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Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan: Eyewitness Accounts of the Occupation

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“The only way this war is going to end is if the American people truly understand what we have done in their name.”—Kelly Dougherty, executive director of Iraq Veterans Against the War In spring 2008, inspired by the Vietnam-era Winter Soldier hearings, Iraq Veterans Against the War gathered veterans to expose war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq. Here are the powerful words, “The only way this war is going to end is if the American people truly understand what we have done in their name.”—Kelly Dougherty, executive director of Iraq Veterans Against the War In spring 2008, inspired by the Vietnam-era Winter Soldier hearings, Iraq Veterans Against the War gathered veterans to expose war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq. Here are the powerful words, images, and documents of this historic gathering, which show the reality of life in Afghanistan and Iraq. Iraq Veterans Against the War argues that well-publicized incidents of American brutality like the Abu Ghraib prison scandal and the massacre of an entire family of Iraqis in the town of Haditha are not the isolated incidents perpetrated by “a few bad apples,” as many politicians and military leaders have claimed. They are part of a pattern, the group says, of “an increasingly bloody occupation.”   "Here is the war as it should be reported, seeing the pain, refusing to sanitize an unprovoked attack that has killed over one million people.  All over America are victims who have returned from this conflict with hideous wounds -- wounds that turn the lives of the entire family upside down. And the American people are not seeing this.  Until now.      "Winter Soldier, an enormously important project of Iraq Veterans Against the War, cuts this debacle to the bone, exposing details hard to come by and even harder to believe.  This is must reading for patriots who have already begun the effort to insure that this never happens again." --Phil Donahue   "Winter Soldier makes us feel the pain and despair endured by those who serve in a military stretched to the breaking point by stop-loss policies, multiple combat tours, and a war where the goals and the enemies keep shifting ... [and] also make[s] us admire the unbreakable idealism and hope of those men and women who still believe that by speaking out they can make things better both for themselves and for those who come after them."--San Francisco Chronicle Formed in the aftermath of the US invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) was founded in 2004 to give those who have served in the military since September 11, 2001, a way to come together and speak out against an unjust, illegal, and unwinnable war. Today, IVAW has over seven hundred members in forty-nine states, Washington, DC, Canada, and on military bases overseas.   Aaron Glantz is an independent journalist who has covered the Iraq War from the front lines. He is the author of How America Lost Iraq (Tarcher) and a forthcoming book on the Iraq War from the University of California Press. Anthony Swofford is the author of Jarhead: A Marine’s Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles.


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“The only way this war is going to end is if the American people truly understand what we have done in their name.”—Kelly Dougherty, executive director of Iraq Veterans Against the War In spring 2008, inspired by the Vietnam-era Winter Soldier hearings, Iraq Veterans Against the War gathered veterans to expose war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq. Here are the powerful words, “The only way this war is going to end is if the American people truly understand what we have done in their name.”—Kelly Dougherty, executive director of Iraq Veterans Against the War In spring 2008, inspired by the Vietnam-era Winter Soldier hearings, Iraq Veterans Against the War gathered veterans to expose war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq. Here are the powerful words, images, and documents of this historic gathering, which show the reality of life in Afghanistan and Iraq. Iraq Veterans Against the War argues that well-publicized incidents of American brutality like the Abu Ghraib prison scandal and the massacre of an entire family of Iraqis in the town of Haditha are not the isolated incidents perpetrated by “a few bad apples,” as many politicians and military leaders have claimed. They are part of a pattern, the group says, of “an increasingly bloody occupation.”   "Here is the war as it should be reported, seeing the pain, refusing to sanitize an unprovoked attack that has killed over one million people.  All over America are victims who have returned from this conflict with hideous wounds -- wounds that turn the lives of the entire family upside down. And the American people are not seeing this.  Until now.      "Winter Soldier, an enormously important project of Iraq Veterans Against the War, cuts this debacle to the bone, exposing details hard to come by and even harder to believe.  This is must reading for patriots who have already begun the effort to insure that this never happens again." --Phil Donahue   "Winter Soldier makes us feel the pain and despair endured by those who serve in a military stretched to the breaking point by stop-loss policies, multiple combat tours, and a war where the goals and the enemies keep shifting ... [and] also make[s] us admire the unbreakable idealism and hope of those men and women who still believe that by speaking out they can make things better both for themselves and for those who come after them."--San Francisco Chronicle Formed in the aftermath of the US invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) was founded in 2004 to give those who have served in the military since September 11, 2001, a way to come together and speak out against an unjust, illegal, and unwinnable war. Today, IVAW has over seven hundred members in forty-nine states, Washington, DC, Canada, and on military bases overseas.   Aaron Glantz is an independent journalist who has covered the Iraq War from the front lines. He is the author of How America Lost Iraq (Tarcher) and a forthcoming book on the Iraq War from the University of California Press. Anthony Swofford is the author of Jarhead: A Marine’s Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles.

30 review for Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan: Eyewitness Accounts of the Occupation

  1. 4 out of 5

    Phillip Twining

    Before I read this book I was opposed to the war in a general anti-war sentiment. I always thought to myself, "Thousands of people are dying as a direct result of American military operations, but at least things are not as bad as Vietnam." Of course now I see that irrational thinking as a way to ameliorate my own conscious, to allow me to go about my day-to-day life without having to concern myself with the wars in the Middle East. Things are just as bad as they were in Vietnam. We're not told Before I read this book I was opposed to the war in a general anti-war sentiment. I always thought to myself, "Thousands of people are dying as a direct result of American military operations, but at least things are not as bad as Vietnam." Of course now I see that irrational thinking as a way to ameliorate my own conscious, to allow me to go about my day-to-day life without having to concern myself with the wars in the Middle East. Things are just as bad as they were in Vietnam. We're not told about it through corporate media, through pundits, nor politicians. This book brings the voices of those who have actually experienced the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to tell of the atrocities against humanity occurring throughout the occupations. The amount of corruption and bigotry coming from the commanders is sickening and reaches into the highest echelons of power. Soldiers are ordered to kill innocent civilians as the Rules of Engagement codified in Geneva are being tossed aside, and rewards are given for killing 'hajis.' After reading this book it's clear that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan do not support our initial grounds for invasion. We are not protecting the Constitution, nor are we promoting democracy or protecting ourselves from terrorism. We are propagating terrorism by initiating it against Iraqis and Afghans, and sowing hatred into all the innocent civilians that are targeted on a daily basis by our military commanders. I don't think my life as a passive dissenter against the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan can pass muster anymore. It is evident that the only way to end the war is by actively fighting against this horrible political atmosphere that has been created through our inactivity, media brainwashing, and hedonistic apathy.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Yngve Skogstad

    To me, there’s something so incredibly moving about witnessing people who have taken part in the most destructive and immoral a human being can do – namely taking an innocent person’s life – being able to break out of the psychological terror causing them to act in these inhuman ways, and turning the gun on their own politicians and commanders. This is what this book is about. For all the horrendous crimes American soldiers have perpetrated in Iraq and Afghanistan, I do not believe they are bad To me, there’s something so incredibly moving about witnessing people who have taken part in the most destructive and immoral a human being can do – namely taking an innocent person’s life – being able to break out of the psychological terror causing them to act in these inhuman ways, and turning the gun on their own politicians and commanders. This is what this book is about. For all the horrendous crimes American soldiers have perpetrated in Iraq and Afghanistan, I do not believe they are bad people. I mean, some of them probably are, but most of them are idealistic men and women with a (perhaps misapprehended) desire to serve their country, suffering the effects of having been churned through a system of training and propaganda to desensitize them to the sufferings of the enemy, the “Haji”, the inferior, the non-human. Killing another human being does not come naturally to people. Killing in self-defence is one thing, killing when you’re the aggressor requires either a massive broadening of what is conceived of as self-defence, and/or a process of racialization and dehumanization. What the brave veterans who tell their stories in this book have done, is to reconnect with their slumbering consciousness, and recognize the immorality and blatant illegality of this war on an innocent people that brought (in the case of Iraq) and still brings (in the case of Afghanistan) a scale of death not seen outside the African continent since the Iran-Iraq War. These pages contain some absolutely sickening crimes being narrated by the soldiers themselves, which anyone who takes war lightly definitely should be compelled to read. While obviously being most damaging to Iraqis and Afghans, these wars also take a heavy toll on the occupying soldiers as well. More Americans have died from suicide after being deployed than have died in combat. PTSD is prevalent, and many resort to drugs and alcohol to be able to cope with what they’ve done and been subjected to. As the Veterans Affairs has been chronically underfunded, veterans have not been getting proper care, however the public doesn’t seem to care (A sidenote: in a cruel show of irony, George W. Bush was recently awarded the National Constitution Center’s Liberty Medal for his work for U.S. military veterans, by former Vice President Joe Biden. What a lovely ruling class the U.S. has...). Absent a draft, as was the case in the Vietnam War, the soldiers being deployed come from the poorest segments of American society, and with hardly any sources of power in current society they’re not being heard even though the majority of servicemen opposed the war already quite early on in the conflict. While Iraq Veterans Against the War weren’t as successful as their forebears in Vietnam Veterans Against the War, seeing as the U.S. is currently militarily engaged in 80 countries throughout the world, it still brings me hope to see that imperialism is (perhaps most potently) being fought by the people who themselves are/have been servicing in the military.

  3. 5 out of 5

    David Hollingsworth

    This book is one of the most important books I have ever read. I live near Camp Pendleton and had heard a few stories from marines about how they thought the war was BS, but nothing like the stuff contained here. Like others on here have said, I was already against the war before starting this book, but it was never ~real~ to me. I knew we had invaded Iraq on a flimsy pretext and the occasional story I heard from some marines reinforced this, but it was just an abstract idea to me. Reading this This book is one of the most important books I have ever read. I live near Camp Pendleton and had heard a few stories from marines about how they thought the war was BS, but nothing like the stuff contained here. Like others on here have said, I was already against the war before starting this book, but it was never ~real~ to me. I knew we had invaded Iraq on a flimsy pretext and the occasional story I heard from some marines reinforced this, but it was just an abstract idea to me. Reading this book showed me the tangible, human affect these occupations had. The book is divided into different sections. Every section contains testimony from different members, but the subject of their testimonies differ from section to section. The first section is about soldiers describing the injustices they witness while stationed during the occupation. The second section has civilians give their own accounts of the occupation. Other sections cover things like sexual assault in the military and inadequate funding and administration of the VA that leaves a lot of veterans without the benefits they were promised. The importance of this book cannot be overstated. As I write this, the United States is now trying to deal with ISIS, the awful organization that emerged in the power vacuum created by our invasion of Iraq, the product of the violent occupation we forced on that country. If we don't read books like these and educate ourselves about the reality of our military occupations, more unnecessary wars will be fought and more blood will be spilled.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    One of the books I am most glad to have read, ever. This is important. This is searing. It's the most unadulterated, unmitigated account of war and its aftermath - from a soldier's perspective, not a civilian's - that I've ever seen. This collection of oral testimonies given by Iraq Veterans Against the War is organized into different chapters; there's a chapter given to testimony about the changing Rules of Engagement, one about gender-based violence within the military, one about PTSD and lack One of the books I am most glad to have read, ever. This is important. This is searing. It's the most unadulterated, unmitigated account of war and its aftermath - from a soldier's perspective, not a civilian's - that I've ever seen. This collection of oral testimonies given by Iraq Veterans Against the War is organized into different chapters; there's a chapter given to testimony about the changing Rules of Engagement, one about gender-based violence within the military, one about PTSD and lack of effective health care, one about the lack of training soldiers received before being shipped off. I'd like to put a very, very strong trigger warning on this book for explicit discussion of rape and suicide, as well as extraordinarily graphic explanations (and photographs) of the violence suffered by civilians. Beyond triggers, there's a very strong possibility of this book causing some form of secondary trauma.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Bob Sommer

    For anyone who wishes truly to understand the meaning and consequences of America’s invasion and occupancy in Iraq and Afghanistan, this book is required reading. The eyewitness accounts by veterans of these wars—this generation’s version of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War's Winter Soldier meeting held in 1971—offer all that the sanitized and under-reported coverage did not. “The hell that’s being brought back from Iraq and Afghanistan,” writes Camilo Mehiá, Chair of the Board of Iraq Veter For anyone who wishes truly to understand the meaning and consequences of America’s invasion and occupancy in Iraq and Afghanistan, this book is required reading. The eyewitness accounts by veterans of these wars—this generation’s version of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War's Winter Soldier meeting held in 1971—offer all that the sanitized and under-reported coverage did not. “The hell that’s being brought back from Iraq and Afghanistan,” writes Camilo Mehiá, Chair of the Board of Iraq Veterans Against the War, “is being kept from the American public this time around.” No one who offers an opinion on these wars should be given credence who has not understood what these pages offer.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mowgli Olenason

    A staggering collection of first person accounts, terrifying at times, poignant at others; of veterans from the Iraq occupation. I cannot recommend this book enough. Eye opening, gives excellent food for thought from people who have been through the thick of the conflicts in Iraq, the invasion by American armed forces, and the political movement behind ending the occupation. Covers the dismal services often encountered with the VA. Explores the casual racism and dehumanizing that is partially be A staggering collection of first person accounts, terrifying at times, poignant at others; of veterans from the Iraq occupation. I cannot recommend this book enough. Eye opening, gives excellent food for thought from people who have been through the thick of the conflicts in Iraq, the invasion by American armed forces, and the political movement behind ending the occupation. Covers the dismal services often encountered with the VA. Explores the casual racism and dehumanizing that is partially behind the casual disregard for civilian life on iraqi soil, and the other part of constant fear and wanting to survive to make it home.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Bob

    Exactly what it says it is. It is impossible to believe that abuses in these wars have been limited to Abu Graib, Guantanamo and Haditha after reading this book. It gives soldiers a chance to tell what they were doing during their service, which could be summed up as killing people in pure panic. By the end of it you can find yourself sympathizing with the soldiers who have been dropped into the shitty end of things by people who don't care any more for them than for the people they are killing.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Slowdancer29a

    A necessary read for all Americans. It will open your eyes to what this war has done to our men and women in the Armed Services and how much more important it is to do more to support our troops then just slapping a "Support Our Troops" sticker on your car!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Caitlin

    This is an amazing book. It's like a documentary on paper with a variety of perspectives on the war, including Iraqi and Afghani people. I highly recommend this to everyone. It's not liberal media, it's straight from the soldiers' testimony.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    It was really good to read this and understand that other soldiers feel the way I feel. Great Book!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    Good without being too heavy.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Aladdin Elaasar

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jordan Williams

  14. 5 out of 5

    L

  15. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Nelson

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kerri

  17. 5 out of 5

    C.eng

  18. 4 out of 5

    torri

  19. 5 out of 5

    Stacia

  20. 5 out of 5

    John Hicks

  21. 5 out of 5

    Dario Gómez Candia

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

  23. 5 out of 5

    Zach

  24. 4 out of 5

    Courtney

  25. 5 out of 5

    Roxanne

  26. 4 out of 5

    Nick Martin

  27. 5 out of 5

    Maggie

  28. 4 out of 5

    Becky

  29. 5 out of 5

    Adam Martin

  30. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

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