Of The Brave Soldier
By Mickey Z.
11 November, 2006
In a recent correspondence, Adam
Engel wrote: "One of the greatest myths about America is that it's
the 'home of the brave.' Once, perhaps, prior to 1492. Now, it's most
likely the greatest collection of cowards in the Milky Way Galaxy."
Engel specifically mentioned our lack of response to losing habeas corpus
and to being both "subject to eternal imprisonment for liberating
animals from vivisection labs" and "complicit in the murder
of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, Palestinians, Lebanese, Afghanis,
South and Central Americans, Haitians etc. etc. etc."
He could've also included our acquiescence in a frighteningly broad
range of areas, e.g. access to health care, tolerance for voting irregularities,
directly funding the Israeli war machine, and stomaching the groupthink
behind saluting a flag. Americans talk the talk but when ordered to
remove their shoes before going through airport security, it's "yes
sir" all the way.
For the purposes of this article I'd like to highlight another area
in which American bravery is lacking...an area I have touched on before:
supporting the troops. As John Kerry's recent episode demonstrated,
one cannot appear to criticize the men and women in uniform without
paying a high price. There are many who identify themselves as "anti-war"
who will vigorously defend the troops. Even when faced with documented
evidence of criminality, Americans still cannot summon the bravery to
condemn the military.
The excuse-making typically touches on these two areas:
1. They were just following
2. Those who enlist do so
for economic reasons
The first line of defense flawed argument. Principle I of the Nuremberg
Tribunal (1950) states: "Any person who commits an act which constitutes
a crime under international law is responsible therefore and liable
to punishment." Principle IV adds: "The fact that a person
acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not
relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a
moral choice was in fact possible to him." And please don't get
me started on the Geneva Conventions.
As for excuse #2, a recent New York Times editorial put that myth to
rest. Authors Tim Kane and Mackenzie Eaglen "analyzed demographic
data on every single enlistee, not just a sample, and found that in
terms of education, last year's recruits were just as qualified as those
of any recent year, and maybe the best ever. Over all, wartime recruits
since 1999 are in many respects comparable to the youth population on
the whole, except that they are on average a bit wealthier, much more
likely to have graduated from high school and more rural than their
civilian peers." They also found that youths "from wealthy
American ZIP codes are volunteering in ever higher numbers" while
"enlistees from the poorest fifth of American neighborhoods fell
nearly a full percentage point over the last two years, to 13.7 percent.
In 1999, that number was exactly 18 percent."
Are some of the American soldiers in Iraq there primarily for economic
reasons? Sure. Did others sign up for a chance to shoot some towel heads?
Probably. So, after factoring out these two relatively small groups
and rejecting the immoral "only following orders" defense,
the question remains: Exactly how are the men and women fighting in
Iraq immune from any and all blame?
Mickey Z. can be found on the Web at http://www.mickeyz.net.
Share Your Insights