Tuesday, May 06, 2008

War With Ourselves

The Pentagon vs. America


Posted on May 5, 2008
DoD / U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley

Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recites the oath of allegiance to University of Kentucky ROTC students during a visit to the campus.

By Scott Ritter

I recently heard from an anti-war student I met while I was speaking at a college in northern Vermont. The e-mail included the following query:

“I told you about how I wanted to build a career around social activism and making a difference. You told me that one of the most important things was to make myself reputable and give people a reason to listen to you. I think this is some of the best advice I’ve received. My issue however is that you mentioned joining the military as a way to do this and mentioned how that is how you fell into it. ... We talked extensively about all of our criticisms of the military currently and our foreign policy. ... What I don’t understand is, how can you [advise] someone who wants to make a difference with the flawed system, to join that flawed system?”

The question is a valid one. Throughout my travels in the United States, where I interact with people from progressive anti-war groups, I am often confronted with the seeming contradiction of my position. I rail against the war in Iraq (and the potential of war with Iran) and yet embrace, at times enthusiastically, the notion of military service. It gets even more difficult to absorb, at least on the surface, when I simultaneously advocate counter-recruitment as well as support for those who seek to join the armed services.

The notion that the military and citizens of conscience should be at odds is a critical problem for our nation. That confrontation only exacerbates the problems of the soldier and the citizen, and must be properly understood if it is to be defeated. Let us start by constructing a framework in which my positions can be better assessed.

First and foremost, I do not view military service as an obligation of citizenship. I do view military service as an act of good citizenship, but it can under no circumstance be used as a litmus test for patriotism. There are many ways in which one can serve his or her nation; the military is but one. I am a big believer in the all-volunteer military. For one thing, the professional fighting force is far more effective and efficient than any conscript force could ever be.

There are those who argue that a draft would level the playing field, spreading the burdens and responsibilities associated with a standing military force more evenly among the population. Those citizens whose lives would be impacted through war (namely those of draft age and their immediate relatives) would presumably be less inclined to support war.

Conversely, the argument goes, with an all-volunteer professional force, the burden of sacrifice is limited to that segment of society which is engaged in the fighting, real or potential. Two points emerge: First, the majority of society not immediately impacted by the sacrifices of conflict will remain distant from the reality of war. Second, even when the costs of conflict become discernable to the withdrawn population, the fact that the sacrifice is being absorbed by those who willingly volunteered somehow lessens any moral outcry.

I will submit that these are valid observations, and indeed have been borne out in America’s response to the Iraq war tragedy. However, simply because something exists doesn’t make it right. The collective response to the Iraq war on the part of the American people is not a result of there not being a draft, but rather poor citizenship. An engaged citizenry would not only find sufficient qualified volunteers to fill the ranks of our military, but would also personally identify with all those who served so that the loss of one was felt by all. The fact that many Americans today view the all-volunteer force not so much as an extension of themselves, but more along the lines of a “legion” of professionals removed from society, illustrates the yawning gap that exists between we the people and those we ask to defend us.

Narrowing this gap is not something that can be accomplished simply through legislation. Reinstating the draft is illusory in this regard. There is a more fundamental obstacle to the reunion of our society and those who take an oath in the military to uphold and defend the Constitution. Void of this bond, the inherent differences of civilian and military life will serve to drive a wedge between the two, regardless of whether the military force is drafted or volunteer.

Lacking a common understanding of the foundational principles upon which the nation was built, a citizenry will grow to view military service as an imposition, as opposed to an obligation. Simply put, one cannot willingly defend that which one does not know and understand. The fundamental ignorance that exists in America today about the Constitution creates the conditions which foster the divide between citizen and soldier that permeates society today. America must take ownership of its military, not simply by footing the bill, but by assuming a moral responsibility for every aspect of military service. The vehicle for doing this has been well established through the Constitution: the legislative branch of government, the Congress, which serves to represent the will of the people.

Congress, especially the House of Representatives, was never conceived of as separate and distinct from the people, but rather as one with the people, directly derived from their collective will via the electoral process. Unfortunately today, few Americans identify with Congress. An “us versus them” mentality pervades. This mentality creates the crack in the moral and social contract which exists regarding a citizenry and its military. Congress is responsible for maintaining the military. Congress is the branch of government mandated with the responsibility for declaring war. When the bond is strained between the people and Congress, the bond between citizen and soldier is broken. Congress, left to its own devices, will begin to view the military not as an extension of its constituents, but rather as a commodity to be traded and used in a highly politicized fashion.

@ TruthDig

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"Our commander in chief has disgraced the office he was entrusted with, and in doing so has severely damaged the foundation of American civil society as well as the institutions sworn to uphold and defend it."

Boy ain't that the truth. Look long enough and you might find more truth but beware of falsehoods masquerading as truth, theres plenty to fool the most ardent of seekers.

Rather than condemn the military, Scott shows how the military has been used to circumvent the very Constitution it swore to uphold through politicization and an over-amped executive branch. Good reading indeed.

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7 comments:

Saladin said...

DEN, the CIC's for the past 100 years have been a disgrace, which is why we are in the sinking boat we are in today. This didn't just happen in the past 7 years. Here is the latest outrage, another way to cull the useless eaters. When are people going to learn that the fed is NOT your freaking friend!
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http://www.thecompletepatient.com/journal/2008/4/25/pennsylvania-raw-milk-dairman-mark-nolt-arrested-and-release.html

Pennsylvania Raw Milk Dairman Mark Nolt Arrested and Released, Product & Equipment Confiscated

The State finally came for Mark Nolt, the Pennsylvania dairyman who refused to obtain a raw milk permit, and continued selling raw dairy products from his Nature's Sunlight Farm.

A constable dispatched by a Pennsylvania District Court served Mark with an arrest warrant this morning and brought him to the court, where he was ordered to appear May 5 for a summary trial before a judge. According to a clerk I spoke with at the court, Mark was arrested in connection with five citations dating from last July for selling milk without a license. He has incurred a total of $5,100 in fines and costs, she said.

According to reports from neighbors and the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, several officials of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture participated in the raid, and while Mark was being transported by police car to the courthouse, PDA officials confiscated $20,000 to $25,000 worth of dairy products and production equipment. Neighbors reported the farm had been closed and that a large group of officials had gathered, with videos prohibited. The clerk reported, at the time I spoke with her at 2 p.m., that Mark had already left the courthouse to return home.

I reported on Mark last August, when a group of ten state police and agents from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) descended on the 100-acre farm in Newville, and confiscated about $25,000 worth of Mark's raw milk products, along with packaging and equipment. Mark told me at the time that he had voluntarily given up his raw milk license because it prohibited him from selling the other raw dairy products his customers want, like butter, cream, and yogurt.

Mark's case is similar to that involving Meadowsweet Dairy LLC in New York, in that both Pennsylvania and New York allow raw milk sales, but adamantly oppose the sale of other raw dairy products. As I've reported, New York has gone after Meadowsweet owners Barb and Steve Smith with a vengeance. In the case of Mark Nolt, the state appeared to back off because he is a Mennonite who based his resistance in part on his religious beliefs. That has changed, as Pennsylvania now seems determined to close the case. But I would guess Mark will make the same argument to the judge that he made to me last August.
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This website has some very good info. Anyone who has read The Omnivores Dilemma will be familiar with Joel Salatin
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We’ll Sleep a Little Better Knowing PA's Raw Milk Safety Expert Trained on Hershey Bars

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture must feel on solid ground. The press person there was cordial and forthcoming to my requests for information. The only question he had some trouble dealing with was about why Bill Chirdon, the PDA food safety guy, confiscated a copy of the Joel Salatin book, “Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal” from raw milk farmer Mark Nolt during the PDA's raid on his farm Friday.

“We did seize one book,” the official told me, the Salatin book. “I don’t have any other information on that.”

When I pressed him that the seizure seemed weird, he said that Chirdon “will be glad to give it back to him on Monday” at the court hearing. But why was it taken in the first place? At that point, he resorted to euphemisms and legalisms: “It was taken as evidence. We can’t go into the details as to how it might be used.” Yeah, maybe they’re going to use it at PDA to supplement the new-employee orientation program.

Chirdon likely didn’t expect anyone to even notice his act of arrogance and condescension in swiping the book. It’s definitely not allowed for in the search warrant, which PDA sent me as well. That provides for search and seizure of product, equipment, containers, and records related to bottling and packaging, but not for books (or cream separators, either).

A few other items of interest in the search warrant:

--Chirdon claims dairy expertise because “I was a plant manager at Hershey Foods for twenty years and also the plant manager at Dean Foods for five years. In those jobs, I gained extensive experience in milk and dairy manufacturing, processing, and sales.” Yes, those sound like just the qualifications to help guide consumers in their dairy journeys. Those Hershey bars and Kisses are made from only the purest and freshest of dairy products, with a keen eye on nutrition.

--PDA on several occasions used its agents to go undercover and make purchases from Mark “of the raw milk on display, which was lab tested by PDA’s Food Safety Laboratory and confirmed to be raw milk.” I wonder if they had to call in the FBI for definitive confirmation.

--PDA seems to have chosen to look the other way for about eight months while Mark resumed selling raw dairy products after the agency’s last raid in August. “From 8/10/07 through 3/8/08, the Department did not possess evidence that Nolt was continuing to sell milk and manufactured dairy products made from raw milk…” Presumably PDA had bigger fish to fry, other raw dairies to shut down.
I know a number of readers think Mark Nolt is going at this correctly by not seeking legal representation, and claiming the state doesn’t have jurisdiction. I find it kind of frustrating, since an experienced lawyer could almost certainly find a number of flaws in not only the search warrant procedure, but the state’s approach to the entire matter. Which helps explain why the state is as confident as it is.
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The monster fed is out of control.

micki said...

World Hypoxic and Eutrophic Coastal Areas Worldwide Map

Eutrophication and Hypoxia in Coastal Areas: A Global Assessment of the State of Knowledge

Eutrophication -- the overenrichment of waters by nutrients -- threatens and degrades many coastal ecosystems around the world.

I'm just trying to lighten things up around here with a different topic. :-))

DEN said...

Like a ghost town in here, just saw a tumbleweed go by.

Maybe I ought hang a sign out front eh?

Spose I should be thankful for the peace and quiet.

Obama gets NC! Hill gets IN!

Figures!

DEN said...

I'm thinking of starting a new Olympic type event and call it the 'BlogBitchOlympics' (BBO for short).

See who could throw out the snarlingest bitch rant.

Pick any subject, what pisses you off most?

Rip on it, let 'er go!

C'mon America! How pissed off are you? Or does your doctor got you taking pills for that?

.

Saladin said...

DEN, you don't want to get ME started! But here is a clue

Baby Murdering Zionists say "We didn’t mean to kill them."

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3539098,00.html

Israel says it doesn’t mean to kill Palestinian children, yet they keep on dying

B. Michael
Published: 05.04.08, 10:20 / Israel Opinion

We really didn’t mean to do it. Again we didn’t mean to do it. We have never meant to do it. Yet as usual, even though we didn’t mean it – we hit them. We hit them 1,000 times already without meaning to do it. We have killed a total of 1,000 Palestinian children since the second Intifada broke out on September 29, 2000. A thousand.


We already have a special procedure for cases where a Palestinian child dies as a result of a misfired missile, a misaimed shell, an unfocused helicopter, or a distracted sniper. At first, we deny a child even died. Later we argue that his own people killed him. Later we issue explanations and excuses and scenarios that only become dumber with the passage of time.

Then comes the turn of the “investigating officer” (it will never be an investigating judge, a scrutinizing observer, or an inquisitive civilian. It’s always an officer) who proceeds to issue some nonsense that clears us of any wrongdoing. Ultimately, we declare that the evil Arabs are at fault, because they take cover among civilians.


Yet if the regular “it was a mistake” claim has already become completely ridiculous – because how many times can one say “we didn’t mean it” without making those words empty and hollow and cold – the argument regarding taking cover among civilians is truly infuriating with its chutzpa.


A state whose military high command and the office of its defense minister are located at the heart of a crowded city, and which sends civilians, including their women and children, to “expand the boundaries of the country” and whose bridgehead for occupation and takeover regularly hides behind babies and pregnant women, and which refers to its own armed soldiers who died in battle or were captured as “boys” – such state needs a very high level of nerve in order to blame others for hiding behind civilians and children.


And for those who wish to clear what is left of their conscience with the number of Israeli children killed by the Palestinians, here is a little information: Since the start of 2004, the Palestinians killed 11 Israeli children. We, during the same period of time, killed 452 Palestinian children.


But how can we even compare? After all, they mean to do it, while we don’t. (So maybe it would be better if we also start meaning to do it? Many children will be spared that way.)
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God help the poor Palestinian children if Israel should begin to purposely target them rather then all this "accidental" slaughter they seem helpless to prevent. All made possible by your tax donations.

DEN said...

Some civilian casualties should be expected.

Nation building is a messy business.

Like the Native Americans for example.

Nite!

Carey said...

Well, I arrived a touch late. It's been an interesting night. I just got home a little bit ago.

Indiana is still not called--looks like, well, I don't know.

I've been very busy and it won't ease up anytime soon.