified and/or enraged. When you get close enough to the terrifying memories, the rage at the other person in the room only increases.

      Thank you for the video links. I was actually seeking out some videos specifically on Iraq.


  • in the USA people still are proud ’to have served their country’.
    The idea that all wars just cause misery does not yet exist in the USA.

  • As a Vietnam veteran I think that the realities that Dr Terpstra is writing about are true but a bit one-sided. Along with alot of mindless, proud, obedient robo mercenaries running around there are also people Like Lt. Ehren Watada and thousands of other soldiers who oppose this war.

    I remember from my own experiences as an 18 year old of beleiving the government’s propaganda about bringing "Freedom and Democracy" to the Vietnamese so in 1968 I joined the army. By the time I arrived in the war zone in 1969 I learned that everything the government had said was a pack of lies. This was their country and their land and we had no buisness being there. Fortunately there were tens of thousands of other soldiers who felt like me. So I joined the anti war GI resistance movement that carried out all kinds of actions from “search and avoid” patrols, to sabotage, to fraggings and even antiwar demonstrations.

    The point I’m trying to make is that PEOPLE CHANGE. I’m living now in Germany and work with other veterans in group called the Stop The War Brigade ( We have contact with a lot of today’s GIs and our message to them is Refuse, Resist and Rebell against this unjust war. So Dr Terpstra, why don’t you invite people from the groups in the US like the Iraqi Vets Against the War or Vietnam Veterans Against the WAR (AI) into your class room to speak? Or for teachers in europe contact the Stop the War Brigade, we would be glad to provide speakers. Sincerely dave blalock

    • Dave, thanks for this testimony! I do bring anti-war speakers into the classroom. Right after the second Iraq invasion I attempted to bring in two speakers and the university I worked for at the time came after me with a vengence. I fought that with legal help and people backed down but it has not been until this last semester that I brought in outside speakers again. There are vets against the war speakers here in town. Thanks, for reminding me!


    • Dear Dr. Terpstra,

      I agree with you completely and would like to add that my special friends in the cosmos feel that we are headed for certain self-destruction.

      The lights that have been reported recently over many US cities are proof that they are becoming interested beyond mere observation and will soon take action.

      They have confirmed this intention to me through our communications and request that we (all of us who believe that the USA is EVIL!) put the pugnacious "star of David" symbol somewhere above the front entry to our home. (be it house, apt., box or even forehead)

      And in this (humorous, i think) way, they will know us and know not to kill us along with the rest!

      Spread the word, and may the spirits be with you!


  • There are over 300 thousand soldiers deployed at this time. You seem to get all of the "mercenaries" in your class. It’s funny how you bring to light all of the horrible atrocities supposedly commited by our US servicemen but fail to mention that 3-6 Suicide car bombs go off daily in Iraq killing hundreds of innocent people. Who are the ones commiting these acts of violence? Other Muslims thats who....why don’t you get your University to pay for a trip to Iraq and see for yourself......that would be to dangerous for why not continue to sit back and bad mouth the military and your country......nice freedom...I hope you enjoy it. You are a coward.

  • Hello June,

    ...As you know, my father passed away two years ago. But what you don’t know is that my father was a veteran, a soldier, until the day he died. He spent the last days of his life in an alcoholic haze apologizing for all of the wrong he had done. You see, after fighting a war and enemy that was not his own, he was not able to clearly decipher the rationale of becoming a trained murderer. He suffered from night terrors, he was abusive, and the thought of murdering was indifferent in his mind. I believe that it was this mindframe that killed him because he had been psychologically abused by the american government.

    I could go on and on about this, but I won’t because it is hurtful. But just know that your class was a tremendous blessing for me, especially at the time because you took the time to, not just rant and rave about your political views, but you gave me an opportunity to be reflective in my understanding of the world I live in. I admire your tenacity and ability to stay firmly grounded in your beliefs regardless of the backlash. I hope to have the same dedication in my life.
    Thank you for everything June,

  • June I’m sure by this point some have called you an ignorant slut. I won’t stoop to that level because what point is there in insulting sluts?

    Did you invent all of what you wrote? I would be interested in learning your CV and the name of the institution that awarded you your doctorate because their standards of academic rigor must be pretty low.

    Do you have the courage to leave this comment or are you more interested in maintaining your self-referential echo chamber?


  • Silly professor. OK, my guess is that your article is a hyper-exaggeration exercise in a half-baked attempt to spur debate and engagement. Or, you’re insane. Fess up - no Marines in your classroom seriously bragged about committing war crimes. No "Muslim-Americans" in your class felt upset enough to slap one of the "killers". Here’s a challange for you, Junebug - do your duty as a Patriot. Or Comrade. Or World-Citizen, or whatever. The statute of limitations has not run out on any capital crimes committed by your "several US Marines". (Thanks for capitalizing the "M" in Marines, by the way - we appreciate it.) Contact the NCIS Central Field Office at (850) 452-3835 and report these war criminals. If there is a shred of truth to any of your hyperventilations, they will be vigorously investigated. You see, in the real world, Junebug, we Marines don’t like other Marines who kill kids or innocent civilians purposely. (Of course, in the real world, the Feds don’t like false reports of criminal allegations, either.) So please, "cowboy-up" as they say, and file a report with NCIS.

  • This so called "teacher" does not seem to get it and I suspect may be puttng her own spin on what the veterans in her class said. She sits in the safety and comfort of her hallowed halls of learning and forgets that neither she nor her profession would be able to speak freely and not fear arrest without our nation’s soldiers at the ready and in harms way. Hardly any one of us who served enjoyed what we were called upon to do or even the prospects of what we might have had to do. So Dr. Terpstra should think long and hard about who protects her rights and our of life, not to mention who is at the other end of the 911 call when she hears a noise outside her home and window at night. I hope she continues to speak her mind and as most soldiers are tought in basis training, I may not like and even dispise what she says but I will defend to the death even her right to say it. And but for soldiers - who with the Grace of God and moreso by shit luck become veterans, we would all be an oppressed peole still.

    Michael Chao, USAF, 1972-1976

    • I don’t believe we can be part of immoral and illegal wars as individuals and be called heroes.

      I don’t believe we should continue to call the dead American troops of these wars heroes. Almost all had good intentions but they were betrayed.

      I know many whose names I visited at the Vietnam Memorial wall acted heroically in combat situations I was in.

      But, I also know some committed acts of atrocity and evil.

      My squad leader threw a “frag” into a bunker, knowing there was a crying baby there. The squad leader was KIA a few weeks later. I can’t say he was a hero.

      If we continue to make heroes of those who die and fight in illegal and immoral wars, we condemn our future generations to the glorification of violence and war.

      We can’t have it both ways. We can’t condemn a war but say our troops are heroes fighting for democracy and freedom.

      The reality of combat is we don’t fight for country, we don’t fight for democracy and we don’t fight for freedom. As a young Marine says in a rap on the CD, “Voices From the Frontline”, ……”we fight for the dawg next to us.”

      I was once a young Marine returning from combat. I couldn’t find reason in the actions I took part in. Using the rhetoric of the tyrants that betrayed the very Constitution we claimed to fight for did not make the morality and legality of the war change.

      We combat vets cannot claim our actions to be moral or legal when the collateral damage is represented by infants, toddlers, school kids, teenagers, innocent women and men. There is no heroism in our participation in this crime.

      Unless we accept the responsibility for our actions in the immorality of wars without reason or justifiable cause we have no claim to being patriotic. We fail the test of patriotism by denying the truth of actions that are agression and injustice by our government.

      We combat vets cannot say we were just doing our jobs or just doing what we were told and be any different than the Nazis who also made the same claims following the mass murders of millions. Over 600,000 Iraqi bodies alone scream out the undeniable truth.

      Those who hold the Marine Corps dear to their hearts should remember a two time Congressional Medal of Honor recipient and a Marine who achieved the highest rank in the Corps. They should remember his words that "war is a racket" and he didn’t have one original thought of his own until he left the Corps. He had an epiphany and realized his thirty plus years in the Corps were acting as a "thug" and "gangster" for Wall Street and the rich and elite.

      Smedley Butler finally saw through the lies and deceptions of politicians and those who prop them up with money and other bribes. His most heroic act was speaking out against the military industrial complex that Dwight Eisenhower also warned us about.

      We, the combat veterans, are pawns of a culture of violence. To truly be heroic and honor our dead friends requires us to acknowledge our responsibility and to speak out against this insanity.

      The heroes are those who struggle to bring peace and sanity to our world. Ardeth Platte, Jackie Hudson and Carol Gilbert are my heroes. They are three Sisters who without a single weapon stood up to the bully American military-industrial complex. They said ENOUGH to continued nuclear weapons.

      Kathy Kelly, Lt. Erin Watada, Pablo Paredes, Camilo Mejia, Suzanne Swift, Abdul Henderson and many other veterans and peace activists are heroes. All have said enough!! All have struggled to end war and bring peace and justice at large personal costs.

      So I urge Dr. Terpstra to continue speaking out without allowing the bullies to dissuade you. As MLK said in his Riverside Church address against the war in Vietnam,"silence is betrayal".

      Wm. T. Leichner, RN
      USMC combat veteran
      Vietnam 1967-69
      Psychiatric RN with specialty in PTSD

  • In re: to Terpstra’s article: To say that I, as a Marine Officer, am offended by this article is an understatement. There are so many ridiculous, offensive and inflammatory statements in it I don’t know where to begin. For instance, "...teaching war criminals who sit glaring at me with hatred for daring to speak the truth of their atrocities....would disappear, torture and kill me...". Come on. The whole article is some sort of radical, anti-american propaganda leaflet that sounds more like a manifesto than the words of a so-called highly educated instructor in an institute of higher learning. Not to mention, it’s the same old, tired rhetoric and left-wing, radical islamic sympatizing talking points. America is the root of all evil, Bush lied-people died, No blood for Oil, America the Great Satan, blah blah blah. Never mind the Islamo-fascist videos of innocents getting their heads cut off, never mind the oppression of women in these countries, never mind the string of terrorist acts across the globe in the name of jihad, never mind the threat of nuclear annihilation of a soverign state, the move to have world wide sharia law instead of the freedom of religion, the list goes on. The America that this author reviles so much has sent millions, if not billions, in aid to just about every country in the world, but everybody forgets about that and picks and chooses what we do or don’t do to fit their little political agenda. America makes mistakes, just like every country in history, but I can’t think of any other country that values human life and human rights like we do. It seems like some of you Kool-Aid drinkers really think we’d be better with some of these other countries as the super power in this world. Well, I don’t think so and that’s why I joined the military, oh excuse me, I mean the "US Military Terrorist Training Camp". Not for the money, not for thrill, but for a belief in the goodness of this country and what we stand for. Personally, I question the motives behind this author’s beliefs and am constantly amazed at the liberal, anti-american academic "elites" that infest our college campuses and act like a virus on the minds of our young students. Fortunately, I work with young Marines from today’s generation that are honorable, decent Americans and I know that people like this author are an unfortunate aberration that we have to tolerate in our free society.

    • From one marine to another, differing opinions, check it out and decide.

      Learning to be a Lean Mean Killing Machine— Structured Cruelty
      By Sgt. MARTIN SMITH, USMC, Ret.

      an excerpt;

      "The USMC’s claim that recruits learn "to live as upstanding moral beings with real purpose" is a sickening ploy aimed to disguise its true objectives. Given the fact that Marines are molded to kill the enemy "other" from TD One (training day) combined with the bestial nature of colonial war, it should come as no surprise that rather than turning "degenerates" into paragons of virtue, the Corps is more likely capable of transforming men into monsters"

    • Yes, even among fellow Marines, I guess opinions and values can have a radical difference. Your website has the kind of left wing tone that I expected. Liberalism is a mental disorder, Devil Dog.....

    • Are you related to Rip Van Winkle ?

      Do you take medications ?

      I’m unable to locate Liberalism in the DSM.
      (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders)

  • P.S. - did anybody notice that this website has that worthless communist Che Guevara on it’s opening page like he’s some sort of hero to be worshipped?? Wake up, you deluded left wing moonbats!!! Communism is a failure!! The Workers united.....and then they starved or were sent to the gulag by the dictators!

    • Are you avoiding my question about Liberalism and the DSM ?

    • Something to consider;

      an extract

      "Is it conceivable that one of the only two Latin Americans to make it onto TIME’s 100 most important figures of the century can be comfortably transmogrified into a symbol of rebellion precisely because he is no longer dangerous?

      I wouldn’t be too sure. I suspect that the young of the world grasp that the man whose poster beckons from their walls cannot be that irrelevant, this secular saint ready to die because he could not tolerate a world where los pobres de la tierra, the displaced and dislocated of history, would be eternally relegated to its vast margins.

      Even though I have come to be wary of dead heroes and the overwhelming burden their martyrdom imposes on the living, I will allow myself a prophecy. Or maybe it is a warning. More than 3 billion human beings on this planet right now live on less than $2 a day. And every day that breaks, 40,000 children — more than one every second! — succumb to diseases linked to chronic hunger. They are there, always there, the terrifying conditions of injustice and inequality that led Che many decades ago to start his journey toward that bullet and that photo awaiting him in Bolivia.

      The powerful of the earth should take heed: deep inside that T shirt where we have tried to trap him, the eyes of Che Guevara are still burning with impatience.

      Ariel Dorfman holds the Walter Hines Page Chair at Duke University. His latest novel is The Nanny and the Iceberg

    • So, if Che and his ilk are the "secular saints" that the article (written by a university professor who admires communists...surprise surprise) says they are, how’s that communist utopia doing over there in Cuba? North Korea? Central America? Red China? A real worker’s paradise, huh? Oh, and your reply to my mental disorder comments misses the point. It’s an opinion regarding those who follow your line of thought - meaning there is no thought, only emotion, when it comes to liberalism. And there’s a refusal to acknowledge right and wrong: hence, the mental disorder. Socialism, and its degeneration into communism, is really what is advocated here, too, isn’t it? Anyway, Comrades, good luck with your undermining the capitalist pigs. I hope that when the "revolution" comes, I’ll be waiting there with that "Bolivian bullet". Kisses...

  • Killers in the Classroom

    Dr. June Scorza Terpstra,

    It amazes me how a person that so proudly announces such academic educational achievements can also be so completely lacking of common sense and the realities of real world events. You are obviously upset with the Political Leadership that controls the United States of America. I apologize that the majority of American people must have disagreed with your political nominations. Or did you vote and then change your mind? Your area of expertise lies with in Criminal Justice, but it becomes obvious by reading your article "Killers in the Class Room" that you have no actual experience in practicing the area of expertise you have chosen to make a profession. You have successfully convicted young Americans without making the slightest attempt to obtain any facts that might lead to a validated criminal conviction. We do have young Americans that make mistakes while being placed in life and death situations. Some of these individuals will unfortunately have to deal with these kind of mistakes for the rest of their life; they may have been perfectly within the rules of engagement. Please believe me when I ensure you that each checkpoint is identified well in advance by numerous signs, in various languages to avoid civilian casualties. Their have been unfortunate incidents where drivers completly ignored these warning signs, maybe he forgot his glasses, maybe he could not read, maybe it is a suicide car bomb. I know you have to at least be aware that the terrorists we are now up against will kill you for having the wrong passport. They hide in religious mosque, hospitals, and behind their own children. They are the truest form of cowards and avoid direct confrontation. They teach that a young man that sacrifices his life will be rewarded in heaven with sixty-six virgins. They blackmail individuals into becoming human bombs by threatening the lives of their family members. I can only compare your article to something that Jerry Springer might do for TV ratings. You must be under the false impression that if the United States pulls out Iraq and Afghanistan that the killing will stop or you simply do not care, either way I am very glad you are not in a position to make political decisions. Let me guess you are writing a book, not for financial gain, but only to bring peace on earth and good will to mankind.

    The young men and women serving in the military forces of the United States of America have at one point raised their right hand and pledged an oath to serve and protect this country and are prepared to give their lives in its defense. This oath is made to God. They are obligated to follow the orders of those appointed over them. Many of these young American Military Patriots were not afforded the opportunity of higher education, and place their faith and trust in the hands of our highly educated elected political officials to make wise moral decisions for which they are employed. Congress declared War on Terrorism; let’s make no mistake about this point. It is also very important to understand that people, good, bad, young and old, regardless of religion, race, or nationality die in war. I do not agree with all of the decisions made by our leaders and Lord knows that Honorable President Bush is far from being our greatest political speaker. He does have a long list of intelligence advisors that make their recommendations known. His commitment to take down terrorism and initiate freedom and human rights to this part of the world are honorable. To be the leader of a nation, without giving concern for the economical impacts of oil would be complete dereliction of his responsibilities, but to think that the war in Iraq was inspired for U.S. motives to gain access to oil is completely ridiculous. I can only beg you to do some research before making such allegations.

    Many former Presidents have praised the sacrifices of our military as we fight for life, liberty, and freedom so you don’t have too... Some young individuals may have served their country with some kind of financial motives, but I guarantee their salary was far less than yours. Regardless of motive they served. I know you may not believe this but some young men may possibly make up their own war stories, and some are truly forced to make split second decisions to protect their fellow comrades. None are ignorant of the rules of engagement. Codes of honor, courage, and commitment are enforced. If you are truly convinced that you have a war criminal in your classroom please do the right thing and press official charges. I believe a person with integrity to their profession and country would have pursued legal actions before condemning all military personnel. I am glad that these young Marines are now able to seek an education; you have the opportunity to provide influence over moral as well as criminal behaviors. I would hope that you have the ability to communicate professionally with your students and control a classroom environment. The military offers a wide range of specialty occupations in which one can serve their country. We have chaplains, engineers, logisticians, and even highly qualified military justice, and judge advocate officers. All of which have educations and personal experience working in the real world. Some people believe everything they read or hear, some people find out first hand. Your article made me sick as well; I liked the way that you brought religion into your story by identifying that one Muslim felt sick. Terrorists are not true to any religion. They hide behind religion and utilize it any way possible to justify their own actions. These people are truly without honor, to God or Alah..But unfortunately and in their defense, many have been forced to live in poverty, denied education or civil rights, under a cruel dictator that made nuclear threats, experimented with biological agents on his own people, and left Iraq littered with mass graves of executed civilians. I believe all people are entitled to civil rights and to be honest Criminal Justice exists as a method of enforcing individual freedoms and liberties. What is your plan?? I would love to hear it..


      Iraq: "We" didn’t do it. (includes photos of victims of the United States)
      Arthur Shaw, Axis of Logic

    • I Don’t Support the Troops
      by John DeHope

      Joel Stein is a mainstream columnist for the LA Times. He recently caused a stir when he uttered something almost unspeakable: he doesn’t support the troops. Well neither do I, and here’s why.

      They’re Killers

      The soldiers sent to Iraq are killers. We can argue until we’re blue in the face about whether those Iraqis need killing. Maybe they do and maybe they don’t. But I don’t want anybody killed, so I don’t support the troops. Don’t mistake me for some kind of pacifist. I’d probably be fine if our military was rounding up child molesters and shooting them, for example. But as long as the armed forces are killing women and children and so many unidentified men, I don’t want anything to do with them.

      They’re Meddlesome

      The soldiers were sent to Iraq to replace its government. I am no fan of any government, and Hussein’s dictatorship was an example of the worst kind. But getting rid of an Iraqi dictatorship just to replace it with a government that suits us is meddlesome. It’s the opposite of minding our own business. I suppose some folks are happy to have our soldiers dying in the streets of Baghdad so that the Iraqis can vote. But I don’t vote here in the USA, so why would I want to send my neighbors to die in the Middle East so that Arabs can vote? I wouldn’t and I don’t.

      They’re A Standing Army

      I’ve observed that idle hands are the devil’s workshop. Having armies of men standing around looking for something to drop a 250-pound bomb on is a recipe for disaster. The problem is that if nothing obvious presents itself as a target, they’re very likely to find a target. And if the soldiers themselves can’t drum up a good excuse for the use of high explosives, then politicians have to take it upon themselves. The American people won’t continue giving trillions of dollars to the defense industry if they don’t show off for us every few years. As a nation we were never supposed to have a standing army just waiting for an excuse to fight. We have one anyway though, and I don’t support it.

      They’re The Government

      Even if you like having people killed in your name, and you’d rather see it done overseas than in your own back yard, and you want to fund hundreds of thousands of people to stand around waiting for your "sic ’em" order... why do you want to pay so awful much for it? A private firm could kill Germans, Koreans, Vietnamese, and Arabs so much more efficiently and cheaply than the US government does. Why not start a business to do it instead of giving the job to George Bush? If you think your vote in the Federal elections gives the government the authority to kill in your name, just imagine how much authority you could give if you actually spent some of your own hard-earned greenbacks! I think the reason people rely on their government to do their killing is that nobody really wants to spend their own money on it. But they are happy to spend other peoples’ money! Not me, I support private industry, not government.

      Conscientious Objectors

      Some of the soldiers, after joining and training and serving, have decided that it’s not such a good idea after all. They’ve changed their minds. These conscientious objectors are now slaves because they are not free to leave their jobs. You and I have the luxury of being able to change careers any time we want. They have guns pointed to their backs with officers saying "advance, soldier." Any member of the armed services who registers as a conscientious objector has my deepest sympathy and best wishes. I hope they get home soon, and don’t have to pull any more triggers in the mean time.

      I Can’t Support The Troops

      The troops want to kill people, and I want them to not. They want to overthrow other people’s governments, and I want them to mind their own business. They want to be career soldiers, and I want them to get real jobs. They want a government paycheck, and I want them to work in private industry. Is it any wonder that I don’t support the troops? Do you?

      January 28, 2006

      John DeHope [send him mail] is a software developer in Louisville, KY.

  • This lengthy give-and-take loop is pretty interesting, first because it seems odd how this one account generated so much feedback and, second, because it continued to focus on the military.
    Since the 60s and Vietnam are so commonly cited here, let’s not forget Curtis Lemay - that infamous general whose hawkish presence always threatened a coup ("Seven Days in May"). Back then, like much of the sentiment expressed here, many talked about the ominous military industrial complex. Of course, it still exists, but is it truly the core of our difficulties?

    Eric Hoffer, in talking about Communist ideologues, called men like Lenin and Stalin - bloody professors. During that time period, using men like LeMay as an example, America’s war in Vietnam was more a product of hawkish politicians and militarists. There were a few "bloody professors" but they weren’t the chief source of aggression. Indeed, George Kennan’s containment policy - which he later disavowed - was a blueprint that the military trumped up into a major war. But times have changed.

    The main source for America’s militaristic policies, indisputably, has been multi-degreed civilians (Wolfowitz, et al.) and Neocon intellectuals like Kristol. In short, the main culprit - if it exists as Exhibit A - is the PNAC strategy to reshape the world. These ideas didn’t flow out of the Penatgon, nor were they activitely pursued with the kind of enthusiasm LeMay and other militarists showed during the 60s. They were issued and supported by Neocons who essentially managed a coup via a grandiose shift in ideology. Here - this cabal of wicked intellectuals who should have known better, who had a woefully inadequate understanding of human nature and alien cultures - we have the source of our woes.

    The poor soldiers (money?) are merely the pawns in a risky foreign policy gambit based on fancifully forcing democracies on people who have no interest in accepting them. Who’s kidding who? Voting in large numbers for a principally theocratic constitution hardly represents true democracy. The entire enterprise was doomed to fail regardless of how many soldiers showed up and whether or not each and every one of them acted in the highest ethical manner.

    Are those aggressive students role models if the account of their behavior is correct? Of course not. But they should never be the principal targets in a scapegoating exercise. They were sent on an impossible mission, forced to believe in a stack of lies, and like many humans incapable of acknowledging total reality, they stick to the official version because it’s far more appealing than version B - they’re all murderous scoundrels who should live in shame for the rest of their lives. Somewhere in between the poles of heroes and villians lies the truth. And if enough Americans had occupied that Middle Ground we may never have gotten into this debacle in the first place.

  • Author’s note:

    I want to make it very clear to supporters and detractors alike that the facts of the classroom discussion that took place over a week ago are as follows. The discussion did not take place at Loyola University Chicago as some Internet sources are saying. I am presently not teaching at Loyola University but I did receive my PhD from Loyola University, Chicago, and I was a community research fellow there in the 1990s.

    The discussion depicted in “Killers in the Classroom” began with a question from a student-soldier about whether joining the military for a “more comfortable life” was wrong. Not long into the discussion one of the students, a former Marine, stunned the classroom by saying that he killed four people at a checkpoint in Iraq, that he was arrested and later exonerated for “following the rules.” He said that the people he killed were collateral damage. He and another student, also a former Marine, said they made it possible for me to teach by fighting in Iraq. Two of the Muslim students did make the comments as reported. Another student-soldier, who said that he was given a $50,000.00 military “sign on” bonus, said that he knew, and that the other military students in the room had to agree with him, that there was a thrill to the violence. Several students said they absolutely joined for the sign on bonuses and educational tuition coverage. One student said he was getting his degree and intended to join the Marines for the sign on bonus and that yes, he would kill for money. Another Marine-student said he wanted the USA to get the oil and maintain power to ensure he and his grandchildren have a higher standard of living.

    The Marines, of course, do not call their violence, “murder, terrorism and torture” but that is what the behaviors are. The facts are that if you kill someone, you are a killer. I use the “terrorism” rhetoric and the doublespeak of the invader/occupier because I chose to turn the propaganda on its head and call the soldier-students the terrorists. I do this because US/British/Israeli state terrorism is the historic and fundamental cause for the present day wars. This is just fact. They have the most weapons of mass destruction and they use them for profit and plunder and have done so everywhere they have gone since WWII.

    The USA invaded Iraq. Not one Iraqi had anything to do with 9/11. There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The Iraqi’s were already depleted from uranium munitions and sanctions. I write using the rhetorical devices that I do because the Iraqi and anti-imperialist audience around the world need to know there are a few of us in the USA who will speak out, up and “stand our post” for truth. I do this because the so-called right-left-wingers and liberals in the USA keep spouting the “support the troops” trope. But most of all I wrote this article because the of murders, the screams, the grief, the shock, I hear them all, they are with me as the invaded and occupied people are with me . . . they are the screams of the Iraqis, the Palestinians, the indigenous, the Africans, the raped, the tortured. I am but one voice in the USA, but I will stand with and for the oppressed.

    I did not share this article with my students. I did not put it on my website nor would I as the article was meant for a specific international audience of allies. I did ask one of the Marine students whether he thought any of the soldier-students were “putting me on” in that class discussion as some have suggested.

    He wrote: “Dr T, I personally do not think comments were made to “rile” things up, many other people had stated their opinion concerning things, and they felt like giving their input . . . I think most military and former military would agree with the majority of the comments made. Speaking on the basis of my own opinions and many of my friends.”

    Finally, for those who call me names and tell me to leave the country I say, America, love it by changing it. For those who say “they are fighting over there so they do not have to fight over here,” I say you are sad fools who believe your master’s propaganda.

    In Solidarity for the Liberation of the Oppressed,
    June Scorza Terpstra

    • You are a sad, deluded fool. You stand for everything that this country is not and yes, you have a right to your efforts to try and change the country to the communist state that you seem to love so much, but the majority, albiet silent, americans that still understand the inherent goodness of this country will not tolerate your view of the world. You want a revolution, I would say beware a conservative backlash, comrades. Oh, and good day, I’ve got to go deploy to Iraq now and be a "terrorist" to those poor innocent Iraqis and all the Al-Qaeda "freedom fighters" that are just trying to throw off the yolk of the big, bad American oppressor. Long live the jihad against capitalist oppression (in-shaallah!). Please. Go soak your head, "Dr." Terpstra, there’s nothing worse than educated idiots....

    • WE’ll them ’comrade" as you are over in Iraq fighting for so called "freedom and democracy" please be aware the HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of INNOCENT NON_COMBATANT WOMEN AND KIDS you have helped "free" from their bodies with your 500 pound freedom loving bombs and the millions more you have "freed" from their health with your depleted uranium tipped weapons, pobably would have rather you just stayed home. NOt many rational Americans That I personally know blame "you" personally or our brave young men and women as such for being deluded from all of the State-run media brainwashing, but once you learned how you were deceived from the fake reasons for these wars for OIl/bases/$$$$/Israel why are you not able to stand up and say so. Do you plan to kill evey last innocent non-combatant child in Iraq, like the 3MILLION that were murdered in Vietnam before you somehow "win" this occupation? And what is "winning" do you ever ask yourself that? There IS no winning and there will NEVER be. YOu are there to help guard the OIL and keep Iraq on the dollar and away from the Euro and to set up PERMANENT bases. Are you willing to die for Israel? HOw about dieing for Cheney’s Haliburton retirement fund? How about so I can have the gas to drive my 12mpg Hummer indefinately? Would you give your life and the lives of your loved ones for that???

    • Looks like they wouldn’t publish my reply. Pity. Reason and logic must be too much for your type. Oh, well. So much for being such advocates against censorship. Or is that just against opinions that don’t favor your own? What a bunch of hypocritical self-righteous nut-jobs. See ya, Pinkos!

    • Chew on this bit of actual organized and cogent thought...

      Chicago Tribune
      March 30, 2007

      Beyond Iraq

      If war ends, threat of radical Islam will go on

      By Victor Davis Hanson

      The threat from radical Islamic terrorists will not vanish when President Bush leaves office, or if funds for the Iraq war are cut off in 2008.

      A frequent charge is that we are bringing terrorists to Iraq. That is true in the sense that war always brings the enemy out to the battlefield. But it’s also false, because it ignores why killers like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (the late Al Qaeda chief in Iraq), Abu Nidal and Abu Abbas (Palestinian terrorists of the 1980s), and Abdul Rahman Yasin (involved in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing) already were in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq when we arrived.

      Moreover, the unpopular war in Iraq did not create radical Islamists and their madrassas throughout the Middle East that today brainwash young radicals and pressure the region’s monarchies, theocracies and autocracies to provide money for training and weaponry. All that radicalism had been going on for decades — as we saw during the quarter-century of terrorism that led up to Sept. 11, 2001. And rioting, assassination and death threats over artistic expression in Europe have nothing to do with Iraq.

      Right now, most Al Qaeda terrorists are being trained and equipped in the Pakistani wild lands of Waziristan to help the Taliban reclaim Afghanistan and spread jihad worldwide. These killers pay no attention to the fact that our efforts in Afghanistan are widely multilateral. They don’t care that our presence there is sanctioned by NATO, or involves the United Nations, or only came as a reaction to Sept. 11.

      These radical Islamists gain strength not because we "took our eye off Afghanistan" by being in Iraq, but because Pakistan’s strongman, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, can’t or won’t do anything about Al Qaeda’s bases in his country. And neither Bush nor House Speaker Nancy Pelosi quite knows how to pressure such an unpredictable nuclear military dictatorship.

      The Iraq war has certainly sharpened our relationship with Iran, but, of course, it’s also not the cause of our tensions with Tehran. For decades, the Iranian government has subsidized Hezbollah, which during the 1980s and 1990s murdered Americans from Saudi Arabia to Beirut. It was not the current Iranian lunatic President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad but an earlier more "moderate" president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who remarked, in 2001, that "one bomb is enough to destroy all Israel."

      So Iraq is only one recent theater, albeit a controversial one, in an ongoing global struggle. This larger conflict arose not from the Iraqi invasion of 2003, but from earlier radical Muslim rage at the modern globalized world, the profits and dislocations from Middle East oil, and Islamic terrorism that ranges worldwide from Afghanistan to Thailand.

      Should a peace candidate win the American presidency in 2008, prompting the U.S. to pull out of Iraq before the democracy there is stabilized, in the short term we will save lives and money. But as the larger war continues after we withdraw, jihadists will still flock to the Sunni Triangle. Hamas and Hezbollah will still rocket Israel. Syria will still kill Lebanese reformers. Iran will still try to cheat its way to a nuclear bomb. Ayman al-Zawahiri will still broadcast his Al Qaeda threats from safety in nuclear Pakistan. The oil-rich illegitimate Gulf sheikdoms will still make secret concessions and bribe increasingly confident terrorists to leave them alone. And jihadists will still try to sneak into the United States to kill us.

      Critics of the present war can make the tactical argument that it is wiser to fight Al Qaeda in Pakistan than in Iraq. Or that money spent in the frontline Iraqi offensive theater would be better invested on defense and security at home. Or that the human cost is simply too great and thus we should instead make diplomatic concessions to radical Islamists in lieu of military confrontation.

      But, again, those are operational alternatives found in every war — as familiar as the old controversies over the French defensive Maginot Line of the 1930s or the American decision to defeat Germany first, Japan second. In the case of staying on in Iraq, at least, our long-term plan is to go on the offensive to confront radical Islamic terrorists on their own turf, and try to foster a democratic alternative to theocracy or autocracy.

      That may be felt by the American public to be too expensive or too naive, but it is a direct strategy aimed at an enemy who seeks to terrorize the West and plans on being around well after 2008.

      Depending on how we leave Iraq, this global war against radical Islamic terrorism will either wax or wane. But it will hardly end.

      Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow and historian at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

    • Yet another CIA university asset.

    • Yet another comment from a conspiracy theorist wing-nut. OOOGIE BOOGIE!

    • Michael Parenti writes:

      "The conspiracy phobics believe that conspiracies do not exist, or if they do exist, they are of no great significance...those who suffer from conspiracy phobia are fond of saying: " do you actually think there’s a group of men sitting around a room plotting things/" for some strange reason this image of a group of men ( usually with no women present) actually sitting around a room is considered utterly unbelievable...of course they sit around in rooms. Where else would they meet? They are constantly conferring and they have plenty of rooms at the CIA, the white house, the state department, the FBI, the pentagon, the NSA, and where ever else. And yes, they consciously plot to make certain things happen, to overthrow governments, to set up systems violent repression against reformist or revolutionary governments and movements, to ship arms to clandestine armies. They don’t call it plotting, they call it "planning." they have a whole vocabulary to designate their state-sponsored conspiracies: "secret operations", "covert actions", ’deep operations", " off the shelf-operations", black book the broader policy level, no one confabulates and plans more than the political and corporate elites of America. No one does more consciously self-interested policy studies—most of it in secrecy- they have whole professions dedicated to special planning. They spend billions of dollars each year of our tax money to make the world safe for their interests. Yet we have our conspiracy phobics asking us, with incredulous and patronizing smiles, if we really think that the people at the top actually talk to each other about their mutual interests and agendas, and intentionally act in pursuit of their interests...these elites get to know each other. They plant words of ambition and promise in each others ears. They solicit support, offer reassurances, reach understandings. They meet, talk, and plan—yes, in rooms. Their meetings are usually kept private, as are their agendas. They conspire regularly and frequently. The word "conspiracy" should not be used to dismiss the sum, public policy should be directed to the needs of the many rather than the greed of the few. The problem we face is that the ruling interests are profoundly committed to a vision of the world that is ruthlessly exploitative, hegemonic, self-serving, and ecologically unsustainable. Our only choice is to expose and oppose them with all our concerted effort...the conventional view is that power is anti-thetical to freedom, a threat to it. This can be true of state power and other forms of institutionalized authority. However, popular power and freedom are not anti-thetical but complementary: if you do not have the power to limit the abuses of wealth and position, you do not have much freedom. In order to wrest democratic gains from entrenched interests, we the people must mobilize a countervailing power. " the concessions of the privileged to the unprivileged" wrote John Stuart mill in 1869, " are so seldom brought about by any better motive than the power of the unprivileged to extort them"...rather than saying you cannot fight city hall, we might better say that we cannot afford not to. It is often frustrating and sometimes dangerous to challenge those who own and control the land, labor, capital and technology of society. But, in the long run, it is even more dangerous not to do so." (Parenti, 1998)

    • What people often don’t understand, when they say things like "you think everything is a conspiracy" is that it is often not that there are so many "unnconnected" conspiracies, but that one is simply watching the connected CRIMES of well connected Crime Familiy Members at the top of the money heap who like other criminals of all stripes OFTEN will do anything to make and keep power and control. And often get away with it. Crime like money often tends to concentrate in Families and often those criminals will be wildly successful their "unlimited" money buying them ever more influence, and more money and more power, over and over and over. For some reason when these people work to get into our government agencies or become the heads of major corporations people are trained to not accept that this could really be, that there really are as many criminals up in the ivory towers as their are on the streets. And their crimes are MUCH bigger, much more well financed, and potentially much more economically lucrative. And they have WALLS of lawyers and people in government to keep them outa trouble, outa the limelight, raking in BILLIONS in The Shadows, and often leaving the bodies piled up in their wake. One has to learn to connect the dots to see the bigger picture, and if you really want to see the BIG conspiracies (crimes) just FOLLOW THE MONEY TRAIL!

    • Say amen somebody!

    • Wait a minute, did a leftist just refer to Christianity? How about "Allah Akbar"? Enjoy your righteous indignation against "the man" and the big conspiracy out there. I’ll bet you all were abducted by aliens, too. I’m sure you enjoyed the probing.......

    • The con game of left and right is one of the tools of the master. Empire is at its end stage and we understand the con. Take your propaganda to some other site and let the truth be spoken here. Neither right nor left.

  • Being objective or not, that depends; the right thing to say is that this is the very part of the human being. No matter what, just find a "justifiable" reason for doing so.