a soldier's doubt

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by 3rdpath, Sep 17, 2003.

  1. 3rdpath macrumors 68000

    3rdpath

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    #1
    COMMENTARY in today's l.a. times
    Paths of Glory Lead to a Soldier's Doubt
    An American carrying out his duty in Iraq wonders aloud why he's there.

    COMMENTARY


    _By Tim Predmore, Tim Predmore is on active duty with the 101st Airborne Division near Mosul, Iraq. A version of this essay appeared in the Peoria (Ill.) Star Journal.

    For the last six months I have participated in what I believe to be the great modern lie: Operation Iraqi Freedom.
    After the horrific events of Sept. 11, 2001, and throughout the battle in Afghanistan, the groundwork was being laid for the invasion of Iraq. "Shock and awe" was the term used to describe the display of power the world was to view upon the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom. It was to be a dramatic show of strength and advanced technology from within the arsenals of the American and British militaries.
    But as a soldier preparing to take part in the invasion of Iraq, the words "shock and awe" rang deep within my psyche. Even as we prepared to depart, it seemed that these two great superpowers were about to break the very rules they demanded that others obey. Without the consent of the United Nations, and ignoring the pleas of their own citizens, the U.S. and Britain invaded Iraq. "Shock and awe"? Yes, the words correctly described the emotional impact I felt as we embarked on an act not of justice but of hypocrisy.
    From the moment the first shot was fired in this so-called war of liberation and freedom, hypocrisy reigned. After the broadcasting of recorded images of captured and dead U.S. soldiers over Arab television, American and British leaders vowed revenge while verbally assaulting the networks for displaying such vivid images. Yet within hours of the deaths of Saddam Hussein's two sons, the U.S. released horrific photographs of the two dead brothers for the world to view. Again, a "do as we say and not as we do" scenario.
    As soldiers serving in Iraq, we have been told that our purpose here is to help the people of Iraq by providing them the necessary assistance militarily as well as in humanitarian efforts. Then tell me where the humanity was in the recent Stars and Stripes account of two children taken to a U.S. military camp by their mother, in search of medical care. The children had been unknowingly playing with explosive ordnance they had found and as a result were severely burned. The account tells how they, after an hourlong wait, were denied care by two U.S. military doctors. A soldier described the incident as one of many "atrocities" he had witnessed on the part of the U.S. military.
    Thankfully I have not been a personal witness to any atrocities, unless of course you consider, as I do, this war to be the ultimate atrocity.
    So then, what is our purpose here?
    Was this invasion because of weapons of mass destruction, as we so often have heard? If so, where are they? Did we invade to dispose of a leader and his regime because they were closely associated with Osama bin Laden? If so, where is the proof? Or is it that our incursion is a result of our own economic advantage? Iraq's oil can be refined at the lowest cost of any in the world. Coincidence?
    This looks like a modern-day crusade not to free an oppressed people or to rid the world of a demonic dictator relentless in his pursuit of conquest and domination but a crusade to control another nation's natural resource. At least to me, oil seems to be the reason for our presence.
    There is only one truth, and it is that Americans are dying. There are 10 to 14 attacks on our servicemen and -women daily in Iraq, and it would appear that there is no end in sight.
    I once believed that I served for a cause: "to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States." Now I no longer believe that; I have lost my conviction, as well as my determination. I can no longer justify my service for what I believe to be half-truths and bold lies.
    With age comes wisdom, and at 36 years old I am no longer so blindly led as to believe without question. From my arrival at Ft. Campbell, Ky., last November, talk of deployment was heard, and as that talk turned to actual preparation my heart sank and my doubts grew. My doubts have never faded; instead my resolve and commitment have.
    My time is almost done, as well as that of many others with whom I serve. We have all faced death in Iraq without reason or justification. How many more must die? How many more tears must be shed before Americans awake and demand the return of the men and women whose job it is to protect them rather than their leader's interest?
     
  2. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #2
    interesting that he attributes his age to his doubt.

    thanks for the post
     
  3. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #3
    "What the (bleeeeeep) am I doing here?" probably dates back to Alexander the Great, if not long before...

    I was lucky. I saw Manila in 1949, before it was fully rebuilt; I only did Occupation Duty in Korea in 1954. No "shots fired in anger" in my direction.

    But, it's an age-old question and quite legitimate. There aren't any "good" answers.

    I'm just glad I was able to get some idea of the harsh realities of war seeing the aftermath and from those who BTDT. My father; guys I served with.

    I imagine it's a lot more of a shock to today's US citizens than to those of a couple of generations back...

    'Rat
     
  4. tazo macrumors 68040

    tazo

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    #4
    maybe he shouldnt have gone into the war if he didnt want to.... :rolleyes:
     
  5. pivo6 macrumors 68000

    pivo6

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    #5

    :rolleyes:

    Are you suggesting that he deserts?

    I think he has a problem with the reasons that we attacked Iraq, not with war in general.
     
  6. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #6
    I'll repeat what I said before: a member of the armed services should not publicly complain about or question their duty assignments. It is not their business to evaluate where they are sent and why.
     
  7. uburoibob macrumors regular

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    #7
    Your quote is the age-old excuse for facism and the rise of the Nazis. American soldiers are citizens, still, and as such can be concerned about whether the leader of the country is doing the right thing. And with Bush clearly doing the wrong thing, I, for one, am glad that some of our servicepeople ARE starting to question this administration. I am glad other politicians are starting. I am glad that so many citizens recognize the regime in Washington for what it is. We need all of the public support we can muster to unseat the appointed president, and to try and impeach the liar.
     
  8. tazo macrumors 68040

    tazo

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    #8
    The army works because they are united as one; without dedication like that there is no way we would effectively battle in today's world. It is not the place of the soldier to question his authority; i thought that was learned in bootcamp, no?

    The soldier has as much place discussing his anti-war views as johnny depp or the dixie chicks.
     
  9. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #9
    Actually Johnny Depp and the Dixie Chicks have much more of a place to discuss their views, because they are civilians. The point I'm making about authority is that the military in the US serves a civilian authority. To put it bluntly, they get the right to shoot at people but we the citizens of the US get to tell them who they may shoot at.
     
  10. pseudobrit macrumors 68040

    pseudobrit

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    #10
    The talent of natural soldiers would be wasted if all they did was follow orders blindly. They are masters of improvisation and impulse. Free and independent thinking is required to be a good soldier.
    They must operate as a unit, yes, but to beat all individualism out of them would be foolish.
     
  11. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #11
    The deal is, you don't go public to the media with your gripes, not while on active duty. After your tour as an EM, gripe to your heart's content. Officers can resign in protest, and have done so. Hackworth is of course one of the more notable.

    While you're in service, and you think you've seen Illegal Bad Things, write your friends or family, and let them write their Congressmen. Or, take it up the chain of command or to the Inspector General.

    Griping and questioning is proper. But there are proper ways to do proper things.

    'Rat
     
  12. uburoibob macrumors regular

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    #12
    I wish that Hitler's soldiers or Saddam's soldiers or Mussolini's soldiers, etc, etc, had questioned their leaders during those campaigns. This is an illegal war, predicated on lies on top of lies. And those lies came from the current American regime. It's definitely time for a change, and I think a lot of soldiers are beginning to figure that out...
     
  13. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #13
    The examples you cite are all fascist/autocratic states. We don't live in one of those. Our military is under civilian control. If we don't like how our leaders are using the military, it's our duty to show them the door at the next election. That's what I hope to play my small part in doing next year. In the mean time, our men and woman at arms need to watch what they say and observe the chain of command, which ends at the top with a person we elect.
     
  14. tazo macrumors 68040

    tazo

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    #14
    If they do not like what we go to war for tough luck; it is their duty to carry out the US's plans whether or not the soldier likes it. That is the heirarchy of the army. Listen to the authority...
     
  15. shadowfax macrumors 603

    shadowfax

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    #15
    you "clearly" have a very balanced view of things.

    you should learn to have enough respect not to use subtle ad hominems. there's no such thing as an american regime. regime is not a term for elected administrations. there is no american regime. This is also not an illegal war. not by US law. and furthermore, this is not "clearly" an immoral war. it may be clear to you, but it isn't to me.
     
  16. tazo macrumors 68040

    tazo

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    #16
    I agree with ya; although I am sure we all know about the political discussion regime that must insert atleast one of the following words/phrases/statements in every post, regardless of context and/or relevance:
    liberal, conservative, immoral,
    regime, nazi(sm), fasci(sm/st), socialist and
    one combination word randomly made up such as immoralsocioliberalnazi
    .
     
  17. shadowfax macrumors 603

    shadowfax

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    #17
    mine don't require those terms, nor do IJ's or Mactastic's or Patrick0brien's, to name a few...
     
  18. tazo macrumors 68040

    tazo

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    #18
    I know that not everyone in these forums uses those terms, however it seems like whenever one's argument is lacking or some how flawed, we must resort to inserting a random political term....
     
  19. Sayhey macrumors 68000

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    #19
    That is what it says in my dictionary. "Clearly" under that definition it applies to this administration. If the connotations of the word are loaded because Bush and others have used the word for those governmental structures they didn't like, it doesn't change the basic meaning of the word.

    Second, this is an illegal war under our treaty obligations, including the UN Charter. The preemptive character of the war and the assult without the proper UN mandate makes it so.

    Last, there were no ad hominem attacks in his post. He did not say that the Bush Administration was the same as Hitler or Mussolini, but only that he wished those armies soldiers had resisted an illegal war. It is still a principle of International law and of US military law that soldiers have a responsiblity to not carry out illegal orders. That, of course, is not an easy thing to do in this situation. Nor is it a course I would recommend, but I have no problem with soldiers speaking their minds about the problems of this war.
     
  20. rainman::|:| macrumors 603

    rainman::|:|

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    #20


    You are quite correct. To elaborate, because people seem to be selectively "fuzzy" on the role and authority of the UN, the USA is a member of the Security Council, and one of the stipulations of joining the Security Council is that the member country abide by the Council's ruling. We became a member fully knowing this, with the understanding that it would prevent the USA from making a rash change in it's war policies, such as adding "preemptive striking". The idea was, when we joined (formed) the Council, that the other countries on the Council would be able to keep a single country in check. When a country defies their chartered role, what do you do to them? Since the President is the person who ordered the actions in violation of the Council's decision, I think precidence is clear that he should be tried for war crimes in an international court of law, the World Court, created by treaty under Clinton, for enhancing the ability to try soldiers and war criminals for crimes against humanity. However, Bush refused to be bound by this treaty, renouncing it because they knew it would make the USA more liable in the upcoming war.

    For more information on the obligations of the USA as a member of the Security Council, see Chapter 5, Articles 23-25, United Nations Charter.

    Shadowfax, still going to claim this war was not illegal? Bush covered his own ass before going in, to some degree, but eliminating the World Court does not make our actions any less illegal. It just makes it more inconvient to prosecute Bush as a war criminal, when this is all settled. We went into this war under the pretense that Iraq was in violation of (i think) 12 UN Resolutions, a major infraction. However, by doing this, we ourselves committed a major infraction, showing our disregard for the UN's authority. How can we claim that we're fighting for the UN's authority, when we undermine it at the same time?

    And why, I might ask, did Iraq get invaded for these infractions (since Bush now tells us there is no 9/11 link whatsoever (1)), when Israel is the country in violation of the most Resolutions on earth? We don't invade them, we actually support them! Why don't we invade? Because Israel doesn't have the precious oil that Iraq provides (for less trouble), plus Israel is an important ally. And just the other day, the USA classified Syria and Libya as "rogue states", saying that we might take any actions necessary to eliminate their WMDs. Why do we not blink when Israel builds their arsenal, and North Korea brazenly flaunts their developing nuclear capabilities... I don't know about you, but I don't want n. korea, OR israel, to have the Bomb. Altho I don't think the US should have it either...

    Seems that damned UN that we created back in our more enlightened days really keeps coming back and biting the US in the ass, when the USA suddenly makes a sharp turn in foreign policy, even in the midst of global terrorism-- which, it would seem, is just the red herring in all of this.

    pnw
     
  21. Sayhey macrumors 68000

    Sayhey

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    #21
    I would only add this to paulwhannel's very useful information on the UN, so that no one try to say that the UN Charter does not apply to us and that we are only obligated to US law I would quote this:

    The bold print reflects my emphasis.
     
  22. shadowfax macrumors 603

    shadowfax

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    #22

    oh, "Bush and others," huh? I'm not defending the man, but to blame him for the negative connotation of the word is asinine. regime is, and has been for a long time, used almost exclusively within the realm of politics to denote an authoritarian or totalitarian rule. hell, in my 10 year old history book last year, they used it to refer to absolutist kingships in Europe. there is a specific reason that he used regime to refer to the bush administration rather than a more common term, like administration. what you are doing by appealing to "basic meaning" is asking me to ignore the context in which he used the word--in other words, to deny one of my most basic tools for understanding meaning in language.

    grow up. if i say "I love you, man," do you immediately assume that i am referring to the dictionary definition of love, one of which is "the emotion of sex and romance" and become disgusted, or do you wittily reply, "you're not getting my bud light, johnny"? connotation defines words much further than your dictionary.

    and again, suppose i have a gun. i go around shooting people with it. do you defend me by saying, well, the gun isn't intrinsically bad... ?
    the ad hominem i had in mind, which was admittedly subtle, was the use of regime, which i believe he's done multiple times...

    as you point out about the hitler/mussolini comparison, we are not talking about genocide here. we're talking about overthrowing an authoritarian government that committed many atrocities against indigenous peoples on racial basis. in that respect, our occupation of Iraq can be viewed in a different light. but whatever your stance on this, it must be admitted that the legality of this war is much more debatable and vague than the holocaust or the invasion of a peaceful country like Poland or Czechoslovakia.

    as far as the UN charter, i strongly affirm our right to act without the support of an organization which actively abdicates its own power and responsibility. but i don't even want to get into that here.

    soldiers are not EVER to question orders in the manner of this article. this is disrespectful and flies in the face of the right way to do this. if you do not want to engage in something you believe is illegal in the army, you can request transfer, leave the force, do any number of things to avoid participating in what you view as immoral actions. this is especially true in the absence of something like a draft. but to abandon the chain of command is to show yourself a fool and a coward, a disrespectful brat. this action merits a dishonorable discharge, in my opinion. soldiers are not just any other citizen of this country.
     
  23. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #23
    <not defending hitler>
    well, it _was_ land that germany had and wanted back...
    </not defending hitler>

    oh shoot -- now that i'm done not defending hitler, am i now defending him? fine mess i've gotten myself into...
     
  24. Sayhey macrumors 68000

    Sayhey

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    #24
    OK, I'm not going to argue that the connotations of the word, regime, don't go back much farther than Bush. That was never the point I was trying to make. The use, now, of the word by Bush and its use by others in the past is intended to smear other governments with the taint of illegitimacy (sometimes with some validity). It is no mortal sin for opponents of Bush to use it to describe his administration. The posted use of the word fits in its meaning and if the flavor its usage brings to the debate is distasteful to you, then that objection is fine by me. However, that is not what you said in your original post. You jumped all over the guy on the basis of the use of a word that fit perfectly well. Give him a break.

    As to the illegal nature of the war and the UN you say,

    It is precisely our obligations under the UN charter and other treaties that are at the heart of the debate concerning the nature of the war. Because you don't like an international institution or a particular treaty doesn't give you the right to ignore the law when it becomes inconvenient. If we are to withdraw from our agreements we should do so and explain why. I think the idea that we are going to leave those committments because we want to decide when and were to abide by internationally recognized principles concerning the waging of war will not go over well in the rest of the world, and I would hope not here.

    I would also argue that the very intrustive inspections by the UN were not an example of how it "abdicates its own power and responsibility." Quite the contrary.

    To the question of a soldiers responsibilities. Yes, I agree that soldiers, in general (no pun intended), must follow orders. When you are confronted with an illegal action it becomes much more complicated. There are indeed times when soldiers must disobey orders. Not being in the difficult situation of the GI quoted in the start of the thread, I won't presume to tell him what to do.

    Lastly, shadowfax, you are obviously an intelligent person and debater. I like reading what you have to say, but I would like to ask you to refrain from comments like your telling me to "grow up." I may be wrong, but I would guess I'm twice your age. Such phrases are ... well, you know what they are.
     
  25. tazo macrumors 68040

    tazo

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    #25
    in defense of shadow', it goes both ways; there is a bias against teens on the site...such as rower calling me son, all the time...
     

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