Viet Nam veteran S. Brian Willson was so shocked by the diabolical nature of the US war against Viet Nam — irreversible knowledge, as he describes it — and his own appalling ignorance from his cultural conditioning, that it sparked a lifetime of anti-war activism.
This toxic jolt awakened him to the extent to which he and generations of American citizens had thoughtlessly succumbed to the relentless barrage of lies and propaganda that infest US American culture—from the military and political parties to religious institutions, academic and educational institutions, sports, fraternal and professional associations, the scientific community, the economic system, and all our entertainment—that seek to rationalize its otherwise inexplicable and morally repulsive behavior globally and at home.
US American history reveals a unifying theme: prosperity for a few through expansion at any cost, to preserve the “exceptional” American Way of Life (AWOL). This has been structurally guided and facilitated by our nation’s founding documents, including the US Constitution. From the beginning, the US was envisaged as a White male supremacist state serving to protect and advance the interests of private and commercial property, and this course has never been reversed, though the 1960s witnessed multiple aligned social movements.
The US-waged war in Viet Nam was not an aberration, but one of hundreds of examples in a long pattern of brutal exploitation. A quick review of the empirical record reveals close to 600 overt military interventions by the US into dozens of countries since 1798, almost 400 since the end of World War II alone, and thousands of covert interventions since 1947. This history overwhelms any rhetoric about the United States as a beacon of freedom and democracy, committed to promoting domestic and global equal justice under law.
These interventions have assured de facto subsidies for US American interests, regulated global markets on our terms, and provided us with access to cheap or free labor and to raw materials. Millions of people around the globe have been murdered with virtual impunity as a result of our interventions in a pattern that illustrates what Noam Chomsky calls the “Fifth Freedom”—the freedom to rob and exploit. This freedom is ultimately protected with use of force when a country or movement seeks to protect or advance the domestic needs and desires of its members or citizens for political freedom or economic well being.
This book provides an invaluable tool for today’s activists, however they may be similarly shocked into wakefulness—whether by war, economic dispossession, or loss of the freedom to dissent.
LARRY KERSHNER –
“Brian states that “our healing as a nation depends on our removing the wool that remains in our eyes – that we seek to understand and grapple with these (deep historical and psychological) forces, these lies that continually drive us to war and violence. We must strive to unravel the pretend US America – its skewed origin stories, its false mythologies, and its phony sense of “exceptionalism” – in an honest pursuit of “liberty and justice for all.” Reading this book would be a beginning of that journey.” LARRY KERSCHNER, The Veteran
JOHN KELWIG –
America’s fascination with war, its ravenous appetite for conquest, and the misinformation it employs to justify its excesses to its public all contribute to a history and a culture that has gone mostly unchallenged for centuries. Vietnam, and the social turmoil it ignited here at home, signaled the end of the public’s blind acceptance of the propaganda. Brian Willson is an inspiration, a new breed of patriot who bases his arguments on truth and respect for all of humanity. His message is amazing, important, timely, and immensely worthwhile. In a time when the daily news keeps track of the vast number of lies our President tweets to his unthinking base, Brian Willson’s reading of history rings like the peeling of the Liberty Bell. I haven’t seen Brian in a long time, but he hasn’t changed. I urge every reader of The Veteran to read this book. Buy two copies, and give one to a teenager near you. I would rate Don’t Thank Me for My Service as highly, highly, highly recommended! JOHN KELWIG, The Veteran
FRANK DORREL Associate Producer of PAYING THE PRICE FOR PEACE –
“…one of the most important books I have ever read. Vietnam Veteran S. Brian Willson tells the horrible truth, not only about the illegal, immoral and genocidal US war in Vietnam, but he also reveals the insane violence and killing that this country has perpetrated on millions of poor people all over the world. Only a very small percentage of people in this country understand what Brian is saying. Hopefully, more people will read this book and come to understand the unbelievable crimes against humanity our country has committed since it was first founded.”
Associate Producer of PAYING THE PRICE FOR PEACE:
The Story of S. Brian Willson and Producer of: What I’ve Learned About U.S. Foreign Policy.
BLASE BONPANE, Ph.D. Director, Office of the Americas –
“One of the privileges of my life was to travel Nicaragua with Brian Willson after his “death and resurrection.” The Sandinista people welcomed him with their highest honors and heartfelt love. We traveled the entire nation in a rickety helicopter at tree top level,The illegal, immoral and barbarous Contra War was ravaging Nicaragua under CIA direction. Brian Willson, a patriot and a hero, helps us to understand the unspeakable truth.
Our prime business as a nation is the arms business and war. The so-called defense system is the world’s largest employer. We have sown death and destruction worldwide at the expense of health care, education and infrastructure. The result is a polity with the world’s worst distributive justice. The globe’s richest nation has a million of its citizens living under freeways, destitute and sick. Even more disturbing is that in the wake of WW II we have killed some 25 million people, mostly noncombatants. Over one trillion dollars of our hard earned money for taxes will be spent, against our will, on updating nuclear suicide weapons.
This catastrophe has come about by politicians whose love of money is greater than the people and the planet.There is a homogenous element in this military-industrial government. Ever since the murder of John F. Kennedy the sameness of our policy has not changed. Presidents come and go.
Some are intelligent, some are lacking any qualifications. But it makes no difference, the Republican-Democrat pendulumswings back and forth with perpetual war as the motif and the constant.President Trump personifies the war business of our nation. He has increased our international war of terror dramatically. He has given a wakeup call to many.The National Rifle Association and the Pentagon are joined in deadly embrace. Their performance has given us a legislature with a steady renunciation of our citizenry, saying in effect, “We don’t care what you want.”
The result of this rant is nationwide anger leading to theselection of fanatics.
As a military officer, lawyer, scholar and activist Brian Willson has identified a pathetic reality.
Sadly, our elementary, middle and high school students have also experienced the horror of military- industrial/NRA governance. Together with Brian Willson and the international peace movement they will replace the military triumphalism in our culture with the abolition of war.”
BLASE BONPANE, Ph.D.
Director, Office of the Americas
CINDY SHEEHAN –
“I cannot emphasize enough how important this work is to contribute to the true history of the US Empire that is being scrubbed and sanitized for our “protection.” If parents and teachers made sure the young people in the US understood the true nature of the deeply ingrained violence that the US is steeped in, then, perhaps, it could finally end. Brian has long been my “go-to guy” for such truth from a very real and compassionate basis.”
Peace, Social Justice, and Alternative Media Activist
DAVID HARTSOUGH, Author, Waging Peace: Global Adventures of a Lifelong –
“Don’t Thank Me for my Service: ….. tells the Truth about the US war in Vietnam and American history. Don’t Thank Me is of the same genre as Howard Zinn’s “Peoples History of the US” and should be read by every American who cares about this country and the future of the world. Future generations will thank Brian for writing this book which helps us learn the Truth about our history and inspires us to find the courage to change our country’s way of relating to the rest of the world before it is too late.”
Author, Waging Peace: Global Adventures of a Lifelong
Activist and Director of Peaceworkers, San Francisco
ROXANNE DUNBAR-ORTIZ, –
“This new book by Brian Willson, like his others, is a must read for anyone who cares about social justice and human rights. Willson does not mince words, but the truth is absolutely essential if we are to put a stop to the US killing machine.”
Author, An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States.
REBECCA GORDON, –
“Brian Willson is one of my personal heroes, a genuine American “exception” to the rule of racism, militarism, and occupation that has characterized this country’s history for too long. His recital of that history is more necessary than ever, as the United States enters yet another year of an endless “war against terror.” An entire generation of Americans has now grown up in the shadow of that war; I hope many of them will read this book and borrow a bit of Brian’s courage.
Author, Letters From Nicaragua, American Nuremberg,
PETER PHILLIPS Ph.D. –
“S. Brian Wilson’s Don’t Thank me for my Service is a timely reminder of the US anti-communist hysteria and terrible devastation of the Vietnam War. In an era of repeated wars and imperial projects, Wilson’s book serves as a lamplight from where we have emerged and the absolute necessity of continued resistance.”
PETER PHILLIPS Ph.D.
Professor Political Sociology, Sonoma State University
LOUIS WOLF Co-founder and research director of CovertAction Quarterly –
“Brian Willson’s book and his continuing opposition to the racist nature of the U.S. war against Viet Nam, Laos and Cambodia was correct when he first spoke out, just as it is these many years later. When congressional members of the time and liberals alike describe the war as “a mistake”, they consciously mask the racism, the xenophobia, and the exceptionalism that was then and is now at the root of the self-serving justification for America’s wars without end.”
Co-founder and research director of CovertAction
Quarterly, now CovertAction Magazine
DAVID SWANSON, author of War Is A Lie –
“Unless the truth about a war is told over and over again, lies about that war will take over. There is no more powerful way to keep truth in the picture than through the personal account of someone who was there and who has studied what put him there as a moral responsibility. Brian Willson is driven by the goal of preventing repetition of some of the worst crimes the earth has seen, by preventing their recasting as noble humanitarian efforts. If you know anyone who has been through U.S. schools or seen U.S. movies, get him or her this book as an antidote.”
DAVID SWANSON, author of War Is A Lie
HELEN CALDICOTT –
“Few people really understood the terror imposed upon innocent people by the US policies and Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Central America. Brian Willson, a lawyer and a scholar did and does. Not only has he given his body for his beliefs but he has penned an extremely important book complete with insights and history that make it imperative reading for every American citizen. I highly recommend it.”
“Our country badly needs more truth telling. Brian Willson tells the truth about the Vietnam War and about the sordid US history of lies, war and empire: and he writes as one who courageously put his body on the line for these truths. A MUST READ for all of us. The alternative is ever more dangerous perpetual wars.”
DANIEL ELLSBERG, author of The Pentagon Papers and
The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner
“S. Brian Willson has a way of synthesizing information that gets right to the heart of the matter, deepening our understanding of the culturally embedded myths that perpetuate our nation’s violent behavior. By providing the historical context for our involvement in Viet Nam, Willson pulls back a curtain on U.S. imperialism that cannot easily be closed again.”
“S. Brian Willson’s new book is a must read. Brian writes like no one I have ever read. Brian speaks like no one I have ever heard. He is a truth-teller on the highest level This book not only reveals the horrors the United States did to the people of Viet Nam, it also covers the insane and barbarous history of US wars all over the world, including the genocide against the Native Americans and the holocaust of the Africans who were stolen against their will and brought to this country to be used as slaves. Read this book and tell others to read it as well.”
CYNTHIA McKINNEY, Former Congresswoman from
Georgia & Presidential Candidate for The Green Party in 2008
NOAM CHOMSKY –
“This gripping and carefully documented record of the US wars in Indochina, interlaced with vivid and tragic personal experiences, provides a unique and invaluable perspective on some of the most awful crimes of the postwar years.”
NOAM CHOMSKY, Professor Emeritus MIT, Linguist, Public Intellectual and Author of dozens of books on U.S. foreign policy.