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Reply to “Babykillers”

I have received a number of emails from people objecting to my arguments and conclusions in Warriors and Soldiers and Cops, Oh My! By and large, most of them (ignoring the obscene and violent hate email I’ve gotten) say the same things as Mr. Machate. At some point, after several higher priority writing obligations have been handled, I will incorporate their feedback (and my considered response) into a later version of the essay and will post it at my website.

For now, let me merely point out that anyone who believes that members of American military forces never commit war crimes (let alone actions that are “merely” unethical to a NeoPagan), or that they are never ordered to do so, or that they are never punished for refusing to do so, is living in a fantasy world. The Uniformed Code of Military Justice, like its equivalent military legal codes in other nations, deals only with `official’ military rules and `official’ consequences of violating those rules – not with the unofficial (and often illegal) ways that military people actually enforce their norms. Military laws are selectively enforced or ignored, often with the unspoken cooperation of higher-ups, for political or military advantage. The recent scandals involving sexual harassment and even rape of servicewomen is merely the tip of a filthy iceberg (wait till the male rape victims start talking). For that matter, does anyone really believe that every “adulterer” in the US armed forces has been prosecuted with equal vigor, regardless of rank?

Military and police death squads in Central and South America have been trained by former American military officers (working through the CIA), just as death squads in colonies of the British, French and Russian empires have been by their officers. How would these “superpower” veterans know what to teach if they had no experience at rape, torture and wholesale civilian slaughter?

Most of the civilian deaths in the Gulf War were not the result of Allied bombing raids against military targets (that The Evil One had supposedly surrounded with “human shields”), but of a systematic effort to destroy civilian infrastructure – most especially water treatment plants – that caused hundreds of thousands of men, women and children to contract diseases for which there were no available treatments (since we had also bombed most of the hospitals). We also, by the way, deliberately avoided hurting Sadam Hussein hard enough to topple his government, for reasons that were purely political and economic. Our “Allied” politicians and military leaders simply lied about their goals. This is not “Vietnam Era propaganda,” but the reporting of professional journalists in mainstream media outside the United States, during and immediately after the Gulf War.

I continue to find it astonishing that career military men, whose disdain for politicians is legendary, are so blithe about abdicating their ethical responsibility whenever they are ordered to do so by those same politicians. Fifty years ago, the Nuremberg Trials established that “I was only following orders” is “not” a moral justification for unethical and immoral behavior. BTW, the last time I heard, the Geneva Convention so frequently referenced by my military critics has “still” not yet been ratified by the Senate. So it isn’t binding on the US military, even though our country seems to believe that every other nation in the world should follow it.

No, I don’t believe that every serviceperson is a monster. But I do believe that “soldiers” are not “warriors” and that membership in a modern superpower armed force is probably not a right livelihood for NeoPagans – not unless they are ready to spend years in a military brig and/or to get “fragged” by “friendly fire” for refusing any unethical orders that may come their way.