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Monday, July 30, 2007

Why U.S. Troops Want Their Generals To Honor Their Oath To Defend The Constitution

by Veterans For Pe

There are many kinds of betrayal in human affairs. But in the affairs of state, there is no greater act of disloyalty than to send young men and women to their deaths on the basis of fraud. No soldier should ever give a life, or take a life, for a lie.

All American ranking officers and commanders take an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. Their oath is a solemn obligation to the American people, especially to their own troops, to abide by the law. Our man and women in uniform place great trust in their superiors. They risk their lives in the belief that they will not be used falsley, illegally, or for ill gain.

There is not group of Americans with greater interest in the enforcement of international law than American troops themselves. Our youth pay a heavy price when their own rulers plunge them into operations beyond international law. Immediately after the Abu Ghraib scandal, the infamous, retaliatory beheadings began.

The legal status of the occupation of Iraq is not a mystery. Generals know very well that the occupation is based on lies, carried out in defiance of U. S. treaties. The Nuremberg Conventions explicitly repudiate the doctrine of pre-emptive war. The U.N. Charter, for which many of our parents and grandparents gave their lives on the battlefields of Europe, outlaws war as "an instrument of policy." Every general knows that the occupation is a "war of choice." They also know that, except for special U.N.-sanctioned interventions, defensive necessity is the sole legal basis for war. The U.S. Army Field Manual states without equivocation: "Treaties relating to the law of war have a force equal to that of laws enacted by Congress.

Many soldiers of conscience, who dared to speak openly about the immorality and illegality of the war, have been court-martialed and imprisoned. Their cases, dating back to 2004, raise serious doubts about the capacity of our soldiers to receive justice in our military courts. Five months prior to the Abu Ghraib scandal, a soft-spoken Army soldier named Camilo Mejia was visibly upset by the atrocities he observed during his tour of duty in Iraq. Repelled by the slaughter of civilians and needless deaths of American GIs (all reported in Mejia's riveting combat memoir, The Road to Ar Ramadi), Camilo gathered up his courage and made formal complaints to his superiors. Commanders refused to listen and questioned his patriotism. Eventually Mejia was sentenced to a year in prison for speaking out, for telling the truth. His trial, like subsequent trials of war resisters, was a travesty of justice. Judge Col. Gary Smith ruled that evidence of the illegality of the war was inadmissible in court, that international law is irrelevant, that a soldier's duty is to follow orders, regardless of their legality. It is a sad day in military jurisprudence when a soldier of conscience is court-martialed, not for lying, but for telling the truth; not for breaking a covenant with the military, but for upholding the rule of law in wartime.

Our military system is passing through a profound and legal crisis. A commander who knowingly orders his troops to participate in crimes against peace betrays himself and those who serve under him or her.

The time has come, it is long overdue, for American generals of conscience to break their silence.


The above op-ed
letter is the shorter of two versions written by Veterans For Peace. The longer version "Never Give a Life, or Take a Life, For a Lie, A Call to American Generals to Respect the Rights of our Troops" can be read here.

The book "The Road to Ar Ramadi: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia"
by Camilo Mejia available here.


My husband and I are members of Veterans For Peace
because we share and are deeply committed to the goals outlined by VFP below.

Statement of Purpose

We, having dutifully served our nation, do hereby affirm our greater responsibility to serve the cause of world peace by applying the concept of engaging conflict peacefully, without violence. To this end we will work with others to:

- Increase public awareness of the total costs of war. - Restrain our government from intervening, overtly and covertly, in the internal affairs of other nati

- End the arms race and to reduce and eventually eliminate nuclear weapons.

- Seek justice for Veterans and victims of war.

- Abolish war as an instrument of foreign/international policy.

As members of Veterans For Peace we pledge to use non-violent means to achieve these goals. All members are trusted to act in the best interest of the group for the larger purpose of world peace.


......WAGE PEACE......
Kitchen Window Woman

- I felt that it was important to post this well written letter so I did so while I am working on two pieces (little old multitasking me) which I hope to post soon.

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Anonymous Tom Harper said...

Very good letter from Veterans For Peace. Their mission statement spells out clearly what changes we need to make. And it shows how terribly our government has mutated in the past few decades.

8:25 PM  
Blogger LET'S TALK said...

All American ranking officers and commanders take an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. I wish our President would realize this as well.

1:19 AM  
Blogger FunkyTown Fighter said...

I'm with L.T. the only oath our President seems to uphold and defend are the ones people make to him! He has totally lost sight of the fact that there is a reason we have the constitution!!! Excellent post K.W.W.!!!!!!

7:10 AM  
Anonymous Brad said...

Nothing to add to that. Just glad to see you back blogging!

7:25 AM  
Blogger Kitchen Window Woman said...

I reread VFP's mission statement often. It covers all of the issues that most need to be monitored and changed. I read it, renew my focus, and am inspired to work even harder.

America's rising militarism and its quest for empire endanger the entire planet. Its time to make some big changes. There is probably a VFP chapter near you - new members are welcomed.

Let's Talk...
The President also took an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. George W. Bush has chosen instead to break his oath. He has been hell bent on destroying it because - "he hates our freedom"! tee hee... but its true. The Constitution, the foundation of our democracy, stands in the way of American corporatists and their desire to establish The Fascist State of America.

10:29 AM  
Blogger Kitchen Window Woman said...

Funkytown Fighter...
George W. Bush has no respect for the Constitution or the American people. He is focused on removing the freedoms that the Constitution guarantees "We The People".

We need our generals to end their support for mad King George. They are sworn to protect and defend the Constitution not a temporary leader who has proven to be a tyrant.

Its a powerful letter, isn't it? I'm glad to see that you are back, too.

10:45 AM  

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