Why This Iraq War Vet Is Speaking Out Against Trump’s Reckless Foreign Policy

To expand the anti-war movement, Maggie Martin is connecting struggles against U.S. militarism at home and abroad.

Tanner Howard

Martin in Iraq in 2003, at a market with several local children.

Maggie Martin is a former Army sergeant who served three tours in Kuwait and Iraq and is now co-director of About Face: Veterans Against the War. In light of Donald Trump’s escalation in Syria and the nomination of Mike Pompeo to Secretary of State, In These Times spoke to Martin about her work.

How did you end up opposing the war?

It started with my first deployment to Kuwait in 2002 and just seeing the racism of my fellow soldiers, the way they were talking about the Bedouins who were living in the desert. During the Iraq invasion, I was charged with guarding local Iraqi citizens doing odd jobs for us. We talked all day, and I got to know them and felt closer to them than the people I was serving with. It wasn’t until later I learned there had been antiwar movement while I was part of the invasion.

Why should we oppose continued U.S. involvement in the Middle East?

Evidence is clear that U.S. military intervention doesn’t help the populations where it occurs, and I think the hypocrisy is pretty clear in the way the Trump administration wants to ban refugees from these countries yet uses humanitarian need as an excuse to use military force.

What are your hopes for a mass movement? 

We can’t count on the Democratic Party, so we’re going to have to find a way to shake up the current power structure. Our organization is building beyond the traditional antiwar movement of the 1960s. Those folks are important, but we’re really trying to connect across movements and talk about how militarism is impacting all of us. All of the direct impacts abroad, what we’re seeing with the militarization of our police and our schools, on the borders. We’re part of the Poor People’s Campaign, the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, we’re involved in The Majority, a coalition anchored in Black Lives Matter and the Movement for Black Lives. I think joining with those folks is the way to make militarism an issue that’s on the public agenda.

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Tanner Howard is a freelance journalist and In These Times editorial intern. He’s also a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, organizing primarily around housing and education justice.
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