Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Awesome US law allows serving troops to criticise Bush's surge

Any troop increase over here will just produce more sitting ducks, more targets"

-So says Sergeant Ronn Cantu, who is serving with US forces in Iraq. His comments have been reported in the Wall Street Journal:

A group of more than 50 active-duty military officers will deliver a petition to Congress on Tuesday signed by about 1,000 troops calling for an end to the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

It is remarkable and, indeed, wonderful, that serving US troops are allowed, in an honourable way, to voice their opinions. Under the 1988 Military Whistleblower Protection Act, troops may communicate with members of Congress without fear of reprisal, even if what they say is reported outside congress.

Blimey! Once again, I find something in the USA which is absolutely awesome! I have also found plenty to criticise (e.g. Supreme Court decision on Bush in 2000, Deleting non-existent "felons" from the Florida electoral roll up to 2000 etc). But every once in a while, something in the USA constitution or legal framework just blows me away. I salute the good Old U.S of A! (...Stars and Stripes specially dusted off for the occasion).

(Don't go too over the top - Ed)


  1. Howdy (oh, come on - we're all American now). I just can't make my mind up on this. Troops should have a voice, certainly - a legitimate avenue to express dissent, dissatisfaction, horror.

    But they signed up to serve their country (or, more accurately, their government) and should do so without question. Yikes - that sounds harsh. It's just that I feel unease when I see members of the armed forces becoming (publicly) politicised. Chain of command - and unquestioning obedience - seem essential to me if an army is to have any hope of doing it's job properly.

    They may not like the job they are being asked to do - they may even find it morally repugnant (and who can blame them?) - but I just can't help wondering how this will aid military effectiveness in any meaningful way.

    Unquestioning obedience is, I must admit, an entirely alien concept to me. I cannot begin to imagine how you trick yourself into believing this is a good way to live. Good or bad, however, it is surely vital that serving soldiers adhere to it.

    I am always loathe to criticise armed representatives of any democracy because I feel that their jobs must be hellish enough as it is without some bleating coward - me - sniping from the sidelines. They are merely the gun-toting realisation of the X we mark in a box every four or five years. It feels almost grubby to criticise them (except, of course, when they traduce military ethics and torture people) - but this action, like I say, makes me feel rather uneasy. And I just hate the fact that it is in the public domain.

    I could go on and on - no, really - to try to articulate better what I'm trying to say. I think it has maybe come out all wrong. I've probably gone on enough, though.

    One thing - have you ever read the book by (I think) Greg Palast in which he forensically examines the deletion of "felons" from Florida's electoral roll? I can't remember the name of it - damn - but the first chapter left me reeling with despair. So whilst you are quite right to find much to love about the USA, you are also right to rail against the despicable travesty of justice that took place under Floridian skies in the not too distant past.

    What on earth am I going on about? Enough already.

    Kind regards etc

  2. A pleasure to hear from you again, PE. Sorry I didn't publish your last comment but I didn't publish any of the comments I received on that posting as it was rather tricky for me - nothing to do with the quality of your comment, which, as ever, was on the button.

    The integrity of the US armed services seems to have survived this Act - they are still known to have one of the most loyal sets of troops in the world, and perhaps this Act by treating them with some respect as human beings. I suspect there is a two-tier thing here - they express their view to the congressman or woman but remain as steadfastedly loyal as ever - it's a sort of pressure valve. I suspect the Act may have been influenced by memories of Vietnam, and an attempt to avoid a repetition of that quagmire.

    I haven't read Greg Palast's book, but I read all his Observer articles and his web site on the Florida voting debacle. 'The Best Democracy Money can buy' wa sthe book I think you are thinking of.

    Your comments are a real tonic!

    All the best

  3. The very same book, yes. The first chapter was the highlight, though, if memory serves. The rest was pretty much like Michael Moore with added quality control. And facts, come to think of it.

    No worries about the comment thing - I just assumed there must be a reason for you not to publish it and that's just fine by me. I never take offence at these things, so please don't be feeling the need to apologise.

    It looks like I'll never get round to posting on the UKIP thing - I just always get sidetracked. Suffice to say, then, that there is nothing - NOTHING - these people could do that would surprise me. They just give me the creeps.

    Don't be thinking I've gone all Liberal now - ha! as if - but UKIP's reasons for opposing European integration seem tinged with bigotry (to put it mildly). I don't like the idea either, to be fair, but for very different reasons.

    Hopefully we'll be able to do battle over this some time in the future. Politely, mind.

    Kind regards etc

    Oh - "a sort of pressure valve"? Yes, I'll go along with that.

  4. Thanks for your comment PE. I always think that things European look so different from the perspective of the Emerald Isle - so much more mature and less "us and them". But that may just be a naive impression from yours truly.

    All the best