Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Moral Equivalency Permit

While I respect Dove's wish that this blog be an International space, I think the struggle taking form now between the anti-war left and the military left in the U.S. is one that has great international consequences.

Cross posted with minor deletions and additions from Even Flow


Where can I get mine, and what are the requirements?
Judging by recent arguments among supposed left leaning supporters of the military, unless you are active duty and are willing to disobey your orders to fight in Iraq you have no real right to ask any soldier to stand down and disobey illegal orders, let alone have an opinion about it. Excuse me but the last time I checked every citizen of America has the right to their opinion and there is no military test that you are required to pass in order to voice it. In fact, any honest military person will tell you that that's exactly what they're supposed to be serving for. That some who I previously considered allies are now basically telling anyone who holds a soldier to his duty to defend the Constitution of the United States to shut the &$!* up unless they're laying their own life on the line in an illegal war is a pretty good sign of some pretty stark lines beginning to be drawn in the sand, or circling of wagons as DTF would say, between the military left and the anti-war left, including those on the anti-war left who still support the troops by fighting to bring them home alive and now. Those in the anti-war community who aren't anti-military, and I would argue that they are the majority of the modern anti-war movement, are very different from the historical anti-war movements of the past, particularly the mass movement of the 1960's and 1970's who were definetily more anti-military, though I've been told by some Vietnam Veterans, and read Veteran testimonies that the stories of Vets being spit on by anti-war activists were fabrications of the pro-war right.

The story of Vietnam era soldiers who revolted against what was clearly an immoral and unwinnable war is largely unknown in this country. It's assumed that the civilian anti-war movement of that era was the most influential group attributed with bringing an end to that war. They were a part of it, but I don't think they were the biggest force behind the end of the war. According to the new documentary, Sir!, No Sir!,

"In the 1960’s an anti-war movement emerged that altered the course of history. This movement didn’t take place on college campuses, but in barracks and on aircraft carriers. It flourished in army stockades, navy brigs and in the dingy towns that surround military bases. It penetrated elite military colleges like West Point. And it spread throughout the battlefields of Vietnam. It was a movement no one expected, least of all those in it. Hundreds went to prison and thousands into exile. And by 1971 it had, in the words of one colonel, infested the entire armed services. Yet today few people know about the GI movement against the war in Vietnam.

The Vietnam War has been the subject of hundreds of films, both fiction and non-fiction, but this story–the story of the rebellion of thousands of American soldiers against the war–has never been told in film.This is certainly not for lack of evidence. By the Pentagon’s own figures, 503,926 “incidents of desertion” occurred between 1966 and 1971; officers were being “fragged”(killed with fragmentation grenades by their own troops) at an alarming rate; and by 1971 entire units were refusing to go into battle in unprecedented numbers. In the course of a few short years, over 100 underground newspapers were published by soldiers around the world; local and national antiwar GI organizations were joined by thousands; thousands more demonstrated against the war at every major base in the world in 1970 and 1971, including in Vietnam itself; stockades and federal prisons were filling up with soldiers jailed for their opposition to the war and the military.



Yet few today know of these history-changing events.



Sir! No Sir! will change all that. The film does four things: 1) Brings to life the history of the GI movement through the stories of those who were part of it; 2) Reveals the explosion of defiance that the movement gave birth to with never-before-seen archival material; 3) Explores the profound impact that movement had on the military and the war itself; and 4) The feature, 90 minute version, also tells the story of how and why the GI Movement has been erased from the public memory.

Sir! No Sir! reveals how, thirty years later, the poem by Bertolt Brecht that became an anthem of the GI Movement still resonates".
,

"General, man is very useful.
He can fly and he can kill.
But he has one defect: He can think"
.


Brecht's poem can be found in full at the beginning of the book Soldiers In Revolt, written by David Cortright, an exhaustive and statistical analysis of the anti-war movement and revolt by GI's during the Vietnam War, how they impacted the ability of the U.S. to continue the war, and they're contribution to it's ultimate end.

From the introduction to the book, written by Howard Zinn:

"Soldiers in Revolt documents one of the least known and most
important aspects of the Vietnam War: the rebellion among U.S.
soldiers opposed to the war. From the front lines to stateside military
bases, the U.S. armed forces were wracked by widespread
resistance, including combat refusals and mutinies. GIs produced
more than 250 antiwar committees and underground newspapers
to voice their discontent. A new chapter looks at the enduring
imprint of this period on the U.S. military and the lessons that this
era holds for the U.S. occupation of Iraq.
David Cortright, in this remarkable book, reminds us, as the war in Iraq continues,
that a point can be reached where men and women in uniform can
no longer tolerate what they begin to see as an unjust war. It is encouraging
to be reminded of the basic desire of human beings to live at peace
with other human beings, once they have divested themselves of the dceptions,
the nationalism, and the racism that is provoked by war".
—from the introduction by Howard Zinn


The question is, do civilians have the right to encourage active duty soldiers to disobey orders? Well sure, they have the right. But on a moral level should it be required or demanded, as some are now doing, that civilians first risk their own freedom, lives, and the livelihood of their own families before they ask soldiers to do the same. No, I don't think it's right to demand it. But in fairness, I think some sort of shared sacrifice should be seriously considered by anyone doing the asking. It's easy to understand and empathize with the frustration and the fear that active duty soldiers and their families are facing in the Iraq war. But their lashing out at those in the anti-war movement who are fighting to bring about the end of the war through different means, including expecting soldiers to uphold their oath to the Constitution, and the efforts to remove those soldiers from an unwinnable, dangerous, and most probably illegal war, can't be tolerated. It seeks to stifle dissent. It seeks to make illegitimate any argument put forth by those who haven't served in the military. And that is a dangerous thing to a democracy. It's dangerous because it seeks to reverse the democracy's bedrock tenet that the the government be civilian led, not military led, and that the freedom to dissent in this country not be predicated on one's willingness or not, to serve in it's military. Soldiers have a duty to their country and it's stated and ratified principles and are obligated to refuse illegal orders. Citizens have a duty and an obligation to hold their government accountable for it's actions and it's abuse of it's military. Both of these groups have an obligation to each other to not only stand up for each other, but to also hold each to it's obligations.

24 Comments:

Blogger spiderleaf said...

Amen to that.

Unfortunately I think that as the Dems move closer to Hillary as the nominee and her backers start throwing money around the blogosphere we will hear more and more anti-war voices silenced... just when we need them most.

It's always darkest before the dawn they say and with the state of the world and the very real possibility that the sun is setting on the American Empire, more people will try and hold on to the past so to speak and willfully put the blinders on.

Anyway, thanks for this post Super, CookTing and I realized yesterday that we need to focus on our own stuff up here -- great news in a new poll shows that 77% of Canadians believe we should remain neutral in the ME and only 32% agree with our PM's policies... this is good news and validates what I've been saying about Canucks being left-leaning as a rule... now just time to boot those guys out and take back our gov't. It seems so pointless to try and work for peace and tolerance and non-militarism only to be insulted and abused... not a very good use of energy all in all.

(okay now I'm rambling...)

8/01/2006 4:19 pm  
Anonymous scribe said...

This whole issue just tears at my guts, as one raised in a military family whose love of America and it's brave military was imbedded in me before I was three, and also as the sister of a fallen soldier.

I know there are brave, good and decent men and women serving now, who truly believe they are defending America, and who, for sure, are committed to protecting each others lives. I know this.

I also know our military, as a whole, is broken all to hell. It has become a tool for serving the warmongering elite thier for their own amoral purposes, who shamelessly sacrifice the lives of our own men and women and endless thousands of inncoent lives in other countries, without even blinking.

It is inevitable, I believe, that there be this painful split in the left, as well as all the other splittings among all Americans that has been a part of a deliberate political strategy, IMO, of "divide and conquer" implemented by those in power now.

It is working very very well; they have us all fighting each other, so they can continue to take over this land and then the world, unimpeded. I can no longer imagine a way to stop this in time to preserve any sembalence of a true democracy here, or to ever come close to any peace or harmoney globally. I am not saying there isn't a way: only that my own faith in my countries goverment has died it's final death, and my faith in ebnough of her peole to wake up and take the drastic action it would reguire, fast enough, is breathing it's last.

This leaves me with loving those I love as best I can, protecting and defending them as best I can, and doing my small part to empower those still actively engaged in whatever action they believe they can take to halt this horror unfolding before us. Miracals can and do happen.

I wish for some kind of healing blam for all of our aching hearts and hurting souls right now..here in this land, and in all other lands who are paying for all of this with ther very lives, even as we speak. If I had such a balm, Super, I would gently apply it to your dear heart right now.

8/01/2006 5:54 pm  
Anonymous Janet said...

Dear Scribe, I am so sorry that you are being torn up over a diary that was supposed to be about how to support war resisters and to discuss the laws of illegality...

It wasn't at all about asking anyone to resist.

When I was at Ft Lewis... I was shaking... a Pinker asked me if I was afraid and I said I wasn't it's just that I grew up around those bases. I'd even been in Madigan hosp (base hosp) She realized that not only was I standing there as a human, as a CodePink activist... but also as a young navy brat and then military wife. I was going against the grain.

Someone mentioned in my diary after I left that I do risk arrest. My family does risk. We try to prepare for it but who knows when it will happen. The only thing is that I want it to MATTER, not to just have a martyr arrest.

I've seen more and more hostilty toward the anti-war/peace movement each time we go out. How many Marines coming at women with bats or mock shooting them do we need?

Yes, this is tearing the community and this country up. I can no longer witness the death of children and women and husband... God, the photos of RubDMCs diary from last night... who can look at that and say we should support war and all it's GORY.

I don't anymore. I don't support killiing. I don't support making people kill.

Speaking of equivalents... shouldn't we ourselves be willing to KILL before we ASK the MILITARY to KILL for us?? But.. no I should just shut the fuck up because I am not willing to .. oh let's see what I'm supposed to do

Enlist
Resist
Stand trial
got to Leavenworth

then I can have Booman's blessing to post a diary about Lt. Watada...
It's bull.

I am not spitting on the troops... that's a George H. Bush lie made up to amp up support for the Gulf War. Didn't want people acting like "damn hippies and hurtin' the military morale'. It's all such a load of rubbish.

I'm just very very sorry that my diary caused this all. Caused Scribe and Diane101 to get reamed. Now my diary is a part of a "flame war". Lovely.

I talked last night with my spouse about this and I told him that Tracy is hurting and rightfully so and we all KNEW and understood why she was upset. So we've been tiptoeing around. But that yesterday she again just lashed out and would not cease fire.

He thinks the Moderator failed her. That since they are close.... he should have given her a time out. If anything, but to protect her.

My words about engineers driving trains to death camps... that's my analogy about how people justify how they can't disrupt their families lives... that was not in any way directed at anyone in Boomantribune. That came about during an incident at Ft Lewis.

I disrupt my fmaliles life constantly. We work around it so we can support each other in their endeavors to stop this war and the NEXT war.

I felt fear and sadness last night. Today... I'm more resolute.

Wars divide.

8/01/2006 6:14 pm  
Anonymous scribe said...

Janet, listen up.

You must STOP taking on responsbility that does NOT belong to you! It will drain off your power and your strength!

Your diary is NOT responsible for my guts being in a knot.

I repeat. Your diary is NOT repsonsible for my guts being an a knot.

(Can you hear me now? :)


They are in bad shape because of what is happening to my county and my world. period.

So unluess you feel respsonsible for all of THAT, too, you have NO reason to apologize at all, to anyone.

I will happily remind you of this as needed till you GET it!

8/01/2006 6:42 pm  
Anonymous Arcturus said...

Janet: Sorry you got so reamed yesterday. I wanna piggyback on Scribe & say that you're not responsible for other people's responses to your thoughts & opinions either. Take good care of yourself, carry on & do & say what you must. Been there, done that, gotta go now would be more than ample response to any further future confrontations.

Otherwise it becomes a drain & counter-productive. Here in Sacramento, there was actually a major public squable over which anti-war group had the "right" (ahem) to use a particular street corner to demonstrate. The 'nice suburban wing' felt they had "branded" it (literaly, as in the marketing sense), & were offended when Not in Our Name held one there after they cancelled one day & NION told people to come down anyway. What's interesting isn't the divisions (they're natural) but how we deal with them. Who wants to shut up whom, who wnats to 'just get along,' who wants to ignore the others & carry on, who wants to discuss the issues of division.

Dove was talking before about ways to oppose the arms trade. I suspect you're talking about small arms stuff (& again, would recommend Frida Berrigan's writings & work[1]), but lemme draw everyone's attention to the upcoming actions by the Aug 6 coalition. In commemoration of the upcoming anniversaries of the Hiroshima & Nagaskai bombings, there will be protests around the world focused on drawing attention to the pentagon suckling Bechtel Corp, who "has recently partnered with the University of California to manage the Los Alamos National Laboratory . . . and will most likely bid for Lawrence Livermore. Bechtel is one of the top profiteers of the war in Iraq and one of the world’s top nuclear profiteers, built upon an extensive history of abusing indigenous populations for profit."

Much more info at the link above, or there are condensed versions on the "community" blogs (posted as STOP BECHTEL!), though they probably have dropped out of sight by now. The Livermore protest is on Sunday, the 6th -- hope to see any Bay Area readers.

Won't you please come to Chicago . . . (CCNY) or, an event near to you

Where is Bechtel? (three UK projects)

[1] Frida Berrigan is a Senior Research Associate at the World Policy Institute's Arms Trade Resource Center. Her primary research areas with the project include nuclear-weapons policy, war profiteering and corporate crimes, weapons sales to areas of conflict, and military-training programs. She is the author of a number of Institute reports, most recently "Weapons at War 2005: Promoting Freedom or Fueling Conflict."

8/01/2006 7:34 pm  
Anonymous Janet said...

Okay I know that logically, but the flare up was there. Instead of it being remembered as just another diary of mine about Lt. Watada (I've done others that did not get this heat or flack) ... just that no one wanted me to get arrested or hurt...

But now it'll be the diary that divided BT... the "flame war".

But do know this... I know how your guts ache to some extent. As I said... it's really strange to protest at a freaking military base. Because of all that was embedded in us as little girls. That was a tough one.

You and Chocolate Ink...you both gave me a gift... I think that is why I take photos of the events... so I can share them with you two. As well as others... but I remember us all taking photos in DC for you two. I just haven't stopped. :)

8/01/2006 7:39 pm  
Anonymous Janet said...

(((Arcturus))) in Portland there'll be a No Nukes Hiroshima Shadow project that me and the kids will go to Sunday.

There is so much to do!!!

Also on the protesting front... here in the suburb of portland.. there is a Wednesday vigil I just started attending where last time there were 60 people from various groups all on the same sidewalk...all getting along :) It was cool I'll photojournal it this week. My camera was dead Wed.

8/01/2006 7:42 pm  
Blogger dove said...

Janet,
Let me second? third? those who have observed that while you are obviously and inescapably responsible for your words and what you mean by them (and who would have it any other way!) you cannot be responsible for other people's feelings (at least not in the way that I think you're feeling you should take responsibility). Nor -- so long as you're clear what you meant and expressed that to the best of your ability, which frankly I cannot imagine to be otherwise -- can you be responsible for misinterpretations, willful or otherwise, of your words. It is crazy-making: do not do it. Says the grandchild teaching her grandmother to suck eggs.

I guess what I'd say to you, for what little it's worth, is this: do what you think right on whatsoever terrain you choose. (PlatitudesRUs!)

Kia kaha.

8/01/2006 8:26 pm  
Anonymous Arcturus said...

Serendipity strikes! Frida B has a new article up at TomsDispatch, Seeing (Pentagon) Stars, which in a sort of comedy-of-manners style suggests there might be benefit to media attention on the doings of arms merchants as opposed to the info-tainment fluff we're innundated with. (it's sorta DtF-lite :)

. . . how about a Power magazine in-depth investigation on how the big U.S. arms makers tempted Poland with $6.3 billion in investments. As one of Lockheed Martin's directors explained, the deal wasn't really about selling weapons to Poland. Nope, they were interested in "enhancing Poland competitively in the global economy, creating jobs and enhancing local labor market skills." Kinda sweet, right?

So, to put this in a simple way, in order to sell Warsaw $3.5 billion in military hardware, we gave them $6.3 billion in goodies. Think about that for a moment. Isn't it just a little too much of a good thing -- like the $100,000 gift-bags movie stars get at parties after their $100 million movie premieres? Poland gets a GM plant (wait, didn't one just close in Muncie, Indiana?) and a Motorola communications system in addition to a Lockheed Martin factory and billions more in U.S. investment. As the American ambassador to Poland said, "It's the deal of the century." For Poland yes, for American workers -- like the ones who don't make Pontiacs and Caddies in Detroit and Muncie anymore -- maybe not.


She closes with:

. . . twenty of our top twenty-five arms clients in the developing world in 2003 -- a full 80% of them -- were undemocratic regimes and/or governments with records as major human-rights abusers. All too often, U.S. arms transfers only fuel conflict, weaponize human-rights abusers, or fall into the hands of our adversaries. Far from serving as a force for security and stability, these sales frequently serve to empower unstable, undemocratic regimes to the detriment of global security.

The ways and means of America's arms trade are not going to be spoon-fed to us the way model Naomi Campbell's run-ins with the law are. Unfortunately, it takes work on our part to discover how our arms trade functions. But knowing where our weapons are going and what sort of havoc they are wreaking in our name seems worth the minor effort and inconvenience – even if it doesn't offer the promise of the perfect tan or six-pack abs!


Is this the kinda stuff you were interested in Dove?

8/01/2006 8:37 pm  
Anonymous Raging Hippie said...

A good response to anyone who writes that "You have no right to say X unless you do Y," would be to ask who died and made him King Dictator of the Realm of Expression of Opinion. This goes double when one is being accused of saying "X" when one did not, in fact, say any such thing.

I fear that there are very few United States citizens who actually love and desire peace. You can scrape up a bare majority who will oppose a war once they're convinced that the U.S. can't "win" it. But there are too damned few who believe that the minute a nation goes to war, it has lost. Waging war is inevitably a confession of failure--be it failure of diplomacy or (in the case of "preemptive" war) failure of conscience.

And so we're bound to be unpleasantly surprised when we expect our "allies" in opposition to the Iraq atrocity to actually support peace. Many of them just want a smarter war.

8/01/2006 8:50 pm  
Blogger dove said...

Supersoling -- thank you for posting! It is a delight to see something new. I have been in writer's block / writing simmering but not yet cooked mode, combined with having some other pressing demands on my attention this week.

If honest, I would probably also confess to a kind of bleakness sometimes expressed as inappropriate giddiness and sometimes expressed in other ways, but both are fairly frivolous reasons not to be writing.

I quite agree these struggles have international significance (indeed the struggle itself is international for that matter, not to mention historical. In the U.K. the suffrage movement fractured on precisely this question around the outbreak of World War I -- a fracture clearly reflected in U.K. feminism's 'first family' the Pankhursts. And I must say, that although Emmeline and Christabel have won the lion's share of fame and credit for the Vote, for my part I look more often to Christabel's contrary and generally awkward sisters)

Hmmm. When I say I want this blog to be non-national space, I don't mean 'don't write about things happening in particular nation-states' -- at some point, I know I'm going to have to figure out what I do mean by 'non-national space', rather than what I don't mean.

Part of what I mean, I think, is that the machinery and paraphenalia of citizenship is among the things I would dearly love to see destroyed. Ended irrevocably and irreparably in favour of the idea that everybody, regardless of where they live (and regardless of how that aligns with little pieces of paper and their disposition -- which would be redundant), has the right to be a political creature, has the right to have a say in how they live.

And so there's a sense in which I'd like us to be here as non-citizens, non-nationals. Foreigners, even when writing about places and situations that are familiar. But what I want shouldn't necessarily be what's relevant here, if that makes sense.

For my part, every person in the world -- regardless of the little pieces of paper that are in their possession or not in their possession -- has a right to hold and express opinion about militaries, U.S. or otherwise. That right may not be honoured, but it does exist: no luxury can exorcise it, there is nothing that can excise it. And I see little difference these days between 'right' and 'obligation.'

In this nuclear night so close to the witching hour, all of our lives are directly endangered by organised violence. But even if 'our' lives (whomsoever that 'our' may be) and the lives of those whom we love and have been friends with were not directly endangered, the lives of others --which are every shred as valuable (or much more so in many cases) to them and those who know them as 'ours' are to us and those who know us -- would be endangered. And thus the obligation to speak and act remains undiminished.

Not only are there the risks attendant on Oppenheimer's deadly toy, but yes, militarism and the resources devoted to it are a blight on our lives and we have a right to speak about that too and act for that matter. In a world where ca. five million children under five die each year of malnutrition-related illness, there are so many better uses one can imagine for wealth than the manufacture of weapons and the maintenance of institutions that cause the deaths of more children under five by extra, additional means.

So for my part, yes. I am anti-military: I want military institutions ended as irrevocably and irreparably as I want to see an end to citizenship. And in the interim I want military institutions to be seen as dishonourable, ridiculous, laughable, despicable, shameful and worthy of contempt -- not the sort of thing that any person with any modicum of self-respect would sign up for or willingly participate in.

I think I see Veterans for Peace, the GI's who went to prison rather than go to Vietnam or Iraq, those who refuse to enter the Occupied Territories, those who like Archibald Baxter were crucified on the Western Front for their conscientious objection, as people who -- whether willingly or through conscription -- have come near to a precipice and refused it unequivocably. Belatedly sometimes perhaps, but still unequivocably. Of course one can respect that.

But to suggest that in order to have the right to critique the war specifically and militarism more generally one must be a soldier? Suffice it to say that I can think of several pointed analogies which I do not doubt would cause general disgust.

8/01/2006 11:16 pm  
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8/02/2006 12:49 am  
Blogger DuctapeFatwa said...

I think the question raised regarding expectations of the "troops" is a fair one.

All those who join any US armed entity are required to take an oath to protect and defend the nation,(and I believe the constitution may be specifically specified, if not, it would be reasonable to assume that it is included by extension).

They take an oath to put that protection of their nation above personal interest, even their own lives, even the interests of their family members. It is in fact, this very principle which is frequently invoked by the champions of US activities, that America's youth are sacrificing their lives.

Lt. Watada and his fellow heroes have refused to disregard that oath, despite the fact that what they had hoped was their nation is being "run" by criminal warlords, they are indeed living up to both spirit and letter, and placing the defense of that nation above personal interest, above family concerns.

Each and every US "troop" shares this with Lt. Watada: Each one chose to join, and each one now makes the choice to uphold the commitment they made to their country, or to reject it, and each one has the same choice regarding their own personal moral values.

With the exception (and I realize there number is not small) of those who, due to illness, congenital developmental or other disorder, do not have either the capacity for reason, to distinguish right from wrong, indeed, nor to make such a commitment in the first place, every single individual who does enjoy full capacity of mind and reason is morally accountable for their choices, just as is any civilian who chooses each day, for instance, whether to go to work, or rob someone on the street.

Because, at least as of this writing, to the best of my knowledge, civilian citizens of the US do not take any oath similar to that required of "troops, and even if such were required, the very fact of its being required would make it quite a different question, since joining the "military" is, again at this time, voluntary.

Thus, it is neither hypocritical or cowardly for a civilian to recognize that each person who took that oath has the same choices as Lt. Watada, and is accountable for what they choose.

On the contrary, it is only reasonable that a civilian population wish those who pledge to protect the nation uphold that commitment.

NOTE: I will probably cross post this somewhere or other. No, not "there." :)

8/02/2006 12:51 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well Well Well what do we have here Junior? Looks like the 101st nonfighting keyboardists, the opposite side of the debate but still wants their soldiers to make personal sacrifices that they wouldn't make themselves. Can you say hypocrite Junior?

8/02/2006 5:45 pm  
Blogger Nanette said...

Anonymous@5:45pm (to distinguish from the other anon spam), thanks for commenting. I'm going to quote below one of the few rules/requests dove makes of this blog. I do hope you will take this into consideration in any future postings,should you actually be looking for conversation. Thanks:

Just on the unlikely off-chance we get some new posters, I should give a couple of reminders.

If you use the Anonymous posting option which you are very welcome to do, please sign your post with whatever handle you routinely use elsewhere online.

In the unlikely event you don't have an online handle, please make one up so that I don't confuse you with some other 'anonymous' and accuse you of terrible things you know not wot of.

Also, you're welcome to disagree with me or other commentators, vocally and vehemently. You might think I've been unfair: tell me why and how.

But use this space to launch ad hominem attacks of the type quoted and linked here and I will feel entirely free to delete them at my pleasure. Or to incorporate them as further evidence of the phenomenon I describe as the whim takes me. After all, being an co-conspirator with magical super-villain powers has to be good for something.

8/02/2006 6:46 pm  
Blogger dove said...

Thanks Nanette.

Ms/Mr 'Anonymous'spammer@5.45:
Because you have generously provided me with the best -- and indeed in these bleak times the only -- laugh I've had all day, I owe you heartfelt thanks. So. Many thanks for providing me with amusement and a damn good laugh. I needed it.
You made my day. Thank you.

However, in the interests of fairness and consistency, that's not to say that Nanette's repost of InFlight Rule No. 1 does not apply. Once was funny (albeit unintentionally, but isn't that always the way with the best humour?): offer a repeat performance and I will do with your words whatever strikes me as likely to provide me with pleasure, enjoyment and satisfaction.

What's that saying? "When we were kids, we knew how to make our own amusement."

That has to be one of those things which every generation in a reasonably wealthy part of the world says. If it weren't quite probably moot, I suppose it's something that today's X-box kids would eventually have said to their own hypothetical grandchildren, who have now, of course, become very hypothetical indeed.

8/02/2006 9:02 pm  
Anonymous Janet said...

It's really odd the amount of hostility one gets for implying that it's not a good thing to kill another human being...

I mean you'd think we were asking them to go out and kill....

Dawg forbid I show support to a man who is refusing to kill in Iraq.

8/03/2006 12:49 am  
Blogger supersoling said...

Anonymous pos(t)er,
I can only speak for myself, and it's safe to say that my views are in the minority among commenters and diarists here. I'm not anti-military. Nor am I anti-soldier. I'm not a pascifist per se. I can't argue with the concept of shared sacrifice either. Unless it's conscripted. It should be a choice. The same as it's anyone's choice right now to be a soldier. No one has been forced to sign on the dotted line. And I have a great respect for anyone who volunteers and risks their lives to protect their country and it's citizens, ideals, and laws. Unless....that country is a force for destruction in the world. And right now the U.S. is a force of destruction.

There's been an argument that this war isn't illegal and that soldiers like Lt. Watada who lay down their weapons or refuse to be party to war crimes are breaking the law. Well, who's law? Bush's law? This war is illegal because it's in violation of international law. International laws that this country is a party to. Yes, soldiers who refuse orders will be arrested but Bush enforcing his version of law doesn't make this war legal. Having said that, like Lt. Watada, it is a soldiers duty to disobey illegal orders. It's a soldiers duty to uphold the Constitution. That's what they gave an oath to. Not George Bush, or even to their own families. To the Constitution.

People get upset when others who aren't in the military ask that their soldiers lay down their weapons because they think it's unfair to ask someone else to do something they wouldn't do themselves. What I'd like to know is how can a soldier who feels the war is wrong, and that's the context of the argument at BT, not therefore say that the lives of so many innocent civilians are less important than their own. How can I respect a soldier who will go on participating in an illegal war that has killed tens of thousands of civilians, because he doesn't want to spend a few years in jail? Seriously. How does a few years in jail and the moral knowledge of doing what is right, measure against all those innocent, lost lives? And then to rage on about how the person who asks that soldier to do it, by not being willing to participate in that same illegal war and be a party to war crimes and a party to all those thousands of dead civilians is somehow shirking their responsibility?! Where does the real responsibility lay? It's with those who are prosecuting the war, from top to bottom. How is a civilian, for whom that troop serves, wrong, or irresponsible for asking that her Constitution be protected? Isn't that civilian being poorly represented by her military, when her military is party to war crimes? And isn't any soldier who participates against their own conscience not also implicating the civilians of their country as being responsible for crimes too, when those crimes are being carried out in that civilian's name? And at this point we all know it's not just a few "bad apples". The whole system is screwed. When any soldier gives their oath, they are the ones who are not only being asked, but are required to resist those crimes. How is it that a person who points that out is the bad person?

8/03/2006 12:56 am  
Anonymous Janet said...

I came across this in CodePink's Stop the Next War book

snipped by Camilo Mejia

Camilo Mejia spent more than 7 years in the military and 8 months fighting in Iraq. On a furlough from the war, he applied for Conscientious Objector status, and was declared a Prisoner of Conscience by Amnesty International. He was convicted of desertion by the U.S. military for refusing to return to the war in Iraq and was imprisoned. Mejia was released from prison on February 15th.


" To those who have called me a coward I say that they are wrong, and that without knowing it, they are also right. They are wrong when they think that I left the war for fear of being killed. I admit that fear was there, but there was also the fear of killing innocent people, the fear of putting myself in a position where to survive means to kill, there was the fear of losing my soul in the process of saving my body, the fear of losing myself to my daughter, to the people who love me, to the man I used to be, the man I wanted to be. I was afraid of waking up one morning to realize my humanity had abandoned me.

I say without any pride that I did my job as a soldier. I commanded an infantry squad in combat and we never failed to accomplish our mission. But those who called me a coward, without knowing it, are also right. I was a coward not for leaving the war, but for having been a part of it in the first place. Refusing and resisting this war was my moral duty, a moral duty that called me to take a principled action. I failed to fulfill my moral duty as a human being and instead I chose to fulfill my duty as a soldier. All because I was afraid. I was terrified, I did not want to stand up to the government and the army, I was afraid of punishment and humiliation. I went to war because at the moment I was a coward, and for that I apologize to my soldiers for not being the type of leader I should have been.

I also apologize to the Iraqi people. To them I say I am sorry for the curfews, for the raids, for the killings. May they find it in their hearts to forgive me.

One of the reasons I did not refuse the war from the beginning was that I was afraid of losing my freedom. Today, as I sit behind bars I realize that there are many types of freedom, and that in spite of my confinement I remain free in many important ways. What good is freedom if we are afraid to follow our conscience? What good is freedom if we are not able to live with our own actions? I am confined to a prison but I feel, today more than ever, connected to all humanity. Behind these bars I sit a free man because I listened to a higher power, the voice of my conscience."

These are the people I stand by. These are the people I'm trying to learn from.

8/03/2006 1:13 am  
Anonymous Janet said...

Can read the same/whole thing in [Truth Out http://www.truthout.org/cgi-bin/artman/exec/view.cgi/38/9042]

"Coming home gave me the clarity to see the line between military duty and moral obligation. I realized that I was part of a war that I believed was immoral and criminal, a war of aggression, a war of imperial domination. I realized that acting upon my principles became incompatible with my role in the military, and I decided that I could not return to Iraq.

By putting my weapon down, I chose to reassert myself as a human being. I have not deserted the military or been disloyal to the men and women of the military. I have not been disloyal to a country. I have only been loyal to my principles."

Now I'm getting off the net and hitting the streets. Take care all!! XOXO

8/03/2006 1:19 am  
Blogger DuctapeFatwa said...

anonymous, if you'll just scroll up a bit from your comment to the previous one by me, you'll find a special message there, just for you! :)

8/03/2006 5:31 am  
Blogger NLinStPaul said...

They are wrong when they think that I left the war for fear of being killed. I admit that fear was there, but there was also the fear of killing innocent people, the fear of putting myself in a position where to survive means to kill, there was the fear of losing my soul in the process of saving my body, the fear of losing myself to my daughter, to the people who love me, to the man I used to be, the man I wanted to be.

Janet, Mr. Mejia is incredibly articulate. I have often thought the question for those in the military is NOT just "are you willing to die for your country?" but "are you willing to kill for your country?" We most often leave that last one out of the conversation.

8/03/2006 1:25 pm  
Blogger spiderleaf said...

Anonymous -

It must be very hard for you to not stand for your true convictions vs. the ones your husband has hammered into you. I feel very sorry for you. I would hate for my husband to care more about George Bush's war than his own family who needs him too. Must be just gut-wrenching.

But still will never excuse your behaviour.

My only recommendation to you is to get out of the abusive marriage and get yourself some counselling asap. For your childrens sake if not your own.

Try not to be scared about that Alice (none / 1)
If I can take on the insurance industry and fight them down to obtain a life saving operation for my son that isn't quite FDA approved, Bushco will only get as far as "trying" to send my husband back to Iraq. Don't think everybody wouldn't find out real quick what I look like in person. I would sleep on Michael Moore's doorstep for his support and to get some air time. Every morning the CNN execs would arrive to work and have to walk around a woman on her knees praying before them to cover her story. They can see the hole in the wall, they can have the doctor's notes, they can have this whole family's history and come with me for the next surgery that my son will have to lengthen the rods in his back so that everybody can see what it is like and make their own personal judgments about whether or not I'm just a bawl baby and can do those surgeries alone while my husband is in Iraq AGAIN getting his noodle fried some more. Sometimes they rile me up! Sometimes the family support people say stupid retarded things and I actually believe them for a day or so!

Some people say we need a third party. I wish we had a second one. Jim Hightower
by Militarytracy on Fri Aug 5th, 2005 at 12:25:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]

8/03/2006 4:50 pm  
Blogger catnip said...

And what personal sacrifices are you making, anonymous?

8/04/2006 6:07 am  

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