Thursday, July 08, 2004

You better Behave or Al-Zarqawi Will Get You!

Moral Conviction or Cowardice?

To clarify my views on these two guys: While I find the idea of deserting to be kind of weasel-ly say likeif you've outright committed to the program, then suddenly decide you've had enough. After all, if you 've gone through basic, chanted all the killing chants and whatnot, and THEN get cold feet, that comes off to me as... well, dishonest. Like breaking a contract. But, reading each of their websites and the article, both of them present a fair amount of evidence that they attempted to go through the necessary processes to leave, and were summarily refused. Funny, I thought we had a volunteer army. Both of their stories, plus this one brought forth this question:

Why isn't a change of heart (such as a realisation of a deep moral opposition to violence) a valid reason for leaving military service?

The necessary processes do exist, but are they being neglected? We've all heard of conscientious objector status... so I won't go into that.
Speaking with some ex GI friends, there's an opt-out clause during basic training called something like "non adpatation" that allows for you to leave if you proove that you can't get into the mindset. Essentially you get no benefits and after a few years, your record of military service is removed from public record.

From what I've been able to find on the internet, each of these guys tried to to exercise these options to leave.

One of them, Hinzman, actually filed for Conscientious Objector status, and was denied it on grounds that he would respond with violence if attacked personally.
According to my ex-military friends, C.O. status is not quite an honorable discharge, and therefore can have long lasting negative social impact. Specifically being that upon discharge, any time you apply for a job, loan or whatever, you have to offer up your DD2-14 document showing your discharge status. It is possible, they inform me that this can close doors as well as open them.
(engage snark mode)Apparently the appeals process for changing your discharge status is more of a hassle than getting Limbaugh, Hannity or Coulter to present facts and not opinions in their froth-mouthed ravings. (disengage snark mode)
So Hinzman had to be aware of what he was setting himself up for by filing for this. For further clarification on his situation, my friend informed me that working K.P. for 14 months in a field kitchen is one of the shittiest jobs imaginable in the military, so to suffer through that shows some level of committment to his beliefs.

The other one, Hughey - was told that he would face charges of refusing to obey a direct order, and summary prosecution as well as possible incarceration. He also expressed feelings of suicidal depression about his situation.
Once again, speaking with My ex-military friends, this is radically different from what they went through in Gulf War I - if someone wanted out, due to conscientious objection, or due to non adpatation, they had to undergo the process of verifying their intent was valid, but then were released from duty. The idea of someone who didn't want to be in combat but was placed there was viewed as detrimental to the point of dangerous for both moral and survival of the troops.

SO why is our military deciding to not follow up on what seems to be a logical position? If in each case these guys showed that they would be more harm than help in combat, Why were they denied the ability to leave? If the media is giving us accurate information on enlistment figures growing all the time, why would we need to employ such draconian tactics to keep people in there who would probably be better off elsewhere?

Interesting Quotes found on sites related to these stories:

"Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind."

Albert Einstein (attributed)

"It is part of the general pattern of misguided policy that our country is now geared to an arms economy which was bred in an artificially induced psychosis of war hysteria and nurtured upon an incessant propaganda of fear."

General Douglas MacArthur, Speech, May 15, 1951

1 comment:

Jeffrey Hill said...

First, I must say that the al Jazeera piece was pretty astonishing. Blaming the U.S. for exaggerating the importance of Zarqawi (and bin Laden) while they (al Jazeera) have done all they could to promote it is like having your cake and eating it too. Nabbing either one of those guys isn’t going to end the war, I think the American people know that – but at least the U.S. recognizes the symbolic importance of Zarqawi in Iraq (again, something al Jazeera has helped to facilitate). The terrorists fight with symbolism, right?

“Why isn't a change of heart (such as a realization of a deep moral opposition to violence) a valid reason for leaving military service?”

I wouldn’t know (though in the case of Hughey, it isn’t a moral opposition to violence). But their cases are going to be tough to plea considering they did volunteer (it seems, as the article indicated, a draftee would stand a better chance at proving he was being persecuted). In the case of Brandon Hughey, his opposition is based on a perceived notion for the cause of the war (war for oil), which the arbitrating body will be hard put to accept. And how will their attorney explain that the U.S. wants to send these young men to jail for choosing to comply with international law? Despite Canadian opposition to the war, will a Canadian court declare the war illegal according to international law, especially with the 1441 vote and the recent UN vote recognizing the new interim government? I fear those guys do not have adequate representation.

Incidentally, Carl Rising-Moore misled his readers when he accused Bush of desertion.