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Thoughts of an Ex-Marine Officer Turned Peace Activist

By Camillo "Mac" Bica
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Friday 14 March 2008

Often as I've marched and demonstrated for peace, I've been verbally assaulted, accused of being un-American, unpatriotic, even treasonous by those who carried American flags, sang inspiring hymns, and boisterously and stridently asserted their patriotism, love of country and support for the troops through bullhorns.

Most of this criticism I dismissed as a failure to understand the nature and the reality of war and the moral and political obligations of citizens in a democracy. I was confident in my patriotism, my love of America and my concern and support for the troops. I had, after all, served honorably as a motivated United States Marine Corps officer in Vietnam. But when this disparagement and denunciation began coming from fellow veterans, I became disquieted and felt the need to seriously ponder the possibility that perhaps I had gone astray, violating some sacred trust or bond. So, what I offer in this essay is a thought experiment in self-examination, an introspective journey into the mind and motivation of a former Marine turned peace activist.

Perhaps my first realization in this exercise was that I allow at least the possibility that war, under very specific circumstances not easily or often met, may be just, moral and necessary. Therefore, I am not an absolute pacifist and, in the strict sense, I am not antiwar.

I realized as well that I believe in the Constitution, the rule of law, and support the fundamental purpose and mission of the United Nations, flawed though it may be, "to maintain international peace and security and to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace." According to the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3314 (XXIX), (international law), the unjustifiable and unwarranted "use of armed force by a State against the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of another State," is a crime of aggression. Therefore, I am anti aggression and unjust, immoral and unnecessary war.

Further, I believe in the rights and dignity of all human beings. Rational analysis of the facts has convinced me that the invasion of Iraq was a mistake - unjustifiable and unwarranted - based as it was on false or distorted intelligence, deception and lies. Not even President Bush still believes, if he ever did, that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction or was linked to the terrorist attacks of 9/11. While the Bush administration has offered, after the fact, various other explanations for the war, e.g., removal of a tyrant, democratization, etc., none seem sincere nor constitute justification under international law. Consequently, the invasion of Iraq is aggression. I am anti the Iraq war.

At this writing, many in our country are celebrating the "success" of the surge and of the "new" military strategy in Iraq. However, military success and improved strategy does not afford a moral and legal basis for continuing, even escalating, the occupation - the aggression against the Iraqi people. How could achieving "victory" in such a scenario, i.e., the triumph of the aggressors over their victims, be legally and morally justified? I am anti the continued occupation of Iraq.

My personal experiences in war led me to conclude that the morally tragic and legally reprehensible incidents such as have occurred at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and in Abu Ghraib, Haditha, Fallujah and elsewhere in Iraq and Afghanistan were not the anomalous actions of a few aberrant individuals (I do not blame the troops), but were the direct and inevitable consequence of the Bush administration's incompetence, arrogance and contempt for the Constitution and the dictates of international law and treaties. What threatens the fabric and foundations of our way of life in these dangerous times is not some amorphous, enigmatic horde of bloodthirsty terrorists. Rather, it is the assault upon truth, individual freedom and the values of justice and morality we hold sacred. I am anti the Bush administration.

It is clear from history that such criminal behavior, arrogance and hypocrisy - the characteristics of a rogue nation - brings no credibility, prestige or standing in the world, only disdain, animosity, hatred and righteous indignation. Nor do acts of aggression bring glory or vindication to those already killed or wounded in battle. Justice and morality, the values I associate with being an American, require that an unjust and immoral war be ended immediately; that the aggressors possess the moral courage to acknowledge their crime; that they make retribution to the victims of their aggression and apologize to the citizens of the aggressed nation and the rest of the world community for their transgression. I am anti rogue nation.

My respect for the military convinces me that the lives and well-being of our young men and women are not automatically forfeit upon enlistment, relegating them to the status of cannon fodder. Sending inadequately prepared National Guard troops into combat and then failing to provide them with body and vehicle armor is unconscionable and criminally negligent. Repeated combat tours and insufficient time for rest and rehabilitation between deployments increase the likelihood and inevitability of psychological, emotional and moral injury that is devastating and life-altering. Finally, the "stop-loss" provision that prevents our servicemen and women from leaving the military once their term of service has been completed is disingenuous and a violation of contract. I am pro military. I support the troops.

It is apparent that the burden of this war is not being shared fairly by all Americans. Only a fraction of our citizenry is directly affected, while the vast majority go about their consumption-driven lives as usual, oblivious to the sacrifices of our soldiers, sailors and Marines and to the death and destruction being prosecuted in their names. It is not support, therefore, nor is it patriotic, to remain silent when our troops are placed in harm's way unnecessarily, to kill and be killed subject to the whims and ineptitudes of our political leaders. I am anti apathy and I have learned that if patriotism means unquestioning allegiance and blind obedience, such patriotism is inconsistent with democracy and with basic human decency. Such patriotism is an abeyance of our human reason. Such patriotism is inhumane and immoral. Such patriotism is to surrender our power to think critically. Such patriotism is a profound failure, both intellectually and morally.

As has been clearly demonstrated by the unconscionable treatment of our wounded veterans at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and at Veterans Administration facilities across the country, our returning veterans are not receiving the quality of care they deserve and require to recover from their injuries and experiences in war. I am outraged by this lack of concern and support for those who sacrificed so much for our country. I am pro veterans.

The fundamental moral principle of respect for persons requires that we protect those most vulnerable from being enticed, seduced, brainwashed and deceived into becoming complicit in crimes of aggression and cannon fodder for corporate war profiteers and opportunists. We are morally obligated, therefore, to protect our impressionable young people by striving to ban recruiters from our high schools and colleges and by urging our representatives to rescind the No Child Left Behind Act's military recruitment provision which requires schools, in order to receive financial assistance, to provide military recruiters with students' contact information. Second, we must inform the underprivileged - who see the military as their only alternative to poverty, crime and unemployment - of other educational and employment opportunities available to them other than by joining the military. Finally, we must make clear to all prospective enlistees the realities of military service, the horrors of war and the immorality and futility of the war in Iraq. I doubt this information is contained within a recruiter's motivational packet of hats, tee-shirts, bumper stickers and violent video games. Under this administration, with potential enlistees facing the inevitable prospect of fighting an immoral war of aggression, I am anti recruitment.

The fact that so many of our heroic sons and daughters are languishing abandoned, their emotional and psychological injuries untreated and their needs ignored, is a national tragedy and disgrace. The fact that America has become isolated in the world, respected no longer for our ideals but feared for our brutality, no longer admired for our values of justice and freedom but hated for our hypocrisy and intolerance, should bring a tear to the eye and anger to the heart of every true patriot. I am pro America.

As a result of this exercise in self-examination, I have realized that I am anti aggression. I am anti unjust, immoral, and unnecessary war, but not anti war. I am anti the Iraq war, however; anti the Bush Administration, anti rogue nation and anti recruitment. In addition, I am pro military, pro veteran and pro America. I have realized as well that the outrage I feel regarding the corrupting and disgracing of America by those political leaders and their coconspirators who cherish not our values and way of life but only wealth and power requires - no demands - the true patriot to embrace truth and to cry out in condemnation and protest. Finally, despite the criticisms and disparaging comments and accusations by credulous veterans, I have realized that my activism and dissent are an expression and fulfillment of my moral and patriotic duty. I am confident, therefore, that I am more the patriot today as I demonstrate for peace than when I wore the uniform of a United States Marine.

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Added: Mar-15-2008 
By: AndyBIue
Iraq, Afghanistan, News
Tags: Bush, Cheney, Republicans, Liars, Disgrace, America, Soldiers, Marines, Air Force, Navy. Military, Republiturds, Disgrace,
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