Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Is There Hope? (Pt. One)

My recent entry on the "surge" has generated at least four comments, which is a high point in the recent history of this blog.

First, allow me to pull some links from the comments to the front page, so people may have easier access to them. These links come courtesy of Brother Dave (who is my blood brother):
For those willing to put their time, money, or more at stake to support those service personnel who ARE resisting this illegal war, here are a few pointers.
  • Mark Wilkerson is a man I know who applied for CO status, was denied and is now serving time for his refusal to go to Iraq. You can learn about Mark at http://markwilkerson.wordpress.com/

  • Then there is Ron Cantu, serving in Iraq and speaking out with bravery, honesty and resolve: If you want to help Lt. Watada in his battle to speak truth about this war crime being committed in your and my name, go here: http://www.thankyoult.org/

  • Finally, for more information about the resistance by current and former service personnel, look to Iraq Veterans Against the War, the beloved but never planned or even imagined child of my old organization, Viet Nam Veterans Against the War: www.vvaw.org
As Brother Dave has noted, there are serious consequences to refusing to serve, or desertion, which one commenter suggested. In addition to supporting those who have made this choice, I would suggest more fundamental actions.

First, discourage people from joining the military. Second, write your representative and ask them to over-turn the portion of the No Child Left Behind Act which requires schools to turn over names of graduating seniors to military recruiters. Additionally, make parents aware that they must file a form to avoid having their child contacted by a military recruiter.

Third, let your representative know (a mailed or faxed letter is best) that you oppose funding for this troop increase. The Constitution gives the Congress the power of the purse in military matters exactly for this reason: to prevent Commanders in Chief from continuing on an ill-advised, ill-conceived course.

A number of congressional leaders have expressed a reluctance to take this step, because it makes it appear that they are weak on defense or don't support the troops currently on the ground. I'll admit these are potential political consequences to a move to cut military funding. But a person who takes his/her representative responsibilities seriously must recognize those times when it is better to be right than re-elected (to paraphrase Barry Goldwater).

Another commentator asks, first, whether it's likely her 12 year-old son will be drafted in six years; and, second, how she can offer her son some hope.

I will address the question of hope in the part two. In today's political climate, the draft is likely to be as much of a "third rail" as Social Security, but if America's current direction remains unchanged, it seems unrealistic to think a draft is not at least possible. Again, I urge people to make their representatives aware of their opinions concerning a draft - or some form of required national service (as Sen. Kerry suggested in the '04 campaign).

As for the commentator's particular son, I urge that he build solid creditionals as a Conscientious Objector now. Given the spiritual path this commenter seems to be on, I suspect she and her sons will find the Quakers the most felicitous of the groups who have a history of opposing all armed conflicts (even so-called "Just Wars").

When I consider the Iraq situation in particular, I feel hopeless. The miscalculations and mistakes made up to this point seem to have broken the country beyond repair. If success is to be measured by a sound goverment with a reasonable level of security, and the United States truly intends to be resposible for that goal, it seems to me to be a very long way off.

A military solution seems to me impractical, at best. The most realistic assessment of the situation on the ground seems to be that the U.S. provided the flint for a simmering civil war that has been moderately suppressed since the time of the Ottoman Empire. Whether the U.S. stays another year or withdraws immediately seems academic as far that civil war is concerned.

A diplomatic solution might be possible, if someone other than B*sh and the New American Century cronies were not still in power. Sadly, it's unlikely that the Iraqis can afford to wait two years for new American leadership.

I suspect there is no "best-case scenario", as things currently stand. I suspect all Americans will bear the responsibility and (possibly) guilt for allowing this ill-advised, ill-conceived, poorly executed war to begin in the first place.

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