June 18, 2017

A Vietnam veteran's letter to Prime Minister Turnbull

Dear Prime Minister Turnbull,

You recently opined in a most heartfelt way about patriotism. Thereby you have hit a raw nerve with me. The question as to whether or not I am a patriot has been troubling me for years and since you present yourself as supremely knowledgeable on this subject, I turn to you for advice.

I was born in 1946, came to this country as a migrant (my family were refugees from eastern Europe) in 1956. I served in the CMF (Army Reserve) 1964-67; then in the Regular Army 1967-76 (honourably discharged with the rank of Sergeant); served in Vietnam 1968-69, first as a machine gunner in an infantry section and then as an instructor with a Mobile Advisory Training Team training South Vietnamese soldiers.

I used to be a strong supporter of capitalism right up until the late 80's when I expanded my field of reading. Since then I discovered what a mass murderous war crime the Vietnam war was. I have come to see neoliberal capitalism as a corrupt and unsustainable economic fraud that enriches very few and hurts the vast majority of people. I have also come to see war as a political evil (except in the most dire self-defence-on-home-soil situations).

In 2003, at an anti-war rally, as an act of protest against our joining America's Coalition Of The Oil Swilling in their war against the people of Iraq, I handed my war medals to Senator Nettle to pass on to Prime Minister Howard. And I joined the Greens. And campaigned for Andrew Wilkie in Bennelong. And I kept right on campaigning for the Greens till Howard was unelected and then onwards till about 2012.

I am no longer a member of any political party but I am a staunch anti-war activist. I believe that the "war on terror" actually breeds more "terrorists" than it kills and that a Truth and Reconciliation Commission about the whole Middle East situation should be held, run by the International Court of Justice. I also believe that Australia should take a more independent and neutralist stance with regard to foreign policy and get the hell out of the Australia-US Alliance (and any other treaties which lock us onto the American war machine).

So, Mr Prime Minister, I really want you to tell me what you, personally, think of me on the question "Is Gerry Binder a patriot?"

Respectfully yours,

Gerry Binder
Vietnam veteran and anti-war activist