From a Veteran to the Freedom Fighter Who Shot Me
By Bobby Whittenberg, April 14, 2010
Dear Freedom Fighter Who Shot Me,
Today is April 14, 2010. Six years ago today I was occupying your land and your communities near Karabillah, Iraq. That particular day I was in a four vehicle convoy travelling from Al Qa’im to Husaybah. I was the gunner standing in the turret of the final vehicle facing the rear, and we ran into the guerrilla ambush.
The US Government and the US corporate media would say that you are a terrorist, but you are not a terrorist. I was a terrorist. For that I must offer my deepest apologies and ask your forgiveness. I must also thank you. The bullet that you used to protect yourself from me changed my life. That day, you shot holes through everything I had grown up believing about America fighting for freedom and liberty. Your bullet, like a seed, penetrated far beyond skin and muscle, and sank deep into something in the core of my being where, over time it grew to be something much greater. It grew into a world view that included people outside of the United States of America as human beings and equals. It grew into an understanding of my place in the world and my part in the suffering of other people and the part that the United States Empire plays in the world as one of the greatest enemies of freedom and justice that exists.
We were told that we would be going to Iraq to liberate people. I now see this as an absolute lie. It is you, who was there that day fighting for the liberation of the Iraqi people. The United States Empire is a weapon of oppression, not a force for justice. Occupation will never be liberation.
I oppose all ruling class wars, but this war is particularly unfair. The United States Empire is a military super power and many of the countries in the Middle East that the United States Empire attacks exist in third world conditions as a results of US foreign policy, neo-liberal globalization, free market economics, sanctions, and US military attacks. Since the United States disbanded the Iraqi military, this is nothing but military super power attacking civilians. I can say with full confidence, with no hesitation that you had every right to be a part of that attack and to shoot me that day. I am thankful that I was wearing a canteen full of water that slowed the impact and possibly spared my life, but even had that round lain me silent forever, you would be free of guilt. You have a right to resist. You have a right to protect your family, your community, and your way of life.
I know an apology seems so small and meaningless at this point, but I hope it can be a start.
You are brave and courageous. Thank you for opening my eyes. Thank you for allowing me to see that I am just like you, and you are just like me. Thank you for telling me that I was on the wrong side. I will probably never know who you are, but I hope you and your family are safe somewhere. I know there can never truly be justice for what has been done to the people of the Middle East, but I hope that we do all we can to get as close as possible, to stop the killing, and reduce suffering and as we have bled together, we can begin to heal together and together we can put an end to these wars. Power to the resistance! Solidarity! Salaam!
Peace, Love, and Anarchy,
Guerrilla News contributor Bobby Whittenberg is an Iraq war veteran turned Eco-Communist Anarchist. He offers a unique veteran’s perspective combined with an anarchist critique. He can be found online at his blog, Veter(A)narchy!