Saturday, January 9, 2010

We have sided with the oppressor

"If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has his foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality."

Bishop Desmond Tutu

Tell me again why the United States has engaged in pre-emptive immoral wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and Viet Nam?

Tell my again why we honor the troops who engage in these immoral activities at the behest of the military/industrial complex which has recruited and manipulated them with dreams of glory and patriotism?

Tell me again why we put yellow ribbons on our cars and flags on our roof top luggage carriers and proclaim that we are the greatest nation on earth while we literally kill hundreds of thousands of people, occupy their lands, and tell them they better like our brand of democracy because we are imposing it on them whether they want it or not?

Tell me again why we pay taxes to support the oppression even though we politely demur when asked for our participation in the militaristic cheerleading.

The elephant is standing the the tail of the mouse, and the mouse doesn't appreciate our acquiescence.


  1. Well David, perhaps you ought join the Taliban.

  2. Tell my again why we honor the troops...

    We sort of learned the lesson from Vietnam that domestically there are intense negative consequences to holding soldiers individually to blame for doing what WE, through the leaders WE elected, required or called them to do, at great personal risk and injury. Our beef is not with the troops, so long as they follow the rules of engagement, but with the elected leaders whose decisions do not represent our values and become something we cannot accept as an ethical position.

    Tell me again why we pay taxes to support...

    Because that is how our nation works. It is impossible to run a country by opening the budget to line-item approval taxpayer by taxpayer of what each is willing to pay for. Collectively we have already given our approval through our electoral process (including the processes that provide some level of responsivity from office holders).

  3. Dear Bill:

    I doubt the Taliban would have me.

    Dear Paul:

    I think Western Civilization pretty much dealt with this arugment at Nuremburg that "I was just following orders is not a legitimate defense."

    I did not, do not support pre-emptive immoral wars in Viet Nam, in Iraq, nor in Afghanistan. The elected officials are working for the military/industrial complex not for there constituents.

    All the best,

    David Markham

  4. But we're not dealing with a Nuremberg situation here, David. Soldiers are not getting away with war crimes and crimes against humanity. If anything, when there are violations, it is the foot soldier who shoulders the blame alone while the people further up the chain of command who apparently suggested (or directed) such action get off pretty easy.

    Nuremberg did not begin to deal with collateral damage issues and senseless warfare. (...or preemptive war as foreign policy?) And US law, with support from international law, does not allow a soldier to make conscience-based choice of whether to fight this particular war as opposed to one that seems more necessary and just to them.

    If you are a citizen of a democracy, your country's soldiers are doing what the collective YOU (WE) require of them. The fact that we individually or as a subgroup of society disapprove of a particular war is no reason not to honor the servants doing OUR COLLECTIVE bidding.

    I agree with you that preemptive war is thoroughly unethical and have opposed both the war in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan, to say nothing of the unacknowledged CIA war in Pakistan, since the beginning. I also was 100% opposed to the 1st Bush war in Iraq and the overthrow by Reagan of a legal and democratically elected and non-threatening government in Grenada, and so on. I am not a pacifist. But very few wars are necessary. And none of those wars are the doing of the soldiers but of the politicians.

    By all means fight the policies and decisions that put our soldiers in the war(s) we disapprove of. But it is fundamentally unjust to diss the soldiers, except when they violate international law and merit being brought individually to justice.

    And if one cannot accept that the result of the democratic process of the country of which one is a citizen is the voice of the collective US to the world, then either one is saying that the democratic process has not been followed and so the result is illegitimate; or one is arguing against the democratic process as a legitimate means to governing the country.

    If the former, that seems to be the issue toward which you might better direct your moral indignation, not taxes and flamboyant patriotism.

    So I see it, anyway.

  5. Dear Paul:

    Thank you for the thoughtful comment.

    We do not live in a democracy. We live in corporatocracy. The corporations now write our legislation and bribe our politicians with campaign funds so they can get elected and do their bidding. The idea that we live in a democracy because you get to vote between two funded and bribed candidates seems like a fascistic set up to me. To then champion poor people who have joined the military in response to the lack of life opportunities like an education and a decent job is to feed in the hypocrisy of the system.

    The major contributor to PTSD is a guilty conscience that knows that it was manipulated into killing people and being killed by cynical politicians who would not fight or allow their loved ones to fight in such and immoral enterprise.

    John Conyers, I think as a joke, sponsored legislation to bring back the draft which was smirked at and laughed at by his colleagues because everyone knows that fascism doesn't work this way where all citizens take on equal burden for military enterprises.

    The fact that war crimes have been committed is pretty clear to people outside the United States to the extent that Cheney, Bush, Rumsfeld are at risk of arrest. With the torture at Abu Graib, the extraordinary rendition, the elimiation of habeas corpus at Guantanomo we do no longer live in a free, democratic, and just country where we are subject any longer to the rule of law.

    I know that these are tough observations for people to recognize and acknowledge. Americans are not the Chosen People who fight for freedom and truth and goodness as much as we tell ourselves this is so. As Unitarian Universalists we believe in the right of conscience and the free and responsibille search for truth and meaning. Granting immunity and impunity to people who give them their human dignity and conscience to fight and kill at the behest of the their superordiants violates some key principles of our faith. I wish that more UUs and people of good faith recognized this.

    All the best and thank you for an interesting dialogue,

    David Markham