Monday, February 07, 2005

They have alternatives, one of which is bravery…

After writing my treatise against the celebrity of murder, I found a great article (published in the LA Times but this was a free link), illustrating just what soldiers should do in response to this horrible war.

Sgt. Kevin Benderman served one tour of duty in Iraq but is refusing to serve another. He will no longer slaughter innocent people for fun and profits. (Not just his, yours too.) He's been in the army for 10 years. Like most of those over there, he didn't join up expecting to go to war; there was no war then. After 10 years, you'd think he's done enough. This is not the case. He's been humiliated by his commanders and his chaplain - for fuck's sake, his chaplain! - as a result of his decision, but he will not allow that to deter him.

He has decided to lay down his weapons and behave like a civilized human being.

"War is the greatest form of wrong," Benderman wrote in his seven-page conscientious objector application. "I believe that my moral obligation to humanity is to not allow myself to be a part of this destruction."

In the six months he spent in combat in Iraq in 2003, Benderman said, he was badly shaken by what he witnessed. He saw a young Iraqi girl with her arm horribly burned and blackened, standing helplessly on a roadside as Benderman's convoy rushed past. He saw dogs feasting on civilian corpses that had been dumped into pits. He saw young U.S. soldiers treat war like a video game, he said, with few qualms about killing or the effects of the invasion on ordinary Iraqis.

Benderman said he begged an officer to stop and help the girl, but was told that the unit couldn't spare its limited medical supplies. "I had to look at that little girl, look into her eyes, and in her eyes I saw the TRUTH. I cannot kill," Benderman wrote in his application.

I would like to applaud soldiers like Sgt. Benderman. We all learned in World War II, we learned from the Nazis, that a soldier's greatest task is not always to follow orders. Sometimes, you have to use judgment. You have to think for yourself. You have to be brave. How much better would this world be if such were the case.

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