The Diary of a Loose Cannon With a Good Aim: A Review of Full Spectrum Disorder

Jed Brandt Feb 2, 2004

By Stan Goff
Soft Skull Press


Stan Goff’s career as a soldier in Army Special Operations took him through Delta Force and the Rangers and along for the ride in Vietnam, the tragicomic invasion of Grenada, and Haiti. He taught at West Point and trained the militaries of Colombia and Peru. It was through these experiences, coupled with what he calls the “negrophobia” of military culture, that Goff came to reject imperialism. Or, as he put it, “I am the Vietcong.”

In each war and conflict, it became clearer that the military served local elites and general U.S. business interests and had no regard for the common soldier sent to fight or the people of the countries subjugated.

With so much war under his belt, Goff felt little attraction to the “latte left” and was drawn toward a no-nonsense Leninism that deals in on-the-ground power.

Full Spectrum Disorder was written for two audiences that don’t usually cross paths: active duty GIs and “the left.” There’s been a lot of talk lately about the left because suddenly we have one and no one seems to know what to do with it. Goff thinks leftists should take themselves seriously enough to grasp the depth of the situation.

He sees a country that has been at war since the day of its founding, but is now at the end of its rope. He thinks the bubble of privilege that protects the United States is on the verge of popping. But most of all, he thinks revolution is more than a posture of lifestyle “progressives.” He thinks it is our last best hope in the face of imminent ecological and economic collapse.

Unlike Goff’s personal narrative of the last U.S. invasion of Haiti, Hideous Dream, much of this collection of rants, meditations and military analysis aims not so much to jar the reader as to focus those who already can’t accept the reality of the situation.

There is a battle for “hearts and minds” to wage within the military itself. Will we be an empire or live in peace with the world?

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