The price of truth

Iraq war veteran Vince Emanuele speaks out against the ongoing war.

In the week that US citizen Bradley Manning admitted in court that he leaked military secrets to reveal to the public the “the true costs of war”, I attended the first screening in Sydney of the documentary On The Bridge.

The screening was part of the inaugural Big Picture Festival, a social justice film festival.

On The Bridge tells the story of seven young US Iraq war vets, all suffering post traumatic stress disorder, and their attempt to make sense of the brutal and unjustifiable war they were sent to wage against a people already traumatised by decades of war and oppression.

At the end of the film, the audience was silent. We were lost thoughts and emotions provoked by these powerful stories.

I was thinking about how this "war on terrorism" has been sidelined in public awareness in Australia, swept under a carpet of regret and demoralisation, filed away in a folder insidiously marked “it's complicated”.

So bloody “complicated” that millions who know it is wrong are imprisoned in passivity.

And yet it goes on and on, regardless of announcements of withdrawal dates for the US or other imperial armies. The official imperial armies move on to new theatres of imperial intervention, leaving behind giant occupation armies of private “military contractors” — they used to be called mercenaries — and the death prowl of drones.

Then a remarkable young man, Vince Emanuele, spoke on of the subjects of the film. He is one of about 3000 women and men who are members of Iraq Veterans Against the War. IVAW was founded by eight Iraq war veterans in July 2004. Its members are often in the frontline of the anti-war marches, despite the trauma they still suffer (suicides among US Iraq and Afghanistan war vets average 18 a day).

Emanuele said people should not think about the price he and other vets are paying without considering the many times greater price paid by the people of Iraq and Afghanistan.

I sent this message of appreciation to Olivier Morel, the director of the film: “Just want to say I saw On the Bridge in Sydney last night and met Vince. Powerful film, uncompromisingly honest. And Vince is a great people's ambassador!”

He replied: “Thank you so much, I am very impressed with what Vinny is currently accomplishing in Sydney ... Thanks a thousand times for what you say about the film, I hope it does not only open people's eyes, but encourages them to get active.”

Opening eyes and getting people active sums up the mission of Green Left Weekly well. Our deepest appreciation to the young people like Manning, Emanuele and others who are paying a big personal price so that the truth can be told.

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