Internationalism in practice

An American soldier in a hospital explained how he was wounded: he said "I was told that the way to tell a hostile Vietnamese from a friendly Vietnamese was to shout 'To hell with Ho Chi Minh!' If he shoots, he's unfriendly. So I saw this dude and yelled 'To hell with Ho Chi Minh!' and he yelled back 'To hell with President Johnson!' We were shaking hands when a truck hit us…"

From 1001 Ways to beat the Draft, Tuli Kupferberg

An examination of what happened to the US military during the Vietnam War can help us understand the central role the "the military question" will play in a future revolutionary struggle. It isn't a question of how a chaotic and rebellious civilian populace can out-gun the well organized, disciplined armies of the capitalist state in pitched battle, but of how this mass movement can cripple the effective fighting capacity of the military, and bring about the collapse and dispersal of the state's armed forces. What set of circumstances can compel the inchoate discontentment endemic in any wartime army or navy to advance to the level of conscious organized resistance? How fast and how deeply can a subversive consciousness spread among enlisted people? How can rebels in uniform take effective, large-scale action against the military machine? This will involve the sabotage and destruction of sophisticated military technologies, an irreversible breakdown in the chain-of-command, and a terminal demoralization of the officer corps. Circumstances must make it clear to officers that they are fighting a losing war, and that their physical safety can best be guaranteed if they give up, surrender their weapons and run away. The "quasi-mutiny" that helped defeat the US in Vietnam offers a significant precedent for the kind of subversive action revolutionaries will have to help foment in the fight against 21st century capitalism.


From: Both from 'Harass the Brass', Kevin Keating in Bad Days Will End, numbers 4-5, Winter-Spring 2001.