Ask a Marine

Marine recruiters opened an office in Berkeley, and Code Pink has been holding protests every Wednesday since last September. On Tuesday, January 29th, the Berkeley City Council voted to tell the USMC that its Shattuck Avenue recruiting office "is not welcome in the city, and if recruiters choose to stay, they do so as uninvited and unwelcome intruders."

The council also voted to give Code Pink a designated parking space directly in front of the recruiting station, as well as a sound permit for once-a-week protests.

This has become a national issue. Below are my thoughts on the role of the USMC as an instrument of US policy.

When I turned 18 I joined the USMC and served four years. Back then I uncritically bought the line that the military defends our freedoms, and I'll admit that it took me a while to see the obvious truth--that soldiers follow orders, as the National Guard did at Kent State. The unpleasant reality is as retired Marine Corps General Smedley Butler wrote in 1934, "I spent most of my time being a high class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers."

Today I realize that if I were a young Marine in Iraq or Afghanistan, I'd only be serving the interests of Halliburton and other corrupt corporations that drain the wealth out of everywhere, pouring it into the huge salaries of CEOs, while leaving even our streets full of potholes.

Daniel Borgström
Oakland, California
February 2008