US anti-war veteran to tour Australia

The Australian anti-war veteran group Stand Fast will be touring Michael Prysner in June.  Prysner is a co-founder of the US anti-war veteran group March Forward!, an affiliate of the Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER) Coalition, which organises against the Iraq and Afghanistan wars while fighting for social and economic justice in the US. March Forward! operates based on the belief that real change comes through struggle and mass action.  Prysner is also a member of the Party for Socialism and Liberation and will be speaking at Direct Action’s Marxist education conference, June 11-13, in Brisbane.

Michael Prysner (right)

Michael Prysner joined the US Army when he was 17 years old, one year short of completing high school.  He writes: “I was compelled to join the military for two distinct factors: the first was rooted in reality, realising that I could not afford a college education, and my recruiters actively bolstered fears that nothing awaited after high school except economic hardship; the second was rooted in fantasy, believing that the US government stood for freedom, justice and equality, and by serving in the US military I would be a part of a heroic force for good in the world.”

Prysner left for basic training in June 2001 and then spent six months training at the US Army Military Intelligence Academy, where he was taught to operate a radar system used to call air strikes and artillery barrages on vehicle convoys.  He was assigned to the 10th Mountain Division in Fort Drum, New York, and in March 2003 his company was attached to the 173rd Airborne Brigade to take part in the initial invasion of Iraq.

Of this experience, Prysner wrote: “Once in Iraq, there was no computer screen separating me from the suffering civilian population. Because of the Bush administration’s failure to anticipate the resistance of the Iraqi people, there was an inadequate number of soldiers in my unit, and I ended up having to do a myriad of different jobs. I spent 12 months in Iraq, doing everything from prisoner interrogations, to ground surveillance missions, to home raids. It was my first-hand experiences in Iraq that radicalised me. I believed I was going to Iraq to help liberate and better the lives of an oppressed people, but I soon realised that my purpose in Iraq was to be the oppressor, and to clear the way for US corporations with no regard for human life. “I left this Army (in 2005) with a new understanding of the system under which we all live, and the nature of US foreign policy. But I still had the same drive to fight for freedom, justice and equality as I did when I joined, and I understood that fighting for those things meant fighting against the US government, not on behalf of it.”