Friday, June 22, 2007

Dissenters In Uniform

I read a good article of opinion in Newsweek by Anna Quindlen about the attitudes of military personnel about the war in Iraq. It makes the sort of points that pro-war advocates like to ignore or deny.

Here are some of the highlights:
"On the one hand, there's a form of government that is supposed to glory in free speech and support it zealously, even when it incites or offends. On the other, there is the organization designed to protect democracy from its enemies, with one of its guiding principles a monolithic devotion to duty that seems antithetical to individual opinion."
Yes that is the ongoing quandary between a free and open society, a liberal democracy with constitutional guarantees, and the citizen military that is supposed to defend and uphold those very ideals...

"Lt. Ehren Watada has become the first officer to face court-martial for refusing to return to Iraq. 'My participation would make me party to war crimes,' he said at a news conference. Others have applied for conscientious-objector status, including one young decorated combat veteran who described being approached by an elderly Iraqi, who asked, 'Why are you still here?'"

"Unflinching and unthinking obedience may be ideal for commanders, who need soldiers to do what they're told no matter their own opinions. But civilians have learned that it can lead to the worst sort of atrocities. Following orders was the defense in the My Lai massacre, and in the prisoner-abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib. It's now commonly known as the Nuremberg defense because it was used at trial by defeated Nazis."
I've noticed in the excuses offered by the hardline anti-terror/pro-war crowd that it all revolves around the claim that what we do is right and just, yep even when civilians die, even when we use torture, detainment camps, holding people indefinitely without trial, without being charged, suspending justice like in the case of the writ of habeas corpus. But these same people are so quick to condemn the war crimes, the injustice, the treatment of POW's in other country. Talk about moral relativism... If principles like justice are absolute, then why the selective application of it?

"One young man said before his deployment that he was going to Iraq to help those who lacked 'the freedoms that we are afforded every day.' Two years later he said Americans had 'a lot of misconceptions' about the war, adding, 'They'll just say 'freedom.' They'll just spout ... something they've heard that's easily repeatable.' Reminded of his own earlier words, he described himself as having done 'a 180.'"
I've noticed this same old cliche being uttered over and over, that we're 'bringing freedom to the people of Iraq', ah but as it's become more and more obvious that what we have brought to Iraq is ruination we're hearing dissent from more and more former pro-war apologists and soldiers who wanted to believe they were following justified orders and were accomplishing something good for America and the people of Iraq. They wanted to believe the typical propaganda line, and as this soldier serves as an example, they swallowed that line taking comfort in it, but reality has set in and the truth has become too inescapable to deny any longer.

I have been thinking for some time now that in the next several years when things wind down some and a large number of the troops that have been stationed there are civilians again we're going to hear the truth come out. Sure there will still be the apologists, but we will hear from legions of these troops who will confirm what many of those opposed to this war have been saying all along. Bush and his cadre of lieutenants and apologists will eat the lies they've been selling us. There is a time coming, a lot of people are going to be coming back home and they're going to talk...

"There are those who argue that such a conclusion is above the pay grade of anyone but the commander in chief, and that discipline overrides dissent."
Yeah, I've had dealings with those who hold such convoluted views before, one of them is the homophobic Catholic bigot that I've dealt with on the Newsleader Forum...

"it's the guys in the field who are best able to judge whether the mission is right and just and is working on the ground. They are the ultimate embeds. As one man said on a posting to the IVAW Web site, 'When the people who fought the war are speaking out against it ... maybe you should listen.'"
Yeah, you'd think that these people who claim to "support the troops" which actually give a damn whether they were giving their lives for a worthy, justified endeavor or not, that they would care whether the tactics being employed in the war effort were competent, and that they would care what those soldiers think about the situation they know first hand. But they don't, they just deny the inconvenient truths, make apologies for those responsible, and shout down those who dissent. Both those in and out of uniform.

Speaking of dissenters in uniform:
Veterans Against the Iraq War
Iraq Veterans Against the War
Vietnam Veterans Against the War
Veterans For Peace

Oh yeah, and other critics of the war or the incompetence it's being operated with:
Army Four Star General, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs & Secretary of State Colin Powell (retired)
Army Four Star General Wesley Clark (retired)
Army Maj. Gen. John Batiste (retired)
Marine Corps Gen. Anthony Zinni (retired)
Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton (retired)
Army Colonel Jack Jacobs (retired)
Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Greg Newbold (retired)
Army chief of staff Gen. Eric Shinseki (retired)
Air Force chief of staff General Merrill McPeak (retired)
Vietnam Vet, former Secretary of the Navy, Senator Jim Webb (retired)

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