By Douglas Herman
Lots of soldiers kill for their country. Lots more die. Untold millions, hundreds of millions probably, have died for their countries, and their countries were sadly swept away, even though they sacrificed their lives to save it. Likewise, millions of soldiers have died - on both sides of wars - and the struggle remained the same. The First World War. for example, was followed by the Second World War, and the same countries fought almost the same war, only a generation apart. And after each war, countries somehow survived. But the soldiers didn't.
A young man (or his parents) needs to ask himself: Would I kill a kid to preserve my country? That question should be asked of all soldiers who enter the military. Just as important is the second question: How does killing a kid preserve my country?
Would I kill a kid - each soldier should ask himself - would I shoot a woman? Would I ruin a house with machine gun fire? Would I burn a row of shops? How about an entire town? Would I level a town if my commander ordered? Would I napalm a town? (Fallujah was napalmed but US officals deny it). Would I fire into an unruly mob of civilians? Would I fire into an approaching car without knowing who is inside?
We put our soldiers on the spot in Iraq, and suddenly they must decide to do these things. Thus, we should not hesitate to ask Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Rove and Rumsfeld all these same questions, one by one (not that any news reporter would ever dare). Would you, sir, kill a kid for 'freedom,' even if that dead kid only wanted to be free of you? No, you cannot consult your lawyer; please answer the following questions. Would you torture a prisoner who was never accused of any crime? Would you smash down doors in the middle of the night, frisking and arresting frightened civilians in their homes? If our leaders answered YES to any of these questions, then we truly know the nature of our leaders. If they answered NO, then the US troops should be brought home NOW.
When you send other soldiers to kill kids, torture civilians, arrest falsely, demolish homes, you ask others to commit civil crimes--felonies--and commit religious sins. We ask our children to kill other children, plain and simple. We ask our sons and daughters to commit crimes that we ourselves would not do. Isn't that what has happened in Iraq? Tell me I am wrong. If so, if you can argue persuasively and morally that I am wrong, I will keep silent forever.
But ask yourself: would you kill your neighbor's kid because some rich person you never met ordered you to do so? Would you torch a school, shoot an ambulance rushing along the highway, shoot an approaching car and kill all the occupants, simply because someone gave a speech on democracy?
Would you protect the weak from bullies? Or would you prefer to bully the weak? Or would you torture the weak because a bully ordered you to do so? Would you shoot the weak, because a group of madmen told you to do so, and gave you no good reasons?
If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, please enlist now. Or send your son to serve his country. Because this is what is required in a country already defeated.
Douglas Herman served in the USAF during the Vietnam War. 1968-1972. When ordered to serve as a military policeman, he refused, as that would have required service in Vietnam. Instead he went to jail, the full account here. Soldier: Just Say No, I Won't Go