Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Dahr Jamail, "Marching out of step in the US military," Asia Times, July 2, 2009.

[As a deserter myself from the US Army during the Vietnam War, I find these young men walk a much more difficult walk than I did. In an all-volunteer army, it takes a more searing, personal experience of the fundamental immorality of US foreign policy to convince a patriotic young soldier that he and his country are embarked on a vicious and inhuman path. Suicide, as Jamail points out, is more frequent. And the social support for them is not deep enough to matter. People continue their quest for useless crap they can't afford.

Canada is more of a warlike lapdog of the US than it was during the Trudeau era and not at all the sanctuary that so many Canadians still think they live in. But the worst of it is not the government. Many in the public, for some reason, believe that a volunteer soldier is a mindless and obedient robot who must live up to the inviolable contract he has signed, even though the military routinely breaches that contract with "stop-loss" re-assignments on a massive scale.

Moreover, the contract, as has been shown by the writings of several recruiters, is often signed under deceitful and possibly even fraudulent circumstances that will probably never be called to account.

Like me, when they try to do what you are supposed to under the circumstances, and apply for discharge or reassignment as conscientious objectors, their applications are judged by men who haven't a clue about pacifism, who haven't even an intellectual background in its history and practise, and who could care less to find out. The price of all this is yet to be paid. When the bill comes due, the ones with the courage to fight the lonely fight will be there to collect. More power to them.

Having listened almost obsessively to the Winter Soldier testimonies, I believe that the volunteer army strategy has seriously backfired. These young men have made decisions that are far more difficult than most, and they have been radicalised by obsolete policies and practises that will necessarily change even if the Western Empire must go the way of the Pharoahs. If climate change and the Great Market Failure don't do the trick, maybe the moral effect of these soldiers' awakening will. May their sacrifice not be in vain.

As the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan grinds on for another decade or more and begins to produce casualties in truly war-like numbers (hundreds and thousands a week), some Canadians may begin to lose their self-righteous moral superiority for good. That will be a social transformation worth being around for. Remembrance Day will never be the same. -jlt]

On May 1, at Fort Hood in central Texas, Specialist Victor Agosto wrote on a counseling statement, which is actually a punitive United States Army memo:

There is no way I will deploy to Afghanistan. The occupation is immoral and unjust. It does not make the American people any safer. It has the opposite effect.

Ten days later, he refused to obey a direct order from his company commander to prepare to deploy and was issued a second counseling statement. On that one he wrote, "I will not obey any orders I deem to be immoral or illegal." Shortly thereafter, he told a reporter, "I'm not willing to participate in this occupation, knowing it is completely wrong. It's a matter of what I'm willing to live with."

  Between 2000 and 2006, more than 40,000 troops from all branches of the [US] military deserted, more than half from the army.

Read the rest here =>
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