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January 17, 2007 11:23 AM   Subscribe

An Appeal for Redress from the War in Iraq. "As a patriotic American proud to serve the nation in uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to support the prompt withdrawal of all American military forces and bases from Iraq . Staying in Iraq will not work and is not worth the price. It is time for U.S. troops to come home." (via the Seattle Times.)
posted by three blind mice (59 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
On All Things Considered.
posted by The Straightener at 11:28 AM on January 17, 2007


I believe this was also discussed on Democracy Now last week.
posted by rollbiz at 11:39 AM on January 17, 2007


Only ~1100 signatures? This hardly seems like news. People signing this have more, rather than less, of an interest in stopping the war in Iraq, so only getting 1100 signatures seems like a good measurement of failure.
posted by OmieWise at 11:48 AM on January 17, 2007


Well, it's not just people, it's 1100 soldiers.
posted by proj at 11:50 AM on January 17, 2007


Yup - 1100 active duty soldiers. That's why it is different. Plus, they are using a special mechanism to communicate to Congress specifically.
posted by ao4047 at 11:56 AM on January 17, 2007


Thank you to all the signatories for your opposition and efforts to end this madness of King George.
posted by nofundy at 12:07 PM on January 17, 2007


Surely, this...
posted by Devils Rancher at 12:09 PM on January 17, 2007


Has anything like this happened before? When I heard about this, I immediately thought, "Just imagine if some Army of the Potomac troops had petitioned Congress like this right after the battle of Fredericksburg."
posted by pax digita at 12:15 PM on January 17, 2007


Not since 1969, when some 1,300 active-duty military personnel signed an open letter in the New York Times opposing the war in Vietnam, has there been such a dramatic barometer of rising military dissent.
posted by The Straightener at 12:20 PM on January 17, 2007


Yet another petition... and what will come of it? In two weeks, everyone will have forgotten that this thing even went on (assuming they even heard about it), and the war in Iraq will still continue.

Want to do some constructive, soldier? Desert your post. Hop aboard the first plane/train/automobile out of that place. I think it's painfully obvious that our government just doesn't care about all the protests and petition in the world, and it's time to take real action. Sending some pre-generated email that more than likely will not even be seen by a representative does nothing.
posted by triolus at 12:22 PM on January 17, 2007


ao4047 writes "Yup - 1100 active duty soldiers."

Actually, not so much, the word "reserve" is prominent in the sentence of the first paragraph on their webpage. But, for the sake of argument, let's say that the only people who could have signed this thing are active duty Army soldiers and officers, of which there are about ~476,000. That makes these 1100 signatures represent .2 percent. I really don't think that .2% of a population that has the most to gain from the war ending is a very big number. If we add in the Reserves with 250k soldiers, and the Guard with 370k soldiers (as the actual campaign does), we end up with about .1%. So what. I'll bet you can find close to .1% of that many people believing any damn thing.

I think this war is a horrible idea, too, and I wish Bush would rot in fucking hell, but not every other person who agrees with me is news, and numbers like this make me more, not less, depressed.
posted by OmieWise at 12:22 PM on January 17, 2007


I believe this was also discussed on Democracy Now last week.

Here.
posted by homunculus at 12:33 PM on January 17, 2007


If only they would listen to the Educator in Chief, they would surely understand why he's right and they're wrong.
posted by homunculus at 12:37 PM on January 17, 2007


Okay, so it's sorta happened before -- if you'd equate an open letter to the NYT with a petition to Congress. I wonder where this rubs up against the UCMJ besides Article 138 for complaints of wrongs? Article 134, maybe -- the "conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline" one? (Sure hope not.)
posted by pax digita at 12:38 PM on January 17, 2007


Well think of it more as a sampling Omiewise. I'm afraid your interpretation of the numbers isn't accurate. These 1136 signatories do not represent all of the armed forces. They are representational only of those who 1.) Are aware of it (and I imagine a whole hell of a lot of em haven't seen it yet ) and 2.) Those who're willing to put promotions, commendations and honorable discharges at risk.

I'm not completely up on the legality (and this is an invitation for anyone in the miltary who does to jump in here), but could signing something like this be grounds for disciplinary action or in the worst case scenario court marshall? Is a soldier allowed to have an opinion counter to his superiors and the commander in chief?

If all these elements are in play then that 1136 is bigger than it seems.
posted by Skygazer at 12:39 PM on January 17, 2007


triolus -- desertion might be feasible for draftees who didn't want to fight in the first place; less so for military professionals who either hope to continue in a career of service or wish to have an honorable discharge to use on their resume.

plus, there's the fact that you're, well, in Iraq and most American soldiers don't exactly blend in. Grab the first car on the way out? to where? Syria? Saudi? Iran? Any chance that the driver won't just sell you out to a local militia?

Most folks who desert are usually ones who don't show up when they're called back for another tour. At least 8000 of them have done so already, with little general effect or public discussion. Not exactly a constructive option, either.
posted by bl1nk at 12:46 PM on January 17, 2007


Want to do some constructive, soldier? Desert your post. Hop aboard the first plane/train/automobile out of that place. I think it's painfully obvious that our government just doesn't care about all the protests and petition in the world, and it's time to take real action.

I just though that needed to be said again.
posted by John of Michigan at 12:47 PM on January 17, 2007


*thought* dammit *thought*
posted by John of Michigan at 12:47 PM on January 17, 2007


omiewise numbers like this make me more, not less, depressed

That's only apathy. The cure for it is a trip to iraq without staying closed into an hotel room in green zone. Or cheer up dude.

1000 reservist may snowball easily and it's disagreement with commander which is always troubling, it's viral expecially when it echoes a widely held sentiment that many soldiers just don't dare express, in fear of retribution...some other because of a distorted sense of duty/honor.
posted by elpapacito at 12:49 PM on January 17, 2007


but could signing something like this be grounds for disciplinary action or in the worst case scenario court marshall?

This is covered in the audio of the NPR link (short answer: no).
posted by The Straightener at 1:11 PM on January 17, 2007


Not since 1969, when some 1,300 active-duty military personnel signed an open letter in the New York Times opposing the war in Vietnam, has there been such a dramatic barometer of rising military dissent.

Fantastic! Only five more years to go, then.
posted by monocyte at 1:15 PM on January 17, 2007


bl1nk: Yes, it would look horrible to have a dishonorable discharge on your record -- no one would ever hire you, probably not even Wal-Mart. And true, there may be no where to go, but at least it would send a real message to the officials in charge, and not Yet Another Petition that none of them care about. My option may not be the best, but it's damn far better option than doing nothing (which is all this petition amounts to).

About the 8000 who never came back... I didn't know that. Maybe news like that should be spread more...
posted by triolus at 1:31 PM on January 17, 2007


Want to do some constructive, soldier? Desert your post. Hop aboard the first plane/train/automobile out of that place. I think it's painfully obvious that our government just doesn't care about all the protests and petition in the world, and it's time to take real action.

How very easy it is for we civilians warming chairs in front of computer screens to criticize soldiers for their oh-so-very-non-"constructive" protest, urging them to instead commit that would submit them and possibly their loved ones to jail time (harboring a deserter from the Armed Forces is, in and of itself, a federal crime punishable up to three years in prison).

Sometimes I just want to slap some of my fellow liberals upside the head.
posted by WCityMike at 1:32 PM on January 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


WCityMike:

Civil disobedience is supposed to be messy. You buy the ticket, you take the ride. I would gladly risk jailtime to help soldiers who wanted to desert or go AWOL.

Here's a hypothetical: You've got a wayback machine--a top-of-the-line one--and you can talk to German soldiers in 1914. They're massed on the western border of Germany, ready to go to Luxembourg, Belgium, France. What do you do? Tell them to go ahead? Or ask them to think about what might be an immoral (sure, technically legal) order?
posted by John of Michigan at 1:45 PM on January 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Withdrawal? Where's the motherfucking redress? "Oh, I just shat on your lawn. But don't worry, I'm leaving now."
posted by koeselitz at 1:51 PM on January 17, 2007


Civil disobedience is supposed to be messy. You buy the ticket, you take the ride. I would gladly risk jailtime to help soldiers who wanted to desert or go AWOL.

I responded as I did because I think it's insulting to tell soldiers that they're not taking an adequate enough personal risk to protest the Iraq situation. Personally, I think our lives are bound to be far less "messy" than theirs, no matter what "ride" we're "taking" for "messy" "civil disobedience" here in the States; logistically, I think it's far more likely to convince soldiers to appeal for a redress of their grievances to Congress than it is for them go AWOL.

Soldiers walking away from Iraq en masse might make a nice image for a folk song, but it's entirely unrealistic to think it's going to ever happen, and it's a sign of absolutely massive arrogance to cheapen a soldier's effort to protest why he's there because we think his statement isn't adequate enough.
posted by WCityMike at 1:54 PM on January 17, 2007


Maybe news like that should be spread more...

Well, yeah, but then all the major media outlets are ultimately owned by the same financial interests that wanted this war and helped put Bush in the White House in the first place. I congratulate these soldiers on having the balls to put it on the line for what they believe.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:54 PM on January 17, 2007


Well, in a perfect world, redress would bring back to life half a million Iraqis, three thousand Americans, rejoin tens of thousands of limbs with their rightful owners, and put a trillion (a trillion!) dollars out of the military contractors' coffers and back into the US treasury, but this isn't a perfect world.

Withdrawal would be a great start.
posted by John of Michigan at 1:54 PM on January 17, 2007


I think it's far more likely to convince soldiers to appeal for a redress of their grievances to Congress than it is for them go AWOL.

Yeah, but do you want to get things done, end an unjust war, or make an essentially meaningless statement.

We live in interesting times. I'm afraid many, many of us are soon going to have to make hard, personal decisions to take our country back. What worked in the past doesn't seem to be working now.
posted by John of Michigan at 1:57 PM on January 17, 2007


Think antebellum south, when people had to choose between obeying the law or helping fugitive slaves. Or 1950s-1960s south, when people had to choose between obeying the law or changing an unjust system.
posted by John of Michigan at 1:59 PM on January 17, 2007


I think it's far more likely to convince soldiers to appeal for a redress of their grievances to Congress than it is for them go AWOL.

Yeah, but do you want to get things done, end an unjust war, or make an essentially meaningless statement.
[snip]

I'm not talking about desired results, and perhaps you don't get that: I'm talking about (a) practical likelihood of success, because a moderate action that succeeds is better than a radical action that fails, and, more importantly, (b) the sheer massive arrogance in you guys arguing that these soldiers aren't sacrificing enough – and I'm speaking not of the sacrifices associated with their military service, but the sacrifices associated with their act of protest, which, in the very monocultural Army culture, can be considerable.
posted by WCityMike at 2:06 PM on January 17, 2007


What I object to is you telling these men and women who are already demonstrating some bravery in being over there — even if they shouldn't have been sent there — and who have now displayed additional bravery by taking a public stand very unpopular in the monobloc Army culture. Three tours of duty in that zone, seeing people die in front of their faces, IEDs, explosions, burnt flesh, severed limbs — and we, we who exist in a (comparative) paradise where, except for the rarest unfortunates, our friends do not die as a result of gunfire or explosions, are saying to these people, "Your act of protest which you took on principle, despite the fact that it sets you apart from the men and women that you have to live with and work with everyday, in a war environment where such social setting-apart can have life-or-death consequences, isn't sufficient enough. If you want to do something reaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaallly constructive, hijack a plane out of Iraq, stow away in an unpressurized cargo plane, or walk for large stretches across the desert so you can come home and be pursued by city, county, state, and federal agents, caught, and placed in military prison for many, many years." If they look at me like I'm absolutely bugfuck bonkers, and ask me why, I can tell them, "Well, a Metafilter user named John in Michigan says that 'civil disobedience is supposed to be messy, and if you buy the ticket, you take the ride.' And that by not doing what I am telling you to do, but by doing any act of civil disobedience that is less extreme than that, you are enabling Germans, slave owners, and racist Klansmen to commit evil in the world."
posted by WCityMike at 2:21 PM on January 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


"who are already demonstrating some bravery in being over there" ... a lot of bravery in being over there, actually ...
posted by WCityMike at 2:22 PM on January 17, 2007


Has anything like this happened before? When I heard about this, I immediately thought, "Just imagine if some Army of the Potomac troops had petitioned Congress like this right after the battle of Fredericksburg."

The Nicola Affair (PDF). Briefly: A Continental Army officer named Nicola, who was in charge of the defense of Philadelphia, wrote to Gen. Washington of his complaints regarding funding and such. He revealed himself an anti-British monarchist (who wanted his superior to be the King), among other points. Washington persuaded him to keep his opinions to himself, and Nicola was mollified.

Later, letters between Washington and Alexander Hamilton revealed their fears of insurrection among the Army. In a dramatic meeting, Washington persuaded the officer corps to follow a path of loyalty in the Newburgh Address.

Around the same time, a local militia, like the officers long unpaid, actually marched on Congress, but were rebuffed.

Historians have drawn connections between the two incidents; Nicola was probably not involved in the latter, but has often been called a conspirator against Congress.
posted by dhartung at 2:25 PM on January 17, 2007


For someone in the active military, signing this would take a great deal of bravery, moreso I think than a deserter. First, the deserter actually gets out of going to Iraq, while the petitioner gets nothing but the rewards of conscience. The deserter also gets away from his or her unit, and the hell that can be unleashed (both officially and unofficially) on a soldier, seaman or airman by his unit is overwhelming. It would be much more pleasant in jail.

Correcting deviation within the ranks is a problem the military has been solving for thousands of years. Petitioning Congress to end a war certainly qualifies as a deviation.
posted by Nahum Tate at 2:37 PM on January 17, 2007


they weren't drafted, you know.

I'd have a lot more sympathy for a letter mentioning the illegality of the preemptive unprovoked attack, the numerous war crimes already committed, the illegal use of torture.

instead, they want to get out because their leaders have lost the war. to quote their ex boss, you go to war with the commanders you have. they had bad leaders, and that sucks. but sadly, as a soldier you're free to have your opinions and vote, in the end you have to obey (legal) orders.

I have very little sympathy for the "we lost, let's get outta here" contingent. they'd be the first to cheer if they had won, torture and Abu Ghraib and no-wmds notwithstanding.
posted by matteo at 3:00 PM on January 17, 2007


Yes, it would look horrible to have a dishonorable discharge on your record -- no one would ever hire you, probably not even Wal-Mart.

Aw, that's crap. They leaned so hard on this point in Basic that I did a little digging (hmmm, what could I have been thinking?), and it's far from the automatic career suicide they presented it as.

I will grant you that it's a strike I'd rather not have against me, but it's nothing like, say, committing a felony.
posted by adamgreenfield at 3:01 PM on January 17, 2007


there have been a bunch of polls of the military too, that show a surprisingly large (to me, at least) number of soldiers opposed to the whole mission, and the escalation.
posted by amberglow at 3:10 PM on January 17, 2007


Gee, Matteo, what do you want? That they should have been whole-heartedly against the war from the beginning? They probably wouldn't have been in the service.
posted by atchafalaya at 3:34 PM on January 17, 2007


matteo, many of them probably signed up when the government was still sane, with the expectation that if we spent their lives, we'd do so for a good cause... that we wouldn't just waste them.

We've let down our end of the bargain. Some protest on their end is hardly unwarranted.
posted by Malor at 3:43 PM on January 17, 2007


many of them probably signed up when the government was still sane,

Fiscal 2006 Enlisted Recruiting from October 1, 2005 - September 30, 2006.

Clearly some people weren't aware that our leaders are insane.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 3:57 PM on January 17, 2007


...the sheer massive arrogance in you guys arguing that these soldiers aren't sacrificing enough – and I'm speaking not of the sacrifices associated with their military service, but the sacrifices associated with their act of protest, which, in the very monocultural Army culture, can be considerable.

I think it's more than arrogance, I think it's cowardice too. I find it no different than the "101st Fighting Keyboarders" who essentially say, "I will fight until your last breath." If you believe that something is so important, so much so anyone who does not sacrfice everything to stop it is not doing something constructive or making meaningless statements, then you best be ready to do it yourself, otherwise, you're just pumping out hot air to make yourself feel morally superior. If it's so important that thousands of nameless (to you) people have to destroy there lives, who are you to not do the same? You think they have more "responsibility?" I thought this was about saving lives, not finding someone else to shove your guilt onto.
posted by Snyder at 4:11 PM on January 17, 2007


adamgreenfield : I will grant you that it's a strike I'd rather not have against me, but it's nothing like, say, committing a felony.

You sure about that?
: (c) Any person found guilty of desertion or attempt to desert shall be punished, if the offense is committed in time of war, by death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct,

Personally, I'd take the felony rap.
posted by quin at 4:35 PM on January 17, 2007


Lawrence Korb Eviscerates A Surge Supporter
posted by homunculus at 4:35 PM on January 17, 2007



many of them probably signed up when the government was still sane,


before the Korean War? then they shouldn't appeal for redress, but for retirement.
posted by matteo at 4:39 PM on January 17, 2007


In thinking more about the desertion idea, purely as a hypothetical since it would never happen; It would be interesting to see the reaction stateside, particularly from the politicians if the whole of the military just upped and left. They have vehicles, and if necessary, weapons to take their aircraft. They would surely be punished when they returned. But it wouldn't be like punishing a couple of dozen of men who fled the battlefield. It would be the entire military apparatus.

Sort of a spin on the old question, "what if they threw a war, and no one showed up?" What if all the people who were fighting just said 'screw it' and left?

Ignoring the ramifications to the soldiers themselves, or the area that they left, what the hell would the administration do? They have gotten people so behind the 'support our troops' message, that they would have a hard time publicly denouncing them. If nothing else, it would be an astonishing piece of civil disobedience.

/OK dreamtime is over...
posted by quin at 4:54 PM on January 17, 2007


You sure about that? : (c) Any person found guilty of desertion or attempt to desert shall be punished, if the offense is committed in time of war, by death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct,

Wouldn't we actually have to declare war for that to take effect?
posted by LionIndex at 5:41 PM on January 17, 2007


Apparently not. From CBS News, May 21, 2004, Deserter GI Gets Year In Jail — Soldier Says He Went AWOL In Iraq Because He Opposed War:
A U.S. soldier who said he left his unit in Iraq to protest an "oil-driven" war was convicted of desertion Friday and sentenced to a year in jail and a bad conduct discharge.

A military jury met for about 20 minutes before giving the maximum sentence to Staff Sgt. Camilo Mejia, an infantry squad leader with the Florida National Guard.

"I have no regrets. Not one," Mejia said before his sentencing.
...
Military prosecutors argued that Mejia abandoned his troops and didn't fulfill his duty.

"He enjoyed all the benefits of the military, just not the duty," Capt. A.J. Balbo, the lead prosecutor, said in his closing argument. "The defense says he accomplished all his missions. Except the most important one — showing up."

Mejia's commander in Iraq, Capt. Tad Warfel, said the verdict would send a message that "deserters are punished, regardless of what their arguments are or their excuses."
What do you choose when all of the consequences are bad?
posted by cenoxo at 7:20 PM on January 17, 2007


I'm not sure encouraging the entire military apparatus to abandonment of their mission is a good idea. I mean, we don't need an African junta military situation where the military decides what it will or will not do, while the civilian government hopes that it can mollify the generals. I don't want guns in the hands of those type of people, and I am one of those types of people.

If the entire military left you would do drastic damage to the civilian-military relationship, would have to scrap your old force and create a new one, and unlesh a constitutional and cultural crisis.

Maybe it would be worth it, but I think not for what you would gain.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 10:35 PM on January 17, 2007


LC, forgive this reply, (I'm assuming this was a response to me..,) but I think you may have missed my point. Yes, the American military abandoning their posts would likely be a hugely devastating world event, but that isn't what I was pondering. I asked how the American administration would react to such a response. And more specifically, if it was the troops currently stationed in Iraq that gave the Hawks the finger.

I don't doubt that such an action would have world wide repercussions, that sort of thing would be inevitable and bad, but my intellectual exercise was more aimed at how our American leadership would deal with the concept of the entire military telling them to fuck off.

In the end, my guess that it's one of those kind of things that America would suffer in the short term, and eventually, the whole world would lose in the long run, but the question itself does bring out my curiosity.
posted by quin at 11:53 PM on January 17, 2007


"Just imagine if some Army of the Potomac troops had petitioned Congress like this right after the battle of Fredericksburg."

Your country would be different from what it became when the natural conclusion of that war was played out. Having a country that is different from how it would be if the natural conclusion of this war were played out seems like a pretty good idea to me.
posted by vbfg at 1:29 AM on January 18, 2007


"Just imagine if some Army of the Potomac troops had petitioned Congress like this right after the battle of Fredericksburg."

Just imagine is some Army of the Potomac troops had petitioned Congress like this right after the battle of Berlin. (that's what this is like--sending our troops to fight in a 3rd country that never did anything to us, and was never a real threat to us.)
posted by amberglow at 12:38 PM on January 18, 2007


quin, we were discussing the consequences of a DD (dishonorable discharge), not the penalties authorized for desertion in time of war.

So, yes, I am sure of that. : . )
posted by adamgreenfield at 12:45 PM on January 18, 2007


Aw, that's crap. They leaned so hard on this point in Basic that I did a little digging (hmmm, what could I have been thinking?), and it's far from the automatic career suicide they presented it as.

I will grant you that it's a strike I'd rather not have against me, but it's nothing like, say, committing a felony.


You can only get a dishonarable discharge if you've been convicted by a general court-martial (not marshall), so, it's actually worse than just committing a felony as a civilian.
posted by Snyder at 12:53 PM on January 18, 2007


You can only get a dishonarable discharge if you've been convicted by a general court-martial (not marshall), so, it's actually worse than just committing a felony as a civilian.

Only if there were such a thing as, say, Felonious False Official Statements under the criminal statutes. The variety of things you can pull a DD for under the UCMJ is considerably broader than the array of acts which might constitute a felony under US law - the canonical ones being assault, robbery, burglary, "grand" theft, arson, rape and of course murder. (I think I'm forgetting one. It'll occur to me the moment I hit post.)

Anyway, my advice to servicepeople, as always, is to go check your UCMJ - your UA, company clerk or equivalent should be able to find you a copy. It's a useful thing to understand the contours of.
posted by adamgreenfield at 1:04 PM on January 18, 2007


D'oh: embezzlement and fraud. I must have a fixation on violence.
posted by adamgreenfield at 1:05 PM on January 18, 2007


Sorry, adamgreenfield. I was conflating the two in thread arguments. I assumed that you were talking about a dishonorable discharge for desertion, not for a lesser act.

So yeah. Nevermind.
posted by quin at 5:45 PM on January 18, 2007


I don't know if anyone cares, but this turns out to have been a case of astroturfing.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 7:42 PM on January 19, 2007


‘It’s So Irresponsible That They Can’t Be Quiet For Six Or Nine Months’
posted by homunculus at 9:23 PM on January 21, 2007


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