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Even though I will not offer moral judgments across the board, I will make judgments in certain categories of cases. Two major categories deserve condemnation in the strongest terms: those who torture other human beings, and those who diligently train to murder individuals who have never threatened them or their country and who, all too often, then do murder them. We correctly condemn those who offer the defense made -- and subsequently rejected -- on behalf of the war criminals of World War II, that they were only "following orders." But those war criminals were not soldiers for the Great and Good United States. For the sake of the latter, most Americans of all political persuasions will enthusiastically accept the Nazi defense. Our national denial is fully comprehensive, and contemptible in the extreme.
Should anyone join the military?
Here are seven reasons why I think that no one, regardless of his religion or lack of it, should join today’s military.
1. Joining the military may cost you your limbs, your mind, or even your life.
2. Joining the military may have an adverse effect on your family. The breakup of marriages and relationships because of soldiers being deployed to Iraq and elsewhere is epidemic. Multiple duty tours and increased deployment terms are the death knell for stable families.
3. Joining the military does not mean that you will be defending the country. The purpose of the U.S. military should be to defend the United States. Period. Yet, one of the greatest myths ever invented is that the current U.S. military somehow defends our freedoms. First of all, our freedoms are not in danger of being taken away by foreign countries; if they are taken away it will be by our own government. It is not a country making war on us that we need to fear, it is our government making war on the Bill of Rights. And second, how is stationing troops in 150 different regions of the world on hundreds of U.S. military bases defending our freedoms? It is not the purpose of the U.S. military to change regimes, secure the borders of other countries, or spread democracy at gunpoint. The Department of Defense should first and foremost be the Department of Homeland Security.
4. Joining the military means that you will be helping to carry out an evil, reckless, and interventionist U.S. foreign policy. For many, many years now, U.S. foreign policy has resulted in the destabilization and overthrow of governments, the assassination of leaders, the destruction of industry and infrastructure, the backing of military coups, death squads, and drug traffickers, imperialism under the guise of humanitarianism, support for corrupt and tyrannical governments, interference in the elections of other countries, taking sides or intervening in civil wars, engaging in provocative naval actions under the guise of protecting freedom of navigation, thousands of dubious covert actions, the dismissal of civilian casualties as collateral damage, the United States being the arms dealer to the world, and the United States bribing and bullying itself around the world as the world’s policeman, fireman, social worker, and busybody.
5. Joining the military means that you will be expected to unconditionally follow orders.
6. Joining the military means that you will be pressured to make a god out of the military.
7. Joining the military means that you may be put into a position where you will have to kill or be killed. What guarantee do you have that you will always be in a non-combat role? You are responsible for the "enemy" soldiers you kill as they defend their homeland against U.S. aggression. It may soothe your conscience if you attempt to justify your actions by maintaining it is self-defense, but it is hardly self-defense when you travel thousands of miles away to engage in an unnecessary and unjust war. You are responsible for the civilians you kill. Dismissing them as collateral damage doesn’t change the fact that you killed someone who was no threat to you or your country. You are responsible for every soldier and civilian you kill: not Bush, not Cheney, not Rumsfeld, not Gates, not your commanding officers, and not Wolfowitz, Feith, Hadley, Perle, Abrams, Tenet, Powell, Rice, and the other architects of the Iraq War. Bush and company will not be firing a single shot. You will be expected to do their dirty work and live with it the rest of your life. "Thou shalt not kill" is not just a tenet of the Judeo-Christian tradition; it is part of the moral code of every civilization, pagan or religious.
Should anyone join the military? Certainly not today’s military. And until a major change in U.S. foreign policy occurs, not tomorrow’s military either. So be all you can be: Just don’t be it in the U.S. military.