Saturday, March 3, 2007


I attended a meeting this morning – a committee to discuss what we could do here in our fair city to spread the word that our president and vice-president are in need of impeachment. In the course of things a discussion arose as to what it meant to support the troops.

Of course the obvious came out first – that supporting the administration and its war is not support for the troops, but that trying your darnedest to bring them home and out of danger is the highest level of support possible. It is not supportive of the troops to continue backing the administration that misled us into an unnecessary war and now keeps rotating people back into it on a suicidal schedule that keeps them exposed to life threatening danger then brings them back to grotesque “care” when the inevitable PTSD strikes.

Then another, more nuanced, position emerged. “I know you’re supposed to say you support the troops, but I can’t support all of them,” one member said. “Some few, I know, signed up because they like the action. They slip too easily into roles as torturers and murderers because violence is their chosen form of expression. I can’t support them any more than I can support the power-grubbing war that gives them license to maim and kill.”

That led to a further discussion on the nature of military service and how hard it is to buck the current even if your personal moral compass says you are being steered wrong. The highest level of courage is never shown in facing up to those on the other side of the front line or by following your orders to the letter no matter what. True strength of character is shown by those who stand up to whatever contempt is thrown at them by refusing to take action that contradicts their closely held personal beliefs when they believe the orders to do so are immoral.

People like Eric Watada (see: Lieutenant Watada's War Against the War and Kevin Benderman (see: A Matter of Conscience by Sgt. Kevin Benderman are shining examples of living up to the true courage of their convictions.

In the Nuremberg trials after World War II, the tribunal condemned soldiers whose defense was that they were only following orders. The grounds for that condemnation were that they should have had the moral turpitude to refuse those orders. That ignored, of course, thee fact that their officers would have shot them on the spot for their refusal, but the principle still stands, and I hope the day will come when the men cited above and others like them who risk their careers, their reputations and even their lives to stand up for the moral principles by which they are guided will be recognized for representing the finest qualities of the American spirit in stead of being condemned for their "cowardice".

Be the change you want to see in the world.

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