30 November 2006


Alternet does it once again, by posting this amusing piece... as Kathy Dobie pointed out in an article in Harper's, desertion has become the "only option" for many soldiers who want out. As Dobie points out:
Soldiers who go AWOL have either panicked and see no other way out of their difficulties or are well-informed and know that deserting is sometimes the quickest, surest route out of the military. A soldier may not be eligible for a hardship or medical discharge, for instance, but he knows he wants out. He may not even be aware of the discharges available to him. Young, raw recruits, in particular, know only what their drill sergeants tell them. Counselors at the G.I. Rights hot line describe cases in which a recruit will ask about applying for a discharge and be told flatly by his drill sergeant, “Forget about it. Don’t even think of applying. You’re not getting out.” Conscientious-objector applications have more than tripled since operations began in Iraq, but they take on average a year and a half to process, and then, quite often, are denied.
Thus we are talking about a matter of effectiveness here. Applying for conscientious obejctor status is indeed noble, and it moreover communicates a noble sentiment. But does it do what needs to be done?

Objections to Swanson's line of reasoning, eg "fsquared"'s plea:
If, as some have argued, the Iraq war is illegal and unconstitutional, let us private citizens work to end it. But do not advocate a second and far more grave threat to the constitution by encouraging mutiny and thereby leaving it unprotected.
fail on practical grounds. Whether it "defends the Constitution" to have those who know that they fight unconstitutional wars continue to do so is a rather debatable point. The Constitution lies, undefended; laws such as the Military Commissions Act of 2006 ensure that the Constitution will continue to be undefended. But on a practical level, moreover, the elites who command the US government at the top levels, being beneficiaries of the blank check called dollar hegmeony, can simply print more money to corral the desperate into service. The US Armed Forces already have, according to one estimate, 29,800 illegal immigrants in their ranks; I'm sure that those who couldn't make it over the proposed border wall will surely enlist for a chance at "defending the Constitution" rather than face the provisions of the Sensenbrenner bill, whatever its final form. Is this enormous apparatus, violative of the Constitution in its actions, really "defending the Constitution" in any way that can be considered real? How should those who "take an oath to the Constitution" then best follow their principles?


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