Winter Soldier

Winter Soldier (1972)

*Spoiler Alert – this post contains ludicrous generalizations

Americans. They love their guns and war. Obviously I’m painting with crude, broad strokes, but as a non-American, that is your stereotype. British people have weird teeth and may all be lair-dwelling super villains, Germans are efficient pool-side lounger-grabbers, the French are from France, The Irish are Drunk, people from the Middle East are terrorists, people from Africa are starving, and Americans are loud, overweight, obnoxious, gun-toting zealots. Stereotypes are bullshit, but sprinkled with nuggets of truth. Look at the way veterans of Vietnam were treated, especially those speaking up about the truth in this stunning documentary. Look at what is happening today, with warmongering and tweet-tiger-poking. History repeats itself, humanity loses, and the rich get to work on getting richer and making the rest of us forget.

In case you hadn’t yet surmised, the Winter Soldier I’m talking about today is not a Marvel action fest, but a timely documentary made numerous filmmakers and is based around the Winter Soldier War Crimes hearing of 1971 – something I had no clue existed prior to watching the film. The film interviews and documents testimony and eye witness accounts, from US soldiers mainly, of the terrible acts they saw committed in the name of their flag, their Country, their freedom, acts which are far and away from the regular horrors of war. We learn how many of the soldiers signed up or were conscripted under the old lie of fighting for freedom of good old Uncle Sam, white picket fences, Sunday baseball games, and all the other bullshit, but were not in any way prepared for the nature of combat physically or mentally, were trained to be blinded to the suffering of others, to follow orders without question even though the orders were clearly wrong, and were not made aware of little things such as the Geneva Convention. Basically, if your superior told you to crush a baby’s head under your boot, you were required to get stomping.

Witness accounts tell, in detail and often with fury and disbelief of Vietnamese children being shot to pieces just because they happened to be walking down the road, of hostages being taken just so they could be dropped out of helicopters for fun, of innocents being slaughtered indiscriminately for the crime of not being American, and so on. Most of the interviews are from soldiers only recently returned from the war, and filmed in black and white to give a news reel feel, but there are snippets of colour footage of troops in battle.

If you didn’t already have a ready made assumption about the recent history of US war, then you will after viewing this. Especially given what you may know about the continued treatment of ‘the enemy’ in subsequent wars – one only needs to see how prisoners – and often innocents – were treated post 9/11 in American camps to know that there is a deep, awful, and unavoidable history and systematic problem with savagery, with evil, within American society. At least where it concerns the Military, and those who sent men and women to war. It has been over a year since I first watched this film, and over 50 years since the US was arsing about needlessly in Vietnam – and yet very little has changed. People in power will abuse said power, people with guns will fire them at anyone and everyone as long as they don’t have the finger or the trigger turned inwards, and the media, the flag-wavers, the people at the top will turn a blind eye to it all. If you think you’re Country cares about you – you are wrong. If you think your Country cares about others – you are wrong. If you think your country cares about Veterans – you are wrong. Your Country simply wants all the toys, all the control, and wants to wave its dick around to show it’s the baddest motherfucker around. Wake up – for the good, honest Americans and people around the world, it’s only your voice and power which will make a change.

It’s no surprise then that Winter Solder was ignored upon release and that all mainstream stations refused to show it for decades. Can’t have people knowing we’re sending our boys away to kill actual boys and girls, then bringing them back more broken than ever with only a couple of badges and a pat on the back to keep them warm at night – because of course we’re not going to really look after them are we? Winter Soldier should be required viewing for everyone, or at least anyone with an interest in history, but especially for the flag-waving Right who may be faced with the sound of their own screams in their own echo chamber of bias, and the Left who need reminding that change is absolutely necessary, and for everyone else regardless of affinity who should know the extremes people will go to for the Stars and Stripes.

Tell it like it is!

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