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April 20, 2004 1:13 PM   Subscribe

Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey are soldiers who went AWOL and fled to Canada. They share their stories on their websites. [Via Plastic.]
posted by homunculus (65 comments total)

 
Meanwhile, Senator Chuck Hagel is talking about reintroducing the draft.
posted by homunculus at 1:15 PM on April 20, 2004


He was a novice practitioner of Zen, and when he got to Fort Bragg in July 2001, the closest thing he could find "that wasn't too New Age-y" was the Quaker House in Fayetteville.

that Quaker-zen will get you everytime.
good for them, I hope getting a new passport won't be difficult
posted by clavdivs at 1:20 PM on April 20, 2004


Well, I can understand deserting (which is what they did) if you're drafted. But it seems worse to me to do so when you've signed up.
posted by substrate at 1:21 PM on April 20, 2004


substrate: worse, yes. But people sign up (naively, perhaps) to defend our country, not to wage a war they consider immoral. (Assumption follows.) They aren't scared of fighting, they haven't decided the country's not worth defending, they just don't feel this war is morally right.

There really should be a more correct term than "volunteer military." It's more like "once-volunteered military" or even "volunteered military." It's only "volunteer" if they let you leave.
posted by callmejay at 1:27 PM on April 20, 2004


Substrate- I see your point, but I feel that if I were to go and join the military, the reason would be to defend the American way and American values and ideals. The war in Iraq is absolutely not my idea of defending American ideals and values, and I would not fight it. These guys both sound like they are opposed to something that they view as an aggressive and unjust war, and I can sympathize with them.

On preview- I agree with callmejay.

As to Chuck Hagel and the draft, I'm all for it. I think that we should have a compulsory service period where people enter military/community service around a certain age. If you look at our political leadership, they're not sending their own kids to fight our wars and that makes them too far removed from the reality that this war will bring to military members and their families.
posted by crazy finger at 1:31 PM on April 20, 2004


As to Chuck Hagel and the draft, I'm all for it. I think that we should have a compulsory service period where people enter military/community service around a certain age. If you look at our political leadership, they're not sending their own kids to fight our wars and that makes them too far removed from the reality that this war will bring to military members and their families.

The problem was, and still is, that wealthier families always found ways to get their kids out of the draft--back then, and there's no reason they wouldn't do it now. Do you really think Jenna and Barbara would be in uniform without hell freezing over?
posted by amberglow at 1:39 PM on April 20, 2004


I think that we should have a compulsory service period where people enter military/community service around a certain age.

I think we should have peace.
posted by Outlawyr at 1:46 PM on April 20, 2004


I think we should have peace.

And ponies for everybody!
posted by aramaic at 1:51 PM on April 20, 2004


I'd say this dude has some serious balls, but it appears he's only got one.
posted by Ufez Jones at 1:55 PM on April 20, 2004


Ah, shit....wrong thread. That was supposed to be in the TRON guy thread.

/me scatters back into corner.
posted by Ufez Jones at 1:56 PM on April 20, 2004


Re: a new draft

You don't actually have to draft the kids of the privileged, just seriously proposing the draft ought to change enough people's attitudes regarding the war to change policy, which, I've heard, is the reason it's been suggested before, though I can't imagine Hagel, a Republican, having that motivation.
posted by tippiedog at 1:59 PM on April 20, 2004


It never ceases to amaze me how many people join the military without a basic understanding of what it is the military does. Have they never seen a movie?

I just imagine them saying "You know... I don't really like this war. I'll just catch the next one, if that's okay with you guys."

Now, don't get me wrong... I'm not a big fan of this war - or any war. But soldiers fight wars. If you don't want to fight in a way, the best way to do that is to not join the military, right???
posted by Jart at 2:06 PM on April 20, 2004


I don't think you should be allowed to join the army until you're of legal age to drink.

I feel for this kid. I hope things work out alright for him.
posted by Hildegarde at 2:11 PM on April 20, 2004


"All war must be just the killing of strangers against whom you feel no personal animosity; strangers whom, in other circumstances, you would help if you found them in trouble, and who would help you if you needed it." -- Mark Twain

I mean, except for those damn Iraqis who come over here and knock down our buildings. We should just nuke those bastards.

Also, Fuck Hagel.
posted by majcher at 2:13 PM on April 20, 2004


I can't believe homunculus reads Plastic.
posted by the fire you left me at 2:14 PM on April 20, 2004


It is a soldier's obligation and duty NOT to follow an immoral order. Just because that order comes from the Commander in Chief doesn't make it any less immoral.
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:14 PM on April 20, 2004


Wulfgar!- that reminds me of a similar situation. A guy quit a job because his boss wanted to do something unethical and he then sued his former employer for, in effect, forcing him to quit to avoid doing something unethical/illegal. Could one do something similar in the US military?
posted by crazy finger at 2:20 PM on April 20, 2004


Now, don't get me wrong... I'm not a big fan of this war - or any war. But soldiers fight wars.

<bad french accent>
all very fine jart, but ze point, she flies well above and beyond ze point on top of ze duncecap! ze point being one has a reasonable expectation that his commanders will behave morally in accordance with international law when entering into zis contract.
</bad french accent>

but, hey, excellent, wonderfully done piece of slieght-of-hand on your part! why would i "imagine them saying" anything, when i could simply read the article?

and way to go in that attempt to implant the image of some doofus making critical, life-altering decisions in a lackadasical, irresponsible manner in the minds of your readers. bravo!

and getting in some old "guts and glory" war propoganda images from the movies of yore? brilliant.

Now, don't get me wrong...

not likely.
posted by quonsar at 2:22 PM on April 20, 2004


It is a soldier's obligation and duty NOT to follow an immoral order.

"Go to Iraq" is not in itself an immoral order. Neither of these guys had been ordered to do anything else when they deserted.
posted by kindall at 2:33 PM on April 20, 2004


Wow, I don't feel any sympathy for Hinzman and Hughey at all. As Jart says, what the hell did they think they were signing up for? Whatever you think about the Iraq invasion, as wars go, it's not that high on the immorality list. They're all essentially immoral. You kill people, sometimes indiscriminately. It was patriotic and "moral" to nuke Hiroshima, but not to smartbomb an Iraqi military base?? And it's not like we've heard any Mai Lai stories out of Iraq. But, even then, is anyone naive enough to believe that any war, fought by any country, doesn't have its atrocities?

If you're a conscientious objector, why the hell did you voluntarily join the military? If you object to specific orders that you think are immoral, you refuse to act on them and hope that a military court will come to agree with you.

I have sympathy for young people that didn't know what they were getting into and regret their decision. But I don't support their decision to desert and flee to Canada. They have a moral responsibility here that they are shirking. Their decision to join the military in the first place was a moral decision that implicitly validated the decisions made by their government when it chose to deploy them.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:34 PM on April 20, 2004


I can't believe homunculus reads Plastic.

I've also been known to stare at Goatse for hours.
posted by homunculus at 2:37 PM on April 20, 2004


There are procedures in place for requesting conscientious objector status, and requesting alternate assignments or discharges. Going AWOL and fleeing to another country is trying to have your cake and eat it, too. Having signed up, committed, and been trained, it seems to me the very least you owe the military is to follow the proper procedures.
posted by pardonyou? at 2:48 PM on April 20, 2004


"Go to Iraq" is not in itself an immoral order.

Invasion of a sovereign nation without just cause not an immoral order? How so?

Ethereal Bligh, how can you offer sympathy and then hold their feet to the fire. A lot of peoples view of Iraq has changed over the last year. Can you hold yourself to the same standards?

Hiroshima is an incomparable case because Japan attacked us. Where as, in the case of Iraq (and the greater middle east), we are and have always been the aggressor.
posted by velacroix at 2:50 PM on April 20, 2004


If you're a conscientious objector, why the hell did you voluntarily join the military?

If you read the article, you would have seen that at least one of the men profiled joined the military first - at age SEVENTEEN - and developed his reservations about the war over the following year. If there is a more common age to think about big questions and change your mind on significant issues, I don't know what it would be.
posted by Mars Saxman at 3:04 PM on April 20, 2004


"Go to Iraq" is not in itself an immoral order.

Invasion of a sovereign nation without just cause not an immoral order? How so?

The orders are to deploy to Iraq, not to invade. Invading again would be redundant; we've already done that.
posted by kindall at 3:09 PM on April 20, 2004


those damn Iraqis who come over here and knock down our buildings. We should just nuke those bastards.
majcher - have you watched the news over the last few days? Those Iraqis had nothing to do with it.

I still have my 1973 draft card. I'm A-1. Ready to go tomorrow. But I slipped the call. Where's your draft card?
posted by zaelic at 3:16 PM on April 20, 2004


From the Uniform Code of Military Justice, article 90:

Inference of lawfulness. An order requiring the performance of a military duty or act may be inferred to be lawful and it is disobeyed at the peril of the subordinate. This inference does not apply to a patently illegal order, such as one that directs the commission of a crime.

The UCMJ makes quite a few references to lawful or illegal orders, but I don't believe the phrase "immoral" comes up much, if at all. That may seem like splitting hairs, but from a legal standpoint I'm sure it's pretty important.

Unless some body with recognized legal authority has declared the US invasion illegal (rather than just voicing their opposition to it) I'm not sure either man is in good legal shape. (Although I'm sure the current admin's habit of ignoring international opinion and/or law won't help much.)

I fully support the idea of being in the military and being a conscientious objector, but I can't help but think both of these guys are double-dipping in the Not Taking Responsibility For Your Actions pool. They don't want to take responsibility for joining the military and possibly having to go to war (which even at seventeen is a concept you should be at least somewhat hip to,) so then instead of facing up to making a bad decision they run away to Canada to avoid the consequences.
posted by Cyrano at 3:36 PM on April 20, 2004


have you watched the news over the last few days? Those Iraqis had nothing to do with it.

Don't want to make assumptions here nor am I looking to split hairs or be pedantic or a backseat driver or put words in anyone's mouth or divide instead of unite or rock the boat or subvert the dominant paradiggum or be a buttinsky or zig when I shoulda zagged or preach or proselytize or inflame, but...I think majcher was being sarcastic.
posted by dhoyt at 3:36 PM on April 20, 2004


"Hiroshima is an incomparable case because Japan attacked us."—Velacroix
Ah, so their attack on Pearl Harbor justifies flash-frying schoolchildren so that they walk around in shock dragging their sloughed-off skin behind them for minutes or hours until they die? Days and months of wasting away until they die of radiation sickness? Old men, women, doctors and nurses obliterated by nuclear hell?

That's just peachy. Because that was the moral war.

This fetish for sovereignity and the idea that no pre-emptive attacks can be justified but all self-defense attacks can is morally infantile. Perhaps in the abstract case of State vs. State or even Soldier vs. Soldier such considerations are preeminent; but the reality of war is that regardless of the rightness of the cause, innocents are murdered, sometimes brutally and far too often deliberately. War is not moral.

But war is arguably still necessary. For a democracy to wage it—for an individual to volunteer to fight—is to implicitly take on the burden of attempting to justify murder. Can it be justified? Perhaps.

These deserters need to take moral responsibility for their actions. Those of you who oppose this war but support other wars need to take moral responsibility for what condoning those other wars implies. There is no easy way out.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:03 PM on April 20, 2004


It's only "volunteer" if they let you leave.
Worked with a guy who left the Navy during the Vietnam war, after only serving part of his enlistment. He had no excuse other than he wanted out. He would add that the military is not a prison as long as you use your head.
posted by thomcatspike at 4:20 PM on April 20, 2004


Look I never said I condoned what happened at Hiroshima, just that equating it here is really useless because there is absolutely no basis. You still haven't shown us why we should be considering it.

In reality, if you've ever been headhunted by a recruiter you know goddamn well that these people weren't making a moral decision joining the army. They were making a monetary decision.

This fetish for sovereignity

Is that the same as the fetish for freedom, or individuality?

Also, what are you taking about?

-the idea that no pre-emptive attacks can be justified-

I never said that. Show me the justification and I'll fall right in line.

But war is arguably still necessary

Yes, but was this one?

I think these kids should be held accountable for their actions. But when accountable means 5-10 years in a military jail, I have to think whether the punishment fits the crime. It seems more like persecution and intimidation than justice. If that's what it takes to keep our soldiers fighting then I'd say, so be it not.
posted by velacroix at 5:17 PM on April 20, 2004


I don't think you should be allowed to join the army until you're of legal age to drink.

Ha! Well, I always thought you were an adult at eighteen. You can enter into debt and make contracts without parents and the whole shebang. Sometimes the decisions go awry but I wouldn't think that confiscating freedom over your destiny. I would hope that if you're not old enough to make a decision like that, at least you know it.

It all reminds me of the court marshal of Michael New and his refusal to wear UN insignia. I have as little sympathy for him as I do for these guys. You chose. You said to the government 'Use Me' and there aren't a lot of amendments on that choice. I'm not saying that there isn't time when the choice should be reconsidered; some people truly become C.O.'s along the way and I bear them no slight. But it's a contract. You can't run when a financial contract goes bad. Sometimes you bind yourself for better or for worse.

I have probably eaten up over a hundred thousand dollars in taxpayer money for my year and a half long training. I also have taken numerous classes at government expense. I got paid a decent salary for just going to school and learned how to operate reactors. And then I actually went to work. Even now, my path to officerhood requires quit a bit of time and effort and, of course, money. Can I just say, 'Well, that was fun, thanks for everything, time to move on?' It reminds me of the American soldier who conveniently became gay when his C.O. application was getting stalled. (Actually I know more gays who are in the military or straights that have said they're gay to get out than actual gays who got out)

And by the way, just because someone doesn't value sovereignty as much as liberty or democracy doesn't make them a hypocrite. Some might just see those values as ascendant over the idea that the state is inviolate.

Look, I don't want to moralize, but at some time, your word is your word. And providing less manpower to the U.S. isn't going to do anything to make the situation better.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 5:51 PM on April 20, 2004


Lord Chancellor, what do you say about all the soldiers (ex-soldiers?) becoming Mercenaries and "Private Contractors" (or whatever they're called) in Iraq now--at very high salaries, rather than stay in the service?
posted by amberglow at 6:15 PM on April 20, 2004


Lord Chancellor, what do you say about all the soldiers (ex-soldiers?) becoming Mercenaries and "Private Contractors" (or whatever they're called) in Iraq now--at very high salaries, rather than stay in the service?

I find it incredibly distasteful - the idea of the soldier is that they chose to serve a government and possibly kill others. People understand that. That's why Iraqi soldiers aren't going to brought up on war crimes or anything like that. When one skirts the issue by hiring soldiers who fight for money, have little accountability, questionable rights as a combatant, and the U.S. doesn't hear about their deaths like they do GI's I think it makes the case for paramilitary, which is never a good message to send.

Is there a such thing as a 'warrior ethos'? I hope so. And I don't think that's what this is. If you are going to fight for the U.S., do it right.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 6:27 PM on April 20, 2004


We had an article about Jeremy Hinzman in our local paper (The Fayetteville Observer-) right next to an article about one of our casualties. (For those who don't know, Fort Bragg is located here.)

What pisses me off about this kid is he joined up so he could get the education benefits, then all of a sudden decided he was going to be a pacifist. When applying for conscientious objector status, he was asked if he would pick up a gun in order to defend himself. He said yes. CO status go byebye. That is when he decided to go north.

This has nothing to do with whether or not this war was a good idea. This has to do with the fact this kid is a coward who was willing to take benefits from his country but not live up to his obligations. He was not drafted, and no one held a gun to his head. College? There are grants and loans and scholarships and workstudy...not easy but not impossible.

I have a son who will be getting a free educational ride for the next four years courtesy of the US Air Force. But you better believe he and I had talks about what exactly he was choosing to do with his life. I know and HE knows that there is a possibility he will give his life for his country one day.

It's a harsh thing, but I could almost say that this Hinzman fellow should forfeit his citizenship. There are pacifists that I can respect, even though I do not agree with them, but this boy has no business being in the same category with them.
posted by konolia at 6:34 PM on April 20, 2004


Good for you konolia. It's nice to know you have that kind of relationship with your son. I'm sure the Air Force is lucky to have him.
posted by Witty at 6:57 PM on April 20, 2004


he was asked if he would pick up a gun in order to defend himself. He said yes. CO status go byebye.

Lovely piece of intellectual dishonesty by the board there.
posted by Mars Saxman at 7:20 PM on April 20, 2004


What if it was that getting that education actually made him see that the war he was supposed to fight was immoral and unjust? That the service actually lost out by educating him?
posted by amberglow at 7:33 PM on April 20, 2004


uhm, a mefi post about my city.

imagine that.
posted by mrplab at 7:51 PM on April 20, 2004


What did they sign up for? Money for college, duh. That's what everybody signs up for. Ask around.

Personally, I thik what they did is right. It's hard for me to find an argument that exonerates the soldiers of an unethical war. If you believe the war is unjust, you should do everything you can to keep from participating in it, and if you don't, it's either because you think that honoring the contract you've signed with the army is more important than honoring more nebulous ideas about justice and such (which I guess could be defensible), or it's because you're a coward, and you're too afraid to do the right thing.

In this case, these men are acting ethically, and taking a risk in doing so.
posted by Hildago at 8:01 PM on April 20, 2004


What if it was that getting that education actually made him see that the war he was supposed to fight was immoral and unjust? That the service actually lost out by educating him?

It sounds a little improbable and convienent. There are many in the service that are highly educated, some that I know which have degrees in philosophy, english, or religious studies; subjects that most likely would cause a reevaluation of priorities. Somehow many of them aren't running towards Canada. I just don't see it, that's all.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 8:02 PM on April 20, 2004


As a member of the US Air Force for over 16 years (and counting), I am appalled at what these two have done.

I understand that someone's views about morality can change during the course of an enlistment...but other than the CO status (which is very difficult to obtain, obviously, and for VERY good reasons), the matter of his signature on the contract, and his voluntary recitation of the Oath, are pretty much as serious as a person can get.

And no one - EVER - could not fully understand the ultimate duty of a military member...it is absolutely drilled into basic trainees and reinforced over & over by peers, First Sergeants, Commanders, and other leaders. NO ONE should take that Oath lightly, or attempt to shirk the duties, roles, or privileges of said Oath.

FWIW, there are roles & jobs in the military that are much less likely (than infantry and such) to be directly involved in combat and firing weapons -- medics, legal staff, finace & personnel troops, chaplaincy, and such.

It's too bad that these two violated their Oath and abandoned their comrades. Fitting punishment? I don't know. But they should be held accountable for their actions.
posted by davidmsc at 8:06 PM on April 20, 2004


What if it was that getting that education actually made him see that the war he was supposed to fight was immoral and unjust? That the service actually lost out by educating him?

Amberglow, even if what you say was the case (I doubt it) then the honorable thing for him to do is to stay here and deal with the consequences, not dance off to Canada.
posted by konolia at 8:07 PM on April 20, 2004


I'm reminded of a statement in the Voice article about the deserter being told he wasn't there to think, yet as Hildago says--90%? percent of people that join, join for the college money, which is about thinking and exposure to new ideas.

I think that even if these guys stayed in the service and were shipped to Iraq, they would have refused to fight or shoot. So what good are they to the army anyway?
posted by amberglow at 8:08 PM on April 20, 2004


Well, there are still concequences for their actions. You still broke a contract. If they truly felt serving in any capacity was immoral (which I doubt, as said, support staff like medical usually help save lives and depriving them of a possible medic might be cosidered immoral if you followed their logic), then they should accept that they have broken the contract and deal with whatever follows. Don't think that it's just? Fine, but fight it from inside the system.

It's like if you are ordered to do something unethical. Don't do it. I wouldn't do it in your place. But be ready to deal with the concequences for your actions. I would be placing my moral and ethical beliefs above my word and thus I still have to accept I broke my word. It's like shooting someone entering your house to harm you, sure it was self-defense, but it doesn't make it not shooting someone.

And we are told to think. You have to think constantly, and if you didn't, you would have an information bottleneck. Education makes better sailors, soldiers, and marines. But you also have agreed to follow orders and for good reason. It's in the Oath by the way; the part about 'obeying the orders of those appointed over me'.

It's weird having the duality of following orders but thinking for yourself, but I wouldn't say the two are mutually exclusive.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 8:23 PM on April 20, 2004


but do they really transfer people who don't want to fight over to those other units, or just say, "tough" ? It seems that if they were trained for combat or something, they wouldn't want to lose those hands.
posted by amberglow at 8:27 PM on April 20, 2004


konolia: I know and HE knows that there is a possibility he will give his life for his country one day.

The concept of 'giving your life for your country' is one that I simply cannot understand. Your family, perhaps.

I am quite certain, even though it is moot given how old and utterly unlikely I am (as ever I have been) to join anyone's army, that my mother, having had the experience of losing one son already, would weigh the balance similarly.

Not to say that konolia's wrong per se, but as in many things, I simply cannot understand how her mind might be working in this matter.

As far as the deserters go, if they signed up, they should damn well be in for the duration. If not, their honour is forfeit.

Of course, in today's America (and elsewhere, to be fair), the concept of personal honour is not exactly in fashion, so losing it is perhaps not the blow it might once have been.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:33 PM on April 20, 2004


I second what Lord Chancellor just said. That's a weird sentence, though.
posted by Hildago at 11:10 PM on April 20, 2004


As far as the deserters go, if they signed up, they should damn well be in for the duration. If not, their honour is forfeit.

Pretty much same thing goes for rank-and-file Nazis, then?

No, obviously not, they should have fled Germany, blah blah blah. You might say the difference is that the Holocaust was a crime, and serving in Iraq isn't? Of course, the current legal status of an activity has little or no bearing on whether it is right or wrong to do it: ultimately I think the decision ought to come down to whether or not you believe it is ethical to continue performing your contractual obligations. I think you're more apt to lose your "honor" by paying too close attention to the strict legalities of a piece of paper and ignoring the larger issues of right and wrong that might be in play.
posted by Hildago at 11:17 PM on April 20, 2004


What are you on about with your Naziness, Hildago?

Look : if you pledge (or swear, but perhaps not merely contract, which is after all merely legal) yourself to do something, of your own free will and in full cognizance of the possible consequences, and then, when it becomes inconvenient for you to continue to do it, you simply bail, you have forfeited your personal honour. It's not nearly as complicated as you want to make it.

But, to swallow the lure of your godwinian troll: if you were a Nazi, and joined Hitler's twinkies of your own volition, you had no honour to forfeit. Easy.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:42 PM on April 20, 2004


I think the decision ought to come down to whether or not you believe it is ethical to continue performing your contractual obligations

But they don't seem to have done that, at least from their statements. They're objecting to this war, not to the concept of war.

I'd like them a lot more if they'd simply developed an firm opposition to war. But they state that they're opposed to this war not because it kills human beings and destroys human property, but because they find this one war unjustified. Or in other words, while they object to the particular set of murders and vandalisms they were asked to commit and/or assist, they don't object to the general principles of murdering (and destroying the property of) people who are "bad" enough, or who hit you first.

That doesn't make you a conscientious objector. CO's are opposed to war, period. War in all and any forms. Including wars of self-defense. Though I suppose being opposed to some wars is at least better than being blind to them.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:52 PM on April 20, 2004


One should follow one's conscience—that is what morally mature individuals do. Soldiers should follow their conscience and refuse to follow orders they are sure are morally wrong. However, that's a pretty high standard in this case given the context that these particular soldiers have already endorsed (and not renounced) the use of violence and warmaking in general. I do not agree that this war is exceptionally immoral because, for example, it was not sanctioned explicitly by the UN or that it was an invasion. The US has a long history of invasions and unilateral actions—Hinzman and Hughey were not signing up for the Swiss Army, after all.

Furthermore, their decision to enlist contributed to the existence of the war machine necessary for this invasion. So I am deeply unpersuaded by their reasoning.

Nevertheless, let's assume that they were morally right to refuse to fight this war. Were they right to flee to Canada? No. Doing so and claiming justification for doing so (and those arguing this) is in itself a seperate wrong independent of the morality of the war.

Please read the full excerpt I've gone to the trouble of preparing here. But I'll quote this bit from Plato's Phaedo, where Crito has been trying to persuade Socrates to flee Athens and his death sentence because, they agree, the sentence was unjust. Here, concluding his argument, Socrates is hypothetically speaking on behalf of the "Laws" (emphasis mine):
“Ah, Socrates, be guided by us who tended your infancy. Care neither for your children nor for life nor for anything else more than for the right, that when you come to the home of the dead, you may have all these things to say in your own defence. For clearly if you do this thing it will not be better for you here, or more just or holier, no, nor for any of your friends, and neither will it be better when you reach that other abode. Now, however, you will go away wronged, if you do go away, not by us, the laws, but by men; but if you escape after so disgracefully requiting wrong with wrong and evil with evil, breaking your compacts and agreements with us, and injuring those whom you least ought to injure--yourself, your friends, your country and us--we shall be angry with you while you live, and there our brothers, the laws in Hades' realm, will not receive you graciously; for they will know that you tried, so far as in you lay, to destroy us. Do not let Crito persuade you to do what he says, but take our advice.”
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:24 AM on April 21, 2004


Dammit. Wasn't paying attention. The correct link is here.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:26 AM on April 21, 2004


Stavros, what I was saying is that I wanted to make sure that he understood that when one joins the military, there is a possibility one might die as a result. That it wasn't just a "career" or a way to get an education. He has thought about it, and is okay with the fact-and has spoken to me very plainly about it. I personally feel he is "called" to the military just like one could have a "calling" to the ministry or a "calling" to be a doctor. As a normal mom who loves her son, I have to recognise that calling, and as much as possible I have made peace with it. It helps that he is a committed Christian who is not afraid to face death when his time comes.

Hope that clears it up for you, Stavros-if I misunderstood you let me know.
posted by konolia at 12:01 PM on April 21, 2004


The concept of 'giving your life for your country' is one that I simply cannot understand. Your family, perhaps.

Well, Country means different things to different people. For some, it does mean protecting your family or your future family for wrong. For others, it means protecting the status quo or 'way of life'. And for some, like me, it means being ready to die for ideas. Though it might seem alien to you, I would hope that through my possible death, certain ideas are expressed. Hopefully, one doesn't have to light oneself on fire to make a point.

To answer amberglow, it is hard to switch duties like that. But its possible. And if they decide that it costs too much to retrain you, they'll give you the option of letting you go. However, there's a difference from getting let go and choosing upon yourself to terminate your contract.

And to answer Hidalgo and many others, just because the actions of your country are questionable morality, does not mean that the actions of it's citizens, especially soldiery, are immoral. Even Nazis. If you were a German battlefield medic during WWII, your actions are still your actions. You are still saving lives. Now you could get into the question of whether that would be a crueler fate because it would prolong the war, but that takes into effect a knowledge we do not have. Iraqi soldiers are not war criminals, even if Iraq waged war with Iran or if Mr. Hussien is a bad man. There is a difference, really. That means, supporting the troops of war isn't necessarily evil or a good action (that would depend mainly on your personal conduct while doing it).

And finally, what would I do if I were a Nazi and I faced what was morally right, I would do whatever is in my power to stop it. But I would still understand that I chose moral right and wrong and ethics over my word and honor and loyalty I gave. So, I would still have to accept I broke my word and pay the consequences. Yeah, I know, who could do that, not many people. I would have a hard time to. An example, I suppose was Staffenberg.

Yikes, that's a lot of Nazi talk. Summation: those these boys might have had a case, they chose the wrong method to pursue it, only hurting their cause and weakening their former teammates.

(Disclaimer: I don't like the Iraqi War we are currently in. I disagree with it quite a bit. But this country chose to do it and now all we can do is support and make wise decisions in the future. (hint hint, November) Duty, though it sounds cheesy, is something here.)
posted by Lord Chancellor at 12:33 PM on April 21, 2004


thanks LC...and ditto on that (hint hint, November)
posted by amberglow at 12:49 PM on April 21, 2004


It's going to be a long year.

And if you think electing Kerry is going to get our butts out of Iraq, I don't think I'd bet on it. And even if he did, we are still going to be living in a dangerous world. We could elect the Dalai Lama, and Al Qaida and its ilk would still want us US citizens Tango Uniform.
posted by konolia at 12:56 PM on April 21, 2004


That doesn't make you a conscientious objector. CO's are opposed to war, period. War in all and any forms. Including wars of self-defense. Though I suppose being opposed to some wars is at least better than being blind to them.

There are conscientious objectors - people who refuse to fight for reasons of conscience - and then there is the particular phenomenon that is conscientious objector status in the U.S. military. You appear to be conflating the two.
posted by Mars Saxman at 2:47 PM on April 21, 2004


Thanks for your comments, Lord Chancellor.
posted by homunculus at 2:54 PM on April 21, 2004


You appear to be conflating the two.

Maybe. I do think that an objection to a particular war isn't a conscientious objection, just an objection to a particular war.

I don't think someone who finds the justification for a particular war insufficient is a CO -- they're implying that there are justifications out there somewhere to murder human beings, and that's not what CO's have been historically (even outside the US, as far as I know).

(and I don't think the military, by and large, gets to decide when there's enough justification for war, except perhaps in silly hypotheticals. civilian control of the military means that other people decide that for them, for good or ill)
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:30 PM on April 21, 2004


if I misunderstood you let me know

No, that's cool, and thanks for the added info. I guess I can see that. ;-)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:35 PM on April 21, 2004


The concept of 'giving your life for your country' is one that I simply cannot understand. Your family, perhaps.

Well, one's family tends to live in one's country. And people may be attached to the way of life they enjoy in their country. Other people in other places may not be.

I'm not saying that has anything to do with what's happening in Iraq (although I honor and respect the sacrifice of those serving there) but there's my answer.
posted by jonmc at 6:20 PM on April 21, 2004


It's weird having the duality of following orders but thinking for yourself, but I wouldn't say the two are mutually exclusive.

Good lord. What did you think all that marching around was for? Looking pretty? The whole point is to make you NOT think when given an order. A good army should work as one synchronous unit, with a single brain: the guy at the top. When your body responds to orders without your own thoughts and ideas getting in the way, then you're a good soilder.

At least that's what they taught us in my three years as a grunt.
posted by Hildegarde at 8:06 PM on April 21, 2004


Well, one's family tends to live in one's country.

To which, in all seriousness, I must respond : so?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:43 AM on April 22, 2004


To which, in all seriousness, I must respond : so?

Meaning that something that threatens the safety and well-being of ones country therefore threatens the safety and well being of one's family.

(again not saying that's what's going on currently, jut speaking hypothetically)
posted by jonmc at 5:51 AM on April 22, 2004


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