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Dear Soldier of the U.S. Military:
October 17, 2002 1:13 PM   Subscribe

Dear Soldier of the U.S. Military: "With all due respect, I want you to know that if you participate in this conflict, you are not serving me, and I don't support you." A West Point graduate weighs in on the impending war.
posted by fold_and_mutilate (124 comments total)

 
A West Point graduate

No... If you would have read the whole article you would have come to this tidbit:

David Wiggins attended West Point and York Medical College. During Operation Desert Storm he left the Army as a conscientious objector. He is currently an emergency room physician.

This man may have a valid opinion, but please do not portray him as military personal who doesn't support the war... He is an ER doctor.

This is a feeble attempt to say: "Look even people in the military don't support Bush"
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 1:19 PM on October 17, 2002


Come on f&m, I am disappointed in you! You normally do much better than this! I sure not 100% of the armed forces supports war... can't you find an article by one of those people?
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 1:21 PM on October 17, 2002


This is a feeble attempt to say: "Look even people in the military don't support Bush"

I disagree. I don't think that is what the article is saying. IMO, the article represents the view of one person who happens to have a military background. And considering the subject matter I think it's appropriate to display this information. I, for one, think it's refreshing to see someone take a stand against the 'support your troops' rally. It reminds me of the old bumper sticker 'What if they threw a war and nobody came?'
posted by widdershins at 1:23 PM on October 17, 2002


This is a feeble attempt to say: "Look even people in the military don't support Bush"

...which is in turn a feeble attempt to defend that which cannot be derail the discussion with irrelevancies. He graduated West Point. He was in the military. What's the problem?

I thought it was a good piece. Not much new, but what was said was well-said.
posted by RylandDotNet at 1:24 PM on October 17, 2002


He didn't say Wiggins was in the military; he said he was a West Point graduate. Yours is a feeble attempt to say: "Look, all war opponents are lying and cheating so you won't support Bush."
posted by JollyWanker at 1:24 PM on October 17, 2002


Uh... yeah... what ryland said...
posted by JollyWanker at 1:25 PM on October 17, 2002


Ick. Poor editing.
posted by RylandDotNet at 1:25 PM on October 17, 2002


On my part I mean, not you, Jollywanker
posted by RylandDotNet at 1:28 PM on October 17, 2002


who happens to have a military background

A couple of years at The Point, is less military background than an enlisted soldier fresh out of Basic.

He graduated West Point.
he was a West Point graduate.


Can you not read it says "attended" not "graduated"
He left West Point.... No commission...
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 1:30 PM on October 17, 2002


And there are no doubt any number of former pacifists that support this war. I don't really see how this gets beyond the "opinions are like assholes..." criteria.
posted by pardonyou? at 1:33 PM on October 17, 2002


While I am against the constant prick waving our president and congress are showing towards the situation in the middle east, to try to hold our standing military, especially the enlisted man, responsible is moronic. These men...well boys, actually...sign up when they're barely old enough to shave and go do our dirty work. We are one of the safest nations in the world because these guys do their job. It sucks that our politicians don't hold the value of their lives higher. It's horrible that they don't make wiser decisions. However, any one that signs up for the job as GI Joe is bound to do that job. This article left a bad taste in my mouth. You don' want the war in Iraq? Then put different people in office.
posted by nadawi at 1:34 PM on October 17, 2002


Wait a second, fold_and_mutilate, I'm confused, I always thought you were *for* the war?
posted by Karl at 1:35 PM on October 17, 2002


Steve - I also noticed the discrepancy between "graduated" and "attended." But I think you're getting bogged down in this rather than discuss the merit, or lack thereof, of the guy's point. So foldy overstated. Now let's look at the question of whether someone who's been indoctrinated into a narrow-focused boot-camp mentality can be reasoned with. IMHO: nope.
posted by soyjoy at 1:36 PM on October 17, 2002


You don' want the war in Iraq? Then put different people in office.

Er, we tried to, nadawi, but were outvoted 5-4.
posted by soyjoy at 1:37 PM on October 17, 2002


David Wiggins did indeed graduate West Point, in 1984.

You can read his full story here, if you're interested.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:41 PM on October 17, 2002


During Operation Desert Storm he left the Army as a conscientious objector.

Color me naive, but I think you need to be in the Army before you can leave it. But this is a silly aspect of this to focus on.

More important I feel is how close this comes to something that bothers me a great deal about some elements of the peace movement, and that is the villainization of soldiers. The cliche image of protestors spitting on draftees returning Vietnam did more harm for the cause than good. Many folks with connections to the military say "I know a lot of good, intelligent people in the military, so the peace activists must be wrong". Unless the protest is clearly directed at those directing the military (generally civilians with no idea what real war is like), rather than those in the military for essentially good reasons, it will always miss its mark.

Of course, there's some Hannah Arendt arguments that you should in fact blame the obeyers more than those giving the orders, since they make the whole thing possible, but let me not digress too far.
posted by freebird at 1:42 PM on October 17, 2002


soyjoy, all I was saying is that if you want to have this discussion fine... but lets have it with an article by some one who would know the subject matter at hand. I mean:

Are the Iraqi foot soldiers really the guilty party here?

I duno, well gee were German or Italian foot soldiers really the "guilty party" in the European Theater of WWII? Does that mean we shouldn't have gone after Hitler or Mussolini?

This guys is not against this war, he is against all war, ever... It is a good thing he got out of the Army...
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 1:44 PM on October 17, 2002


I stand corrected.. I guess he was Dishonorably Discharged
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 1:48 PM on October 17, 2002


You normally do much better than this! I sure not 100% of the armed forces supports war... can't you find an article by one of those people?

A good friend of mine is a pretty high-placed officer (sorry not to provide more details; am concerned about friend's privacy) who has seen plenty of combat, and is adamantly opposed to this war for a number of compelling reasons -- but is forbidden to write or speak publicly in any way to indicate dissent from the official line. So there's the rub: how are we (as a public) supposed to hear the dissenters in the military, whether that percentage is 3% or 30%? By and large, at this point in the game, we can't. The underground GI newspapers that took an antiwar line during Vietnam took years to surface, for example. (There's an upcoming book called Protest & Survive about that exact topic. Full disclosure: I went to grad school with the author, James Lewes, for 2 years.)
posted by scody at 1:51 PM on October 17, 2002


How does one go about registering as a conscientious objector?
posted by chinese_fashion at 1:52 PM on October 17, 2002


the villainization of soldiers

I did not get that from this article at all. I think what the man was trying to say is that we all have individual choices to make. And if you are a soldier who disagrees with the stance of your Commander in Chief, then it is your responsibility to act in accordance with your conscience. The article was not saying that soldiers are bad; it was saying 'make your own decisions'. Which, in my opinion, is a good thing.
posted by widdershins at 1:52 PM on October 17, 2002


These men...well boys, actually...

Make up your mind, nadawi. If they're boys, we're violating the 1940 Geneva Convention, the Additional Protocols of 1977 and the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child. However, most people think of 18-year-old soldiers as men. Personally, at that age I was old enough to figure out killing wasn't right just because the President told me it was, and I became a conscientious objector. It's not that hard.

chinese_fashion: Try here and here.
posted by languagehat at 1:56 PM on October 17, 2002


And if you are a soldier who disagrees with the stance of your Commander in Chief, then it is your responsibility to act in accordance with your conscience.

WRONG! If you are a soldier, it is your responsibility to follow orders and do your duty. We have a 100% volunteer force, no one made them sign up. Any one who joins the military knows there is a possibility to go to war, and that people (on both sides) get killed.

If you disagree with the concept of war, the military is not the place for you.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 1:59 PM on October 17, 2002


Of course, there's some Hannah Arendt arguments that you should in fact blame the obeyers more than those giving the orders, since they make the whole thing possible, but let me not digress too far.

Well, personally I certainly wouldn't blame obeyers more than order-givers - but I certainly feel they carry an equal burden. Pulling the trigger because you have been told to do so makes you no less responsible for the consequence.
posted by widdershins at 2:02 PM on October 17, 2002


Military personnel are NOT forbidden to make disagreeing statements to the press or have dissenting opinions. They ARE forbidden to make said disagreements in uniform.

Of course their are some exceptions for those with sensitive security clearance....

Conscientious objectors refuse to kill anyone, anywhere. Your decision not to bust a cap in a burglers ass while he is raping your wife/daughter/son/grandma is absolutely foreign to me.

Where do you live again?
posted by blogRot at 2:02 PM on October 17, 2002


Conscientious objectors refuse to kill anyone, anywhere. Your decision not to bust a cap in a burglers ass while he is raping your wife/daughter/son/grandma is absolutely foreign to me.

No conscientious objector on earth has ever agreed not to do such a thing. That line is desperate BS.
posted by soyjoy at 2:06 PM on October 17, 2002


Following this guy as an example, I would be turning my back on my blood brothers. How, by them only gaining my support being like minded. Sounds controlling, no.

Is this what you wanted posted here? Your opinion is ok so is his. But you sound like a control freak with this post.
posted by thomcatspike at 2:09 PM on October 17, 2002


If you disagree with the concept of war, the military is not the place for you.

Steve: I don't think that disagreeing with THIS war necessarily means disagreeing with the concept of war. I am sure there are many who serve their countries well and would like to continue to do so who may not agree with every military action. Again, to me it always comes down to personal responsibility. Hiding behind 'orders' is what helps create events like WWII - and every other war where every single participant did not fight for what they wholeheartedly believed in.
posted by widdershins at 2:10 PM on October 17, 2002


More important I feel is how close this comes to something that bothers me a great deal about some elements of the peace movement, and that is the villainization of soldiers. The cliche image of protestors spitting on draftees returning Vietnam did more harm for the cause than good.

No one got spit on. 1 | 2

Please stop repeating this myth. I am a dyed in the wool liberal, but I respect all who wear the uniform. My grandfathers wore the uniform in WWII, both were wounded. This charge of spitting is nothing but a fabrication. Jerry Lembcke argues this story is false in his 1998 book The Spitting Image: Myth, Memory, and the Legacy of Vietnam. Here's some quotes:

"Lembcke, a professor of sociology at Holy Cross and a Vietnam vet, investigated hundreds of news accounts of antiwar activists spitting on vets. But every time he pushed for more evidence or corroboration from a witness, the story collapsed--the actual person who was spat on turned out to be a friend of a friend. Or somebody's uncle. He writes that he never met anybody who convinced him that any such clash took place."

As said above, those who serve in the trenches [or really in the apc's, ships, etc] I hold in high esteem. Those at the top, and their civilian masters have the responsibility to make sure that each and every man & woman that fights will come back, and those who do die, that their deaths are not in vain. I am decidedly anti-Gulf War Part Deux, but there will be no spitting from me. Just me protesting and doing my job as a conscientious objector, and theirs being the best military in the world.
posted by plemeljr at 2:16 PM on October 17, 2002


If you are a soldier, it is your responsibility to follow orders and do your duty.

Yep - provided, of course, that they're legal orders. Which should not be interpreted as a statement on the legality of potential military action in the Middle East, just nitpicking on my part.
posted by nickmark at 2:17 PM on October 17, 2002


If you disagree with the concept of war, the military is not the place for you.

So what happens if you agree with the concept and are willing to fight, but then you disagree with the concrete circumstances/politics/etc. of a specific conflict? In other words, what about soldiers/officers who -- not having left their critical thinking skills at the recruitment office or back at the academy -- disagree with war policy? At times, you can't even resign -- as I understand it, the military froze most resignations/retirement after 9/11.

Military personnel are NOT forbidden to make disagreeing statements to the press or have dissenting opinions. They ARE forbidden to make said disagreements in uniform.

Of course their are some exceptions for those with sensitive security clearance....

Where do you live again?


The United States of Exceptions, apparently, because my friend can make no statement, in or out of uniform. That may indeed have to do with security clearance (I wouldn't know or ask); it does not change the fact that this person is a significantly-placed officer with major disagreements with this war policy, and the public is prevented from hearing those disagreements.
posted by scody at 2:17 PM on October 17, 2002


If you disagree with the concept of war, the military is not the place for you.

A soldier may join up because he believes he'll be defending the country that he loves, and its allies, and their lawful and honorable aims.

When he finds instead that he's actually reinstalling the looted gold plumbing in the bathrooms of the palace of a profoundly undemocratic 13th century feudal kinglet in Kuwait (which actually happened), or spending his life and the lives of others to protect the profits of corporations, etc... he may change his mind.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:22 PM on October 17, 2002


I don't think that disagreeing with THIS war necessarily means disagreeing with the concept of war

You are correct, but that is not what Mr. Wiggins is saying... He objects to all war.

Hiding behind 'orders'

The discipline to follow orders is the glue that holds any military unit together.

comes down to personal responsibility.
You are confusing personal responsibility with personal choice. When you join the military it is you responsibility to follow orders... By swearing allegiance to the President of the United States, and to up hold and protect the Constitution, you lose your choice when on duty.

I understand it, the military froze most resignations/retirement after 9/11.
I can not speak for the officers, but as for enlisted men, when your contract is up, it is up, unless you sign on for more...
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 2:22 PM on October 17, 2002


If you are a soldier, it is your responsibility to follow orders

I don't want to get Godwin called, so I'll just set that statement there and look at it thoughtfully.

Thanks, plemeljr. My family served too, as did some of my friends. Nothing against soldiers. Just against war.
posted by languagehat at 2:23 PM on October 17, 2002


David Wiggins attended West Point. During Operation Desert Storm he left the Army as a conscientious objector.

Can we recover the cost of his (free, to him) education somehow?
posted by trharlan at 2:23 PM on October 17, 2002


Article 88 is what scody and blogRot are discussing, I believe.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:24 PM on October 17, 2002


So what happens if you agree with the concept and are willing to fight, but then you disagree with the concrete circumstances/politics/etc. of a specific conflict?

The same thing that happens if you agree with the concept of representative government but disagree with the policies it's implementing. You do your job, obey the law, and make efforts to change it. Joining the military doesn't strip you of your vote. It is a commitment to carry out the orders you're given - again, to the extent that those orders are legal.
posted by nickmark at 2:25 PM on October 17, 2002


What a worthless front page post. Within the next twelve months, Saddam Hussein will be forcibly removed from power. Please get over it.
posted by Beholder at 2:25 PM on October 17, 2002


When he finds instead that he's actually reinstalling the looted gold ... in Kuwait (which actually happened),

Yeah, right.. I think you watched "Three Kings" one too many times

spending his life and the lives of others to protect the profits of corporations, etc...

You mean the evil coroporations that in some way, shape, or form pay you wages?

Can we recover the cost of his (free, to him) education somehow

Kinda, he got fined $25,000 and is marred as "Dishonorably Discharged" for the rest of his life..
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 2:29 PM on October 17, 2002


Just a Canadian (who happens to love our brothers south of the boarder) point of view. Doesn't it seem a little hypocritical to on one hand say Iraq deserves to be attacked because they aren't following the U.N. rules... and yet at the same time are willing to attack Iraq WITHOUT the U.N.'s blessing? Pacifist or not... it strikes me this war would be wrong because most of the rest of the world stands against it. It causes the perception that the US is arrogant and sees themselves above the law and can unilaterally attack another nation while admitting that no other country should be able to do so. It worries me.
posted by rampage at 2:31 PM on October 17, 2002


So what happens if you agree with the concept and are willing to fight, but then you disagree with the concrete circumstances/politics/etc. of a specific conflict?

It's a huge problem, the whole issue of following orders if you are convinced with good basis that they are immoral / illegal / criminal / deranged

I don't want to Godwinize the thread, but there have been circumstances (we all know the classic example) in the last century when the "I was just following orders" concept has been attacked and discredited in a court of law. Nowadays, that happens at the Hague

It's a very complex ethical and legal issue, I don't mean to trivialize it. But a good start for discussion is, if you're a soldier in the Armed Forces of a dictatorship you can have a very good basis for disobeying orders
If you are a soldier in the Armed Forces of a democratic country, you can defend the choice of refusing to follow orders that can be considered war crimes or other criminal activity
The risk of a Court Martial is still there anyway

On preview, what nickmark said

And Beholder, if the thread bores you, you can just leave.
posted by matteo at 2:31 PM on October 17, 2002


Thank you matteo, I had a much snarkier post, but your's and better judgement prevails. Everyone has the right to refuse to do anything. There are, of course, consequences. For David Wiggins, apparently a fine and being "Dishonorably Discharged" was worth the trouble for standing for what you belive in. I don't know if I could have done it, but I don't have to. I'm not in the service. By choice.
posted by plemeljr at 2:36 PM on October 17, 2002


You are confusing personal responsibility with personal choice.

I am not confusing them; to me they are the same thing.

I agree that order-following is a glue to hold an army together. And I understand that as a soldier you do not have the luxury of complete disclosure of background, intent etc with every assignment. Where we disagree is probably this: I believe that we are conscious, responsible human beings at all times, even when we are in uniforms and have sworn to protect the Constitution etc. It appears that you believe that you give up the right to make personal decisions when you enter the military - am I correct in this? To me, this then becomes an argument about the right to disagree.

On preview: what matteo said...
posted by widdershins at 2:40 PM on October 17, 2002


Within the next twelve months, Saddam Hussein will be forcibly removed from power.

What crystal ball do you have that the rest of us don't? If the US couldn't/didn't remove Saddam during Bush War Part I, why would you assume it will happen within a specific period of time during the very likely Bush War Part II?

Please get over yourself and provide some information backing your prediction.
posted by birgitte at 2:40 PM on October 17, 2002


/feeling ignorant/

what is Godwinizing?
posted by widdershins at 2:42 PM on October 17, 2002


I don't want to get Godwin called, so I'll just set that statement there and look at it thoughtfully.

I just want to point out that in the U.S. military a solider is only required to follow lawful orders. Thus, "go over there and shoot those unarmed civilians" is an order that the lowliest grunt could and should disobey. Obviously, I'm not saying that always happens but I think throwing "I was just following orders" out here with a N*zi taint is a bit of a straw man.
posted by Cyrano at 2:42 PM on October 17, 2002


rampage: The argument goes, the UN should sanction action against Iraq because they haven't complied with various Security Council resolutions. But even if the UN chooses not to do that (the argument continues), the US would be justified in moving against Iraq by the self-defense provisions in the UN charter. In and of itself, the argument isn't hypocritical, though you might make a case for it being fairly cynical.

It can be hard to hear that argument, thanks to the Bush administration's noisy insistence that every bad thing Hussein has done is justification for a whole lot of different things, plus all the rhetoric about regime change, etc, etc.
posted by nickmark at 2:44 PM on October 17, 2002


I could be wrong, but I believe that to qualify as a conscientious objector you have to be opposed to war in any form, based on religious belief (or one similar to a religious belief).

I don't think that you can qualify as a CO based on personal beliefs about specific war.
posted by barkingpumpkin at 2:45 PM on October 17, 2002


The same thing that happens if you agree with the concept of representative government but disagree with the policies it's implementing. You do your job, obey the law, and make efforts to change it.

Is this necessarily the case, though? Among the greatest leaders of the twentieth century were those who advocated not obeying unjust laws. Civil disobedience is now accepted by many (including, I would argue, a majority of Americans, who regard Martin Luther King, Jr. as a secular saint) as a valid protest tactic. Is there any place for civil disobedience in the military? Tough question. (Though the obvious answer is "Not in our military, but it's fine if enemy soldiers choose not to fight, since their cause is unjust." Note that this answer can be used by anyone in any conflict at any time.)
posted by mr_roboto at 2:45 PM on October 17, 2002


Steve_at_Linnwood: If you are a soldier, it is your responsibility to follow orders and do your duty. We have a 100% volunteer force, no one made them sign up. Any one who joins the military knows there is a possibility to go to war, and that people (on both sides) get killed.

Amen and hallelujah. The United States military is not, and should not be, a democratic organization. There simply isn't time in a combat situation for soldiers to sit around and debate the merits their orders. They must simply follow them.

The military is an imperfect organization, just like all other organizations. It has limited responsibilities to compensate for it, as part of the checks and balances system that characterizes the rest of our nation's structure, just like the judicial system can't make laws because they'd be no good at it.

If you are a conscientious objector, a rebel, a "question authority" type, a pacifist, etc., then you do not belong in the military. If you find yourself objecting to your leaders' orders, then renounce military service and get involved with your legislature or some other group. But don't pollute our armed forces by trying to hinder or obstruct actions that are intended to make you, me, and everyone else safer.

The military will screw up. It happens. That's an understood part of any organization that relies on quick action based on partial information.

But the place to defy it is not at the level of the man in the trenches, but instead at the level of legislation, public opinion, and elected leadership. If you don't like the food in the restaurant, talk to the cook not the waiter.

George W. Bush is the leader of the United States Army, and if you don't like it, then just remember that you probably helped him win by not going out and helping your preferred candidate get elected. Get off your ass and GET INVOLVED in local and national politics. Do you even know who your Senate and HR representatives are? If you hate the war on Iraq, then why haven't they heard from you?

People whine and complain about how Bush "stole" the election from Gore (who didn't exactly have the majority behind him either), but all I see are a bunch of chickendoves. You talk and preach and complain and call names, but when it comes election time, you stay home and play Playstation because you're too trendily jaded to be bothered.

I voted for Bush and am proud of it. But I'd rather have seen Americans come out en masse and have voted for Gore 17 to 1 against him, rather than see all this whimpering, ineffectual post-mortem lamenting from people who (and if you're one of the rare exceptions, please excuse me, I'm not talking about you) didn't vote, or even if they did vote, haven't taken the time to personally meet and speak with their elected representatives.

There is exactly one layer between you and the president, and that's the Senate and HR, whom YOU choose. We're given the opportunity to run this nation, and few of us take advantage of it.

[Sorry for the rant, but all these chickendoves drive me nuts. I'm okay now, really. Just had to get that off my chest. :-)]
posted by oissubke at 2:50 PM on October 17, 2002


WRONG! If you are a soldier, it is your responsibility to follow orders and do your duty.

There is no contract created by man that absolves one of the responsibility of heeding the dictates of one's conscience.

Don't make me Godwinize this thread....
posted by rushmc at 2:50 PM on October 17, 2002


"Someone has to be the devils advocate around here. All these lefties might begin to think everyone agrees with them."

- Steve_at_Linnwood's Profile

Well that explains why you completely ruined this thread by throwing out reactionary, false statements in a blind effort to refute F&M's "lefty" post.

Personally I think it's an ignorant concept that soldiers, as opposed to civilians, should be blindly loyal to their president. Soldiers, like every other citizen, are just doing their job. If they should awake one day to find that their actions are morally deplorable, they should change their behavior accordingly.

Maybe a soldier would choose to stop participating in war, whereas a corporate man would choose to stop driving his gas guzzler. But the two situations are ethically equivalent, imho.
posted by zekinskia at 2:50 PM on October 17, 2002


Daniel Ellsberg was just in DC on Monday night (promoting his new book). He appeared on the Diane Rehm show on Tuesday, and suggested that soldiers do just as David Wiggins suggests.

A message from two who have made tough choices themselves.
posted by Red58 at 2:52 PM on October 17, 2002


oops, matteo beat me to it.
posted by rushmc at 2:52 PM on October 17, 2002


"I think it's an ignorant concept that soldiers, as opposed to civilians, should be blindly loyal to their president."

The following oath is taken by all personnel inducted into the armed forces of the United States, as found in the US Code, Section 502.

I, _________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:56 PM on October 17, 2002


Is this necessarily the case, though? Among the greatest leaders of the twentieth century were those who advocated not obeying unjust laws.

Certainly; I wouldn't say it's _necessarily_ the case. I do think that there's a comparable line to be drawn between the two, though, where "unjust laws" corresponds to "illegal orders". Just as we would expect soldiers to refuse to gun down civilians, we honor MLK and others like him. In my earlier post, I was careful to say "_disagree_ with the policies" rather than making reference to unjust laws. There's a middle ground, I think, a place where you can say, "Look, I don't like how you're running things; I'm going to follow the law, but watch out come November." A hasty example might be a manufacturer who doesn't like various environmental constraints placed on it: they're likely to obey the law in order to avoid fines, but lobby hard to get the law repealed. In that case, it's a question of policy, not justice.
posted by nickmark at 3:00 PM on October 17, 2002


Steve_at_linwood:

>> When he finds instead that he's actually reinstalling the looted gold ... in Kuwait (which actually happened),

> Yeah, right.. I think you watched "Three Kings" one too many times


You think? No facts, as usual. That film contains no such scene. I note you removed the reference to "plumbing" leaving only "gold" in an attempt to enhance the imagined similarity.

Among other sources including news reports at the time, (which are not on the web as it was 1991) Crusade: The Untold Story of the Persian Gulf War - Rick Atkinson, Harper Collins, 1994:
"...They didn't want to be seen sending American servicemen to die for oil. But they couldn't present the war as being fought to usher in democracy and freedom either. The first reconstruction in the newly liberated but shattered Kuwait was the royal palace, including the installation of gold-plated bathroom fittings..." --
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:05 PM on October 17, 2002


If you disagree, why join? There is no draft. This is a moot point.

United States soldiers are held to UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice). The UCMJ covers these areas that may relate to any war crimes (that you all are alluding to): If you feel that your commanding officer or platoon leader is giving you orders that force you do do any of these, you can not obey. It is still not a choice. You have the duty to report it to his/her superior officer. This may be hard for you "do what ever you feel like" people out there, but being a member of the military is not about making choices, it is about following orders...

Everyone who is howling about "war crimes" and "hideing behind orders" is attemping to change the subject...

The point being possed in the article by it's author, is that if you don't agree with this war, you should refuse to follow orders or somthing to that point.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 3:09 PM on October 17, 2002


I see this as -

If someone asks you to do something you think is wrong, don't do it. The oath a soldier makes is given under the presumption that the things the president will ask him or her to do would be right, just, and legal. In this case, I think they're not. So I think that soldiers shouldn't do them. It will, however, probably lead to their arrest.

Mr Wiggins was dishonorably discharged. I don't see him complaining about that. He was willing to take the punishment handed out.

We're looking for a few more good men and women who are willing do the same. But that takes courage to stand up for what you believe and to take the consequences.

If you think the Iraq war is correct, then by all means go and do your thing. (but of course, know that many do not support the attack)
posted by Red58 at 3:13 PM on October 17, 2002


S_a_L: Everyone who is howling about "war crimes" and "hideing behind orders" is attemping to change the subject...

Looks like you were one of the ones that baited others into taking this thread off on a tangent. You laid down the blanket statement: "WRONG! If you are a soldier, it is your responsibility to follow orders and do your duty."

But obviously if you are asked to commit a crime, a soldier should refuse. That was the valid point that many in the thread made in response to your assertion. So then you attempt to look like you're not backpedaling on the issue of disobeying orders by saying, OK there are war crimes but: "...you can not obey. It is still not a choice."

That's illogical. It has to be a choice. Because there is no 3rd party judge out in the field to tell you whether or not an order you've been given is a war crime or not. There's a hell of a lot of gray area. In the end you have to decide for yourself if by following the orders of your CO you are not following the orders of the UCMJ.
posted by pitchblende at 3:36 PM on October 17, 2002


Y'know, while I wouldn't try to stop someone from serving in the armed forces that didn't believe in war, I would try to stop someone from serving that didn't have any sense of the difference between right or wrong.

Which is why I called up my ex-roommate's Marine recruiter t'other day to tell him that my ex-roomie had pledged his entire family's history of military service on the fact that he had paid his rent.

Of course, he hadn't paid his rent, and there's a chance now that he will not be allowed to serve, breaking a tradition of military service in his family that goes back at least three generations. Why did I do this? My own conscience dictated no other choice. I need our soldiers to be people with a good sense of morality, so they will resist bad or illegal orders, and know the difference between them and orders to kill someone in a just and honorable war (setting aside here the question of whether or not war with Iraq is such a war).

This kid, though, is just looking for bullet to give him honor in death that he couldn't attain in life.

He's not the only one, if most of his enlisted (and a lot of wannabe) buddies are anything to judge by ... and that's sad.
posted by WolfDaddy at 3:44 PM on October 17, 2002


People whine and complain about how Bush "stole" the election from Gore (who didn't exactly have the majority behind him either), but all I see are a bunch of chickendoves. You talk and preach and complain and call names, but when it comes election time, you stay home and play Playstation because you're too trendily jaded to be bothered.

I respect your view on GB and your pride in your vote 100%. But please share the magical powers you posses that allow you to divine our voting records and knowledge of elected officials from MeFi posts.

While not psychic, I'm pretty confident most folks in these parts, right or left, are pretty damn involved in the democratic process of citizenship. So take this "chickendove" shit somewhere else.
posted by jalexei at 3:52 PM on October 17, 2002


You mean the evil coroporations that in some way, shape, or form pay you wages?
Linwood, you're beginning to get on my nerves, and i've barely begun reading the thread. the fact that society has been formulated in such a way that it is virtually impossible NOT to have some truck with the corporate machine in no way lessens the evil of certain aspects of its behavior. nor does criticizing certain aspects indicate a desire to throw out the whole thing. are you so personally brimming with integrity that you have never in your life, in any way, shape or form, now, then or in the future, benefited from something about which you earlier, later or simultaneously expressed a negative opinion? bullshit.
posted by quonsar at 3:57 PM on October 17, 2002


you were one of the ones that baited others

I am not one who danced around Nuremberg....

languagehat:"I don't want to get Godwin called"

matteo:"I don't want to Godwinize the thread"

plemeljr:"Thank you matteo"

rushmc:"Don't make me Godwinize this thread...."

There's a hell of a lot of gray area
Not really. If you are ordered to shoot civilians.... is there any grey area? If you are ordered to loot? Or if you are ordered to not take POWs?

The point is:
You can not follow an order that is illegal.

If your Commander-in-Chief orders you to war, and it is sanctioned by the U.S. Congress, it is not illegal.

Therefore, you can not disobey, with out facing the consequences of the UCMJ.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 3:57 PM on October 17, 2002


If someone asks you to do something you think is wrong, don't do it. The oath a soldier makes is given under the presumption that the things the president will ask him or her to do would be right, just, and legal. In this case, I think they're not. So I think that soldiers shouldn't do them. It will, however, probably lead to their arrest.

What a soldier considers wrong and what is illegal maybe different things. The congress have voted and the President has been granted the authority to prosecute this basically as he sees fit. I think that the war, at least according to the US, would be considered legal. If that is the case, than the soldier has no grounds to refuse. So, I would say that arrest is not only probable, it is nearly guaranteed. This is all assuming we go to war with Iraq.
posted by Plunge at 4:07 PM on October 17, 2002


quonsar: Yes some times I do find myself regretting some thing that I had at one time benefited from. My point is that this proletarian view of corporate american dictating the government is nauseating....

I do not want to turn this in to a "Corporations are bad vs. No They Are not" thread, so I will leave it at that...
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 4:07 PM on October 17, 2002


Plunge: You hit the nail on the head
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 4:08 PM on October 17, 2002



what is Godwinizing?

widdershins -- Godwinizing just means "invoking Godwin's Law", which, if you read it carefully, only applies when someone is compared directly to Hitler or to Nazis as an insult or to invalidate their arguments by association, not (as in this thread) when either of the two are merely mentioned because they are historically apropos. A crucial distinction, the lack of which causes the "law" to be mis-invoked, and therefore become cliched.
posted by Hildago at 4:10 PM on October 17, 2002


[O/T]: "Just as we would expect soldiers to refuse to gun down civilians..." - nickmark
Wish that the Para's in Ulster, Bloody Sunday, 1972 had heeded that one. Let's not forget that soldiers of Western democracies have made murderous, wrongful decisions, in the recent past, in their own lands.
[/OT]

Steve_at_Linwood: May I ask, as you have made it clear that you serve in the military at this time: do you make these posts with the knowledge & approval of your superiors? I'm not implying anything, it seems relevant to know, is all.
posted by dash_slot- at 4:13 PM on October 17, 2002


Dear Soldier of the U.S. Military:

Please kill extra Iraqi combatants for me-as I'm claiming a certain Mr. David Wiggins' ration. Thanks.
posted by quercus at 4:17 PM on October 17, 2002


If you want to claim them yourself, enlist. Then we'd be saved unnecessary snarks like that.
posted by dash_slot- at 4:20 PM on October 17, 2002


Knowledge: No
Approval: Not needed

First off as a Guardsman, I am only on duty one weekend a month, and two to three weeks in the summer. So I am off duty at the moment.

Regardless, I am not limited to speak my mind, pro or anti-war.

But I can not: Look, I am not saying that you have to, as a soldier, agree with the President, but you must obey orders.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 4:23 PM on October 17, 2002


C'mon, y'all. This essay is an example of the rhetorical device called apostrophe: a philosophical address directed at someone or something that is not present with the speaker for the edification of the actual audience. Dr. Wiggins--who I presume has also taken the Hippocratic oath--addresses his opposition to the war by addressing the Universal Soldier, not PFC Aguilar from San Antonio or Lt. Williams from Mississippi. His target audience is not serving GIs, but rather Mr. and Mrs John Q. Smith, from Anytown, USA.

A military doctor who has actually tended the broken bodies of the brave young men who are sent to die for their country--and my father was one, Korea 1950-1952-- will never see it your way, Steve O'Linwood. War's wanton destruction is evil and corrosive to the souls of its combatants, even if God is on your side. I will take Dr. Wiggins' passion for peace over the bravado of armchair generals who think aggressive war is morally acceptable.
posted by rdone at 4:25 PM on October 17, 2002


For those writing that soldiers must simply have courage and follow their conscience to the moral decision, I think something’s getting lost here. The military is set up to help soldiers wage wars and hurt them if they refuse—or else no one would take on the task, which at Best involves surrendering freedoms and comforts that civilians enjoy, for little reward and less thanks, and at worst--. It takes a host of factors including patriotic ideals, professional commitment, UCMJ, financial dependence, loyalty and camaraderie, and training to create a soldier’s obedience and will to fight. Even if the political issue involved is clear-cut, the costs for soldiers to resist are high, much higher than they are for civilians to follow their conscience. (I hope that generalization is forgivable.)

I don’t think it’s fair for civilians to ask soldiers to bear the costs of protecting us during worthy threats and then bear the costs of resisting during unworthy ones. Not when there is still so much more that civilians can do to influence our chosen leaders’ policies. (Disclosure: I’m on inactive duty and am resigning my commission at the end of my service commitment.)
posted by win_k at 4:33 PM on October 17, 2002


Doesn't matter that "many do not support the attack". Soldiers don't serve the people, they serve the government. It doesn't matter if every fucking American citizen opposes the war, that doesn't mean anything to a soldier. The only people that matter to them are commanding officers, end of story. FWIW, I know more than a few soldiers, all of them support overthrowing Saddam with military force. Sounds to me like the handful of soldiers opposed to the war are having second thoughts about what it means to be a soldier, and probably never thought they'd actually have to go into battle when they signed up. The guys I know (who know more than I do about this) think this war is absolutely necessary.
posted by David Dark at 4:36 PM on October 17, 2002


that did it, I calling drill Sergeant Hartman.

Private clavdivs: "Gunney, I'm scared"

DSH: " You WILL not be afraid, you WILL not let some slimeball witch doctor invoke some magic show bullshit to infect my beloved corp."

did not watch much JAG, but if this guy said this stuff, could he not be brought on charges for slander. Forget that if had said this stuff, while in uniform, he would probably be fragged. ya know, step on a hypo full of hot air.

yeah, he'd be fragged.

(stick it to em' Miller:)
posted by clavdivs at 4:39 PM on October 17, 2002


Somebody earlier was asking about how you register as a conscientious objector. Ask Yahoo covered this recently. Originally the designation was just for certain religious types, but it has been expanded to include those who object "due to moral or ethical reasons" (although it can't be "based on politics, expediency, or self-interest"). CO's do not "refuse to kill anyone, anywhere" as was stated up above. There are a couple different types of recognized and non-recognized CO's. Technically you only "register" as one when you get drafted. The article does give some tips for making your intentions known down at Selective Service, though.
posted by web-goddess at 5:08 PM on October 17, 2002


S_at_L: Clarification, please. To me these two adjacent statements are (or can be) in conflict:
1. You can not follow an order that is illegal.

2. If your Commander-in-Chief orders you to war, and it is sanctioned by the U.S. Congress, it is not illegal. Therefore, you can not disobey, with out facing the consequences of the UCMJ.

Now, if I was ordered to My Lai, by my superiors who are instructed to (sorry, whichever phrase you wish goes here)"wage war" by the C-in-C - that instruction alone makes it lawful - and I am instructed to open fire on unarmed civilians: that's legal, by your definition, yes? I can not disobey?

But is it moral? I s this the underlying reason some states wish to opt out of the ICC?
posted by dash_slot- at 5:13 PM on October 17, 2002


S_a_L: all I was saying is that if you want to have this discussion fine... but lets have it with an article by some one who would know the subject matter at hand.

So Steve, let me get this straight . . . You argue against the article because it is written by someone who has never served in a combat situation, and therefore doesn't know the subject matter at hand.

But you are for a war being dictated by a man who also has never served in a combat situation, and therefore doesn't know the subject matter at hand.

So my question is . . . Why should your President be more qualified to have an opinion on the matter, when his military experience is no greater than the damnable Mr. Wiggins?

David Dark: FWIW, I know more than a few soldiers, all of them support overthrowing Saddam with military force.

Just out of curiousity, how many of them have served in combat situations before? I'd be interested to know how many have shot a man (or even at a man) and would love to go back. It seems to me that those arguing against war in Iraq are those who have served, while those arguing for it are precisely those that haven't.
posted by dogmatic at 5:14 PM on October 17, 2002


Not really. If you are ordered to shoot civilians.... is there any grey area? If you are ordered to loot? Or if you are ordered to not take POWs?

It must be nice to think only in these simple binary terms. You may not be prepared for what you'll find in war if you get called up to serve in Iraq.

Would it be "looting" if you stole food and medicine from civilians - supplies that your squad needed to survive? Probably not, but it depends on the circumstance. What if they needed it to survive too? Would it be murder to kill innocent civilians if they were caught between you and an armed enemy that was shooting at you? I don't know, ask Bob Kerrey. Each unique situation demands analysis and decisions by an individual solider...assuming they don't want to commit war crimes.

And I don't envy them for the tough choices they have to make when confronted with these quandaries, especially when, as win_k points out, the system is set up against their speaking out.
posted by pitchblende at 5:17 PM on October 17, 2002


ordered to open fire on unarmed civilians: You are reaching...

never served in a combat situation
Wilson never served. FDR never served.

What is your point: That an ER doctor is more informed than the POTUS on foreign affairs? I think not.

Would it be "looting" if you stole food and medicine from civilians - supplies that your squad needed to survive?
Yes. And if found out, you would be punished under UCMJ.

Would it be murder to kill innocent civilians if they were caught between you and an armed enemy that was shooting at you?
If you were ordered to target the civilians, yes.

This is not that hard of a concept.

served in combat situations before? I'd be interested to know how many have shot a man (or even at a man) and would love to go back.
You are confusing the need for military action to protect our country, with bloodlust....

I know of no one in the military that wants to kill...
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 5:40 PM on October 17, 2002


respect the rank and file soldiers who face many difficulties, but...
just say no to endless war...
posted by aiq at 5:52 PM on October 17, 2002


If your Commander-in-Chief orders you to war, and it is sanctioned by the U.S. Congress, it is not illegal.

What you fail to take into account is that at some point in the past, every heinous act now classified "illegal" or deemed a "warcrime" has been legal, accepted, and common. If you're going to base your morality on what strangers tell you, you will always be adrift.

Look, I am not saying that you have to, as a soldier, agree with the President, but you must obey orders.

Balderdash! You don't have to do any such thing, so long as you are willing to accept the conseqences.

I will never understand the mentality of people eager to abdicate to others their responsibility to think and choose for themselves.
posted by rushmc at 5:54 PM on October 17, 2002


S_at_L: I know you're busy, & you are keeping cool under all this crossfire *ahem*, but you've skipped my request for clarification. Here it is, if you forgot.
posted by dash_slot- at 6:01 PM on October 17, 2002


That an ER doctor is more informed than the POTUS on foreign affairs? I think not.

Oh, you "think", again. When the POTUS famously knows nothing about foreign affairs (he has never demonstrated otherwise outside of a prepared speech), then yes, this particular ER doctor stands every chance of being better informed, as does almost any literate and conscientous citizen. The POTUS does not even comprehend the contents of the speeches he delivers, as is made evident by his inability to speak on the subjects they covered within days of having delivered them. He might be told about foreign affairs, but "informed" implies that the knowledge is comprehended and retained.

You didn't really respond to the question, in any event. A conscientious objector who graduated from West Point is manifestly better qualified to write such an article than most. Certainly more than a President who cannot account for a year of his cushy, family-secured Air National Guard berth.
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:02 PM on October 17, 2002


Steve, I have no doubt that Presidents have led us into just wars in the past with only a rudimentary knowledge of military service. But that's not my argument. Both Wilson and FDR had the support of the military when push came to shove, and like Bush in Afghanistan, they also had the support of a public justly fearing for their lives. But this is not a reactionary war, and the fate of the free world does not really hang in the balance. Saddam is no Hitler; he's a two-bit dictator in a shallow enclave that would have been forgotten had it not been home to so much goddamn oil. Let's not forget that Saddam does not pose a direct threat to any of our so-called allies, except perhaps Israel, and has been contained for a dozen years. He has no great love for terrorists and they have no love for him, as both realize the other is too wily to be trusted, and Saddam, cold and meticulous as he is, would not do something so stupid. His worse offenses are decades old, and while I wouldn't suggest that he's a changed man, no one suggests that George Bush spends his days snorting coke and stealing from shareholders when discussing his foreign policy, now do they? The point is that Iraq poses about as much threat to us as a sovereign nation right now as any other Muslim or Communist nation, which is to say not much. And W, while he would like to think of himself as the next Wilson -- or maybe he would like to atone for the sins of Churchill? -- does not really have the support or even the reason to attack, as those other Presidents had . . .

But I digress.

Anyway, Steve, it's not the merits of the war really that interest me, but your earlier claim that military experience lends credence to these decisions, because it is exactly those who have military experience that we are ignoring in this so-called dialogue. If having pulled a trigger lends such a compelling voice to those who have done it, then why are we not listening to them?

You are confusing the need for military action to protect our country, with bloodlust....

I am not. I'm trying to determine what rate of those who have served feel it necessary to go to war to defend the country. And especially how many feel the need in this case in particular. There's no shortage of military personnel or former military personnel that have taken stands against this war in editorials over the past month. My point is, why are their opinions being passed on for one who doesn't know the subject matter at hand?
posted by dogmatic at 6:21 PM on October 17, 2002


dogmatic... well, of those I've talked to, a couple are retired vets of Gulf War I, a couple were there and are still enlisted, one was in Somalia, and a couple haven't seen any action that I know of. Even those that were in Gulf I saw limited action, given the one-sided nature of the battle, but that doesn't mean that they weren't in danger there nor that they will surely face danger again during this one. They know they could die, and they know they may have to kill, if that's what you're asking.
posted by David Dark at 7:25 PM on October 17, 2002


S_a_L: This is not that hard of a concept.

Well, then I guess you should go dash off a letter to Don Rumsfeld on your idea for saving the DoD millions of dollars per year. After all, you've proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is no need for military courts and judges, since every situation is so cut and dried, we could just have a computer hand out sentences!
posted by pitchblende at 7:28 PM on October 17, 2002


Does fold_and_mutilate always follow the post-and-hide method of discourse?

To give him/her credit on the third one, he/she did actually make a second appearance on the thread, albeit five days after the thing had died out.
posted by shoos at 8:08 PM on October 17, 2002


I have no doubt that Presidents have led us into just wars in the past with only a rudimentary knowledge of military service. But that's not my argument.

Actually, I think that was exactly what you were alluding to, now you are just changing your tune:

You said:
But you are for a war being dictated by a man who also has never served in a combat situation, and therefore doesn't know the subject matter at hand.

You were saying that because Bush has never served in a combat situation, he is not qualified to lead us in war. You can change your question now, but that is question posed to me. Comabt experiance does not translate into the ablity to lead a nation...

your earlier claim that military experience lends credence to these decisions

When did I say that? I personally belive that the only military personal who's opinions matter on this subject, are those currently in high command. No one else has access to the information that they do... therefore no one else, save for the presidential administration, can be as well informed.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 8:37 PM on October 17, 2002


I've just been looking over this thread in some amazement, and it's consistently been far less about the actual topic than about S_a_L arguing points about which he has no knowledge -- no less than two completely uninformed postings contesting the author's graduating from West Point, when the truth was easily discovered by anyone who actually wanted to know. And that's just one example. And yet that doesn't discourage him from contesting points of fact time and again, without any knowledge of those facts.

Steve not everyone cares what you think to the extent that it should dominate every thread about war or politics. What's more, you talk about the importance of being well informed, and "qualified", precisely as if you cared about facts and knowledge when you constantly demonstrate that, for your own part, you do not care to let such things stand in the way of your postings.

Why do you suppose your opinion is so important that you need to post so relentlessly without consulting anything but your inner dialogue first?

Give it a rest.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:47 PM on October 17, 2002


George,

You do not know me. Do not pretend to know me. You say that I "have no knowledge" because you disagree with my view point. You accuse me of hijacking this thread, when people were debating me...

How about you give your self a rest, and think before you post...

Do not address any more comments towards me, this is the third time tonight that you have attempted to insult me for insulting's sake... Personal attacks will get you no where...
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 8:53 PM on October 17, 2002


I quote: "Yeah, right.. I think you watched "Three Kings" one too many times".
Is this contesting a statement of fact based on knowledge, or is it an ignorant ad hominem "attack", to use your word, which is uninterested in facts.. And I had not at that point addressed you and I have at no time insulted you.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:59 PM on October 17, 2002


Does fold_and_mutilate always follow the post-and-hide method of discourse?

Yes. And Steve_at_Linwood never disappears. Its a sort of yin and yang.
posted by owillis at 9:06 PM on October 17, 2002


The enigma that is Steve_at_Linnwood.


"Personal attacks will get you no where..."

"If you have issue with my statements fine. But your personal attacks discredit you and your arguments completely"

"You Fuckwit"

"fuckwits"

"You are a moron"

"Fuck off Webb"

"You are an idiot"


posted by The Great Satan at 9:26 PM on October 17, 2002


S_a_L: You say that I "have no knowledge" because you disagree with my view point.

We say that you have no knowledge because time and time again you've demonstrated that you have no knowledge by stating something that is provably incorrect. Once someone points this out to you, you do one of three things: 1) you confiscate that person's argument (occasionally assisted by factoids from a quick Google search) and proceed to use it against them, 2) you claim that the other guy doesn't understand what you're talking about, then follow up with something completely unrelated, or 3) you engage in an ad hominem attack. I can't wait to see which one you use on me.

No one else has access to the information that they do... therefore no one else, save for the presidential administration, can be as well informed.

I seriously doubt this. Military intelligence isn't the only source of information. Anybody with a few bucks can get a satellite photo, for instance. And lots of guys who have actually been to Iraq and seen what is going on there are being ignored - how well informed do you have to be to be listened to? And really, is our president really intelligent enough to comprehend all this restricted information he's getting? Who's better qualified to make foreign policy decisions, a moron with the latest military intelligence reports, or a smart person using the internet, public records, CNN, etc.? I'll go with the smart person.
posted by RylandDotNet at 9:35 PM on October 17, 2002


Let me get this straight;a guy that got a free education from a top notch college and then declared himself a C.O. when it came time to hold up his end of the bargin thinks the troops should consider his point of view? Not likely. what an ego this guy has.
posted by MikeMc at 9:45 PM on October 17, 2002


I think S@L's point is that the people at the top are there because they've been doing this their entire lives. I think that qualifies them as well informed, much more so than say, a guy who went to West Point and then found his true feathers and walked. That's not to say that the guy can't make valid points, but if you're going to give him credit for having served and count him as "in the know", the least you can do is give the same credit to those who have served for decades, are still serving, and have current access to information that you or I or an ER doctor or a smart person using the internet and CNN does not.

And really, it may please you to think of Bush as a moron, it may give you cause to snicker and hold your head high and think of yourself as so much more intelligent than the man in the chair, but stupid men do not become POTUS. If you think of him as your political enemy, you are doing yourself a great disservice by underestimating his intellect. I didn't vote for him and I never cared much for the man, but if you still think he's the same guy who slipped and stumbled his way through the campaign, you haven't been paying attention. He knows politics, and that's his game. Those of you who dismiss him as a moron who won the seat on a fluke are only helping to open the door for a repeat performance. Whatever happens with this current situation, the Dems have a battle on their hands in '04, and the sooner they realize it, the better for everyone.
posted by David Dark at 10:00 PM on October 17, 2002


Shhhh...

Let them continue to think of the President as dumb. They all thought Reagan was dumb. Bush I dumber. Bush II, dumbest of all.

Let them keep thinking it and President Bush will laugh all the way to his second term.
posted by Plunge at 10:20 PM on October 17, 2002


Soldiers don't serve the people, they serve the government. It doesn't matter if every fucking American citizen opposes the war, that doesn't mean anything to a soldier

Yeah, Lincoln was so wrong about that whole "by the people, for the people" thing.
posted by moonbiter at 10:43 PM on October 17, 2002


Let me get this straight;a guy that got a free education from a top notch college and then declared himself a C.O. when it came time to hold up his end of the bargin

He was fined $25,000, which approaches the price of a pretty decent education, and dishonorably discharged, which disqualifies him for a number of careers and looks pretty damn bad on a resume. I think given his background and experience he knew that this, or very much worse, could happen to him. It doesn't appear that he was trying to rip anyone off.

And as to the suggestion of cowardice made by others, please consider: how much courage did it take to do what he did compared to staying and and fighting in a war where very few Americans faced the slightest likelihood of getting killed? He destroyed his career and, one might suppose, invited the scorn and hatred of everyone he knew. Surely for many people in the service at the time, Desert Storm was a walk in the park by comparision. (Full disclosure: I do not know for a fact the percentage of Desert Storm-era servicepersons who found it to be a walk in the park.)
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:51 PM on October 17, 2002


He was fined $25,000, which approaches the price of a pretty decent education

Doesn't remotely cover the cost of an Academy education + a medical school. But he'd've served-off some of one or both by the time he walked.

Can't say I have much sympathy for the guy, though. Military forces kill human beings and destroy human property and effort, and that's transparently obvious to anyone before entry. What the fuck did he think armies did, rescue puppies all day?

And going into it, we didn't think it would be a cakewalk with a huge chunk of our losses from fratricide and one lucky scud hit on a mailroom. ISTR people mostly predicting Vietnam-ballpark losses in the tens of thousands.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:09 PM on October 17, 2002


Great Satan: If my memory serves me well, you've got a knack yourself for, you know, sort of addy homminey type things, too, don't you?
posted by shoos at 11:12 PM on October 17, 2002


Military Times polled soldiers. The results, while not scientific (random names on subscriber list, most probably career military) aren't really that surprising.

The poll, taken Sept. 20-24, shows that members of the military are more hawkish than the public on Iraq, though solid majorities of both groups said they would support a decision to invade. But like the rest of the nation, those in uniform would prefer the backing of Congress, and to a lesser degree the United Nations, before going to war.
posted by dhartung at 3:11 AM on October 18, 2002


My point is that this proletarian view of corporate american dictating [to] the government is nauseating...

I'd like to see you support your implicit claim that this is a view held only by the lowest social or economic class of [the] community.
posted by walrus at 3:43 AM on October 18, 2002


George Spiggott: Once someone points this out to you (Steve_at_Linwood), you do one of three things: 1) you confiscate that person's argument (occasionally assisted by factoids from a quick Google search) and proceed to use it against them, 2) you claim that the other guy doesn't understand what you're talking about, then follow up with something completely unrelated, or 3) you engage in an ad hominem attack.
4: Totally ignore the post which points out internal contradictions, and respond to others with gusto.

Hmmmm.....
posted by dash_slot- at 5:17 AM on October 18, 2002


Rats. I missed all the fireworks. Damn job! I am just a corporate pawn!

Steve_at_Linwood did a damn fine job, as usual. I think it's important to remember that these are opinions, and can be expressed without threatening Godwin name-calling or pointless put-downs.

oissubke pretty much nailed it exactly.

To address fold_and_mutilate's post again (remember?), I did not get the feeling that the writer has a grasp on reality, though he has as much a right to horribly flawed polemic as anyone else in a free society.

Any military action taken against Iraq is not action against Iraqi foot soldiers or civilians, just as the action taken in Afghanistan was not against the Afghan (Afghani?) soldiers or civilians (as was made abundantly clear), but against the Taliban and al Qaida. To base one's stance on such logical and ethical errors is a waste of "argument".

Further, such declarations are morally indefensible, as is the the case with the not in our name shenanigans, who claim that any and all military action taken is wrong. Utter nonsense.

Two questions:

1. f_and_m's op-ed link already has a discussion forum at the end of the article, why not use it?

2. If Hussein's horrid totalitarian abuses and lies are worthy of preemptive action by the United States, what is to be done wih a sworn enemy of the U.S. who, (unlike Hussein) freely admits having a nuclear weapons program? Spoiler: North Damn Korea.
posted by hama7 at 5:17 AM on October 18, 2002


Steve

Why should we attack, invade and occupy Iraq?
posted by yertledaturtle at 5:43 AM on October 18, 2002


Steve,
Obviously this guys rhetoric is a little over the top and I disagree with the approach he is taking.

But I will not get into that right now.

I am curious however, what do you think about the essay.

Please dissect the argument that the author makes line by line or paragraph by if need be.
posted by yertledaturtle at 5:54 AM on October 18, 2002


Back a ways:
If you disagree with the concept of war, the military is not the place for you.

Steve_at_Linnwood, I completely disagree with this line of thinking. I am a proud former US Army 37F and I no more believe in the concept of war than I believe Elvis is alive and well and living in Montana.

Prevent war. Preempt war. Win without fighting. It's how a mature culture with a strong sense of (internal/external) civic responsibility would do things.

Transforming the military into an institution appropriate for a democratic society is something that can only be accomplished with the participation of those of us who have served in uniform. That's part of why I enlisted, actually - so I'd have the right to participate in just such a discussion. I (the little-round-glasses, covered-with-tattoos innerleckchual) did pretty well in the Army, and the Army always did right by me, so I'd have to question your assertion that the military was not an appropriate venue for my beliefs.
posted by adamgreenfield at 6:37 AM on October 18, 2002


Hama7, 1) I’m kind of lost on your point that a war against a country affects only that country’s government and not its soldiers and civilians. Although the ideology behind a war may not target the people, the bullets, bombs, and sanctions tend not to be so scrupulous. How many Afghani civilians died in our attacks—500-3000? How many Iraqi civilians have died, directly or indirectly because of US involvement, since the Gulf War—1.7 million? Conflict doesn’t happen on a board game; it happens when ordinary people, soldiers and civilians, work to destroy the homes, lives, and will of the others. This is how euphemisms like “collateral damage” came to be. Please don’t divorce logic from reality. They’re supposed to complement each other.

2) I could have sworn that some of the great religious/moral traditions found it completely defensible to oppose violence. Did you know 84% of the US is officially Christian, the faith of “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9)? I’m not trying to say religion is the only moral defense of non-violence, or to start a bitter religious debate. I’m trying to say there is plenty of moral ground to oppose war. (I am boggled by how secular the anti-war arguments are.)

3) Kudos to the “Not In Our Name” movement. If this is a democracy, our leaders are supposed to represent us; and if some people want to exercise their freedom of speech and association in legal ways to remind their leaders how they want to be represented, that’s good citizenship.

4) And I mostly agree with oissubke too, up to the point where he implies that many who oppose war have been lazing about with videogames and thus should share the blame for the current hawkishness. Probably some of the “chickendoves” he’s talking about do exist, but no one’s provided evidence that they’re the foundation of the anti-war argument. More than half of the voters opposed Bush, and many of us write/fax/call/visit our representatives frequently, attend protests, argue with friends, and get involved to advocate democratic change. Yeah, we haven’t turned our current minority into a majority yet, but we’re gaining ground. That’s another beauty of democracy; ideally, ideas that begin as minority ones are given the freedom to fade or grow into majority ones.

(hear, hear, adamgreenfield.)
posted by win_k at 6:50 AM on October 18, 2002


4: Totally ignore the post which points out internal contradictions, and respond to others with gusto.

Hmmmm.....

Dash, why don't you take some of your own medicine and respond to the Bali thread.

If Hussein's horrid totalitarian abuses and lies are worthy of preemptive action by the United States, what is to be done wih a sworn enemy of the U.S. who, (unlike Hussein) freely admits having a nuclear weapons program? Spoiler: North Damn Korea.

(so much for positing good points.)

what is a sworn enemy? N. Korea admitting that they have a nuclear program is saying I have a bike. some one will deal with that later. It was propaganda.
posted by clavdivs at 6:59 AM on October 18, 2002


You have made some good points, win_k, although sanctions are not violent, and in the case of Iraq are completely the fault of Hussein.

The criticism of sanctions is inherently flawed. It's like this: "Be nice or we won't give you presents."

The recipient says: "I won't be nice but without the presents my children will starve."

Tough shit. Feed them yourself then. All bets are off. Don't blame the caretakers.

“Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9)?

No human being wants war, or death.

When you have an adversary whose only goal is complete erasure of "infidels" without any equivocation, how can you sit idly by and wait for the slaughter of everything that you hold dear?

Mark Steyn has some sane views on the subject.
posted by hama7 at 8:14 AM on October 18, 2002


though he has as much a right to horribly flawed polemic as anyone else

how about discussing those flaws instead of saying "I did not get the feeling that the writer has a grasp on reality."

complete erasure of "infidels"

i thought Mr. Hussein was secular.
posted by tolkhan at 8:24 AM on October 18, 2002


Equating trade with gift-giving is a vivid metaphor, Hama7, but I’m not persuaded that because Saddam Hussein is a dangerous and murderous dictator, we can blamelessly refuse to help alleviate the Iraqis’ suffering and pressure other nations to refuse help as well. I suppose it comes down to whether one believes we should care for others; you seem to be saying it’s not our responsibility, and I believe it is, although I know that’s an idealistic position to take. Our debate is complicated by the fact that we’re not talking about denying Iraq legos and cap guns; we’re talking about the reefer vans, sewage treatment components, etc., that it needs for public welfare but also could use for military purposes. These questions require more complicated answers than the help ‘em/screw ‘em/kill ‘em type arguments.

Per Mark Steyn: President Bush has to confront the real root causes--the comprehensive failure of the Middle East's various despotisms. I think Steyn’s getting close; and I think we’ll find that the US has made some contributions the existing situation. There are things we can do to support change, which might include leaving Saudi Arabia, ceasing to block UN resolutions on Palestine, promoting free press and higher education in the Middle East, supporting pro-democracy and pro-tolerance leaders, and other things that I’m only beginning to learn about. Regarding Iraq in particular, if our constructive engagement can bring change in China and other countries with oppressive leadership, why have we decided that for Hussein, the only option is taking him out, knowing thousands will go probably go with him?

Other comments: Why do you lump Saddam Hussein together with Al Qaeda? Even the CIA countered Bush’s attempt to conflate the two. And, sure, few people like war and death, but that’s different from actively avoiding or working to prevent them.
posted by win_k at 10:03 AM on October 18, 2002


Let them keep thinking it and President Bush will laugh all the way to his second term

Like his father did?
posted by matteo at 10:12 AM on October 18, 2002


Aren't soldiers employees like everyone else? Who's to say they chose the wrong job?
posted by Carlos Quevedo at 12:50 PM on October 18, 2002


walrus: I meant "proletarian" in a more general sense (middle class vs uber rich)

yertledaturtle: I would answer that question about invading Iraq, but I am afraid that George_Spiggot would accuse me of hijacking the thread...

AdamGreenfield: I agree with you completely, Win with out fighting is the goal. But it must also remain in the back of you mind, that if those measures don't work, then you will have to do what needs to be done... I am not gung ho, lets go kill some Iraqis for the hell of it, but when the other options have been exhausted.... (Are you against war always? That is how the author of the article came across to me...)

win_k: Before you get too happy about the "Not In Our Name" people, I suggest you do a look into who is backing it... Not that all of the people involved are, but a large chunk of the financial backing is coming from Revolutionary Communist Party... who will bacak any movemnet they see as anti-American Governement...
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 1:02 PM on October 18, 2002


"Aren't soldiers employees like everyone else? "

perhaps you are confusing 'soldier' with 'mercenary'.
posted by clavdivs at 1:14 PM on October 18, 2002


I thought that I would post this, because when I e-mailed this story out to some friends, this is what I got back from one that was a naval officer. I've left his name and rank out to protect his privacy. I think that for better or for worse, it's a vaild point:

Where did you dig up this traitorous cur? Can you imagine what
the
results would be if he were actually successful in his aims!
If the soldiers he is encouraging to mutiny were to actually do so?!?
So
much for our national security. And where would this "acceptable"
disobedience stop? Suppose in my duties I have to order a sailor to go
into
harm's way for the sake of the rest of the crew and the ship. This is
realistic even in peace time. (Guard Duty, Firefighting, Gate
Guard,...),
and this crackpot is saying that the sailor should have the right, the
duty
even, to refuse!?! Let us suppose he isn't just being a seditionist.
Suppose for a moment he succeeded in making it legal for the sailor to
disobey. How long would it be before it becomes 'acceptable' for the
soldier to refuse to... I don't know... how about "change the oil in
the
ship's engines" because the waste oil "might" harm a...\o/... whatever?
Or
something even more serious, or how about even less. Imagine a soldier
saying "I refuse to clean the latrine because germs have a right to
live
too!" This nut has actually out-stepped his bounds. To my mind it is
traitorous and seditionist to incite a mutiny in our armed forces. And
this
nut has confessed on-line. His entire "speech" is quoted below.
Now don't get me wrong. This Mr. Wiggins has every Right to
disagree
with the actions and policies of the current duly elected government.
He
has every Right to use any legal means to prevent the policies he is
against. Be it to peaceably protest, run for office, petition the
current
government to prevent these policies, etc... I hope he doesn't win!
But He
has the right. And my fellow soldiers, sailors, and I will defend to
our
deaths these RIGHTS. We have a long rich history of doing so! He has
every
Right to protest this. But he has ZERO RIGHTS to encourage sedition
among
the troops.
We do not now, nor have we ever had a government that can please
everyone, I don't think there is any form of government that can. I
too
have several gripes against our current government. BUT this is a
representative government, for the people, NOT THE PERSON, and
definitely
one of the best on this planet. I find it protects my NEEDS very
adequately, and it discourages extremely few of my desires,... One of
my
extreme dislikes is I find it extremely unfortunate that our government
is
refusing to hold people accountable for their traitorous actions. But
you
don't see me encouraging people to take the law into their own hands
and
wipe out this traitorous scum, if I did I would be thrown in jail for
inciting to riot. If I find something I feel strongly enough about, I
can
protest it too, using the same rights he has. It can be done without
breeding revolt.
And then there are his "facts." The ones he is using to "bring
shame
upon the presidency." I'll cite just two. To support the fact the he
personally is not being represented. He's quick to point out that I am
"serving the man who, as President, turned the budget surplus into a
deficit
and presided over the largest stock market decline since the great
depression" but fails to mention that this decline actually started
under
the Clinton Administration, months before the vote even started. He is
also
quick to point out that I "will be serving the man who lost the popular
vote
for president" but fails to mention the thousands of military votes
that
weren't counted, nor the ballot boxes from pro-republican counties that
were
found tucked away well after the official count. He states Bush "was
handed
the presidency by a Supreme Court" but this is a misnomer because the
Supreme Court only upheld the Constitution which states the President
is
selected by the Electoral College. He also fails to mention that the
liberal Miami Herald counted the votes exactly the way Mr. Gore wanted
and
instead of losing by 400 votes, he lost by 1500. I could go on but I
think
I've spent enough time on this.
I just have one last point to make, and this to the author
himself,
who in my original email was CC'd. This country was made on
immigration.
It is made up of people from around the world who left their homes
looking
for something better. Mr. Wiggins, rather than try to destroy it by
encouraging mutiny and sedition in our armed forces why don't you
follow our
forefathers' lead. Leave this, my home, and go look for somewhere else
more
to your liking.

posted by Raichle at 2:20 PM on October 18, 2002


foldy, are you listening?
posted by David Dark at 3:57 PM on October 18, 2002


(bangs on table)

God speed sailor, where ever you are.
thanks for posting that Raichle.
posted by clavdivs at 4:19 PM on October 18, 2002


clavdivs: "4: Totally ignore the post which points out internal contradictions, and respond to others with gusto.

Hmmmm.....

Dash, why don't you take some of your own medicine and respond to the Bali thread."


What my comment meant was 'S_at_L' often ignores counter arguments in a thread which he doesnt agree with. I pointed this out in the post which you quote above. As far as possible, I (do take my own medicine, and) follow the threads I post in, precisely so as I can operate opposite to S_at_L's style: debate, and maybe change my mind. I did respond in the Bali thread, up to the point when I went away for the w/e.

That is all.
posted by dash_slot- at 3:32 PM on October 21, 2002


I often ignore counter arguments that are baseless or are out right pointless.... Though I tend not to agree with points as such...
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 5:31 PM on October 21, 2002


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