Specialist Victor Agosto will not be joining Michael Adams, 20, or Dominic Brown, 19, or Grant Fraser, 22, among the dead in Iraq. He could have been one of the grim statistics, since he served there for over a year, but when the Army broke its contract with him, and then plotted to deploy him to Afghanistan, he decided that enough was enough.
Having known of so many young men like Adams, Brown and Fraser, who gave over their lives for nothing, Agosto was now ready to take a stand. After all, if he did not believe that he was worthy of more than just his 24 years on this earth, who would?
None of today's soldiers volunteer to be tricked as tools of liars, who work at preventing their contracted exit from the military, who deceitfully extend their tours of service via specious "stop loss" policies. These young men did not volunteer to be misled by their superiors, who break contracts and then threaten them with imprisonment.
Agosto decided he would not allow the trick to be played on him. He had luckily survived Iraq; why should he tempt fate and return from Afghanistan missing limbs or blind or in a body bag? How would his maimed body have protected an inch of American soil? Did any of those dead bodies piled up in Iraq protect even an inch of American soil?
At his hearing, Agosto expressed the belief held by many that the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan have not made the United States safer, but have actually had the opposite effect. Agosto is not a pacifist or a "conscientious objector," since he says, "I believe that sometimes war is necessary in cases of legitimate self-defense and legitimate resistance." But these wars are worthless, he claims, because, "We're just killing people and spreading suffering with no real justification."
Agosto has proven that he possesses higher morals than those preachy evangelical "patriots," whose years of unquestioned, sycophantic support of the Bush administration played a critical role in aggrandizing these meaningless wars and invasions. He laments the role he played in contributing to the "death and suffering" of others.
When it comes to war, morals and conscience, Rev. Chuck Baldwin, traditionalist minister and a staunch defender of the Constitution, has much to say. He describes how Christian morals took a backseat to the worship of George W. Bush. Professed Christians actually turned their faith upside-down, in order to accommodate political ideology. Baldwin writes:
When President George W. Bush was first elected back in 2000, I well remember the way Christian conservatives went gaga over him. They would deny it, of course, but it was more than hero worship: they acted as if he were a god. Life-size posters filled Christian bookstores. Religious broadcasters and televangelists swooned over him like 16-year-old girls used to swoon over Elvis Presley. Pastors invoked his name almost as a prayer. The Religious Right acted like they had died and gone to Heaven. In the minds of Christian conservatives, G.W. Bush could do no wrong.
In 2008, Baldwin wrote that Christians' worship of Bush had reached such a point that "they have come to accept just about any and all abuses against the Constitution, Bill of Rights, Declaration principles, and even our very way of life." Not only had they become "robotic foot soldiers for universal and everlasting war," they "see no harm in the decimation of individual liberties, as long as it is a Republican who is stealing them."
So, now that a Democrat has set out to steal their liberties and bring death to their sons in a continuing, unnecessary conflagration, what's a patriotic warmonger to do? Since their Republicanism is entangled with their Christianity, and the deification of their President is entangled with their Republicanism, where do these good evangelicals go from here? Will these fanatics, who have made warring for Bush part of Christ's imperative, be ready to do the same for the leftist ordained Obama? For the sake of everlasting war, will they join the Obama worshippers in what Rev. Baldwin called, during Bush's tenure, "Emperor worship?" He declares:
When our politicians use our military to interfere in the internal affairs of other nations, our military is abused. When our armed forces are sent off to war without a Declaration of War by Congress, our military is abused. When our politicians use our military for the purposes of nation-building, empire-building, and international politics, our military is abused.
In their fear of discouraging prospective recruits, the warmongering hypocrites in government do not want photographs published, either of dead soldiers, or of suffering ones. When, earlier this year, Associated Press photographer Julie Jacobson's photo of Marine Lance Cpl. Joshua Bernard was published in newspapers, government officials had the arrogance to condemn Jacobson and the AP. The photo showed Bernard mortally wounded by a grenade in Afghanistan, and obviously in great pain. Not long afterward, he died. He was only 21.
The intent, of course, is to sanitize these wars as much as possible. It's all right to kill these young men, who ought to be home dating, going to football games, and planning their futures, but it's not all right to let the world learn of yet another young life senselessly cut short – for nothing. Joshua Bernard was not protecting this country from any danger, nor are any other Marines and soldiers. As Paul Craig Roberts writes:
The Marine lost his life not because of the Associated Press and a photographer, but because of the war criminals – Gates, Bush, Cheney, Obama, and the US Congress that supports wars of naked aggression that serve no American purpose, but which keeps campaign coffers filled with contributions from the armaments companies.
Marine Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Bernard is dead because the US government and a significant percentage of the US population believe that the US has the right to invade, bomb, and occupy other peoples who have raised no hand against us but are demonized with lies and propaganda.
These "patriots," led by deceivers like the American Legion, claim that they seek to hide evidence of military deaths in a desire to spare the "feelings" of the soldiers' families. If they really cared about these families, they would be in the forefront of a campaign to bring these young men home.
Roberts declares, "This is where the US government stands today: Ignoring and covering up government crimes is the patriotic thing to do. To reveal the government’s crimes is an act of treason. ... Yet, they still think that they are The Virtuous Nation, the exceptional nation, the salt of the earth."
In 2003, George W. Bush had the nerve to warn the men of Iraq, who might come to the defense of their country against an impending U.S. invasion, not to obey any orders that would lead to "war crimes against anyone, including the Iraqi people." He had the further temerity to warn the Iraqis, who had never pronounced war against this country, and certainly had never tortured any American citizens, "It will be no defense to say, 'I was just following orders.'"
Yet, when an American soldier decides to take the same moral position as sanctioned at Nuremberg, he is told that he must always obey orders, and is threatened with time in a penitentiary, if he does not. The foreign soldier invading another's homeland is a hero, but the Iraqi soldier defending his own homeland is a terrorist. Remember the Nuremberg Principles, in which the U.S. persisted? Whatever happened to them?
Laurence Vance calls this "American exceptionalism at its worse and most deadly," and writes:
No soldier in any of the world’s other 193 countries is supposed to follow an order to fire a weapon at an American soldier, sink an American ship, shoot down an American plane, drop a bomb on American territory, invade American soil, mine an American harbor, occupy an American city, torture an American, or kill an American. Those that do are considered terrorists, insurgents, and enemy combatants, all worthy of torture.
But if an American soldier is ordered to launch a preemptive strike against Iraq, he should just follow orders. If an American soldier is ordered to bomb Afghanistan, he should just follow orders.
Social conditioning is powerful, yet you would think there are some doubts and questions that would break through even years of determined brainwashing. One would think that, before going off to slaughter members of an unknown population, you might reflect on just who is asking you to do this, and why. Writer Fred Reed,a Vietnam veteran, suggests to those eager "patriots," who blindly claim they must answer their country's call to kill, that they question whether or not it's their "country" that's calling.
Countries are abstractions, he says, it is people who put out the killing calls. People like the men who run the petroleum industry, or the men in those military corporations who want contracts, or those officers who want to advance their careers and figure they might as well give war a try. Reed writes:
So forty or so years after all the love-ins, the marches ... the Pentagon is at it again. Once more the jets howl over remote primitive countries, countries that did nothing to the US and couldn’t have, and promotions flow, and contracts, and generals demand more troops and more money to stop communism. Excuse me, terrorism. ... With the passing of years, one demon fades into another.
Speaking of armaments and contracts, Victor Agosto, while in Iraq, could not fail to observe what he calls "contractors making obscene amounts of money." He concluded that these wars will not be ended by politicians, because said politicians "are not responsible to people, they're responsible to corporate America." And the only way to make an impact on this powerful clique is for soldiers "not to fight in their wars."
The censoring of photos is not the only form of chicanery practiced by the military brass. An astute Specialist Jeff Englehart tells of the bribes designed to assuage the consciences of these young soldiers. "We get awards and medals that are supposed to make us feel proud about our wicked assignment," he is quoted saying in Refusing to Comply. As we've learned in other instances, many soldiers are not impressed by these shiny trinkets, and would prefer a return of their eyesight or restitution of an arm or leg, rather than the chance to show off some useless metal symbols churned out by a cynical military.
Victor Agosto, and Sgt. Travis Bishop (a veteran of Iraq who the Army failed to deploy to Afghanistan), and Pvt. Tony Anderson (who refused to deploy and is serving 14 months in prison) will not be blown away by angry fighters, as was 21-year-old Collier Barcus, who, in his military photos, still bears the face of a happy adolescent. These men will not become fodder, as have more than 5,000 Americans and hundreds of soldiers from allied nations, who bought the war and "patriotism" propaganda, or were too fearful to challenge the system and the society to which they might return.
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