That Other Military Draft

'I didn't sign up for the Navy to be in the Army…'

“There sure as hell is a draft going on,” the passenger sitting next to me said begrudgingly as the flight attendant handed him a ginger ale on our way in to Los Angeles last week. “I signed up to be in the Navy, not the damn Army.”

It will be his third deployment to Iraq in four years but his first to be served on shore. Thousands of Navy and Air Force personnel are now serving non-traditional roles in Iraq — posts they never signed up for. Steven, who asked I not use his last name in print, said he’s to receive six weeks of weapons training at a California Army base before being flown over to Iraq for a year-long deployment.

“We’ve all heard of the stop-loss policy, there’s even a new movie about it, but few know about what else is happening in our armed forces right now,” Steven explained. “The back door draft is real, for sure, but here we are being shipped off to Iraq to basically serve in the infantry. It’s ridiculous.”

The Department of Defense reports that sailors and Air Force members are carrying out many different missions in Iraq, from traditional duties in the air and sea to construction jobs, medical operations, civil affairs, custom inspection, security and detention operations. Most are promised non-combative roles in Iraq, but many have found themselves to be in harms way once they arrive.

In 2007 the Navy sent roughly 2,200 “individual augmentees”, as the service calls them, to handle combat-related duties with Marine and Army units stationed in Iraq. As of early April, 2008, 92 Navy and 46 Air Force personnel had been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, with those numbers sure to rise as the U.S. troop surge continues into its second year.

On March 31, 400 Navy reservists who had received training at military bases in Virginia were shipped back to Iraq. “The good news and bad news about this is that we are out doing things that our people weren’t originally trained for,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley in a speech last year.

Such a trend has increased over the past several years. In 2006, for example, there were 4000 Air Force members in Iraq, but that number has jumped significantly. Now the Pentagon reports that over 6,000 are to serve in the country by year’s end.

“Technically, these combat-related assignments do not violate service members’ contracts,” said Lawrence Korb, who handled manpower as assistant secretary of defense during the Reagan administration. “But many … are not volunteering for these jobs — they’re being told to do them.”

Military recruitment numbers across the board are dwindling, and as result all branches of the service are being overextended to maintain current troop levels in Iraq. Aside from combat-related roles, however, sailors and Air Force members have been deployed in order to protect U.S. economic interests in the region — from oil pipelines to Halliburton’s numerous reconstruction projects.

And that’s what seems to have sailors like Steven irked at the troop surge and his new function in Iraq.

“It’s a draft, plain and simple. I don’t care what they call it,” Steven told me as our plane landed at LAX. “I didn’t sign up for the Navy to be in the Army. But I’m going because I don’t feel I have a choice. I have children to feed and a mortgage to pay.”

Joshua Frank is co-editor of Dissident Voice and author of Left Out! How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush (Common Courage Press, 2005), and along with Jeffrey St. Clair, the editor of Red State Rebels: Tales of Grassroots Resistance in the Heartland, published by AK Press in June 2008. Check out the Red State Rebels site. Read other articles by Joshua.

38 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. joed said on April 8th, 2008 at 5:51am #

    gosh, this is almost an attempt at trying to be a dissident. seems DissidentVoice ain’t so dissident any more. mr. frank did you tell the guy he is a murderous sob for going to iraq and try to explain to him that murdering iraqi children to feed his kids and pay his mortage is not morally justifiable. did you try to explain that to him!
    what the fuck is a real dissident suppose to think about this article.
    are there any real dissidents still alive besides me?
    for about 4 years dissidentvoice has been my home page. looks like i will have to find a different one.

  2. Erroll said on April 8th, 2008 at 9:36am #

    My thoughts are somewhat aligned with those of Joed. Those in the military have to realize, as Lt. Watada stated at the Veterans for Peace convention in Seattle in 2006, that they are being used for ill-gain. If only Joshua Frank could have made that sailor aware of the documentary Sir! No Sir!, which told the story of the GI resistance during the Vietnam War and of the IVAW. That sailor is not fighting for his country. He is doing the same thing that I did when I was in Vietnam and that is upholding the lies and propaganda that he is being fed by his government.

    As one of the soldiers said in Sir! No Sir!, being a clerk typist does not get you off the hook. Being in the military still makes one a part of an organization that is suppressing and brutalizing the Iraqi people. Over a million Iraqis have died as a result of the United States illegally invading their country. As the Vietnam War had demonstrated, the best way to end a war and/or an occupation is to have it happen from within.

  3. hp said on April 8th, 2008 at 10:01am #

    Erroll, you’ve hit the nail on the head. I mentioned the same thing on another post, only to be ignored for perhaps another reason.
    That was the beginning of the end in Vietnam and it will be the beginning of the end in Iraq.
    “Sir, No Sir.”
    If everyone, even the file clerk, in their own way stopped fighting, then it’s just a matter of time.
    There used to be a cute little saying which mirrored these acts of satyagraha.
    “Suppose they gave a war and nobody came.”

  4. Joshua Frank said on April 8th, 2008 at 10:49am #

    We did chat about quite a few things, including why I thought he should move to Canada, the Winter Soldier Hearings and his daughter’s battle with autism. I listened more than I advised.

  5. evie said on April 8th, 2008 at 12:17pm #

    Perhaps dissident “journalists” should move to Canada and encourage Americans to overthrow their government and enact serious social and political change. Nah… too radical.

    The US could withdraw from Iraq, and oh lets not forget Afghanistan, where officer Watada offered to go instead of Iraq – Huh? Killing Afghanistan under the guise of getting Osama bin Forgotten is more legal and moral than the Iraq War?

    Being in the military is not the only activity that makes one part of an oppressive brutal organization – if you pay your taxes, consume the products the oppressors provide with their ill-gotten gains, are employed in any field that profits off war which is most, even the anti-war industry of writers, foundations, organizations raking in donations and grants, or believe the myth that voting makes a difference, and dozens of other activities one might see as totally harmless or even delusionally helpful – then you too are part and parcel of the “American way of life” which feeds on war/conflicts.

    But, I’m sure everyone has a rehearsed logical excuse for the role they play – excuses are like … well you know, everybody has one.

  6. John Wilkinson said on April 8th, 2008 at 1:03pm #

    i think the article serves a good purpose in that it shows this whole country is built on fraud and double-cross. here’s these so called “honorable” military hierarchies double crossing their own people in a most base way. blows the cover from the “honorable” thing even for those most in denial. this certainly does wonders to get the troops themselves pissed off. this is certainly doing more than some holier than thou sermonizing to the choir; don’t you think the guy already knows he can go to canada, don’t you think he knows about the morality of it, that’s why he signed up for the navy, to be removed from the morality, but now he’s been swindled, now he’ll see it up close and personal.

    telling him to awol in a casual conversation when he’s already thought about it, yeah that will work, you guys were born yesterday, only you’re smart, others don’t have brains. but here the ones who are most gung-ho — the navy, the airforce are beginning to see it up close and personal, beginning to see it as a major double-cross, beginning to see it’s not going well when they have to be swindled into doing the dirty work.

    and the article appears to be well researched instead of blowing smoke up someone’s ass, which is what you “progressives” want. that surely has solved a lot of problems, ventilating on stage and on cue.

  7. John Wilkinson said on April 8th, 2008 at 1:09pm #

    “are employed in any field that profits off war which is most, even the anti-war industry of writers, foundations, organizations raking in donations and grants, or believe the myth that voting makes a difference, and dozens of other activities one might see as totally harmless or even delusionally helpful – then you too are part and parcel of the “American way of life” which feeds on war/conflicts.

    But, I’m sure everyone has a rehearsed logical excuse for the role they play – excuses are like … well you know, everybody has one.”

    Finally someone who gets it. i especially liked the part about the anti-war industry of “progressive” writers (and i would add other societal problems being written about are also more about the mother lode than about solving such problems).

  8. DavidG. said on April 8th, 2008 at 2:51pm #

    How about we get our priorities right? War is about profit. Always has been. War makes some people rich. Very rich. War gains access to scarce resources, allows you to build military bases every which place, create empires. Wow!

    To fight wars you need soldiers. Doesn’t matter who they are. They are expendable. You need to tell them that that are dying for their country (don’t mention the rich people getting richer whatever you do). When their bodies come home, have a few bands, some saluting soldiers in smart uniforms, a man playing a trumpet solo.

    And if they come home injured, well, that’s a problem, a costly one, but throw them a few dollars, not too much now, don’t want to dent the profits now, do we? And so the world turns, as it’s always done.

    p.s. Would banning religions help? Check my blog.

  9. hp said on April 8th, 2008 at 4:15pm #

    David, you’re joking, right.
    Lets start with banning alcohol and see how that works out.

  10. Erroll said on April 8th, 2008 at 4:15pm #

    Evie does a wonderful job attempting to trash Lt. Ehren Watada, ignoring the fact, as I attempted to point out, that he stated that soldiers are being used for ill-gain. I, also, wish that Watada did not say that he would have volunteered to go to Afghanistan. The hope is that since he expressed that belief two years ago that he may have seen the error of his ways since then. But it should also be remembered that Watada,who Evie is so quick to condemn, was also willing to go to jail for six years because he refused to deploy to Iraq. No other American military commissioned officer can make that claim. The military needs more, not less, soldiers like Watada who are willing to dare to think for themselves.

  11. hp said on April 8th, 2008 at 5:34pm #

    Like Karen Kwiatkowski. who sent out explicit warnings from the Pentagon, before retiring in disgust.
    She really hated how the Israeli officers would literally pound on desks demanding this and that. The security procedures didn’t apply to these bastards. They came and went at their leisure.
    She also was devastated by the traitor Larry Franklin who was once her boss and betrayed not only the USA, but her as well.
    This coincided with the creation of the OSP, headed by Cheney.
    Another story entirely.

  12. evie said on April 8th, 2008 at 5:51pm #

    I’m not specifically trying to trash Watada – I am extremely cautious regarding heroes of the “left.” They can be as stoogey as the heroes presented by the rightwing, e.g Jessica Lynch – there’s always more than meets the eye or ears.

    Watada enlisted in 2003, three months after the Iraq War began. Surely he expected deployment to Iraq. It’s not as if Watada is a clueless boy of modest family means who struggled for a college education and then enlisted in the fervor of post 9/11. His father, Bob Watada, is a mover and shaker in Hawaii, fighting political and corporate corruption for years. Bob was a former Peace Corp member in Latin America during the ’60s, an era when many suspected the CIA of employing Peace Corp members. Lt. Ehren grew up in a politically active household. Surely around dad’s dinner table there were a few discussions on the deceit of politics and war.

    Watada still awaits his fate, which, judging by sentences handed out to other AWOL and refusers of deployment, has been minimal time in jail – months as opposed to years. The military seems not too hell-bent on punishing soldiers who refuse to serve. As Watada’s first trial ended in a mistrial I expect he should be going home any day now, if he’s not already, once the dickering about a second trial ends – which probably will not take place as it’s “double jeopardy”.

    Not to pee on the parade – but it could be this whole officer-takes-a-stand scene is a staged op from the other faction of the ruling class, the “left” cheek of the corporate ass. Most likely Watada will receive a general discharge and eventually enter the political arena, right after his book deal and lecture tours. Another John Kerry in the making but without the medal toss – yet.

    And, just in case the “left” hasn’t noticed, Watada’s refusal to obey orders did not initiate a stampede of fellow officers to stand with him.

    All soldiers are used for ill-gain; all wars, at least in the last 2 centuries, are created, prepped, bankrolled and staged – it’s just sometimes folks have leaders who make them feel their war is a righteously good “cause” – or in Iraq’s case an “unpopular war”. War – a slaughtering popularity contest.

    Don’t hold any breath waiting for the current political pop stars to end the war. But at least Watada didn’t wait for his retirement benefits to kick in before speaking out publicly – as so many of the “former” brass and exspurts have.

  13. Giorgio said on April 8th, 2008 at 6:00pm #

    “I have children to feed and a mortgage to pay.”
    That’s right, buddy, you got a family and responsibilities, and so why not go to Iraq and kill someone else and his family and kids to keep your family alive and well fed, and pay your mortgage?
    What’s so immoral about that?
    But what really gets me pissed off and I think verges on the IMMORAL, is that after reading the article and the 10 comments on it wailing about this war-machine-to-profit-the-rich there is not one mention of the guy who could put an end to such insanity, OR at the very least start a countrywide movement to end it: Ron Paul!
    Why are the “progressive dissenders” so averse to this man?
    It’s because he’s a Republican?

  14. Raven said on April 8th, 2008 at 6:47pm #

    “I didn’t sign up for the Navy to be in the Army. But I’m going because I don’t feel I have a choice. I have children to feed and a mortgage to pay.”

    This is not enough of a reason for anyone? This is the Catch-22 of every man and woman in the military. If they stand up for themselves and go home, what do they go home to? Having to find a job in a limited-job economy. Probably having to be paid minimum wage and sending the wife to work, therefore sending the kids to child care. This is a man with a family, that obviously can’t afford to just stop and go home. Your family is your first priority, be damned anything else. Is he going to Iraq to participate in the insanity? Yes. Will he kill someone there? More than likely. But you know what? I would do the same in his place, because caring for my family and keeping a roof over their heads matters more to me.

    I hate what is going on, but they’ve made it absolutely impossible for those in the military that have families to make any other choice. You will always put caring for your family first, and the government knows this. Don’t blame this or any other serviceman or woman for making that choice- it’s a no-brainer for anyone that has a family.

    This article is about what they’re doing to the service people, and how they’re finding newer and better ways to screw them over. They are just as dependent on the income they receive as we are on our own jobs. He didn’t volunteer to do this- he’s being sent to do it. He has to think about more than his own moral code- he’s thinking about the family he has to feed and provide for.

    I agree with Evie on the point that we all are contributing to this. If you shop at Wal-Mart, you contribute to the greed that fuels this whole movement. If you pay taxes, you’re putting your money in the hands of those that seek to destroy the very principle their so-called cause stands for.

    Stop attacking the troops- attack the people that are controlling them.

  15. Erroll said on April 8th, 2008 at 7:02pm #

    You state that “at least Watada didn’t wait for his retirement benefits…” before speaking out. At least? Quite the back handed compliment, one must admit. Despite what you appear to believe, Watada risked going to jail for six years, not for months, as you infer. Name another officer who was willing to go to the brig for refusing tofight in Iraq. You think that “only” doing months in jail is not a big deal? Try explaining that to Camilo Mejia and Kevin Benderman, both enlisted men, who went to jail for refusing to take part in the occupation of Iraq. Camilo Mejia spent nine months in jail while Kevin Benderman ended up behind bars for a year.

    Your claim that Watada should have somehow known what the score was is when he joined the military is also deceptive as well as specious. Watada joined the military for the same reasons that many others joined during the time that the Iraq war began and that was for, what he assumed, were patriotic reasons. Afterwards, he began to do that which the military most fears and that is to think and challenge and question. By doing that, he came to the realization that he was, just like I was when I was in a place called Vietnam, lied to by his government. That is when he realized that he could no longer be a part of an illegal occupation. According to your logic, because Watada’s father is liberal, then Watada should have automatically come to the same conclusion early on as his father. That did not happen to Andrew Bachevich’s son, who did not listen, apparently, to his father, who is vociferously against U.S. imperialism [as evidenced by his book The New American Militarism] and who joined the army and was killed in Iraq.

    You also claim that what Watada has done “could” be just a charade, designed to gain him entry into a political career and a book deal. I “could” also hit the lottery tonight but there is no evidence to support that contention, just like there is no evidence to support your baseless claim. Your insinuation that he is doing this for political and monetary gain is simply beneath contempt. I suggest that you attempt to read the transcript of what he had said to myself and other veterans at the Veterans for peace convention in Seattle in 2006. There is not a superfluous word in that speech that he gave that night. Each word rings true. Independent journalist Dahr Jamail wrote about Watada shortly after the convention on Aug. 14, 2006 and also printed the transcript of Watada’s speech on After Downing It may be still be available there or elsewhere online.

    You note that no other officers have followed Watada’s stand that he has taken. Is this supposed to be somehow the fault of Watada? If you had actually bothered bothered to read what he had said that night [which is what prompted the military to file charges against him] you would have discovered that this was he was hoping would occur when he said:

    “Today, I speak with you about a radical idea. It is one born from the very concept of the American soldier [or service member]. It became instrumental in ending the Vietnam War-but it has been long since forgotten. The idea is this: that to stop an illegal and unjust war, the soldiers can choose to stop fighting it.”

    It is quite easy for you to slam him because you seem to believe that he is not going far enough in his stand or you somehow think that he is in this because he is an opportunist who wants to make a profit. I submit that are extremely few people in this country willing to go through what he has endured and risked being in jail for six years in order to somehow extend it into what you bizarrely view it as a career making opportunity.

  16. evie said on April 8th, 2008 at 7:31pm #

    Regarding Ron Paul –

    I once thought Paul was a decent man, years ago in the late ’70s – when Paul began his career advocating term limits in congress, something I wholly support, but that idea petered out as soon as Mr. Paul went to Washington.

    And then Paul gushed with adoration at Reagan’s feet as Reagan led the way for outsourcing and offshoring manufacturing jobs, cutting social programs; while Ronnie’s little vendetta with “freedom fighters” aka death squads bled Central America, his support for Osama Bin Who, and a long list of other Reagan shittyness – birds of a feather.

    Paul wants the dollar backed by gold – so does the rest of the world with dollar reserves – waiting to cash in on that idea. Is the ruble, the euro, the peso, the yen, the yuan backed by gold? No.

    In 2002 Paul voted yes on making the Bush tax cuts permanent.

    A Ron Paul Quote: “Minimum wage takes away opportunities, especially for blacks.” (Sep 2007) More recently Paul spoke of the US “becoming” a police state. For who? As a black woman it’s always been a “police state.” And as for his record on civil rights I won’t even go there.

    Ron Paul is a lying old poser.

  17. hp said on April 8th, 2008 at 7:36pm #

    Evie, hows about big Bill Clinton?
    Fool ya, did he?

  18. Annie said on April 8th, 2008 at 7:52pm #

    I always thought that the only job I couldn’t support my children having when they grew up was that of a soldier. But whether or not one is a pacifist, war and the need for those who fight them will always be here. I believe that there are those men and women who join the military because they love their country and they believe in some ideal. Perhpas their motivation is not the killing of foreign innocents, but the protection of innocents here at home, is that naive, maybe, is it true, I think yes. Absolutely we have a fucked up president, and especially, vice-president, their agenda is greed (as has been stated above) and that greed (along with the greed of countless rich white men for centuries on end) has caused many within and without this country to be disgusted. I think that the article was trying to show that military men and women are being shafted, like everyone else, by our current administration. Perhaps the vitriol should be aimed at the right target.

  19. evie said on April 8th, 2008 at 7:56pm #

    As I said, Watada is an educated man from a politically aware family – no way he could be so naïve about Iraq or BushCo. And how can Watada believe that Afghanistan is any more justifiable than Iraq? Since when is it moral or legal to slaughter the natives to capture the wanted dead or alive, smoke him out Osama? Because the UN says it’s okay?

    Perhaps part of the problem is that as a black woman I expect the government to lie and apparently whiter folks have only recently discovered the government lies.

    Your insinuation that he is doing this for political and monetary gain is simply beneath contempt. I also expect 98% of people getting their 15 minutes wanted those 15 minutes. Time will tell.

    “… that to stop an illegal and unjust war, the soldiers can choose to stop fighting it.” Will the same folks be donating to fund a million unemployed soldiers and their dependents? Better yet, as we’re all in this together – we can choose to stop funding war, boycott corporate profiteers, refuse to pay taxes, citizens tear up those 1040s. I will if you will.

  20. evie said on April 8th, 2008 at 8:03pm #

    Lol, didn’t fool me.

    I have a friend in Arkansas who says Bill is not so big. All huevos and no sausage.

    Seriously, I can say with pride I never voted for Bill – I was out of the country both times and didn’t get an absentee ballot. Whew!

  21. evie said on April 8th, 2008 at 8:21pm #

    As a mother of 4 in the military so far we have not been shafted. My sons range from ages 24-37, the oldest two with 15 and 18 years in. None support these wars. But neither do they believe the “current administration” is the root of US problems.

    We can install Obama or Hillary or any new “progressive” face in November and the same shaft will still be bending us over. Democrats just give us a little kiss before they do it – and they prefer to do it under UN auspice or “humanitarian” here to help you Haiti, Kosovo, oops Rwanda, etc.

  22. joed said on April 8th, 2008 at 8:42pm #

    well, seems there is another real dissenter, that person named evie.
    thank you evie!

  23. Erroll said on April 8th, 2008 at 8:46pm #

    Evie inquires whether “the same folks will be donating to fund a million unemployed soldiers and their dependents?” I suggest that before you continue on your tirade against Watada that you actually take the time to read the transcript of his speech. If you were to do that, you would find that he said, among other things, that “those wearing the uniform must know beyond the shadow of a doubt that by refusing immoral and illegal orders they will be supported by the people not with mere words but by action.” He is, of course, saying that the soldiers need the help of the people to support their cause.

    You still insist that Watada should have known better than to enlist, ignoring the fact that I had attempted to explain that he joined, as thousands of others did, [such as Andrew Bachevich’s son] for misguided reasons.such as patriotism. Instead of praising him for obtaining an epiphany regarding the invasion, you instead choose to bizarrely condemn him for his actions. You also claim this is what “whiter” folks only belatedly recognize, that their government lies to them, apparently not somehow realizing that Ehren Watada is not “white” but is instead of Asian descent.

    Perhaps you also believe that such people as international law experts such as Richard Falk and Benjamin Davis [who happens to be black] and former Vietnam veteran Ron Kovic and Marjorie Cohn [president of the National Lawyers Guild] and Daniel Ellsberg and former Representative Cynthia McKinney [who, also amazingly, happens to be an African-American] and Howard Zinn are all misguided in their support of Ehren Watada. If so, then I will gladly state that I also have been duped by joining the above mentioned individuals in my support of the lieutenant.

  24. evie said on April 8th, 2008 at 9:23pm #

    I know Watada is Hawaiian.

    Perhaps I am just not as impressed with international “experts” as you seem to be. Poor little Rand Corporation Daniel Ellsberg, thank goodness he risk all to give us the Pentagoon Papers and change imperial America for the better – wait, hmmm, well nevermind.

    As for Cynthia McKinney – I’ve caught her in more than one unfounded accusations, e.g. in a speech to raise funds for Muslim groups targeted by government investigations she repeated the hoax : “Why is it that Dennis Kucinich gets a visit from representatives of Nancy Pelosi and AIPAC and they tell him that they will guarantee his reelection if he drops his impeachment effort.” Kucinich had denied this ever happened – it was an internet rumor. Someone with McKinney’s experience should not have been that sloppy with rhetoric.

    If they’re not shot down in the plaza, literally or figuratively, they are on the agenda that the ruling class allows – it gives the appearance we have “freedom” and choice, a “voice”. And they all make a darn good living off careers as the voice of dissidence in America – although never actually accomplishing anything they’re always supporting and working and talking about changing things. God forbid they outline any methods to bring down the system and replace it with something better. Activists my ass.

    I really don’t give a shit who supports Watada – always the same “left/progressive” folks out front telling the little sheople who their McHeroes are this year. The only “movement” going on is the paper petition brigade.

  25. Hue Longer said on April 9th, 2008 at 2:33am #

    evie said on April 8th, 2008 at 8:03 pm #
    “…I have a friend in Arkansas who says Bill is not so big. All huevos and no sausage”.

    lol, it’s like a compliment inside an insult…he gets more ass than a toilet seat, but leaves the girls wanting.

    God stuff…Keep writing, Evie.

  26. Annie said on April 9th, 2008 at 6:49am #

    Why did your son’s join the military? Was it to go kill people or was it because they thought that protecting the USA was an honorable thing to do? Do they think that the war in Iraq serves this honorable purpose? I never said that administrations under Obama or Clinton would be any better or any different. I certainly understand the devastation leveled in Rwanda due to B. Clinton’s inaction there. I still think the men and women in the military, especially those who are serving in the current war in and around Iraq, are getting the shaft.

  27. evie said on April 9th, 2008 at 7:47am #

    Our family, men and women, has been military for many generations. I intended to end the tradition with mine but against my advice they enlisted anyway. My fault – I encouraged them to think for themselves.

    They all began with JrROTC in high school, I think mainly at that age the uniform was a “babe magnet” as they put it. But they have done well financially and educationally in the military and don’t complain too often. They are at times frustrated with the yapping in the political arena – where the pols and voters continue doing the same thing and expecting different results.

    They went to DLI/MI and liked their work so stayed. After a dozen years they reasoned why not stay in and retire young. My youngest joined simply b/c his older brothers were in, although his brothers tried to discourage him from enlisting; he is in Anbar now, second tour, chopper pilot – as a teen he paid for his own flight lessons to fly small planes.

    While they believe going into Afghanistan and Iraq were wrong they don’t believe any of the proposed plans from the “progressive” camps are viable. Leaving Iraq will not be as easy as leaving Vietnam and the repercussions much more serious, but I would need too many pages to go into details of that.

    They wear a uniform for many many reasons but partly b/c they believe the US, with all its horrendous flaws and ugliness, is still the best place to live and serve – not because they wanted to “go kill people.”

    Go kill people – hmmm … sounds more politically correct than “baby killers.”

  28. Steve F. said on April 9th, 2008 at 8:47am #

    Joshua:Thank-you for penning this article.My son has served in the US Navy for 14 years,the last ten on aircraft carriers.Like the sailor that you sat next to on the plane, my son went through 6 weeks of combat training in San Diego/South Carolina before leaving for Kuwait 2 weeks ago.Bush/Cheney have broken the military and we are now witnessing the creation of a new branch of the armed forces, “The Narmy”.

  29. Erroll said on April 9th, 2008 at 9:09am #

    I believe Annie is correct. The perception among the Iraqi people is that American soldiers are not viewed as liberators but indeed as occupiers. As I mentioned in my comments at 04-08 at 9:36 am, “Being in the military still makes one a part of an organization that is suppressing and brutalizing the Iraqi people.” In light of the atrocities that have happened at Haditha and Ramadi and Falluja and Abu Ghraib, how else can the average Iraqi view an American soldier except for what they are, which are occupiers who have taken over their country, killing 1.3 million of their countrymen and leaving 2 million displaced from their homes and 2 million more fleeing to other countries such as Syria and Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

    Evie believes that “leaving Iraq will not be as easy as leaving Vietnam…” Easy? The U.S. began sending “advisers” into Vietnam in earnest in 1962 and finally pulled its troops out in 1973. The hope is that it does not take nearly that long for the U.S. to extricate itself from that abattoir in Iraq.

    Evie seems to lack that quality that so many other Americans do not possess and that is empathy. It would appear that if she did possess that quality she should be able to imagine what it is like having a tank roll down her street or have a bomb crash through her house or have a foreign soldier break down her door or see a foreign soldier walk down her street or her place of employment in battle fatigues and especially carrying an assault rifle. If she did experience and see these things, one suspects that she most likely would feel fear, anger, loathing, contempt, bitterness, hatred at those foreign soldiers who are occupying her country. For that is exactly how the overwhelming majority of Iraqis justifiably feel [and probably the rest of the Middle East, with the exception of Israel] concerning the unwanted presence of American soldiers on their soil.

    As I mentioned on the earlier comments, the best way to end a war is to have it happen from within. Perhaps I am wrong but it seems that Evie does not look too kindly upon the IVAW [Iraq Veterans Against the War]. Why I do not know but these people are the true heroes of this country. Evie says, quite correctly “I am extremely cautious regarding heroes of the “left”. One person who immediately comes to mind is Iraq veteran and liberal hawk Paul Rieckhoff who is quick to criticize what Bush is doing in Iraq but yet is against the immediate withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. This does not strike me as the best way of supporting the troops, which would be to continue to leave them in that slaughterhouse thus ensuring that more of them will be returning to this country in coffins and even more of them filling up VA beds across this country because they have been brain damaged, severely burned, blinded, paralyzed, missing an arm or a leg [or both] and suffering from the effects [as I am] of PTSD.

    Evie may perhaps wish to read a book which deals with this subject, Mission Rejected-U.S Soldiers Who Say NO to Iraq by Peter Laufer, in which he has those who were in the military discuss why they can no longer in good conscience participate in this illegal and immoral war/occupation of Iraq. As constitutional scholar Michael Ratner points out, “When this country gives them medals of honor I will know we live in a just society.”

  30. evie said on April 9th, 2008 at 10:02am #

    Actually, I have experienced the tanks, mortar rounds, and soldiers tearing up my home, and worse. I lived and worked in Nicaragua/El Salvador during the ’80s. I stayed drunk for 2 years when I returned to the States in 1992, but PTSD was not how I wanted to spend the rest of my life.

    And I do have empathy – which is why I, my 80 y/o mother, my daughter, and my 10 y/o granddauther froze our buns in January and February of 2003 walking with a dozen other people in Cape Girardeau protesting before the War began – futile attempt but I knew the suffering to come for all involved, including my sons who were on that Kuwait/Iraq border hopeful that the US would not launch an invasion w/o UN sanction, but I knew BushCo would.

    I also do not believe the math of the 1.3 million dead but even if true – where were the “progressives” when Clinton sanctions killed a million Iraqi, 500,000 of them children?

    Pragmatism – there will not be sufficient numbers of US troops willing to stand-down. Four years ago I was supporting this option but it will not happen, hence I search for other options/solutions.

  31. Micah Pyre said on April 10th, 2008 at 10:09am #

    Evie, in defense of the fraudulent Dennis Kucinich, says —

    “As for Cynthia McKinney – I’ve caught her in more than one unfounded accusations… (blah blah blah talking about Denny the K)”

    Evie, please don’t utter such nonsense. If Kucinich were even 1/4 as “progressive” or noble or saintly as you project, then he would be trying to stop Bush-Cheney. But he’s not. He’s not at all. He holds the occasional threat out there, that he “wants to” try for impeachment, but then he says that Pelosi and Reid and Conyers won’t let him do it. WAAAAAAAH. What a baby. So he’d rather cry, than do something that may irritate the Democrat stooges? Oh wait — he IS a Democrat. Could that be part of the problem?

    Dennis hasn’t spent a microjoule of energy trying to really help the country toward impeachment. He could spend some time reading his impeachment counts into the Congressional Record, from the floor of the Congress, if he really wanted to put down for history the problems of Bush-Cheney and their many impeachable offenses. But instead, what little Denny the Menny does is complain about his impeachment being stopped by the evil John Conyers.

    John Conyers cannot stop Dennis from reading his impeachment counts into the Congressional Record. Nor can Nancy Peloso, or Harry Reid, or any other “powerful” person in the Congress.

    You fools are deluded. You choose your saintly Democrats, and then you make up all sorts of excuses for them.

    Perhaps you could explain what was “unfounded” about Ms McKinney’s remarks. Do you have proof? Or are you just defaming her?

    I think you’re just libelling her.

  32. Micah Pyre said on April 10th, 2008 at 10:12am #

    I think Evie needs to acknowledge her role as apologist for Empire.

    What a charade. Evie the “progressive” who “4 years ago supported” the murder of Iraqis for no reason. What changed in 4 years? Hmmmm.

    Murdering Iraqis to steal their oil and install a puppet regime and offer opportunities for Bush-Cheney cronies to bilk US Taxpayers via Govt Contracts for work related to the Iraq War — this was NEVER justified, not by anything that EVER has happened to ANYONE in the USA.

    NEVER justified.

    Evie, you’re a charlatan.

  33. evie said on April 10th, 2008 at 12:27pm #

    Oh my, you’re in dire need of some reading comprehension.

    Four years ago I supported the idea of trying to get the troops to stand-down – not “murdering Iraqi for no reason.”

    Also, Kucinich is as big a phony as any Democrat, including the “former” Democrat McKinney. McKinney was pandering to the “Jews behind it” crowd, or AIPAC in control yadayadayada.

    The charlatans are those who think a Nader or Cindy or Ron Paul will do anything any different if they had a snowball chance of getting into the WH. Charlatans are those folks who think bloggers and petitions and phoning their congress critter will make a difference.

    Charlatans are those who are filling up their gas tanks to go to Walmart and buy plastic junk and then whine whine whine about a war that is not directly effecting them but they think regurgitating progressive slogans makes them special.

    The charlatans are those who haven’t a clue or an idea of how to extricate the US from it’s own shitpile but think blabbering “end the war now” is a sufficient method to solving all the problems of the USA.

    Most of the sheep bleating anti-war today were supporting murdering Wars in 2002 and 2003 b/c they thought the US would kick ass and come home in a weekend. Joe Blowhard is no more humanitarian today than he was then – he’s just pissed b/c gas is $3.25 a gallon.

  34. evie said on April 10th, 2008 at 12:43pm #


    “Perhaps you could explain what was “unfounded” about Ms McKinney’s remarks. Do you have proof? Or are you just defaming her?”

    McK was pushing falsehood as if it were truth – here’s her article stating :

    “Why is it that Dennis Kucinich gets a visit from representatives of Nancy Pelosi and AIPAC and they tell him that they will guarantee his reelection if he drops his impeachment effort. That tells us, that at the end of the day, AIPAC feels that it can guarantee someone a Congressional seat if the AIPAC agenda is put forward. This exchange, recently made public, might also tell us why impeachment is off the table.”

    The visit from AIPAC reps to Kucinich and the exchange never happened.

    “February 12, 2008
    I spoke with Congressman Dennis Kucinich because a rumor was gaining traction that:

    “Before the Nevada primary, Dennis was visited by representatives of Nancy Pelosi and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee — AIPAC. They told Dennis that if he would drop his campaigns to impeach Cheney and Bush, they would guarantee his re-election to the House of Representatives. Kucinich threw them out of his office.”

    According to Kucinich, “The incident did not happen.”

  35. hp said on April 10th, 2008 at 1:14pm #

    Well Evie I agree with most everything you said. Especially the part about gas.
    If the miscreants lower the price of gas to $2.00 a gallon and subsidize booze and burgers, then it will surely be all systems go. Iran, Syria, and then on to Africa, which is the plum(s) they’re all jockeying for behind the scene, anywho.
    If I recall correctly, Israel helped South Africa’s racist apartheid regime develop nukes back in the 60’s. Birds of a feather, always.
    Of course Israel is out of any censoring, sanctions, punishment or even criticism, by default.
    In the meantime, enjoy your Mideast wars for Israel, oil and imperialism, in that order.

  36. evie said on April 10th, 2008 at 4:11pm #

    Africa, which is the plum – so right you are.

    Although Jews have more than enough influence on social mores in the USA – through Hollywood and the rightwing Christian nuts, etc. I believe the real folks behind the oil grab are sitting royally in Belgium, Netherlands, and profess to be “Christian.” The US is just the “muscle” man for globalists – the “brains” are in Europe.

  37. hp said on April 10th, 2008 at 9:06pm #

    I stand by my order of criminal importance.

  38. K-Town said on September 9th, 2008 at 7:06am #

    Man, here I am just looking for facts about the draft and I stumble across this. This is one powerful and well done article, followed up by annoying, boisterous conspiracy theorists who when they hear the word “military” imagine a groteque, hunch-backed monster feeding on the souls of foreign governments. All this talk of mass-muredring Iraqi children makes me queasy. Like our government sent such a large mass of our all-volunteer, citizen soldiers to commit pointless murders. Everything you see on CNN isn’t an outright lie, just a litttle tampered with. Take the lean with the fat.