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June 15, 2006 2:01 PM   Subscribe

Suzanne Swift, a Eugene soldier, has been arrested for refusing to return to Iraq after leave. She reports that she was sexually harassed by superiors. She was picked up at home by Homeland Security agents (according to local heresay) and held in Lane County Jail overnight, before being transferred to Fort Lewis in Washington. More local news here.
(Disclaimer: I attempted to link a Military.com story on it, for balance, but was unable to.)
posted by Danf (73 comments total)

 
EPD is now part of Homeland Security?
posted by madajb at 2:37 PM on June 15, 2006


Seems a bit odd that Homeland Security agents would pick her up rather Military Police...do we now have a new para-military group added to our policing force? Does such a group constitute a national police force? Her alleged offense (AWOL, desertion) would subject herto military law, no?
posted by Postroad at 2:37 PM on June 15, 2006


This was heresay, as I said. . .I do not know who picked her up, but the word on the street is that HS did.
posted by Danf at 2:39 PM on June 15, 2006


More to be found on this here.
posted by Unregistered User at 2:40 PM on June 15, 2006


The word on the street (especially in Eugene, heh) is often paranoid.
She was picked up by Eugene Police and taken to Lan County jail where the MPs from Washington (the state) picked her up.
posted by madajb at 2:45 PM on June 15, 2006


Not only did Swift feel the war lacked purpose, she said her superiors repeatedly sexually harassed her while serving in Iraq.

She should have made her case for the harassment before she decided that she wasn't going. Because it sounds like she just doesn't want to be shot at. Which is natural, but if you sign a contract knowing full well that it might entail getting shot at by people who resent you, you have no one to blame except yourself.

She could have initiated sexual harassment allegations a while ago, or she could have done it while she was in Iraq helping our boys kill to protect oil interests.
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:46 PM on June 15, 2006


So, MC, this is the victim's fault, then?

I can imagine wanting to let sleeping dogs lie until confronted with the real possibility of being back in that horrible situation again.
posted by gurple at 2:49 PM on June 15, 2006


Yeah, Curley. She should just suck it up and take that harrassment.

You're a piece of work. Why aren't you in Iraq? Chickenhawk down.
posted by fourcheesemac at 2:49 PM on June 15, 2006


Person breaks law, gets arrested.
posted by dios at 2:50 PM on June 15, 2006


As a Former member of the Fine establishment we call the USArmy, who witnessed SH and its consequences to my fellow inmates, I can tell you, following normal procedure for Sexual harassment, gets you:

a: passed over for promotion,
b: Harassed more,
c: Jackspit.
d: Menial Duties if the complaints keep up.

So Curley, your full of S**t.
posted by Elim at 2:54 PM on June 15, 2006


Wow Dios really? Who'da thought?
posted by Elim at 2:56 PM on June 15, 2006


gurple -
Her mother has been in the local news quite a bit.
Her (the mother's) interviews focused on her daughter being redeployed without downtime, and being sent to Iraq 3 times.
The harrasment complaints were not the main issue until this last round of attention.

Now, it's quite possible that her daughter told her not to bring it up until it looked like she was going to be arrested.
I don't know, but it is curious.
posted by madajb at 2:57 PM on June 15, 2006



Person breaks law, gets arrested.

Thank you for that endorsement of my post.

I posted this because I honestly do not know what is right here. You join the military. . desertion is a bad thing, has been since there have been armed forces.

She mentioned something about going through channels on this and not getting satisfaction.

Of course I hate that we are in Iraq but I am also not saying that anyone in the military who does not like being there should lay down their weapons and go home. . .

Or maybe I am. . .It will be interesting to follow.
posted by Danf at 2:57 PM on June 15, 2006


You're a piece of work. Why aren't you in Iraq? Chickenhawk down.

I'm not a hawk at all. Which is why I've never signed a contract agreeing to kill people for corporate oil interests. And fuck your Left-Lite "Oh, the soldiers are victims" crap. The soldiers are morally-bereft shells that VOLUNTEERED to kill people in exchange for money and benefits. IF she was sexually harassed, that's really awful but she would have had recourse if she hadn't waited until the military came looking for her and didn't also add some objection to the war in it.

Just a reminder-- if you don't subscribe to democratic talking points, you can both be opposed to an imperialist war and the people who are actually executing the motions of it. Seriously. Stuff your chickenhawk allegations and and crocodile tears up your urethra, asshole.
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:01 PM on June 15, 2006 [1 favorite]


As a Former member of the Fine establishment we call the USArmy, who witnessed SH and its consequences to my fellow inmates, I can tell you, following normal procedure for Sexual harassment, gets you:

a: passed over for promotion,
b: Harassed more,
c: Jackspit.
d: Menial Duties if the complaints keep up.


It sounds like a completely shitty organization that no one should ever have to be subjected to. So it really sucks that she was drafted.
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:02 PM on June 15, 2006


I think Elim's got it. Ultimately, the military is still a boys club, and unless she's got hard evidence and witnesses, her case wouldn't go anywhere, and she'd get to spend the rest of her term there being made as uncomfortable as possible. Given that it's a war zone, I imagine that could be pretty uncomfortable.
posted by doctor_negative at 3:04 PM on June 15, 2006


So once someone joins the military, MC, they should be treated as subhuman?

Look, the military makes its deals as attractive as it needs to in order to recruit a certain number of people into its enlisted ranks, largely from the lower economic classes. I can talk about my fine principles against the war all day, but the truth is I haven't been in a situation in which it appeared to me that joining the military was by far my best prospect for breaking out of poverty. Being universally anti-soldier is essentially being anti-poor.
posted by gurple at 3:05 PM on June 15, 2006


Someone ought to send her this link IRL. Apparently she is unaware of it. (Elim probably needs to read it, too).
posted by dios at 3:06 PM on June 15, 2006


Mayor C--she was drafted? we do not at this time have a draft. Have not had one since the Viet Nam war
posted by Postroad at 3:07 PM on June 15, 2006


dios, the military also makes psychiatric resources available for returning soldiers with PTSD. It's common knowledge among all ranks (dislaimer: IANAS, but I have a close friend who is) that taking advantages of such services effectively scuttles your career. That's one of the reasons that so many mental problems are going untreated in today's military.

So the technical availiability of this kind of service doesn't necessarily equate with its effective availability.
posted by gurple at 3:11 PM on June 15, 2006


Postroad, I was being facetious to remind that she joined such a terrible organization of her own volition.
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:11 PM on June 15, 2006


That taking advantages of such services effectively scuttles your career.
posted by gurple at 5:11 PM CST on June 15


So a person who hates the military so much she is willing to AWOL and go to jail because she fears the sexual harassment (and having to do her job) is afraid to go to the agency designed to protect her against that harassment because she is afraid it will "scuttle" her career? Thus, to avoid said scuttling of career, going AWOL is a better option?
posted by dios at 3:13 PM on June 15, 2006


Your right about it Being a crap organization, who's job is to kill humanity so you can feel better about killing humanity. This is just a side effect.


Like marines singing about the fun in capping Hajii Girl.
posted by Elim at 3:16 PM on June 15, 2006


Mmm, I was drawing a parallel, dios, but not necessarily indicating that the situation with legal help for a sexual harrassment case is exactly the same. In this case I'd imagine it falls more along the lines that Elim outlined. Because, you know, he was actually in the military and knows what he's talking about.

Both are situations in which are servicefolks are pretty darned screwed, though.
posted by gurple at 3:16 PM on June 15, 2006


So a person who hates the military so much she is willing to AWOL and go to jail because she fears the sexual harassment (and having to do her job) is afraid to go to the agency designed to protect her against that harassment because she is afraid it will "scuttle" her career? Thus, to avoid said scuttling of career, going AWOL is a better option?

If you keep using logic you're going to get called out in metatalk.
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:17 PM on June 15, 2006


gurple: I'm not sure I can parse whatever distinction you are trying to make.

Mayor Curley: At this point, anything I say gets me called out, so I just ignore it all and don't bother reading the wankfests. Fuck 'em.
posted by dios at 3:21 PM on June 15, 2006


Everyone is jumping on Mayor Curley here, but I think her sudden "oooh-I-was-sexually-harassed-honest-so-I'm-not-going-back-have-some-sympathy-for-me" schtick is a bit fishy.
posted by Hal Mumkin at 3:21 PM on June 15, 2006


MC, not so much as opposed to scuttling her career, but IT DON"T GET BETTER!

You get punished for speaking out, and it still doesn't get better. SO despair sets in and then everyone else at your workplace wants to shoot at you..
posted by Elim at 3:24 PM on June 15, 2006


gurple: I'm not sure I can parse whatever distinction you are trying to make.

Have PTSD, get psych help, scuttle career.

Get sexually harassed, complain, get treated WORSE, nothing done to offenders, scuttle career.

Distinction.
posted by gurple at 3:25 PM on June 15, 2006


Dios, Some Composure please, or at least Decorum. Be an Adult , M"Kay?
posted by Elim at 3:26 PM on June 15, 2006


So, given the option between these two choices:

(1) Get sexually harassed, complain, get treated WORSE, nothing done to offenders, scuttle career;

or

(2) Get sexually harassed, go AWOL, go to Jail.

Seems to me, if the problem with option one is that your career gets scuttled, then option 2 doesn't really resolve that. If the problem is you don't be treated poorly, I'm not sure the going to jail option is preferable.

Of course, your view is predicated on a premise I don't concede: that the JAG corps is pointless and there isn't prosecution of sexual harassment. I'm not the military, but I do know people in the JAG Corps. And I know that they successfully prosecute all kinds of criminal, civil, and labor-related cases.

But even assuming your fallacious premise that seeking justice internally is pointless and may lead to more harassment, it still is beyond rationality to think that going AWOL and going to jail is a reasonable reaction.
posted by dios at 3:31 PM on June 15, 2006


So Curley, your full of S**t.
posted by Elim at 4:54 PM CST on June 15

Dios, Some Composure please, or at least Decorum. Be an Adult , M"Kay?
posted by Elim at 5:26 PM CST on June 15


Eh?
posted by dios at 3:33 PM on June 15, 2006


Person breaks law, gets arrested.
President breaks law
(dozens of them, if not hundreds; including this one)
President is not arrested-- cannot be, apparently.
President is, therefore, not a person.

He is a King.
posted by jamjam at 3:38 PM on June 15, 2006


So a person who hates the military so much she is willing to AWOL and go to jail because she fears the sexual harassment (and having to do her job) is afraid to go to the agency designed to protect her against that harassment because she is afraid it will "scuttle" her career? Thus, to avoid said scuttling of career, going AWOL is a better option?

It can seem like that, yes, if you're suffering from stress, depression, or mental illness. Or, more correctly, it can seem like the easier path if you hope it will never catch up with you - and for some, that may be the only bit of hope they have in their lives.

Reporting it? It's an active decision, which you also know/believe will hurt you. Employer-provided counselling? Same thing. Just not going back? That's a passive decision, much easier to make, and it's easy to convince yourself that it's the simplest solution.

Who here can claim they've never dug themselves into a hole for similar reasons? It's just a matter of scale...
posted by Pinback at 3:39 PM on June 15, 2006


So, given the option between these two choices:

(1) Get sexually harassed, complain, get treated WORSE, nothing done to offenders, scuttle career;

or

(2) Get sexually harassed, go AWOL, go to Jail.


Fair enough, as far as it goes, but that's not all there is to the case. Let's bring in the immediate reason why this soldier left. Because she was convinced that she was about to be shipped back to Iraq (which she signed up for), which would entail the sexual abuse she'd put up with on her previous tour (which she did not sign up for).

She had been told earlier that she would not be sent to Iraq, so at that point her choice had been (at least from her perspective) between scuttling her career and leaving it in the past. Now her choice became between sexual abuse and jail. That's a very different choice.
posted by gurple at 3:41 PM on June 15, 2006


Dios, Compare to the police department, investigating and charging a cop, Rare, very rare. Hell they can anally rape a man in the restroom and walk.

The military Loathes to air any dirty laundry at all. That is why she was ORDERED not to Talk to the Media about ANYTHING! so we can't even ask her now.
I've seen this happen to a friend of Mine in Germany, only she claimed SH then Rape! It took a civilian court to handle it, a German Court. THEN the Army actually wanted to prosecute (and did) but it took an outsode force to push the issue. The higher up the command the complaintee the less done about the issue.

The Recent AirForce Academy scandal is a great example of this type of military justice in action. so the premise is LESS than Fallacious.

Do both of us a favor and don't assume any thing about my premises until you actually think about them first, this mistake was just stoopid.
posted by Elim at 3:47 PM on June 15, 2006


She could have initiated sexual harassment allegations a while ago,

From page 1 of the FPP article:
[Swift's attorney] said that when Swift complained to the appropriate Army authority, an equal opportunity officer, her complaints were ignored.

For rejecting the advances of two of the noncommissioned officers, Swift said she was publicly humiliated and forced to do extra work.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 3:49 PM on June 15, 2006


"wankfests. F**k 'em."
posted by dios at 4:21 PM

So Curley, your full of S**t.
posted by Elim at 4:54 PM CST on June 15

Dios, Some Composure please, or at least Decorum. Be an Adult , M"Kay?
posted by Elim at 5:26 PM CST on June 15

Eh?


Hey your right?
MY bad, At least I did protect the kiddies in Mine (self adulation ensues)
posted by Elim at 3:50 PM on June 15, 2006


Sheesh. Here I thought we had another Flight Lieutenant Malcolm Kendall-Smith.
posted by anotherpanacea at 4:02 PM on June 15, 2006


Hell they can anally rape a man in the restroom and walk.

Eh? No they can't.
posted by anotherpanacea at 4:06 PM on June 15, 2006


"Just a reminder-- if you don't subscribe to democratic talking points, you can both be opposed to an imperialist war and the people who are actually executing the motions of it. "


Sure, but you might come across as kind of a naive and insensitive dickbag.

Lemme ask you this - Do you believe that the United States should not have a standing military?
posted by stenseng at 4:25 PM on June 15, 2006


Curley, my urethra is busy at the moment pissing on your house. Your mother said it was OK.

I don't think all soldiers are victims, or murderers either. I think if a woman soldier alleges sexual harrassment it is entirely believable.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:25 PM on June 15, 2006


Indentured servants signed contracts, too.

The rallying cry of personal responsibility never seems to take into account the personal responsibility of individual leaders to foresee and avert personnel problems before they occur.

This is important: Blame can be shared.

If someone reaches their breaking point, then you have either a failure of recruitment, training or fairness. Certainly leadership's failure can be assuaged when problems are difficult to foresee, but I think low morale is pretty predictable right now seeing that leadership: created an unpopular, preemptive war, eliminated huge swathes of veteran's benefits, lies outright through recruiters, fails to properly investigate and reprimand for violations and indefinitely extends service via stop-loss. Leadership's failure is even more telling when there's an epidemic of poor morale.

Today's republicans and republican apologists talk long and hard about personal responsibility, so long as the buck stops somewhere else. The word I'm dancing around is: hypocrisy.
posted by Skwirl at 4:46 PM on June 15, 2006


MeTa-(Just kidding)

She's AWOL. She's also justifiably freaked out, but still AWOL.

Why didn't she retain a lawyer before she decided she wasn't going back- assuming she actually had a case?
posted by snsranch at 4:55 PM on June 15, 2006


Sadly, I have to weigh in with Mayor Curley at this point, despite his somewhat offputting manner.

It's 2006. We've been in Iraq for years. The "I had no idea, I just needed a job" argument is no longer valid. This is an entirely volunteer army in the first place.

My sympathies are stretched very thin these days. I have none left for this soldier.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 4:56 PM on June 15, 2006


Eh, I don't think she's a coward at all. All of the hardcore-fuck-the-soldiers talk in this thread completely misses the point. It looks like she has zero faith in the chain of command, with good reason, and thus she's not going to put her life in their hands anymore. This is not quite a clear cut case. Gross incompetence is a valid reason for disobeying a direct order in certain situations. If only more soldiers had her courage the army would actually change for the better.
posted by nixerman at 5:15 PM on June 15, 2006


Regarding those that say she signed up with the notion that she was going to Iraq - she was expressly told by her recruiters that signing up for five instead of four years (for MP duty) would guarantee that she would not be sent to Iraq. When she got out of Basic, she was immediately told to prepare to ship out to Iraq.

While in Iraq, she felt that reporting the sexual abuse would be traitorous. (why she felt that way speaks to the culture of the military.)

She was also told that upon returning, she would not be redeployed for 18 months, and at that point was serving normally. When her sergeant sexually harrassed her on the first day back, she complained, and he was moved to another unit, and promoted.
posted by notsnot at 5:22 PM on June 15, 2006


Her recruiter renegged on a promise. Now THAT'S news!
posted by snsranch at 5:28 PM on June 15, 2006


It's much better to go AWOL and/or go to jail. Perhaps she's developed a conscience. It does happen, even among soldiers.

Person breaks law, gets arrested.
posted by dios at 2:50 PM PST on June 15 [+fave] [!]


Folks like Frederick Douglass, Aleksandr Solzenitsyn, Martin Luther King, and Eli Wiesel wrote a bit about those spouting this kind of simplemindedness.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 5:44 PM on June 15, 2006


Lemme ask you this - Do you believe that the United States should not have a standing military?

Sure you should. Just so long as its members stand inside the United States. If they're standing outside the United States, they should desert and be given as much support from the rest of us as possible.

We don't need to have a lot of sympathy for these people or see them as victims. They are suffering the consequences of their own actions. The problem is that there are foreigners all over the world who also feel much worse consequences of these same actions. They are only more likely to keep getting screwed over by the American military if we help the military make service people feel trapped.

Desertion, once they've already made the selfish and/or naive choice to enlist, is the very best remaining choice. I don't care if it's for reasons of cowardice, short attention-span or a moral awakening, they need as much encouragement as they can get.
posted by Jenga at 6:02 PM on June 15, 2006


Is it too late for her to seek sanctuary?

"The 300-member congregation's administrative council voted last weekend to open its doors beginning this Saturday after 1st Lt. Ehren Watada announced that he thinks the war in Iraq is illegal and that he has sought to resign his commission.

A statement from the church on Wednesday said that service members "who are unable to deploy to combat areas for reasons of conscience" can find protection behind its doors."
posted by Feisty at 7:55 PM on June 15, 2006


At this point, anything I say gets me called out, so I just ignore it all and don't bother reading the wankfests. Fuck 'em.
posted by dios at 3:21 PM PST on June 1


Repeated belligerent, derisive and abusive comments towards the Metafilter community — like those above — are probably why this person gets called out so frequently.

In any case, being forced to submit to rape or other forms of sexual or physical violence by superiors under pain of law seems quite a distinct issue from going AWOL.

There is nothing in the terms of enlistment that make those employment conditions legally acceptable, even if it is the military.
posted by Mr. Six at 8:37 PM on June 15, 2006


Perhaps she's developed a conscience. It does happen, even among soldiers.

God, you're a doucebag.
posted by SweetJesus at 9:48 PM on June 15, 2006


Or "Douchebag"...

When is that 5 minute window-of-opportunity-for-comment-revision thingy coming again?
posted by SweetJesus at 10:07 PM on June 15, 2006


-So Curley, your full of S**t.
-Your right about it Being a crap organization
-Hey your right?

Elim, "your" indicates a possessive. "you're" means "you are", which is what you meant.

Noting the distinction will make you come across better in text.

Sorry, three times in one thread from one person was just too much.
posted by flaterik at 10:45 PM on June 15, 2006


Let's see, whatever happened before to her and whatever previous decisions she made, the current choice boiled down to...

1) Go back to Iraq

or

2) Go to jail

I think she chose wisely.
posted by wendell at 11:12 PM on June 15, 2006


On topic - I think this sucks. The whole thing. Maybe she needed to raise the ante to this level to get any attention on it. Either way, it shouldn't be happening.

Off topic - I resent being called the things I've been called here. Considering I was in the service, your comments include me, and people like me. I am not, nor was I, a moral reprobate. Why you people seem to think I am scum I really don't know.

"The soldiers are morally-bereft shells that VOLUNTEERED to kill people in exchange for money and benefits." - posted by Mayor Curley

There's the e-mail of one of those morally-bereft shells Mayor Curly: postmaster@brianwillson.com

Let him know all about how morally superior you are.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:25 PM on June 15, 2006


I’m sorry to interrupt the big army bashfest, but I just want to say a few things. She chose to join the army, and it's a pity that she didn't have the constitution to thrive is a highly masculine environment, or enough sense to realize that she was going to be deployed.

In BCT she was told "you're going to Iraq and you're gonna die" because they tell everyone that. Over and over again. Rightly or wrongly, it’s part of their little way of getting you to take all the aggravating bullshit of training seriously. Can’t run fast enough? Throw a grenade far enough? Shoot your M-16? Then you are going to die, so you better get it together.

She says she was harrassed constantly, hour by hour, and that only one man in her unit was faithful to his wife. I just don’t buy it. It’s pure hyperbole. She hated being in Iraq (understandable) and regretted joining the army, and every phone call and email to her mom she probably raved hysterically about how terrible everything was and magnified any perceived slight into some kind of huge ordeal directed against her. Like nobody had anything better to do than check their watch every hour and say, “Hey guys, it’s time to sexually harass Suzanne.” No. In her mind, she thinks she was harassed all the time because she got a twig in her ass about the sexual banter than I have no doubt went on among the men, regardless of whether or not she was in the room. Is the army a big boy’s club? Most definitely. Was anyone actually harassing her? I seriously doubt it.

A case in point:
she said, "Sergeant, where do you want me to report to?" and he looked at her, and it was in a group of people, and he said, "In my bed, naked."
I can totally see an exchange like that happening in jest, especially as it was in front of a group of people. Given all the EO shit we have to endure every quarter in the army’s continuing futile battle to not be a big boy’s club, my only surprise is that he would say it without being 100% sure first that she could take a joke, because the Army does take EO complaints very seriously, and that can really screw with your career.

Right now I want Suzanne to have an honorable discharge … and I want her to be discharged from the Army with full benefits.
I’ll be so disgusted if that happens. I want Suzanne discharged, because she’s not fit to serve, she gives women in the army a bad name, and it'll be better for all concerned for her to return to the civilian world. It’s a pity (for her) she wasn’t weeded out during basic or AIT as plenty of my compatriots who were similarly unhappy in the army were. If she was actually physically assaulted, then yes, that was terrible and the perpetrator(s) should be brought to justice; however, I also reserve judgment on the veracity of her claims, especially as the rambling narrative in the second link just doesn't ring true to me, and she's demonstrably a woman who swoons if her delicate sensibilities should be offended. The matter is being investigated, but everyone here has just leapt on the opportunity to malign the army like a pack of terriers, sparing no thought for the possibility that the accusations are overblown.

And on preview: well said, Smedleyman.
posted by Hal Mumkin at 12:32 AM on June 16, 2006


It's rather astonishing how everyone on all sides of this issue here is so preternaturally aware of exactly what happened to this woman, her motives, and whether or not she is telling the truth. I can only assume that all of you served with her.

Oddly, I have noticed this phenomenon occuring for every court case, arrest, or alleged criminal activity to attract the attention of metafilter. You all must be very popular, to know so many people so well.
posted by kyrademon at 1:25 AM on June 16, 2006


because the Army does take EO complaints very seriously, and that can really screw with your career.

Apparently not.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 1:47 AM on June 16, 2006


Smedleyman, I didn't know who S, Brian Wilson was until a minute ago, but skimming his bio page reveals that he was drafted and not a "volunteer":

"I was surprised and distressed to receive my draft notice in the winter of 1966. I had assumed I was exempt from the draft because I possessed a student deferment."

So I'm not claiming moral superiority over him. Just mouth-breathers who enlist when it's not 1941.
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:02 AM on June 16, 2006


What a shotgun approach to handing out excuses for going AWOL.

First, the recruiter lied and said that she wouldn't have to go to Iraq. (Big surprise. Anyone who has picked up a paper in the last few years might also have picked up on this.)

Next, she was fucking her sargeant. He would show up in the middle of the night, intoxicated, wanting to have sex with her and if she said no, she would be punished. Did she report this at the time? Nope.

Then she decides that the war is illegal. Mom, I want to join you as soon as I’m clear. I want to join you and tell kids what the recruiters are really doing. It's really like selling your soul to the devil to go be human fodder for an illegal war.

Somehow she didn't notice that the war was illegal back when she was being miserable and probably traumatized back at Safeway in Eugene. "She had graduated from high school. She was in a dead end -- well, she working at Safeway, and she was miserable. She hated going to work every day. She didn't know what to do."

Finally, she has PTSD. Which she could have had from her traumatic, miserable time at Safeway in Eugene.

I just don't think that this is news. "Pathetic loser doesn't find life in Iraq any less miserable than produce department at Safeway. News at eleven."
posted by leftcoastbob at 8:37 AM on June 16, 2006



“Just mouth-breathers who enlist when it's not 1941.” - posted by Mayor Curley

Ok. Well, without getting into my own background in working for peace and attempting to end this war in particular, working on accountability for torture and other crimes and helping disabled vets put themselves back together when they come home - I don’t see anything that makes a person who does not enlist better than one who does (barring 1941 of course, ‘cause that war was fought for goodness and puppies, by the best generation unlike any other war - it’s not like we goaded the fuck out of the Japanese to attack us or anything) irregardless of their individual actions.

So Charles Manson - who didn’t enlist, is better than Sergeant Frank Ford or Sergeant Joseph Darby.

You, Mayor Curley, have the moral integrity that WO Hugh Thompson, Jr. did not have, simply because you did not enlist (as he did).

You’re better than Desmond Doss (oh, wait, even though he enlisted, it was 1941-ish).

Well, let’s say Ron Kovic then, ‘cause he enlisted and he works with Wilson - so you should be able to contact him through the same e-mail address.

Just let him know that - despite any individual accomplishment or deeds on anyone’s part - anyone who chooses to serve their country is a scumbag, and anyone who doesn’t is better - by virtue of not having served.

That works both ways of course. I believe enlistment to be an act of altrusim - trusting and believing in one’s country - but there certainly can be ulterior motives. So again - depends on the acts of the individual.


Oh, and fuck you for calling me a mouth breather. I’m not ‘Mr. Erudition’. And I’m certainly not the smartest guy on Mefi, but lacking in moral courage or intellectual integrity I am not.

I’ve actually thought about re-enlisting. Not because I believe in the war, but because I think that maybe if I’m there that’s one more honest voice, that’s one more person who can lead by example, one more who can maybe keep some young trooper from losing it and opening up at random.

But that’s not going to make the news is it?

As for the rest of the bullshit here - I’m perfectly willing to entertain the concept of not having a standing army. I’m not sure how it might work, but I’m open.

If we’re working from the position that there needs to be active armed forces - then the last thing anyone wants is the troops themselves making the decisions as to when and where to fight.

“War is an ugly thing but not the ugliest of things; the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feelings which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.”  - John Stuart Mill
posted by Smedleyman at 11:10 AM on June 16, 2006


Smedleyman, a good point: one of the most inexplicable memes of the anti-war movement is the notion that is somehow good for democracy, or peace, for soldiers to decide whether we fight.
posted by MattD at 11:58 AM on June 16, 2006


one of the most inexplicable memes of the anti-war movement is the notion that is somehow good for democracy, or peace, for soldiers to decide whether we fight.
posted by MattD


No, it's a sign of an open and accountable government when the administration is honest about the reasons for war. Then the citizens can decide whether or not they will enlist to fight.

Bring on the draft.
posted by leftcoastbob at 12:10 PM on June 16, 2006


Actually, leftcoastbob, a draft might encourage some people who - as far as the polls I've seen - disagree with the war but apparently aren't really interested in doing much about it.

I don't see how your point and MattD's are at odds. Open and accountable government would be great. People enlisting and fighting only when the country absolutely NEEDs to go to war?
No wars of conveniance or special interest urging?

That'd be fantastic.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:29 PM on June 16, 2006


For those who have said they do not support desertion or agree that deserters from the armed forces should be punished, and believe that someone can sign their life away for half a dozen (or more) years:

1. A major principle of contract law is that a contracting party should have the flexibility to break a contract, usually by paying a penalty or performing some service. Contracts are not meant to bind the parties irrevocably.

2. By not letting the disgruntled leave the armed forces, what is the effect of that on morale? Why would the forces want people who don't want to fight, fighting? Surely that would more greatly compromise unit cohesion than two men who have sex with each other in the same bunk!? It's the same reason the draft was eliminated. People who don't wish to fight are not going to make great soldiers.

3. Given Nos. 1 and 2 above, the question should be, what price should a deserter pay for deserting? Some things that they can pay what has been invested in them; or do community service; or pay a fine.

I would assume it is counter-productive for military reasons to re-deploy them, unless the military is fighting an unpopular war and is fighting to keep up recruitment numbers.

For those who feel that deserters will compromise national security, along the lines of what Jenga said (excellent points), I would argue that such a war is likely to be an offensive (rather than a defensive) war, and is typically not essential to the preservation of national security, as has been exemplified by the Iraqi Quagmire.

Kudos to this young woman for speaking up (however belatedly), and for her mother for supporting her at this time.
posted by Azaadistani at 2:49 PM on June 16, 2006


Sorry: "Some things that come to mind are that they can pay ... ".
posted by Azaadistani at 2:50 PM on June 16, 2006


I'm interested to hear more about the relationship between contract law and military service, if anyone's up for it. I get that desertion during combat is bad, and I get that it's inconvenient to release trained soldiers. But what legally justifies the AWOL appelation, where in any other institution they'd simply institute firing procedures, maybe build a civil case? Let me reiterate, this isn't a question of utility or national security; just a legal query if anyone wants to share. Moreover, what, other than dishonorable discharge, are the potential consequences?
posted by anotherpanacea at 3:21 PM on June 16, 2006


"Moreover, what, other than dishonorable discharge, are the potential consequences?"

Death.

"By not letting the disgruntled leave the armed forces, what is the effect of that on morale?"

The unit integrity, cohesion, depends on being able to trust your fellow troops.
The effect is similar to - say - a firefighter dropping the hose and running off in the middle of a fire.
But that's in a combat unit.

And I'm not going to denegrate someone who has an ethical issue and stands up to defend it - Lt. Watada for example.

Nor am I going to criticise any number of people who witness a war crime and no longer want any part of this engagement (again, given that they then do their moral duty and expose it and not just cut out).

There are several kinds of 'desertion.' For desertion in the face of the enemy, I can't imagine not punishing that person.
It's a horrible thing to pretend to be someone you can count on and then, when you need them most - they're gone.

That aside - this softer form of desertion - during a war, but not in combat and not in a combat unit.

Other than the reasons above, I see no reason to not fufill the contract. Military service is community service. Why did they sign up then?

And actually it's pretty easy to get out. This for example, sounds like bull to me. We had a number of people walk out of boot camp. A number of people didn't make it later on as well. An other than honorable discharge is not really a black mark on your record. It's like getting an incomplete on a college class. Doesn't look good of course, but it's not lethal.
But yes: ultimately no one wants you there unless you want to be there and yes, you can get a medical or other than honorable, etc. etc. if you're smart.
/The SEALs are a great example of this. Want out? Ring the bell.

I don't get how - generally speaking - the "well, they signed up for it" jibes with the "they should be allowed to leave" thing.

Ultimately it's a matter of taking responsibility for your beliefs and actions. Don't believe in this particular war? Fight for that. Want to make sure that your mates in the meatgrinder make it home ok? Do that.

Deserters - by definition, don't take responsibility for their actions. They desert.


"Surely that would more greatly compromise unit cohesion than two men who have sex with each other in the same bunk!?"

Yeah, I think that policy is stupid as well. I'd like to see the focus more on professionalism rather than allowing the prejudices of American culture into warfighters ethos. In any army through history - that has been the most debilitating factor.

James Dunnigan said (last year) desertions weren't a problem. I've been reading some different info.
/I really don't know now. But I'd take Dunnigan's word on a lot of things.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:41 PM on June 16, 2006


Smedleyman- The link you supplied makes it look like permanent AWOL is equated with desertion during combat. Is it that simple? Is there a difference, here, between the letter of the law and the practice?
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:04 PM on June 16, 2006


"Is there a difference, here, between the letter of the law and the practice?"

Yeah, the Dunnigan link sort of explains what occurs in practice.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:16 PM on June 17, 2006


As a practice, this (finding AWOL soldiers and shipping them back to their masters units) sounds pretty close to conscription. Thank God that didn't happen to me when I quit my job at Waldenbooks.
posted by anotherpanacea at 3:28 PM on June 17, 2006


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