Sunday, December 10, 2006

In Defence of Desertion: It's Perfectly Legal

When the next president takes the oath of office on January 20, 2009, the very first thing that he or she needs to do - even before delivering the inaugural address - is to sign an executive order granting a "full and unconditional pardon" to any and all service men and women whose consciences would not allow them to take to take part in the obscenity that is now being committed against the people of Iraq by the Bush administration. That is the only reasonable and humane thing to do. Deserting the military during a period where one's own country is a willing partner in what can only be described as genocide is not only justified and highly commendable, it is also legally defensible. In the aftermath of World War Two, a lot of German and Japanese military personnel were severely punished for horrific crimes against humanity. But of the thousands of atrocities cited during the Nuremberg trials of 1946/47, desertion wasn't among them - a little tidbit of information you might want to take note of.

And while we're on the subject of desertion, let us not forget this embarrassing little fact: Our esteemed commander-in-chief, the First Fool, George W. Bush, went AWOL from the Alabama Air National Guard in 1972. He'd have gone to Leavenworth but for the machinations of his father who at the time was the well-connected chairman of the Republican National Committee

Ah, connections!

The unpleasant fact of the matter is this: these kids were lied to. They were led to believe that Saddam Hussein was directly responsible for the carnage of September 11, 2001. When it became obvious to every thinking person on the planet that the only reason for invading Iraq in the first place was so that a handful of GOP-connected profiteers could seize the second largest oil reserves on the planet, what moral option remains for a person of conscience but desertion? Ask yourself this question: Knowing what you know now, would you have had a part in this? Would you have willingly enlisted in the military knowing that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were going to invade a country that had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11, based on false and misleading intelligence? I didn't think so.

Generals have the option of resigning in cases where the aspirations of the civilian leaders are at odds with their own personal moral compass - and more than a few of them have done just that. A regular GI does not have that luxury. It is part of the military code of conduct that soldiers in the field, whether they be buck privates or five star generals, must not - under any circumstances - engage in violations of international law. That the invasion of Iraq was indeed such a violation can now only be argued by the irrational - the president and vice-president of the United States, for instance.

It has been said in these pages more times than can be easily counted that this war is over - get used to the idea. There was never even a chance of winning it - none. The so-called "Iraq Study Group" has basically come to the same conclusion. Without coming right out and saying it, the implications are as clear as day and cannot be missed. When your doctor tells you that your condition is "grave and deteriorating", it's generally a pretty good idea not to make a down payment on next summer's vacation house. Green bananas are not recommended either.

For the second time in a generation, a half-witted Texan (Just what is it about Texas?) has forced American children into an untenable slaughterhouse. But, unlike the fiasco in south east Asia forty years ago, Iraq was doomed from the start. Don't forget that the Viet Nam conflict only gradually evolved, over a period of years, into a quagmire. With respect to Iraq, we stupidly dove head-first and smiling into a quagmire. As if that wasn't bad enough, this time 'round we're in the process of losing two wars simultaneously! I think the time is ripe for an "Afghanistan Study Group". In the midst of all of the attention that Bush's Iraq catastrophe has received, we've lost sight of the nasty little fact that that conflict is all-but-over as well.

Who was it that said that a people ignorant of their own history are condemned to repeat it?

It is estimated that more than eight-thousand people have fled the military in the almost four years since the Bush Mob committed the worst strategic blunder in American history when they signed off on the invasion of a sovereign nation that was a danger to no one but itself. Anyone who deserted during "Operation Iraqi Freedom" - excuse me while I vomit - were totally within their rights - both morally and legally; that is to say, desertion is in total compliance with international and domestic law. It is the duty of every good American to not only assist them in their flight but to urge them to do so. Should the situation present itself, any and all of them can expect help from me. Count on it. Get out while the getting's good, kids.

Let me say this for the record: I've been doing a lot of praying lately but you've got to understand that I am not praying for a victory for the United States in Iraq; I'm praying for God's will. Bring our men and women home. Now.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


At 10:18 AM, Blogger Tom Degan said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 3:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Tom, It was Georges Santayana who said "those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it". Even with a BS in history from Yale the First Draft Dodger failed to learn from history or rather failed to learn ANY history. As the wife of a 21 year veteran and a patriotic American I opposed desertion but since Bush's obcene Afghanistan and Iraq adventure I applaud anyone with the courage to desert. Iraq is genocide not war and I agree with the amnesty order.Why wait, let Congress pass a bill giving amnesty to all deserters. Don't blame Texas for GWB, he is a product of the eastern establishment.

At 4:32 PM, Blogger Tom Degan said...

Dear Wilma,
I know! I know! I do seem, at times, to be a tad too hard on Texas. For the record: I have family in that state who are born and bred Texans. Actually, I believe the First Fool's problem had more to do with the environment he grew up in than any state - be is Texas or Connecticut.
All the best,
Tom Degan

At 4:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Tom, Was not criticizing you, Bush is an unfortunate accident of history and Texas gets undeserved blame. We were at Ft Bliss when JFK was shot and loved Texas and Texans

At 12:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Tom,

Though I did not like Johnson at the time, as I was a young Texan and I really wanted a two party state; No one else would have gotten his domestic policy passed thru congress. He was a smart politician and probably would have become a republican, if he had been younger. GWB was a dumb governor and some people in Texas still think he walks on water. There are a lot of pretty wise people like Molly Ivins, who live in Austin. Texas one and only hippy city. By the way Molly is fighting cancer again.

At 7:22 AM, Blogger Tom Degan said...

Dear Sandra,
I had no idea that Molly Ivins was ill! I'll say a rosary for her. She is a national treasure - the greatest political writer since I.F. Stone. We can't lose her.
Tom Degan

At 9:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Tom,
One of your best writings yet. I agree with you 100%.

At 12:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Tom,
Extreme times call for extreme measures and I think desertion is appropriate under the circumstances. I wouldn't call it desertion, however, I would call it "the right thing to do", for so many reasons. I feel sad that so many young people feel thay have to express their patriotism by going off to war, like two young men I know personally. If only they would get involved in fighting to solve some of the problems we have here at home with the same energy and zeal. Politics everywhere has become so corrupt, yet that is where I think we have to start. Imagine an army of young people, instead of charging off to war, charging onto the political scene and turning it upside down. But they are sorely in need of mentors. I guess that's up to us...
Anyway, thank you for bringing up the "D" word; it needs to be spoken out loud now more than ever.
Sorry to hear about Molly Ivins,I hope she makes it. By the way, I didn't see hers or any other links usually available through your blog, usually to the right of your column. Can you get them back?

At 3:54 PM, Blogger Saltwater said...

Another great "The Rant", Tom. Thank you for this blog. It is one of the few blogs I read regularly. Some days I fear I will click the link and will get an "Unable to find this page" notice or something; then I imagine men in neat suits coming to pick you up in the middle of the night, just to "Ask you a ew questions". The proverbial knock on the door. As one the of Dixie Chicks said, (paraphrased) "You have the right of free speech- as long as you don't say it in public." So far, free speech has allowed us to read and you to write things that many people feel, but for one reason or another, do not speak out loud about.
But if ever there were a time for the ordinary citizen to speak out, it is now; we must put pressure on our legislators, or apparently they won't act on behalf of the will of the people. Specifically, most importantly, to get the U.S. out of Iraq. That's the only way to support our troops. Sending them Christmas packages is nice, but a real christmas present would be to begin literally bringing them home.

It is to your credit to have been speaking out from the time before it became fashionable,(as it almost has, finally).It's like that country song "I was country when country wasn't cool."

A comment about the desertion subject- I came of age during the Vietnam War, but I never deserted, since I refused to be inducted. I evaded the draft instead,twice becoming an expatriate to different countries, until after about two years I got a 1-Y deferment, and was free to live in the USA again.
So I have much sympathy for deserters, who face worse consequences than draft evaders ever did.
During Vietnam, it was the work of the returning veterans who founded Vietnam Veterans Against the War, that eventually had a large effect on public sentiment.
Similarly, today it is the troops and their officers who are in the most credible position to state reasons why they must, out of conscience and for solid legal reasons, refuse to participate in the war in Iraq.
God bless every one of them who has that courage to desert on principle, because I would think it requires as much, or more, courage to desert as it does to face combat.
And it is their legal right, and really their legal obligation.

We live on earth for our "three score and ten", living under Man's laws; but for those who believe in such things, we live for eternity under God's laws. Which laws, then, do we dare to obey, or dare to disobey?
P.S. That's really a thetorical question.

At 7:00 PM, Blogger Tom Degan said...

Wow! Thank you for that, Saltwater! I was 14 years old when they finally did away with the draft. As young as I was, I told my father that I would NEVER go out and kill anyone for ANY reason. Killing made no sense to me then. It makes even less sense now.

At 7:00 PM, Blogger Tom Degan said...

Wow! Thank you for that, Saltwater! I was 14 years old when they finally did away with the draft. As young as I was, I told my father that I would NEVER go out and kill anyone for ANY reason. Killing made no sense to me then. It makes even less sense now.

At 9:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey there, folks....
If you've had some difficulty posting a comment, I'm trying to remedy the situation. They've been sending me comments for "aproval" which is not what I intended. As far as I'm consernes, anyone can comment.
Hope this clears up soon...
Tom Degan

At 9:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 10:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Off topic- I'm sorry I have visited Texas many times on business over ten years. Of course I am oversimplifying but the state still has some serious cultural flaws. Gun control (lack of)and most executions are examples

"W"s swagger and irrational bravado is Texan not eastern establishment.

Dr. Rick Lippin

At 4:26 AM, Blogger sumo said...

Last Sunday I was at the Santa Barbara Rally for Peace and Impeach Bush and Cheney Day that was all over the nation. Elizabeth De La Vega was there giving a speech that was wonderful. 2 other authors and important speakers were was wonderful to see the unity of people of all ages. Surprisingly there were many "old" people there. I have some pictures up if you would enjoy seeing them. There was sadness too for some military families that came. It was a day of hope for sure.

At 12:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been enjoying your comments on AlterNet for some time and thought I would drop by and just tell you. I love it when my thoughts come out of another's mouth in much more succinct and logic and relatively controlled terms. Meaning I tend to rant, curse and cry. Anyway, thanks for posting and caring so much. How far is Goshen from New Rochelle and are your married??? (had to ask - please don't be offended, there aren't too many like you around these days...).


At 1:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Forgot to mention that when the draft lottery was announced, my parents sat my brother down at the kitchen table and asked him what he wanted to do. He said he would not kill anyone for any reason and that he was scared. They told him they would support him if he wanted to go to Canada and live with our sister who was in Montreal (and helping others to get out, too). We all sat in front of the television that night with him waiting for it to be over. He just escaped, by ten draws or something miniscule like that.

I cried standing in my office watching the vets marching up from downtown when they finally gave them their welcome home parade ten years later. It was so horribly sad that they had been cheated that way after all they had been through for us.

That was the government then. I wonder what they will do now, with our kids coming back from Iraq? Will they give them a welcome home parade or will they slink off to their lairs....

At 5:32 PM, Blogger Tom Degan said...

Thank you for the kind words Maggie! No I'm not offended(anything BUT) and Goshen isn't far from New Rochelle at all. The story about your brother was very touching. I'm very worried that in the New Year the First Fool will bring back the draft. Than would be a nightmare. I'll probably end up in federal prison if that happens. I will do everything possible to help anyone and everyone who refuses to fight.
Tom Degan


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