Iraq

Soldiers Push (Nonbinding) Resolution Against Staying in Iraq

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CBS News reports on a petition sent to Congress, which they say was signed by over 1,000 military personnel, calling for withdrawal from Iraq. Says one of the soldiers:

We're not telling young men and women that it's not worth it, to serve their country. We've served our country. The men and women who have signed the appeal have served their country. So…we're not saying it's not worth it. We're saying that, if you have reservations about it to communicate it…..By volunteering we've done more than about 99 percent of the population. And anybody who joined after 9/11 when the country was at a state of war, it's my opinion that nobody has the right to question that soldier's patriotism, nobody.

The full text of the message:

As a patriotic American proud to serve the nation in uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to support the prompt withdrawal of all American military forces and bases from Iraq . Staying in Iraq will not work and is not worth the price. It is time for U.S. troops to come home.

[Via Rational Revew News Digest.]

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  1. While I sympathize with the soldiers, they are out of line here. Policy is to be decided by our elected leaders and their appointees.

  2. That’s some sort of witty, though difficult to understand, joke, right?? Soldiers don’t have the right to lobby the government for the outcome they desire by nature of their service?

  3. That’s some sort of witty, though difficult to understand, joke, right?? Soldiers don’t have the right to lobby the government for the outcome they desire by nature of their service?

    I’m not sure if they have that right or not – I do know that there are certain restrictions on a soldiers’ freedom of speech while on active duty.

  4. Um.

    there’s something a little disconcerting going on here. One thing that came to mind is, “shouldn’t you be concentrating on your job on the ground”, but honestly, that phrasing doesn’t work.

    And I also thought of “not to reason why…”, but that sounds too harsh and negative, too.

    Are there any ethical issues at play (military ethics) that sheds some light on the ethics of this resolution?

  5. I’m not asking about policies, YOU declared these soldiers out of line, I’m asking if YOU think a soldier shouldn’t be allowed to send a letter to his representative expressing his opinion on policy.

  6. Dan T- You’re sort of right and sort of wrong. It’s true that under the UCMJ, military personnel are prohibited from taking public political stances while invoking their service. In a practical sense, this means that a solider could get nailed for showing up to an anti-war rally in uniform. But the enforcement of that rule is spotty, and the rule itself is less than clear.
    You’re wrong in implying that military personnel give up their rights as citizens. They still vote, they can still write letters to their Congressmen, and can still speak on political issues (provided they don’t claim to represent the military and don’t defame the civilian chain of command.)
    In short, the issue is not as simple as you make it out to be.

  7. Does this mean that the troops do not support themselves?

  8. #6:

    what are some of the military ethics issues at play?

  9. This from the link included in the post:

    “Members of the military have a legal right to communicate with their member of Congress. To learn more about the rights and restrictions that apply to service members click here.

    Attorneys and counselors experienced in military law are available to help service members who need assistance in countering any attempts to suppress this communication with members of Congress.”

    According to this, this is perfectly legal for the soldiers to do.

  10. Taking a petition seriously is like taking an internet poll seriously. This is a self-selected sample with a strong incentive to support the policy that will get them back home quickest, regardless of whether its good military or foreign policy.

  11. I love it when people say that no one can question their patriotism, when no one is. So, if I think these people are wrong, I’m questioning their patriotism? No, I just think they are wrong. I don’t care if they say whatever. They are 1,000 out of how many that have served? I saw just a smidgen of this show, and some of these people were back in the states. I guess they believe they are speaking for their brothers and sisters is arms. Who knows? What is known is that polls reflect that even in 2006, military people overwhelmingly voted for Republicans. So aren’t military people idiots? Why is 60 minutes all of the sudden listening to these red state morons? I wonder?

  12. I’m not surprised that troops bitch about stuff. Happens all the time.

    And 1,000 signatures sounds like alot, until one considers there are over 500,000 persons in the military and they represent less than two-tenths of one percent.

    I am surprised that these people continue to volunteer for a war that they believe to be unwinnable. By continuing to volunteer, they in effect are supporting the war effort.

    Still trying to understand the logic behind it….

  13. I think I saw these guys hangin’ out with Jane Fonda.

    IED Veterans For Truth!

  14. I think US soldiers have a right to petition their elected representatives. I certainly respect their right to do so, and I respect their opinion as well. I doubt that any repercussions will result from this; probably no effect on Congress either.

  15. This from the form / petition that soldiers are asked to complete…

    Nature of grievance:

    1. The failure to provide troops adequate protection and preparation for combat

    2. The human cost in thousands of deaths and severe injuries among American service members and the suffering of the Iraqi people

    3. The economic cost to American taxpayers and diversion of resources from other priorities (inadequate response to Katrina, etc.)

  16. You’re wrong in implying that military personnel give up their rights as citizens.

    I call BULLSHIT on that. As a veteran, I can tell you that once you sign your name on the line, you loose all rights as citizens. The military may ALLOW you to vote etc. But that’s only because the cost/benefit analysis came out that way. If the pentagon decided that it would be to their advantage to not allow servicemen to write their congressman, they’d put that policy in place.

  17. There is a difference between arguing for a political outcome and disobeying orders. I am sure every person that signed the petition would walk into the gates of hell if they were ordered, but bitched about the retards in command the whole time. Joining the military does not remove your right to independent thought. I think those soldiers are exceptionally brave for inviting the shitstorm they are stepping into.

    Good on, guys!

  18. Take any military engagement of at least six months duration – even one we are winning handily and one that people at home are supportive of, and send around a survey about how many people think it is time to go home. You think you couldn’t come up with 1,000 signatures?

    There is nothing wrong with submitting this sort of thing to congress. There is something wrong with everyone else playing a fraudulent “even the troops abandon the mission” card.

  19. JasonL,
    Not a chance you could come up with a 1,000 signatures unless there were 100,000 others who agree. Signing that petition is a court marshallable offense. It’s almost certain that the highest ranking names will be prosecuted.

  20. Warren,

    I am a vet too, so our vetness cancels. Signing that petition is most certainly NOT a court marshallable offense.

  21. Why do the troops hate America?

    Why don’t the troops support the troops?

    (If these jokes are getting old, imagine spending five years on the receiving end of them, except the speakers aren’t joking.)

  22. I am surprised that these people continue to volunteer for a war that they believe to be unwinnable. By continuing to volunteer, they in effect are supporting the war effort.

    What’s your definition of “continuing to volunteer”? (Click on my name for link.)

  23. Joe,

    “(If these jokes are getting old, imagine spending five years on the receiving end of them, except the speakers aren’t joking.)”

    I must be slow on the uptake tonight, but I don’t understand your point.

  24. joe:

    Your crown of thorns is askew. I doubt very seriously you’ve taken any more absurd criticism than I have.

  25. Jason L is correct; this does not demonstrate that Da Troops monolithically oppose the war.

    What it does is demolish the last 2 remaining talking points the Congressional Republicans have at their disposal – that the troops monlithically support the war, and that Congressional action to end the war is a betrayal of them.

  26. Jason L,

    I can vouch for the fact that you have taken some absurd criticism. And I’ll leave it at that.

    Peace.

  27. Joe,

    I did not know until just now that all those, “Why do XXX hate America?” jokes were directed your way. It must get old.

  28. Read gooder, wayne. It’s not the jokes that were directed at me, but serious accusations of hating my country and the people who serve in its military.

    Yes, it gets old. Fast.

  29. Joe,

    I am obviously not in the same philosophical camp as you, and I will admit that I sometimes get annoyed with you. I recognize that as my own problem and not yours though.

    For what it is worth, I do not think you hate the US or its military.

  30. Joe just needs a hug.

  31. What’s your definition of “continuing to volunteer”? (Click on my name for link.)

    Yes, but even you have to admit that “stop loss” isn’t forever, only up to 90 days after the deployment is complete. Alot of people have gotten out after their enlistments have expired, despite the best efforts of the BushCheneyBurton War Machine.

    Otherwise, we’d have a Soviet-style “100% re-enlistment rate” in the military.

    Plus, the article does quote one of them as wanting to make a career out of the military. Just not in Iraq.

    We may disagree on whether or not the Iraq war was a good idea. But I doubt anyone here would agree that allowing the troops to decide when and where they fight is a good idea.

  32. “Joe just needs a hug.”

    Joe needs to see wayne home safely with family this Christmas.

  33. Captain Holly,

    Taking the opinions of military personnel into account is not “letting them decide when and where they fight.”

    I’ve noticed you don’t make such accusations against active duty soldiers, like wayne, who express the opposite opinion, or the civilians who agree with them.

  34. VM-The basic ethical issue stems from the fact that you are questioning the mission even as you are engaged in it. But that’s not really an issue when you consider the difference between macro and micro scale questioning. In other words, even if you think Iraq is a goat rope, you focus on doing today’s mission and getting home. The big picture has little to do with day-to-day operations.

    Warren: I’m also a veteran (Active duty Marines) and a reservist. And I can tell you that you’re off base. While you sign a lot away when you enlist, you do not sign all of your rights away. I’m too lazy to find the cite, but refer to a Supreme Court case in which an airman wanted to wear a yarmulke, while his chain of command objected. While the airman lost, the decision worked from the premise that the airman did have rights which were, in this particular case, trumped by military necessity. Note also that he was able to bring the case and have it heard. Also remember that the UCMJ enshrines certain rights, which are not overidden by the desires of command. Why? Because military law recognizes that certain rights (due process is a big one) do not go away at the moment of enlistment.

  35. Just to clarify. I am not active duty. I am a civilian working for the US Army in Iraq. I was active duty, but only for three years and that was a long time ago. I do plan to be home safe this coming Christmas though.

  36. Thank you #6!

    respectfully,
    VM

  37. Dan T? Where’d you go?

  38. #6

    I think you just proved my point. It’s true that the military does recognize some rights, but only because they choose to. When it becomes a “military necessity” do deny a soldier “due process”, they don’t waste time talking about it.

    I don’t think we’re all that far apart on this. My primary point is that “freedom of speech”, “freedom of press” and other rights you might find in the Constitution can (and often are) be stripped from you. You may retain other rights but it’s only because the military finds it practical to grant them to you.

  39. Taking the opinions of military personnel into account is not “letting them decide when and where they fight.”

    I didn’t say it was. And read the original post again, please; you know, the part where it says they believe that Iraq is futile and we should get out now. If that’s not the troops telling Congress what they want to do, I don’t know what is.

    If you take the petition to its logical conclusion — that a certain percentage of the troops think we should get out of Iraq, therefore we should leave — then that opens all sorts of unpleasant possibilities for future wars. Do you think that’s a good idea, joe?

    To put it more bluntly, do we want military policy made by civilians, or by the troops?

    I’ve noticed you don’t make such accusations against active duty soldiers, like wayne, who express the opposite opinion, or the civilians who agree with them.

    WTF? joe, you’re really on one today, aren’t you? I didn’t accuse anyone of anything, I was commenting on what the petition signers themselves said. Once again, they wrote:

    As a patriotic American proud to serve the nation in uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to support the prompt withdrawal of all American military forces and bases from Iraq . Staying in Iraq will not work and is not worth the price. It is time for U.S. troops to come home

    Now read it again, joe, and answer this question: Are they trying to get the US out of Iraq, or not? And keep in mind these aren’t the commanders who are paid to make these types of decisions, this is the rank-and-file saying “we don’t want to go to Iraq”.

    They can express their opinions all they want. They can even vote for politicians that will support their views. The question I’m asking is, should we make policy based on what the grunts think (which is what this whole petition is all about, BTW).

  40. Warren-I don’t think we are very far apart. I’m simply saying that there are some rights the military can’t take away even if they want to. I think case law and the UCMJ back me up on this. However, it’s also certainly true that a soldier’s rights are severely circumscribed. In this particular case, I suspect that a court martial is possible, even if it doesn’t stick. It’s not a clear-cut issue.

  41. It is likely that organizer Jonathan Hutto enlisted specifically to lodge this sort of protest. He went from working for Amnesty International and the ACLU to enlisting in the wartime military, and then quickly turned his attention to his Appeal for Redress.

    This takes a fair amount of guts, and is a shrewd tactic, but is also an appallingly dishonest way of trying to look like an average GI who has had a epiphany.

  42. Captain Holly – No, that is NOT what the petition is all about! The petition is about expressing opinions! This petition is not policy!

    I understand and respect the argument that giving this significantly more weight than any other person’s objection to Iraq is silly, but I have yet to see a single reasonable argument that these folks should not be doing this. It invokes the soldiers rights, as Americans, to urge their political leaders to make the right decision.

  43. Awesome. You people let Joe threadjack again.

  44. our soldiers have been sooo abused on the Iraq adventure.

    I remember back in early 2003, during the run up to invasion, I couldn’t go a block in the burbs without seeing an election campaign style sign saying:

    SUPPORT OUR TROOPS!
    LIBERATE IRAQ!

    it was surreal then

    it’s surreal now

  45. Captain Holly,

    Wow, did that go over your head! Look, it’s very simple:

    Expressing your opinion to Congress, telling them what you think, is not setting policy. It’s providing them with an opinion. Whether Congress ignores them or listens to them, it’s still Congress making the decision. No, I have no problem whatsoever with any group of Americans expressing themselves to Congress.

    “The question I’m asking is, should we make policy based on what the grunts think?”

    The answer I’m providing is, sure, just as much as any other group of Americans who’ve expressed an opinion. The political leadership should consider what they have to say. If they conclude that this group of soldiers is wrong, then so be it. If they conclude that they are right, then so be it. The fact that a group of people signing a petition are in the military doesn’t mean that following that petition is a threat to civilian leadership. If 1000 Cambodians signed a petition to raise the speed limit in I-80, and Congress passed the bill, would that mean we were letting Cambodians runs the government? Of course not.

    BTW, the logical conclusion is not “a certain percentage of the troops think we should get out of Iraq, therefore we should leave.” The logical conclusion is, this war is a bad idea, therefore we should leave.

  46. Why is 60 minutes all of the sudden listening to these red state morons?

    The same reason 60 Minutes listens to everyone else who agrees with their opinions.

  47. The silver lining to the dark cloud that is the war in Iraq–hell, the whole War on Terror–is to see how many peaceful anarchists are now in the “pipeline.”
    My service in Vietnam is what made me the lovable peaceful anarchist I am today.
    Not that any of us anarchists ever expect to “make policy.”

  48. It’s worth noting that while private correspondence with Congressional representatives is not prohibited while in uniform, publicly signing an open petition questioning or disagreeing with the government is. It is by making their names public as dissenters that they are behaving unethically, not by believing what they do, or by asking their representatives for help.

  49. Not “unethically,” “illegally.” Allegedly. Nice try.

  50. Okay, here’s my question for all you barracks lawyers in this thread. What section, (chapter and verse please), of the UCMJ says signing a petition is illegal? No points are given out to those who quote secondary sources. Here’s a helpful starting point .

    Failing that, I’ll take a regulation promulgated by any of the services that says servicemembers of that particular branch cannot sign petitions.

    Relying on your wildly uninformed memories from XX years ago about what some other idiot told you is not going to cut it. So all you people who were apparently misinformed by your chain of command (probably in a misguided attempt to make you STFU) back in the day should quit spewing arrant nonsense. The idea that just because you served in the military means you’re an expert on the UCMJ is laughable.

    Having said all that, it ain’t in the UCMJ. The only possibilities are service specific regulation. So until somebody whips out the appropriate reg for one of the services would y’all please shut up about it being illegal?

    I had to deal with this sh*t regularly from assheads who were convinced the UCMJ or Army regulation said something other than what it really did. Most of them ended up far worse because of it.

  51. T- Article 134.
    Next question?

  52. And calm down, T. You’re not the only one whose heard silly interpretations of the UCMJ. I was one accused of sedition because I had a bumper sticker that read, “I love my country but fear my government.” The declined to file charges after I told them that I would insist on a full court martial.

    So yes, there are folks out there who misunderstand the UCMJ. But Article 134, as you should well know, means whatever the hell the convening authority wants it to mean.

  53. And, while we’re on the subject:
    From the Manual for Courts-Martial (US Government, 2002), Chapter 4, Paragraph 72:

    Explanation. Certain disloyal statements by military personnel may not constitute an offense under 18 U.S.C. ?? 2385, 2387, and 2388, but may, under the circumstances, be punishable under this article. Examples include praising the enemy, attacking the war aims of the United States, or denouncing our form of government with the intent to promote disloyalty or disaffection among members of the armed services. A declaration of personal belief can amount to a disloyal statement if it disavows allegiance owed to the United States by the declarant. The disloyalty involved for this offense must be to the United States as a political entity and not merely to a department or other agency that is a part of its administration.

  54. Yes, but even you have to admit that “stop loss” isn’t forever, only up to 90 days after the deployment is complete.

    Sure, but if you’re slated to leave the military in May of ’07, and your unit gets deployed to Iraq in April ’07, you’re stuck with a hell of a lot more than 90 extra days. Keep in mind also that the military can (and does) extend the tours of units, thus delaying the start of that 90-day clock – the 172nd Stryker Brigade leaps to mind.

    The law allowing stop-loss (linked under my name again) doesn’t have any limit on the amount of time a soldier can be kept, as long as the war in question isn’t over. Since the War on Terror will never end…

  55. Number 6,

    Hmm. My longer post appears to have been eaten, so I’ll trim this down considerably. Check the MCM directly above your referenced paragraph. One of the required elements of the charge is “intent
    to promote disloyalty or disaffection”.

    Even under the most generous reading of the element, I don’t think petitioning the Congress quite qualifies. Intent is generally a bitch to prove in any court, so unless some troop is caught on record saying his intent was to create dissension in the ranks, I think he’d walk.

    Anyhow, I agree that they can be brought up on charges under the UCMJ. That’s akin to indictment in the civilian world. I don’t think they’d get convicted, since the conduct in question is not prima facie illegal.

  56. There does seem to be a risk here. Troops can be put under a great deal of pressure by those above them in the chain of command. If they can take political action like this of their own accord, then they can be coerced and bullied into signing whatever political statement their superiors want them to. Look at all of the

    Since these troops are clearly adopting a political stance at odds with the administration and the politicized elements of chain of command, it’s highly unlikely that that’s happening here, but it could still be the camel’s nose under the tent.

    On the other hand, we can’t turn into Turkey and shut our troops out of politics altogher. I don’t know what the answer is.

  57. “…it’s my opinion that nobody has the right to question that soldier’s patriotism, nobody.”

    This person doth protest too much, methinks.

  58. Stop-loss can be for the duration of your contract, which is 8 years total for enlisted.

    You do 4 active, 4 inactive, or some other ratio that totals 8.

    I did 6 active, so in theory I could havebeen stop-lossed for the remaining 2.

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