I’ve complained about Truthout.org’s spamming, but I think I finally found the pearl in the daily steaming pile of offal they’ve been leaving in my inbox. The one thing that makes the whole hemorrhoidal experience almost worthwhile.
Dr. Camillo Mac Bica is a professor of philosophy at New York City’s School for Visual Arts. He is also a “recovering” Viet Nam veteran of the Marine Corps. He’s apparently transmogrified himself from a gung-ho Marine into a full-blown moonbat.
Dr. Mac Bica’s latest endeavor is a little program called “counter recruitment.”
Counter recruitment is a strategy for bringing attention to deceptive recruitment practices and to the immorality and illegality of the war in Iraq. Its ultimate goal is to discourage enlistment into the military, primarily through counseling and educating prospective recruits and by denying recruiters access to our schools and to our children.
As others have noted, it’s remarkable how so many critics of the war decry allegedly falling recruitment rates as a general lack of support for the war, while actively fighting the military’s ability to recruit by trying to deny them access to schools and other traditional venues. While I’ve noted that the higher-than-average re-enlistment rates of troops in Iraq as opposed to those stationed elsewhere kind of puts a dent in that theory, it also strikes me as odd that they don’t see the possible causative relationship between their actions and their conclusions.
Let me begin by saying that counter recruitment is motivated neither by hatred of America nor hatred of the military. Rather, it is inspired, first and foremost, by love, like that of a responsible parent who realizes that, besides praise and approval, sometimes love and responsibility require providing direction and even correction to a child who has gone astray. Further, it is motivated by an awareness of a moral and civic responsibility to oppose immoral and unjust wars, and by a sensitivity and concern for the plight of war victims and for the young men and women who are dishonestly recruited into the military and asked – no, required – to fight, kill and die unnecessarily.
One of my big beefs with many of the tenets of liberalism is the overweening paternalism it embodies. The notion that they are not only entitled to make decisions on my behalf, but morally superior for doing so gravely offends and insults me. It’s one area where I am wholeheartedly libertarian — no one has the right to make my decisions for me, especially when telling me it’s “for my own good.” If we never let our children make wrong decisions, they will never learn how to make the right ones. It’s a formula pretty much guaranteed to lead to a life of dependency and need — and that is anathema to freedom.
Although it is beyond the scope of this essay to argue the issue at length, the preemptive invasion of Iraq, a sovereign nation, is clearly a violation both of international and moral law, based as it was on misinformation, faulty intelligence and lies. There were no weapons of mass destruction. Saddam Hussein was not the mastermind behind the events of 9/11, nor was he harboring al-Qaeda terrorists. Further, since it was never intended as a war to save the Iraqi people from mass slaughter, there was no ongoing or imminent genocide. Neither can it be justified as a humanitarian intervention. It is a war not of necessity, nor of last resort, but of choice.
Ah, the old “I don’t have time to argue this point, but I’m going to just assert it as truth and expect you to accept it” bit. I think that a rather healthy (or, rather, unhealthy or just plain dead) number of Kurds and Shiites would argue that Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction, mass slaughter, or genocide — and no intentions of returning to any of them. The lie that Saddam was the mastermind behind 9/11 is only topped by those who say that the Bush administration ever tried to pass off that lie. And ties and connections between Saddam and Al Qaeda go back almost a decade, when President Clinton cited them in explaining his missile strikes in the Sudan and elsewhere.
As we begin our fifth year of occupation, with the situation in Iraq continuing to degenerate into sectarian violence and civil war, it is clear as well that a military resolution of the debacle is impossible and that our continued military presence in Iraq merely serves to exacerbate the turmoil and violence.
Even were there a glimmer of hope for a successful military resolution, to continue to wage, perhaps even to escalate, an illegal and immoral war and occupation to finish the job and achieve victory because it is in our national interest to do so, or because to admit a mistake or a crime of aggression would negatively affect our nation’s prestige and standing in the world and devalue the sacrifices of those who have already suffered and died, makes no moral sense. It is like arguing that a rapist must persevere in his assault, perhaps even escalate his violence and kill his victim and eye witnesses, because it is in his interest to eliminate anyone who could identify him, or because his reputation as a bully and a thug would be diminished were he to admit a crime of aggression and cut and run. Further, to continue to wage an immoral and illegal war despite recognition of its unjustness indicates a wanton disregard for the dictates of morality and international law.
His rapist analogy — besides being rather insightful into his own character — is interesting. The reason that many rapists don’t follow the escalation theory is the sliding scale of our justice system. It is the fact that, generally, we escalate the penalty for a crime to suit the severity of the offense. Rape is a hideous crime, but it is considered less harmful than murder — and hence the penalty is less. The motivation for the rapist to step up to murder is a gamble — to risk a greater penalty in exchange for a decreased chance of suffering any sort of punishment.
The difference is, crassly put, one of power. The rapist has to worry about the police. There is no “global cop” for us to fret over. Rather, when one is called for, we are most often asked to take up the badge. And the only restraints on us are our own laws, our own system of governance, and our own conscience.
Considering the alternatives (such as submitting ourselves to the “pure democracy” of the United Nations, where theocrats, tyrants, thugs, dictators, and sociopaths are given equal standing with free democracies), and general US history, I can live with that.
Such criminal behavior, arrogance and hypocrisy are the characteristics of a rogue nation. They bring no credibility, prestige or standing in the world – only disdain, animosity, hatred and righteous indignation. Nor do acts of aggression bring glory or vindication to those already killed or wounded in battle. Justice and morality require that an immoral war be ended immediately; that the aggressors possess the moral courage to acknowledge their crime; that they make retribution to the victims of their aggression, and apologize to the citizens of the aggressed nation and the rest of the world community for their transgression.
“Rogue nation?” “Acts of aggression?” I kind of thought those were the terms to describe Saddam’s Iraq, which defiantly flouted the terms of its 1991 surrender and twisted the humanitarian-minded (but soft-headed) “Oil For Food” program into a private cash cow that he used to spread bribes around the Security Council to get the sanctions lifted.
Given the dangerous world in which we live, maintaining a proficient and well-trained professional military is prudent. However, faced with the reality of increasing recruiter wrongdoing and unscrupulous enlistment practices; of a continuing, even escalating, illegal and immoral war; of a president who has contempt for, and arrogantly ignores, the Constitution, international law and treaties, the recommendations of his military leaders, the advice of Congress and of historical allies, and most important, the will of the American people, prudence must give way to the dictates of morality and justice. Prudence must give way to the dictates of morality and justice.
Huh? I’m confused. If it’s such a dangerous world, then wouldn’t being a “rogue” be a good thing? It seems like he’s contradicting himself here. “It’s a dangerous world, filled with bad actors and those who wish us harm, so we should try to be more like them and ingratiate ourselves with them.”
Consequently, when our beloved nation has lost its moral compass, when alternative means of conflict resolution have not been creatively explored, when our youth are aggressively recruited through deceit, misrepresentation and/or coercion to kill and be themselves killed or maimed unnecessarily, and the military becomes, not an instrument of national defense or deterrence, but of aggression, oppression and murder, it is not only permissible, it is morally required, that we counter recruitment.
“Lost its moral compass?” Sheesh, Dr. Mac Bica sounds like one of those bible-thumping Jesus freaks. I thought his was the side of “anything goes,” that things like “morality” were subjective at best and obsolete at worst, and signs of the patriarchal, judgmental, theocratic, hegemonic, phallocentric tyranny. I’m getting more and more confused.
This obligation to counter recruitment requires that we protect those most vulnerable, impressionable young people in our high schools and colleges and the underprivileged who see the military as their only alternative to poverty, crime and unemployment from being enticed, seduced, brainwashed and deceived into becoming complicit in crimes of aggression and cannon fodder for corporate war profiteers and opportunists. Therefore, we are morally obligated to remove recruiters from our schools; rescind the No Child Left Behind Act’s military recruitment provision which requires schools, in order to receive financial assistance under the act, to provide military recruiters with students’ contact and other information; and to inform prospective recruits and their parents of the realities of military service, the horrors of war, the immorality and futility of the war in Iraq, and of other educational options and employment opportunities available to them other than by joining the military. I doubt this information is contained within a recruiter’s motivational packet of hats, tee shirts, bumper stickers and violent video games.
Let’s see… does he bring up the “chickenhawk” argument? Almost. He focuses on the poor as “victims” of military recruitment, but apparently has no compassion for any of those exploited and conned from the middle and upper classes. He also doesn’t like the No Child Left Behind Act, and demands “equal time” to present his position — never mind that there’s no one preventing him and others of his ilk from doing precisely what he’s calling for. (Hell, on most college campuses, his ilk routinely outnumber (and frequently outshout) military recruiters.) What he wants, apparently, is for the recruiters to present their side of things, then his side as well — and make sure that his side is made far more compelling.
In conclusion, the duty to counter recruitment is not absolute but situationally relative. Given the unethical and unscrupulous practices utilized by recruiters to meet their quotas, the immorality and illegality of the Iraq War and occupation, the needless sacrifice of thousands of American soldiers and Marines, the unconscionable killing of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians, the expenditure of billions of taxpayer dollars that could have been better spent elsewhere, it is clear that counter recruitment is a moral and civic duty. To do anything less would be unpatriotic – nay, treasonous and morally irresponsible.
Darn, I guess I can’t question his patriotism. In fact, it seems that if I don’t agree with him, then I’m a traitor.
Well, as Patrick Henry famously said (you might not have heard of him, Dr. Mac Bica, but he was a fairly important person at one point), “If this be treason, make the most of it.”
Dr. Mac Bica’s piece is a wonderfully-written piece. It attempts to confiscate the standard rhetorical devices of his opponents and use them for his own ends — a tactic I have used myself, and it’s great fun.
But it’s no guarantee of success. As a persuasive piece, it’s pretty much a flop. It’s preaching to the choir — those who agree with him will welcome the fig-leaf of moral and ethical rationalizing, while those who disagree will find it repulsive at best, and infuriating at worst.
Count me firmly in the latter category.