One Excellent Reason Not to Join the Military: You May be Ordered to Kill Civilians

Every American youth who considers military enlistment needs to take a close look at military “justice.”

Not only are American Marines, reservists, and soldiers expected to follow unlawful orders, they are also expected to bear life-long burdens of shame, guilt, and legal culpability for the arrogance of their own commanders—who dispense life and death from an office computer. Even before the invasion of Iraq in April 2003, more than six hundred U.S. veterans signed a “Call to Conscience,” expressing remorse for past war crimes. “As troops,” they wrote, “in the last Gulf War we were ordered to murder from a safe distance. We remember the road to Basra where we were ordered to kill fleeing Iraqis. We bulldozed trenches, burying people alive.”

Once a student makes that fateful decision to enlist in the U.S. military today—once an individual, through basic training, is conditioned to kill without remorse, to become an occupier in a country where insurgents are indistinguishable from neighbors, friends, and family in their own homeland—it is too late to turn back. As war-historian Gwen Dyer writes: “Men will kill under compulsion—men will do almost anything if they know it is expected of them and they are under strong social pressure to comply.”

“Only exceptional people can resist atrocity,” writes psychiatrist Robert Lifton in Superpower Syndrome. Jimmy Massey, Darrell Anderson, Aidan Delgado and scores of other war-resisters are exceptional men and women. When they enlisted, they only wanted to serve their country. They hoped to make a difference. But the military transported them beyond the rule of law, turning them into occupiers of Iraq, not defenders of democracy. These war-resisters fought back and broke the military code of silence.

Americans can hold on to their humanity, to be sure. But only by recognizing the humanity, not only of Arab peoples, but of all peoples who have a right to self-determination like ourselves.

Refusing to enlist is more than a career decision. It is a moral and political act, a contribution to the burgeoning, international movement for a better, more peaceful world. It is an affirmation of the sacredness of life and the dignity of all humanity.

Paul Rockwell | CommonDreams  (read more. . .)