The Will to Resist

Issue section: 

Dahr Jamail, Haymarket; £14.99

Dahr Jamail reveals a side of the US military rarely explored in the mainstream media - the soldiers refusing to go and fight in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This is a world where soldiers come back from war physically and psychologically broken and get no support; where women soldiers suffer rape and assault at the hand of fellow soldiers and get no justice; and where traumatised vets commit suicide or violent assault on others because they can't cope with their experience of war.

Jamail acknowledges that the situation is far from the one that imploded the US military during the Vietnam War: for one thing there is no draft. Economic conscription means many cannot afford to risk speaking out. But there is a growing crisis in which previously loyal soldiers are questioning the wars they are sent to fight.

There are writing groups, art projects and coffee shops springing up where vets organise and offer each other support. One soldier describes being disciplined for blogging against the war. Fellow soldiers showed their respect for his stand by giving him the peace sign as they passed by.

Jamail shows in this fascinating and timely book that even those who have played a role in brutal oppression can resist and find a way to rediscover their own humanity.