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Themes developing in comments threads around the blogosphere - and in the minds of many around the world:
1. On Aidan Delgado's claims that soldiers drove around in Humvees bashing coke bottles on Iraqi's heads: That figures, that's how those soldiers are. Remember Abu Ghraib?
2. On Abu Ghraib: You know those ignorant soldiers had to be working under orders.
In comments here I'm accused of defending torture for pointing out the guilt of those who did it. I'm also accused of denying that soldiers are capable of wrong doing in the Delgado case. I can't be both, but so it goes.
There's actually an interesting contrast point between the stories. In the Abu Ghraib case a young E4 discovered what was going on and turned the torture squad in to the chain of command, prompting the investigation. He risked a lot - obviously he knew what sorts of things the perpetrators were capable of, but he did the right thing. He seeks no publicity, but he's a guy who should be admired for what he did.
Contrast that to Delgado. Pretend for a minute he's not a liar, that what he claims to have witnessed was true. Rather than seek justice, he slinks off like a coward, applies for conscientious objector status, and begins making broad accusations. By not naming names he casts doubt on every man and woman in uniform.
But what he says isn't true. If it was, someone in Delgado's unit would have had the courage to step forward and put a stop to it, or told what was going on. Few soldiers are angels. Fewer still are criminals. But courage is common, and the rarest soldier of all is the cowardly liar.
By the way, I don't apply the term "coward" to his conscientious objector status. There's something to be admired in those who demonstrate the courage of their convictions, whether by telling the hard truth or by refusing to kill others, regardless of the cause. Delgado is a failure on both counts.
Desmond T. Doss is (he is still living) a 7th Day Adventist. This Christian denomination does not believe in the taking of life. Desmond Doss could have easily avoided service in WWII. Because of his upbringing and personal faithfulness, a request for CO status would have, most likely, been granted without question. Yet, Desmond T. Doss joined the Army, not to kill, but to save lives.
This quote discussed the character of a man, being vilified for his faith by those he served with:
So what do you do with a soldier who won't train on Saturday, eat meat, or carry a gun or bayonet? Doss' commanding officer knew what to do. Paperwork was initiated to declare him unstable, a miss-fit, and wash him out of military service with a Section-8 discharge as "unsuitable for military service." But Doss wanted to serve his country, he just refused to kill. He performed all of his other duties with dedication, was an exemplary a soldier in every other way. At his hearing he told the board, "I'd be a very poor Christian if I accepted a discharge implying that I was mentally off because of my religion. I'm sorry, gentlemen, but I can't accept that kind of a discharge." So the Army was "stuck" with Desmond Doss.
Name names. Are we to believe that even innocent Iraqi's aren't safe from the long tentacles of American commercialism? So determined are we to spread capitalism that American soldiers perpetrate bottled drive-by's and for good measure snap, "Here's your Coke, now smile, haji!" If this happened "routinely", why have the surplus of America-hating jounalists never reported or no photographer recorded? Delgado had a duty to report unnecessary violence. He didn't. Is he a liar or a patsy? I'll give you odds if you pick liar.
Regarding the NYT story and Delgado "enlisting on 9/11 before the terror attacks...
Sarasota, Florida and New York City are in the same time zone. If Mr. Delgado's patriotism really pre-empted the complete media satuaration that came with 3 planes crashing into US landmarks - two of them by the time the recruiting office opened at 9.00 am - we have to believe Delgado had his nose parked on the NG office glass, made it through and estimated hour-plus interview, Q & A and form-filling and didn't find out we were under attack? The NG office didn't have a radio, TV or a phone that frantically rang off the "Are you watching this!" hook?
Regarding Delgado's claim that soldiers quipped they "were going to Iraq to kill some ragheads"...
Does Delgado prefer his machismo in softer tones? Would he rather a soldier declare, "We're going to an area formerly known as Babylon to extinguish some gentlemen of Arab descent and incinerate their traditional head-dress."Posted by Chachi at May 5, 2005 07:27 PM
If a soldier stands by his convictions that an act is immoral and refuses orders, I'd be more inclined to believe him, and, more importantly, respect their decision, if they were willing to suffer the consequences of refusing those orders, and not cast wild claims about in trying to defend their decision.Posted by Keith, Indianapolis at May 5, 2005 08:51 PM
"2. On Abu Ghraib: You know those ignorant soldiers had to be working under orders."
If widespread abuse of Iraqi's was prevalent, more than 5% of the population would make "getting rid of the occupier" a priority.
(5% of the population surrounding Fort Bragg would like to 'get rid of the occupier'). Armies, by their nature, are somewhat more challenging than an office park as neighbors.
While the MSM may convince the left of widespread abuse. The people who count are the Iraqi's.Posted by Soldier's Dad at May 5, 2005 08:56 PM
The story about Desmond Doss was awesome. I'm going to print it out for my Dad to read. Puts to shame some of these pretenders out there claiming Consciencious Objector Status especially after they've been in for awhile.Posted by Toni at May 5, 2005 09:50 PM
I have a post at my blog on what this is all about. Delgado's pulling a Kerry, trying to inflate specific "incidents" (some of which may be true or partly true) into a pattern of abuse that is general and commonplace (which is clearly not true).Posted by Brainster at May 6, 2005 01:59 AM
Desmond Doss' story is amazing and inspiring.
His bravery and willingness to sacrifice his own life in battle are a fine example, as fine as you could imagine.
Yet, I am troubled that he was unwilling to kill.
He found his niche, and contributed to the war more than any soldier could reasonably hope to contribute to the war. But still, if nobody were willing to kill the enemy, we'd have an enormous problem on our hands.
Perhaps Doss felt this deep down inside, and his selflessness in battle was his way of compensating for leaving the dirty work of killing to others. Perhaps way down deep, he felt a little guilty about not sharing the burden of killing.Posted by Matthew Goggins at May 8, 2005 07:50 AM
in response to your comments on Cpl. Doss May i suggest that you see the documentry that has been made about him. it may help you better understand his beliefs. i personally hope and pray that i too might have just half of his courage if ever faced with what he braved. just my two cents. thanks