imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
Features
latest news
best of news
syndication
commentary


KILLRADIO

VozMob

ABCF LA

A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List

LAAMN List




IMC Network:

Original Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

War, racism and choice

by Tom Kertes Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2004 at 5:42 PM

The pain of war is so great that many Americans want to comfort those involved by supporting a form of collective denial about the choice that soldiers make when they kill in an illegal and immoral war, such as the current occupation of Iraq.

War, racism and choice:

Part 1: Soldiers are victims, but have moral choice and have agency in war
Part 2: Racist Military, Racist War

StopTheDraftBeforeItStarts.com
Make it personal. Stop all of the drafts.

Part 1: Soldiers are victims, but have moral choice and have agency in war
The pain of war is so great that many Americans want to comfort those involved by supporting a form of collective denial about the choice that soldiers make will they kill in an illegal and immoral war, such as the current occupation of Iraq. The fact is that war is carried out not by the President and his generals and advisors, but by those who follow his command. In absolute truth, there would be no occupation of Iraq without the active participation of soldiers. While the war is constructed by those in power, it is executed by ordinary Americans. While the law says that this is okay - that it is okay to participate in war - the law does not determine what is moral.

The occupation of Iraq is totally immoral, and for this reason I do not participate in it directly. I would like others to come to this same conclusion. I understand that those who do not come my conclusion face a complex and difficult choice. Most don't even realize that there is choice. Most don't want there to be choice, as well. But the choice remains - although costly and difficult. Activists should love and support those who are exploited by the government to carry out an immoral and illegal occupation, without supporting collective denial. No activist should further the lie that there is no choice in war.

The best analogy I can think of is that of slavery. Most white Americans did not think of slavery as immoral. It was just the way things were. But there were Americans who believed that slavery was immoral, and they asserted this strongly. They also asserted that all slaves had the right to freedom, whether recognized by the government or not. The right was a moral right, and it did not matter that the government imposed costs on those who helped assert this right. While all white Americans had the choice to help free the slaves, by all means available, they were actually legally compelled to act otherwise. The choice of moral refusal in slavery was complex - since the costs of nonparticipation were high and the immoral aspects of slavery were not uniformly accepted.

1: Every American has the right of moral refusal to participate in immoral or illegal war (even if this right is not recognized by the government, the right exists nonetheless).

2: The right of moral refusal may be applied to all armed conflict, or to a specific military campaign.

3: The choice of participation in war is complex. Here are some reasons why a person might choose to participate in the current occupation:

  • Belief and value in the rule of law, in the role of a military and of soldiers in a democratic republic
  • Belief that the occupation is a just cause
  • Belief that the occupation is not immoral
  • Limited economic choices, being dependent on the military
  • Ignorance of choices, of the moral issues with the occupation
  • Fear, pressure from peers, propaganda, social conditions of the military
  • Age, immaturity, family expectations
4: There are compelling moral reasons to not participate:

  • The invasion and occupation is a crime against the peace, which is in violation of US law through treaty obligations
  • The invasion is not related to the defense of America
  • The invasion is oppressive, directed at the poor and motivated by command of resources
  • George Bush lied about the reasons for going to war
  • Over 100,000 Iraqis have been killed so far, and for an immoral, illegal and unjust cause at that
  • Civilians will be killed in war, not intentionally but killed nonetheless, and given that the war is one of choice no civilian should be killed
5: There are ways to exercise one's right to moral refusal in the occupation:

  • File for CO status
  • Refuse mission, most likely go to jail as a result
  • Go AWOL (there have been over 5,500 deserters so far, and only 1/3 of reservists in some units have reported to duty)
  • Go AWOL and the leave the US
  • Not enlist
  • Refuse the draft if it is called
6: The reason for asserting that war is a choice matters because it determines the frame of discussion. If there is no right of moral refusal, and if war is not a choice, then it is difficult to assert:
  • that the current US occupation of Iraq is morally wrong
  • and that people should exercise freedom from the draft or from military service for moral reasons

The current frame works this way:

It hurts the troops to say that they are bad.
Because it hurts the troops, those opposed to a war should not say that the troops are bad.
Therefore, the troops are said to be not bad because they do not have a choice and, it is also said that troops are not bad because war is a collective act
Without choice, individual moral judgments are not relevant in one's participation in war Because war is a collective act, to say that the war is bad is to say all involved (including the troops) are bad as well
Therefore, the person who does not participate is a coward (or possibly a pacifist) Therefore, don't say that a war is morally wrong

Asserting war as a moral choice opens up this frame:

Participating in war (as a soldier, etc.) is a choice involving moral and economic judgment within the context of a specific war. Each soldier has the ultimate choice of participation or nonparticipation, albeit with varying costs and benefits.
Individuals decide if a specific war merits their participation or not, and then act on this judgment and, individuals weigh the costs and benefits of action related to participation or nonparticipation in a specific war
Individuals have the "God-given" right to choose to participate or not in a specific war based on moral and economic factors

7: Soldiers are victims of war.  While they may have a choice, the government is exploiting them.  The choice made is in the context of propaganda, lies, cohesion, legal powers and acculturation.  War is hell for all involved.  Bush and the neocons are to blame for this hell.

Part 2: Racist Military, Racist War
If the military did its job of defending America from foreign invasion, and nothing else, then the opportunities provided by the military for American youth of color and working class families would be just. And if the military did its job, and nothing else, then the military would be much smaller, and would take up a much smaller chunk of the nation's wealth. Then the opportunities provided to American soldiers would not only provide a leg up for those who serve, but would not be at the expense of domestic programs such as welfare, social security, universal health care, public education, parks and community centers, transportation systems, community colleges, pell grants, youth camps, universal child care, housing programs, etc.

I work with a coalition of poor people's organizations that are committed to organizing a poor people's movement to end poverty. This movement is committed to ending poverty, not just managing it. We believe that poverty is a political choice, and that the existence of poverty reflects the values of those currently in power. One of the reasons why poverty persists is because of the money to be made from the making of weapons and from war. Another reason that poverty persists is because of racist attitudes about those who are poor. While there are more white Americans in poverty than there are Americans of color in poverty, the perception of many white middle and upper class Americans is that poverty is not a white problem. Race and poverty intersect - with race separating whites and non-whites from organizing together and race creating an underclass determined by race.

The military has a role in poverty and racism. First, the military benefits from poverty because the choice between poverty and working for the military leads many to join the military. The military actively recruits working class youth through promises of educational and job training benefits, spending billions of dollars each year to attract high achieving young Americans from poor families into the military. Despite the limited level of educational assistance actually provided, and despite the few job skills that can be transferred from the military to civilian work, the Army makes promises that it doesn't deliver.

"Too many governments are making informed, deliberate choices that actually hurt childhood. Poverty doesn't come from nowhere; war doesn't emerge from nothing, AIDS doesn't spread by choice of its own. These are our choices," UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy said in London as she launched the State of the World's Children 2005: Childhood under Threat. Overspending on military short-changes children, UNICEF says

Almost 30% of the Army soldiers in the first Gulf War were African American, despite the fact that 12% of Americans are African American. This is the result of aggressive recruitment and the lack of opportunities for many African Americans. The US territory of Puerto Rico enlists four times more recruits per recruitment office than in offices in other locations. Puerto Rico also faces the highest unemployment in the United States, making the military one of the few options available. While the military may be a way out for young people facing dismal economic options, it comes at a huge risk. Rich Americans do not face these choices - and therefore have more freedom when it comes to joining the military.

It matters that the military is used to fight wars not related to the defense of America when many of our soldiers must choose between poverty and fighting in immoral wars. It also matters that the military is not doing its job of defending America. The military could be an economic opportunity for Americans of color and facing poverty. We see this in positive examples of the military as a force for affirmative action and integration - providing leadership opportunities for those shut of other parts of society. But when the role of the military is to fight wars of conquest, then those who serve in the military are being exploited for immoral ends. When the military exceeds its republican mandate of defending the democratic government, then no American should be offered the choice of poverty or participation in immoral and illegal war.

Currently the military takes advantage of the limited opportunities provided to many Americans. It takes advantage of the fact that for many Americans the military is their only option to earn a decent living. This is wrong, because we live in the richest country in the richest period of human history. American can be poverty-free. And in a poverty free America, the military would be choice for Americans.

The military does more than take advantage of the poor in the United States. It is used to exploit the world's poor. The current role of the military is to carry out immoral and illegal invasions of other foreign countries. The United States overwhelms the military power of most other nations, and as such when the US government invades another country hundreds of thousands of the world's poorest perish. Already over 100,000 Iraqis have died from the current invasion and occupation of Iraq. The US government turns the labor of its poor citizens into a fist against the world's poor.

By the Pentagon's own estimate, thousands of military families live in poverty. Despite recent salary increases, many enlisted men and women say they can't afford food and other basic needs. Thousands of US Military Families Live in Poverty

More information:
Spit and polish: It was the myth of the spat-upon Vietnam veteran that galvanized the sentiments of the American people sufficiently to discredit peace activists and give George Bush [Sr.] his war." Jerry Lembcke, The Spitting Image


DailyDraftDispatch.org
Updates on the fight for freedom from the draft.

Report this post as:

Local News

Change Links September 2018 posted S02 10:22PM

More Scandals Rock Southern California Nuke Plant San Onofre A30 11:09PM

Site Outage Friday A30 3:49PM

Change Links August 2018 A14 1:56AM

Setback for Developer of SC Farm Land A12 11:09PM

More problems at Shutdown San Onofre Nuke J29 10:40PM

Change Links 2018 July posted J09 8:27PM

More Pix: "Families Belong Together," Pasadena J02 7:16PM

"Families Belong Together" March, Pasadena J02 7:08PM

Short Report on the Families Belong Together Protest in Los Angeles J30 11:26PM

Summer 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert! J11 6:58AM

Watch the Debate: Excluded Candidates for Governor of California M31 5:20AM

Change Links June 2018 posted M28 7:41AM

The Montrose Peace Vigil at 12 Years M22 8:01PM

Unity Archive Project M21 9:42AM

Dianne Feinstein's Promotion of War, Secret Animal Abuse, Military Profiteering, Censorshi M17 10:22PM

CA Senate Bill 1303 would require an independent coroner rather than being part of police M10 9:08PM

Three years after OC snitch scandal, no charges filed against sheriffs deputies M10 8:57PM

California police agencies violate Brown Act (open meetings) M02 8:31PM

Insane Company Wants To Send Nuke Plant Waste To New Mexico A29 11:47PM

Change Links May 2018 A27 8:40AM

Worker-Owned Car Wash on Vermont Closed A27 5:37AM

GUIDE TO REBEL CITY LOS ANGELES AVAILABLE A13 12:39AM

lausd whistle blower A11 6:58AM

Website Upgrade A10 10:02AM

Help KCET and UCLA identify 60s-70s Chicano images A04 8:02PM

UCLA Luskin: Casting Youth Justice in a Different Light A02 6:58PM

Change Links April 2018 A01 6:27PM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

OUR HOUSE Grief Support Center Celebrates 25 Years with the House of Hope Gala S24 7:10PM

Against the Rent Madness and For a Nonprofit Orientation! S24 11:56AM

Cybermonde, cyberguerre, cyberespace, cyberterrorisme S24 6:35AM

Paraphysique de psychosomatique S22 6:58AM

Chuck Grassley: Women Abusing, Animal Murdering, Illegal War Supporting Criminal S22 2:58AM

Finance Capitalism and the Digital Economy S21 4:45PM

Muselières syndicales, muselières patronales S21 7:19AM

Jeff Bezos, Amazon, The Washington Post, Whole Foods, Etc S21 2:50AM

Why Choose Nut Milk Over Cows' Milk S21 1:01AM

Antrhopocène, le grand effondrement S19 9:53AM

Abolir l'économie S18 11:18AM

The Dictatorship of Corporations S17 5:26PM

18 Lethal Consequences Of Hunting S17 3:13PM

Paraphysique de l'outplacement déontologue S15 6:51AM

Shopping du bashing S14 8:42AM

After Lehman Brothers, Experts Say Global Financial Crisis Can Happen Again S13 8:28PM

“Animaniacs in Concert!” Starring Voice Legend Rob Paulsen S12 9:30PM

Probabilités de fin d'humanité S12 6:49AM

Florida Area of Migrant Farmworkers Denied Right to Construct Health Clinic near NaplesCIW S11 2:57AM

Steer clear of work morality! S09 12:10PM

The Shortwave Report 09/07/18 Listen Globally! S06 11:23PM

August 2018 Honduras Coup update S06 12:28PM

Brett Kavanaugh Filled The 5th Circuit With Execution Judges S06 6:14AM

Augusta Georgia Woman Gets 5 Year Prison Sentence for Writing About Russians Crime Acts S05 8:29AM

Paraphysique de contextualité S05 8:29AM

Crisis Regulation in Global Capitalism S03 3:39PM

Ex-voto de réification S03 10:24AM

Please Oppose Warmonger, Execution and Torture Supporting Bush Operative Brett Kavanaugh A31 10:45PM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy