I now had the personal opportunity to fight a war, one that would leave me feeling violated and dishonored, a weight I would carry with me to this day.
Every war since has been the same, carefully staged, false flag provocations orchestrated to justify long planned geopolitical struggles based on the conniving of secret societies whose financial interests trumped any imaginable human value, any imaginable law of man or moral code.
Vietnam was a lesson but one obviously forgotten, obviously repeated, a lesson that America, the nation that calls itself the "land of the free and the home of the brave" was as capable of barbarity, inhumanity, calculated criminality as any regime in history.
Five minutes in Vietnam and America would never seem the same to me.
Early on, Vietnam was said to be a war for freedom, for the dignity of man that capitalism offered over communist slavery. It didn't take a biting intellect for even a teenager to see Buddhist monks light themselves afire or to understand the politics, America still had some freedom of press so many years ago and the Cold War was a time America chose brutal dictators and suppression of freedom in the name of national interest.
We lied to ourselves but few believed, few cared, World War II wasn't so long ago, followed by the "invisible war" in Korea, call it stalemate or loss, we were a nation tired of self-righteousness, no longer capable of asking hard questions, or so it was assumed.
In truth, even those of "education" knew little or nothing. None knew much of our own history, we accepted the mantle of protector of the world as victors of the great war against fascism and the warlords of Japan, founders of the United Nations and NATO, placed in holy judgment at Nuremberg, where a world was to enter a golden age on the bodies of 60 million dead, while America carefully chose those to punish, those it would kill and established a standard of international law it never planned to keep.
Our news, only rumors, heard one day, forgotten the next, rigged elections, dictators put in place to protect us from the evils of communism, even those we based our spread of freedom on assassination, on rigged election, on death squads, on apartheid and genocide, nation after nation, one very great and real evil surrounding another in a glorious dance of death.
To the people of Iran there was a memory of 1953. Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh was removed from office after a series of terror attacks committed by the CIA, MI 6 and Israeli groups.
The rationale was simple; Britain had been stealing Iranian oil since the late 1940s, through the Anglo-American Oil Company. Britain was unwilling to negotiate price and chose instead a simple path, sanctions, something very familiar to Iran today, followed by a CIA-staged coup led by gangsters and military officers, all well paid for their services, rewarding Iran with 26 years of torture, mass murder and the freedom dozens of other nations enjoyed at the behest of those who had "saved the world for democracy."
America "lost" Iran in February 1979, not because Iran became an enemy but because Iran was no longer enslaved.
This is the real question of war crimes, not just the killings, be it from "carpet bombing" or "drones" but the real purpose, to enslave man, to generate fear, breed hatred, end human advancement, human dignity, end hope and leave little more than the strength left to bury the charred remains of one's children with dignity.
For over a decade, the world has lived at the behest of a military power that has placed technologies in the hands of its children and has led them to slaughter people they would never know, could never know, never a question asked nor a feeling or remorse of thought of sorrow.
We have institutionalized, not just war, but inoculated those who ordain themselves as the victims, as the righteous, those who own newspapers, who own television networks, those who can bring the world to heel, willing to kill on command, anywhere, anytime, for any stated reason.
And the reasons never end, and this is the rub.
Whenever peace threatens, whenever mankind begins to advance, to trade, to build, to form communities, to empower itself with hope, it happens. Suddenly terrorist cells appear as on command, car bombs explode, churches and mosques are destroyed, rivalries, often centuries old are brought to life.
Later we learn the origins, Washington think tanks, psychological operations units, "low intensity warfare" along with "black ops," "rendition" and in imaginary inherent right to hunt the planet for enemies that conveniently exist on command, where and whenever oil or diamonds or gold are to be found, opium to be harvested, or borders to be expanded for the "chosen people."
To Americans, it was two wars, the attack on Afghanistan, searching for the huge underground bunker complexes Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said filled the country, ten stories deep, filled with trucks and tanks, tens of thousands of men, yes, he actually said such things.
Well over a decade later nothing was found, no training camps, no "mock up" planes, no secret hideouts, and, to Americans, Afghanistan was, at least then, "the good war."
Iraq was different. Even the controlled press hated Chalabi, America's choice for Iraq's leader. We had never been told that Saddam had been invited to invade Kuwait by President Bush, it took a Wikileaks Cable read before the Congress of the United States by Texas Representative Ron Paul to bring that devastating fact to light, nearly a decade late.
The room was empty, no one listened, no one acted, Paul read the cable, proving that America had orchestrated the First Gulf War. We had long known, by that time, we had orchestrated the second one, with "sexed up" dossiers, asked for by Bush and Blair, fictional tales of non-existent weapons.
Americans quickly accepted the Second Gulf War as more than a mistake, as a criminal act, we all knew it but we still had the First Gulf War, for a while at least, a lie to hide behind, that and Afghanistan, the lie that never ends, the lie that keeps on killing year after year after year.
When President Obama took office in January 2009, none of us really expected him to arrest Bush, Cheney and so many others. Some of us hoped he would keep his word and end the war.
Some of us knew that Iraq was only meant to be a staging point for a larger invasion of Iran. President Obama, despite sanctions and some highly inconsistent strong language has shown no proclivity to invade Iran.
Inheriting a collapsed economy, seeing much of the world follow America into economic oblivion may have tempered his decision making. Maybe he is a man of moral conviction, though exercised at convenience. We will never know.
War is hard to forget. American veterans live under our bridges, sleep in our gutters, beg for food, fill our prisons or murder their own families. Over 500,000 recent veterans claim lifelong disability, joining the army of crushed souls who survived Vietnam, some claiming benefits that have been in processing for decades.
America has turned on those veterans as it had those of Vietnam and Desert Storm, more than forgotten but outcasts, destined to carry the guilt of a nation that succumbed to fear and hate, a nation bereft of judgment, of honor, of humanity.
If you walk the streets of America, streets I have walked well over half a century, you can feel it in the air. It can stifle the soul itself.
By 2012 there are no Americans left that feel any of our recent wars have been righteous, many now question all of them. Few are unaware of the crimes, kidnapping, torture, the drone killings of thousands of innocents, yet no one takes responsibility, no one feels, no one seems to care that we may be the evil that other nations fear, that if a child is to die in his sleep, struck down by a mindless weapon, one of our own children may be guiding it.