Views from a military past | News Feature | Indy Week
Pin It

Views from a military past 

The Independent asked military veteran and activist Stan Goff of Raleigh to offer his views on unfolding events in response to the attacks of Sept. 11 and on how the anti-war movement must in turn respond.

The Independent: Please give us a brief overview of your military experience and the work you've been doing since.

Stan Goff: I entered military service in January 1970. I was a parachute infantryman. My first assignment was with the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Vietnam. In February 1996, I retired from the 3rd Special Forces. In the interim, I worked in three Ranger assignments, two Special Forces units, one counter-terrorist unit, taught military science at West Point, as well as tactics at the Jungle Operations Training Center in Panama. I worked in eight active conflict areas. I have also worked under the direct supervision of U.S. embassies.

I've worked as a writer and organizer for the last five years. Right now, I'm organizing for a new formation in North Carolina called the Network for Popular Democracy.

Indy: Once you recovered from the initial shock and bewilderment of the attacks, and began organizing your thoughts, what did you see as your role in articulating a response?

Goff: My role is the same as anyone on the left. I differentiate "left" from "liberal." I don't think there's a difference of degree, but a qualitative difference between the two. While I feel it's my duty to work with liberals and other peace activists to form a broad movement against the so-called "War on Terrorism," I think the left has an additional responsibility to provide a dispassionate and intellectually rigorous interpretation of both the events in motion now and the official discourse that legitimizes it.

Indy: What resources do you draw on from your military experience--or, in other words, what internal resources are common to an effective soldier and an effective anti-war activist?

Goff: Strategic thinking, and the willingness to accept realities that I don't like. With that, I also understand the value of initiative and occasional audacity.

Indy: What are we in for? Is the U.S. militarily prepared?

Goff: Depends on what you call "prepared." That's not really the question, given the political goals underwriting this so-called "war." The question is what the effect is going to be on all the surrounding countries and governments. This is the real wild card, and it's a very dangerous game. Can the U.S. occupy a portion of Afghanistan? Sure.

Indy: What must the left do to effectively mount an anti-war movement?

Goff: Quit accepting [the government's] framework. Just because they frame this as a battle between good and evil doesn't mean we take the bait and begin a polemic about how much evil the U.S. government has done. Quit emphasizing that bin Laden and the Taliban are U.S. creations. All that is true enough, but it misses the more crucial points that [the official] story about Sept. 11 is full of holes, that they have provided no evidence that the Taliban had anything to do with this and that Afghanistan was a target as long as five years ago. The left won't be a real left again until we regain our critical faculties and our absolute skepticism about any official discourse.

Indy: Do you foresee the left emerging from this movement stronger, more unified?

Goff: One can only hope. But there needs to be, again, a distinction drawn between the left and the broader forces that must be brought into an anti-war movement.

Indy: What do you suggest as a better alternative, than military action, to responding to the attacks of Sept. 11?

Goff: First, establish what happened and who did it, and the answer to your question will present itself from there. This was a crime, and it deserves a legal response. But the horrendousness of the crime doesn't excuse us from really finding out who did it and why, and following some basic rules of evidence and due process.

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in News Feature



Twitter Activity

Comments

John takes on systematic issues that drive a wedge through all of our lives. Politics, the Church, the LGBTQ Community, …

by Lee Bolick Burkett on How Raleigh’s John Pavlovitz Went from Fired Megachurch Pastor to Rising Star of the Religious Left (News Feature)

I have been to NRCC. Very nice people and nice congregation. Not terribly comfortable even with liberal Christianity. I would …

by Angela Bridgman on How Raleigh’s John Pavlovitz Went from Fired Megachurch Pastor to Rising Star of the Religious Left (News Feature)

Most Read

Most Recent Comments

John takes on systematic issues that drive a wedge through all of our lives. Politics, the Church, the LGBTQ Community, …

by Lee Bolick Burkett on How Raleigh’s John Pavlovitz Went from Fired Megachurch Pastor to Rising Star of the Religious Left (News Feature)

I have been to NRCC. Very nice people and nice congregation. Not terribly comfortable even with liberal Christianity. I would …

by Angela Bridgman on How Raleigh’s John Pavlovitz Went from Fired Megachurch Pastor to Rising Star of the Religious Left (News Feature)

Do you want to be a member of Illuminati brotherhood so that you can be
rich for ever and it …

by Antonio Caso on Alamance County’s Notorious Sheriff Hurt His Shin, and He Wants an Anti-Confederate Protester from Durham to Pay for It (News Feature)

There are plenty of us old people who like him too. I am 83 years old and I find in …

by Anne Wood on How Raleigh’s John Pavlovitz Went from Fired Megachurch Pastor to Rising Star of the Religious Left (News Feature)

Pretty sure he will tackle systemic issues in the future. Right now he's writing to help us all gain strength.

by Teresa Blythe on How Raleigh’s John Pavlovitz Went from Fired Megachurch Pastor to Rising Star of the Religious Left (News Feature)

© 2017 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation