have all seen this war tear apart our country over the past
three years. It seems as though nothing we've done, from
vigils to protests to letters to Congress, have had any
effect in persuading the powers that be... It is time for
change and the change starts with all of us. The idea is
this: that to stop an illegal and unjust war, the soldiers
can choose to stop fighting it.
it is not an easy task for the soldier. For he or she must
be aware that they are being used for ill-gain. They must
hold themselves responsible for individual action. They
must remember duty to the Constitution and the people supersedes
the ideologies of their leadership. The soldier must be
willing to face ostracism by their peers, worry over the
survival of their families and, of course, the loss of personal
They must know that resisting an authoritarian government
at home is equally important to fighting a foreign aggressor
on the battlefield. Finally, those wearing the uniform must
know beyond any 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.
American soldier must rise above the socialization that
tells them authority should always be obeyed without question.
Rank should be respected but never blindly followed. Awareness
of the history of atrocities and destruction committed in
the name of America - either through direct military intervention
or by proxy war - is crucial. They must realize that this
is a war not out of self-defense but by choice, for profit
and imperialistic domination. WMD, ties to Al Qaeda, and
ties to 9/11 never existed and never will.
The soldier must know that our narrowly and questionably
elected officials intentionally manipulated the evidence
presented to Congress, the public, and the world to make
the case for war. They must know that neither Congress nor
this administration has the authority to violate the prohibition
against pre-emptive war - an American law that still stands
today. This same administration uses us for rampant violations
of time-tested laws banning torture and degradation of prisoners
Though the American soldier wants to do right, the illegitimacy
of the occupation itself, the policies of this administration,
and rules of engagement of desperate field commanders will
ultimately force them to be party to war crimes. They must
know some of these facts, if not all, in order to act.
oath we take swears allegiance not to one man but to a document
of principles and laws designed to protect the people. Enlisting
in the military does not relinquish one's right to seek
the truth - neither does it excuse one from rational thought
nor the ability to distinguish between right and wrong.
'I was only following orders' is never an excuse.
Nuremburg Trials showed America and the world that citizenry
as well as soldiers have the unrelinquishable obligation
to refuse complicity in war crimes perpetrated by their
government. Widespread torture and inhumane treatment of
detainees is a war crime.
must know that resisting
an authoritarian government
at home is equally important
to fighting a foreign aggressor
on the battlefield. Finally, those
wearing the uniform must know
beyond any 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.
war of aggression born through an unofficial policy of prevention
is a crime against the peace. An occupation violating the
very essence of international humanitarian law and sovereignty
is a crime against humanity. These crimes are funded by
our tax dollars. Should citizens choose to remain silent
through self-imposed ignorance or choice, it makes them
as culpable as the soldier in these crimes.
American soldier is not a mercenary. He or she does not
simply fight wars for payment. Indeed, the state of the
American soldier is worse than that of a mercenary. For
a soldier-for-hire can walk away if they are disgusted by
their employer's actions. Instead, American soldiers become
indentured servants whether they volunteer out of patriotism
or are drafted through economic desperation.
from the reality of indentured servitude, the American soldier
in theory is much nobler. Soldier or officer, when we swear
our oath it is first and foremost to the Constitution and
its protectorate, the people. If soldiers realized this
war is contrary to what the Constitution extols - if they
stood up and threw their weapons down - no President could
ever initiate a war of choice again.
When we say, 'Against all enemies foreign and domestic,'
what if elected leaders became the enemy? Whose orders do
we follow? The answer is the conscience that lies in each
soldier, each American, and each human being. Our duty to
the Constitution is an obligation, not a choice.
military, and especially the Army, is an institution of
fraternity and close-knit camaraderie. Peer pressure exists
to ensure cohesiveness but it stamps out individualism and
individual thought. The idea of brotherhood is difficult
to pull away from if the alternative is loneliness and isolation.
If we want soldiers to choose the right but difficult path
- they must know beyond any shadow of a doubt that they
will be supported by Americans. To support the troops who
resist, you must make your voices heard. If they see thousands
supporting me, they will know.
more soldiers are questioning what they are being asked
to do. Yet, the majority lack awareness to the truth that
is buried beneath the headlines. Many more see no alternative
but to obey. We must show open-minded soldiers a choice
and we must give them courage to act.
weeks ago, Sgt. Hernandez from the 172nd Stryker Brigade
was killed, leaving behind a wife and two children. In an
interview, his wife said he sacrificed his life so that
his family could survive. I'm sure Sgt. Hernandez cherished
the camaraderie of his brothers, but given a choice, I doubt
he would put himself in a position to leave his family husbandless
Yet that's the point, you see. People like Sgt. Hernandez
don't have a choice. The choices are to fight in Iraq or
let your family starve. Many soldiers don't refuse this
war en mass because, like all of us, they value their families
over their own lives and perhaps their conscience. Who would
willingly spend years in prison for principle and morality
while denying their family sustenance?
tell this to you because you must know that to stop this
war, for the soldiers to stop fighting it, they must have
the unconditional support of the people. I have seen this
support with my own eyes. For me it was a leap of faith.
For other soldiers, they do not have that luxury. They must
know it and you must show it to them. Convince them that
no matter how long they sit in prison, no matter how long
this country takes to right itself, their families will
have a roof over their heads, food in their stomachs, opportunities
This is a daunting task. It requires the sacrifice of all
of us. Why must Canadians feed and house our fellow Americans
who have chosen to do the right thing? We should be the
ones taking care of our own. Are we that powerless - are
we that unwilling to risk something for those who can truly
end this war? How do you support the troops but not the
war? By supporting those who can truly stop it; let them
know that resistance to participate in an illegal war is
not futile and not without a future.
have broken no law but the code of silence and unquestioning
loyalty. If I am guilty of any crime, it is that I learned
too much and cared too deeply for the meaningless loss of
my fellow soldiers and my fellow human beings. If I am to
be punished it should be for following the rule of law over
the immoral orders of one man. If I am to be punished it
should be for not acting sooner. Martin Luther King Jr.
once said, 'History will have to record that the greatest
tragedy of this period was not the strident clamor of the
bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.'
end with one more Martin Luther King Jr. quote: 'One who
breaks an unjust law that conscience tells him is unjust,
and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in
order to arouse the conscience of the community over its
injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect
you and bless you all."