from Fort Lewis
November 3 - December 30, 2005
December 30, 2005
On 29 December 2005, NPR News reported on the situation in Iraq and what they said was in stark contrast to what some people are trying to portray as a great foreign policy success for this administration. The three most alarming points of the story were; Shiites and Sunnis are both claiming the entire election process was fraudulent as conducted, the electricity in Iraq is off 5 hours for every 2 hours it is on, the US is now getting 70% of the oil that Iraq is producing.
Whether or not you want to believe the facts, these are the results of our invasion and occupation of a country that had nothing to do with the 9/11 attack on our country.
We were lied to by an administration that is peopled by individuals who have stated their intent for world domination through the economic and military force of America.
At first, I bought this bill of goods, and went to that country thinking that I was doing what I had sworn to do - which was to defend America. But as I looked around and saw the lay of the land I realized that I had been lied to, and that everyone in the military was being used and abused by a group of people who had only their interests at heart and did not care whose lives they destroyed to reach their goals.
So, on this 30th day of December, 2005, I hereby declare openly my objection to this travesty of justice and the abuse of our military members' patriotism.
I object to the needless deaths of nearly 2200 servicemen and women, the needless deaths of over 30,000 Iraqi citizens, countless wounded and psychologically traumatized men, women and children as a result of these men abusing the authority they have been entrusted with.
I object conscientiously, morally and ethically to these actions, which are an affront to my humanity, honor and integrity as an American Soldier, husband, step-father to three great young adults, man and human being.
The United States Army decided to imprison me as a result of my recognizing the Truth and speaking out about it. I want the people responsible for that to know that I consider it an honor to be jailed for telling the Truth - far better than to be condemned to Hell for following a blatant lie that would result in my being an accomplice to such an atrocity.
---Sgt. Kevin Benderman - Conscientious Objector to War, and the lies, corruption and crimes against humanity that must accompany it.
December 28, 2005
The FBI has been monitoring the homes, businesses and mosques of Muslim communities throughout our nation with equipment designed to detect radiation. It has been accomplishing this while being parked in parking lots and on the streets near these various places. They are doing this under the guise of protecting us from terrorist attacks coming from elements of terror cells based in the US.
I personally believe this is going way over the line, as it seems to say that all Muslims could be suspected of plotting to wreak havoc in our country. To qualify this statement, let's go back to the bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City that was carried out by Timothy McVeigh. Why didn't the government order the surveillance of all the homes, businesses and churches of former military members, or caucasian Christians for sources of ammonia nitrate and fuel oil compound, which were used to blow up the Federal Building? Crazy, you say? Is it any more crazy than targeting all Middle Eastern Muslims.
We have got to get these knee-jerk reactions under control and start approaching this threat with a well-reasoned, thought out plan. Acting like small children who jump at every shadow and bump in the night is not the way to protect ourselves from any type of threat or danger. Reacting out of fear always causes many more problems than it ever solves, and it is no different when it comes to our national security.
--Sgt. Kevin Benderman - Prisoner of Conscience, Conscientious Objector to War.
December 26, 2005
We have been hearing many stories recently of the abuses of the eminent domain laws against citizens of America; in which corporations are stealing private property with the help of government agencies while this administration claims to be spreading freedom throughout the world.
We have been spreading democracy throughout the world for many years now, and yet it seems that we are continually losing our greater freedoms here in America through a slow process of attrition. Our government has concerned itself with the "freedom" of so many other nations, that it has neglected ours here at home. In some cases, it has outright trampled on our citizens' freedoms purposely.
How can we claim to be the shining beacon of freedom from tyranny when our government allows and assists corporations to steal from us the very things that set us apart from totalitarian regimes - that is our private property? This current guise is for local or state government to claim your property as condemned in order for developers to be able to offer you compensation for much less than the property is worth so that they are able to build condominiums or strip malls.
I ask you, America, is this the freedom imagined by the people who broke from England to found this country?
How can our nation's government tout freedom for everyone else in the world while it is so intent at crushing our freedoms with unlawful and unethical ideas such as the current abuse of imminent domain, the USA "UN-Patriot Act" and by spying on Americans without warrants?
Americans, if you do not stand up to make your voice heard regarding such outrages as these, I fear freedom as we understand it is going into the dustbin of history never to be had again. I am not looking forward to that, are you?
--Sgt. Kevin Benderman - Prisoner of Conscience, Conscientious Objector to War.
December 25, 2005
What Have We Learned?
by Kevin and Monica Benderman
Christmas comes but once a year. Why?
Maybe it is a reminder.
Churches are full on Christmas Eve. So many pay homage – listening to the story of Christmas. Year after year, children memorize the Christmas story, learn to point in the direction of the Star of Bethlehem, and surround a cradle full of hay to sing “Away in a Manger,” with hands folded sweetly to their chins.
The children grow and remember Christmas past as they watch their own child’s hands wrapped gently around the flickering light of one candle as “Silent Night” is softly echoed in a darkened sanctuary.
What have we learned?
A baby was born long ago, in a manger full of hay. His parents were not rich, but they loved each other and they loved their child. He was a child of God, a gift. God knew this couple would love their child, and so He trusted them to raise him well. This child grew, and lived his life the best he could. He learned from great teachers, and he walked the earth because he lived at a time when there was little other form of conveyance for a man of meager means. He loved, for he understood. He taught what he had learned, to all who would listen. He was a man of peace, for he knew that in the quiet of peace, the answers come. He understood that not all men saw as he did, and he was patient. He listened, and heard their fears, he watched them live and knew that if he could somehow show them not to be afraid, they, too, would find the peace he knew so well.
Men followed him, for they wanted what he had. Men revered him for the gifts he gave, and raised him to lofty heights for surely no man except a man of God could be so patient, so understanding, so kind, and so wise. Men praised him, and wrote stories about him. Before long, he was a hero. Everywhere he traveled people knew his name, and glorified him, and as the story grew, so did the image, but the man remained the same. He knew who he was. Just a man.
In time, he began to believe the stories, and he began to believe the power the stories gave through the idolatry of the men who followed him. When he needed it most, the peace he had felt, the patience that it offered, seemed to disappear and he too, became afraid. But in the silence that nature and time alone can give, he found himself again and knew that what was in his heart had never left him – it was he who had chosen not to see.
Humility returned as he remembered the gifts were only there as long as he realized in whose name they had been given.
Men feared him for the peace that surrounded him. Powerful men wanted to destroy him, for those who followed him seemed strengthened in themselves, and would not blindly follow the leaders of the day. The sins of man led to this man’s death. Fear – because this man lived in peace, and those who followed him did so without being threatened, coerced or bought. They followed him simply because he accepted them, walked with them, held their hand and listened – even when their differences were disfiguring, when they spoke in different languages, when they practiced different customs.
Somewhere tonight a child will be born. To his parents, this child will be a gift from God. A demonstration of God’s trust in them to raise the child well, to teach him to live in peace and to raise him to walk among men with humility, patience and consideration for all.
How is this child different than the one we honor in the manger? He is no different. He will have the same gifts given, and the same hopes shared. He will begin his life in the same simple way that all children are.
This child will be given teachers, he will have the opportunity to learn as he grows, and the chance to practice peace in his life.
He will be influenced by his world. Will it be a world of peace, a world where he can find the silence in which to learn to listen to his heart?
Will it be a world that will allow him to understand what he is given, and how to use these gifts? Will it be a world where he is accepted for who he is, someone who cares, who listens, who holds hands with those who are disfigured, who speak different languages, who practice different customs?
Will he learn the wisdom of moral courage when faced with threats from people who fear him?
If he does, will he be seen as an idol, someone to be revered and honored, someone elevated to such a standard that others will see him as a savior rather than just a man with enough faith in himself to live by his own beliefs? Will people look at his actions, and his life and walk away, afraid of what he is and the standard that he sets?
Will he remain strong in his principles, and humbled by the life he has been given?
Or will he forget where his gifts came from, and let the love of power, money, and fame interfere with the peace in his heart, and cause him to forget who he really is? Will his love of external trappings overshadow the real gifts, so that he becomes defensive and untrusting of anyone who does not think as he does? Will he allow material gains to define him, so that he lives in fear of their loss unmasking the shallow illusion of a man? Will he reach for security in the form of guns, chemical weapons, war; destroying anyone who threatens to reveal his weaknesses?
Every child born is no different than the child in the manger.
What have we learned?
December 11, 2005
The federal government has renewed the USA Patriot Act, and I personally believe that it is a sad day for America. The Act purports to make us safe from terrorists. But if we are fighting in the Middle East to keep them from coming here, why are we
subjecting our own citizens to such police state tactics?
I think this act is designed to control Americans, to keep us from gaining any sense of organization and cooperation among ourselves. If we are suspicious of one another, then we are not paying attention to what some politicians are doing that is unethical or blatantly illegal.
Have we become such a nation of whiny, helpless drug-ridden zombies that we are always looking for Big Brother to save us at the expense of our freedom and liberty? Patrick Henry, a genuine USA Patriot said "Give me liberty or give me death." Are we, as modern Americans, going to continue that call for Liberty, or are we going to pop a couple more Valiums and crawl back into bed?
I see little ribbons and signs everywhere saying "We Support Our Troops." I think real support for our troops is for our citizens to bring some of the same amount of dedication to defending our constitution through actions and not words, just as our soldiers have. Americans are going to have to stop expecting drugs and government to solve all of our problems.
Soldiers are going to need help from all citizens in defending our constitution, as defending it requires much more than just going to war in some far off land. It requires each and every one of us to first make sure that we have a good understanding of it, and then actively ensuring that the ideals of it are implemented into our everyday lives.
I don't think trying to escape from reality while we expect someone else to do all of our work for us is supporting our constitution or our troops.
I know that through our history, there have been some dark moments, but where has the attitude of "I am going to stand on my own to get what I need" gone? Has all the Ritalin, Valium and Prozac totally destroyed it? I sincerely hope it hasn't, for the sake of our future generations.
I will leave you with this quote from another genuine USA Patriot, Benjamin Franklin, "Those of us who give up Liberty, for temporary safety, deserve neither Liberty nor safety."
--Sgt. Kevin Benderman - Conscientious Objector to War
December 9, 2005
It has recently come to light that military personnel in Iraq are offering and publishing articles in newspapers and broadcasting news reports on the radio stations, and these actions are financed by the US military through the Pentagon. While this appears to be a harmless function of the US military, designed to promote the positive aspects of the military involvement in every day life of Iraqis, I believe that it leads to questions that should be answered in a cogent manner.
If we are on the right path, and we are doing the right thing for the Iraqi people, why do we have to publicly work to convince them of that fact?
Why do we feel it necessary to pay for these ads and broadcasts, and present them
as impartial news from local outlets?
Where is the integrity in these types of actions? Why are the people responsible for this not being asked these questions in a straight forward manner?
I met a lot of the Iraqi people during my 6 months in Iraq, and I didn't get the impression that they were a mindless group of helpless waifs that needed to be spoon-fed what to think about what they saw happening. You must understand, these people have not spent major portions of their lives in a Valium induced stupor in order to cope with a very different set of circumstances the way we face challenges here in the US. We should not expect to have them react in the same way as we do when it comes to actions that are plain to see, as it seems they are able to see a bit more clearly. I see a pattern developing out of this administration and it is disturbing.
First, here in the US, we were told that the "big bad Saddam" had his hordes of crazed, blood thirsty, maniacal Muslims at the shores of our country, each of them with an atomic bomb and WMD's. Now, certain elements of the military are going around telling Iraqi citizens just how great things are there; flowers are being planted by our soldiers, everyone is holding hands and singing Kum-Bi-Yah, and it is getting to be a little bit of a stretch of the imagination. It is way past the time of the Truth needing to be told.
To quote Thomas Payne - "An army of principles can penetrate where an army of soldiers cannot."
--Sgt. Kevin Benderman - Conscientious Objector to War
December 3, 2005
I am writing this to the people of America, with the hope that, if they feel they are being misled and misrepresented by this administration, they will urge their friends and family to contact their elected representatives in order to inform them that these types of actions are not the will of the American people.
The outrageous distortions of our constitutional laws being perpetrated as the facts, in an attempt to subjugate a sovereign nation in order to control that nation's mineral wealth makes me physically ill.
The real slap in the face is the fact that they are using our armed forces to do this under the guise of protecting us from terrorists. The audacity of these people to play on the patriotism of our sons and daughters who proudly wear the uniform is disgusting and beyond contempt in my book.
Stipulating the armed forces to achieve their personal goals of record profits for major oil corporations is the most underhanded and vile abuse of the trust our sons and daughters placed in the people that are behind this fiasco.
Even more so in light of the fact that the VA is currently cutting benefits of veterans even after those veterans have given an arm, a leg or their mental and emotional health to fulfill the agreement they made out of a sense of duty, honor and country.
When our sons and daughters are giving so much of themselves, and some of them are making the ultimate sacrifice, is it asking too much for these oil companies to sacrifice some of their profits?
Are these record profits being made to honor the sacrifice of our sons' and daughters' lives?
Or, are they being made off of their blood, sweat and tears?
Is it really patriotism to stand by people that are breaking the laws of our nation or are we just being manipulated by people who are concerned only with their personal agenda?
I will close this with a quote from Theodore Roosevelt: "Patriotism means to stand by the country, it does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official."
--Sgt. Kevin Benderman - Prisoner of Conscience, Conscientious Objector to War.
November 28, 2005
Kevin asked that I locate the words to this speech given by FDR in 1936, his “I Hate War” speech, and see that they were posted in this blog as Kevin’s statement for this week. For both of us – this speech says all that we could say about war and how it destroys. FDR – truly a man whose words should be respected, but sadly, we believe have been forgotten.
In Peace – Kevin and Monica Benderman
Franklin D. Roosevelt – Chatauqua, NY – 1936 – “I HATE WAR”
We are not isolationists except insofar as we seek to isolate ourselves completely from war. Yet we must remember that so long as war exists on earth there will be some danger that even the nation which most ardently desires peace may be drawn into war.
I have seen war. I have seen war on land and sea. I have seen blood running from the wounded. I have seen men coughing out their gassed lungs. I have seen the dead in the mud. I have seen cities destroyed. I have seen 200 limping, exhausted men come out of line—the survivors of a regiment of 1,000 that went forward 48 hours before. I have seen children starving. I have seen the agony of mothers and wives. I hate war.
I have passed unnumbered hours, I shall pass unnumbered hours thinking and planning how war may be kept from this nation.
I wish I could keep war from all nations, but that is beyond my power. I can at least make certain that no act of the United States helps to produce or to promote war. I can at least make clear that the conscience of America revolts against war and that any nation which provokes war forfeits the sympathy of the people of the United States. . . .
The Congress of the United States has given me certain authority to provide safeguards of American neutrality in case of war. The President of the United States, who, under our Constitution, is vested with primary authority to conduct our international relations, thus has been given new weapons with which to maintain our neutrality.
Nevertheless—and I speak from a long experience—the effective maintenance of American neutrality depends today, as in the past, on the wisdom and determination of whoever at the moment occupy the offices of President and Secretary of State.
It is clear that our present policy and the measures passed by the Congress would, in the event of a war on some other continent, reduce war profits which would otherwise accrue to American citizens. Industrial and agricultural production for a war market may give immense fortunes to a few men; for the nation as a whole it produces disaster. It was the prospect of war profits that made our farmers in the west plow up prairie land that should never have been plowed but should have been left for grazing cattle. Today we are reaping the harvest of those war profits in the dust storms which have devastated those war-plowed areas.
It was the prospect of war profits that caused the extension of monopoly and unjustified expansion of industry and a price level so high that the normal relationship between debtor and creditor was destroyed.
Nevertheless, if war should break out again in another continent, let us not blink [at) the fact that we would find in this country thousands of Americans who, seeking immediate riches-fool's gold-would attempt to break down or evade our neutrality.
They would tell you-and, unfortunately, their views would get wide publicity-that if they could produce and ship this and that and the other article to belligerent nations the unemployed of America would all find work. They would tell you that if they could extend credit to warring nations that credit would be used in the United States to build homes and factories and pay our debts. They would tell you that America once more would capture the trade of the world.
It would be hard to resist that clamor. It would be hard for many Americans, I fear, to look beyond, to realize the inevitable penalties, the inevitable day of reckoning that comes from a false prosperity. To resist the clamor of that greed, if war should come, would require the unswerving support of all Americans who love peace.
If we face the choice of profits or peace, the Nation will answer—must answer—“we choose peace.” It is the duty of all of us to encourage such a body of public opinion in this country that the answer will be clear and for all practical purposes unanimous.…
We can keep out of war if those who watch and decide have a sufficiently detailed understanding of international affairs to make certain that the small decisions of each day do not lead toward war, and if, at the same time, they possess the courage to say "no" to those who selfishly or unwisely would let us go to war.
November 22, 2005
Why has a group of people that deliberately misled not only Congress, but the American people as well, started showing signs of anger and extreme stress over the fact that these same American people are starting to realize the extent of just how badly they were misled?
The president is now running into locked doors in a desperate attempt to escape the truth. The vice president has resorted to saying that a 27 year veteran in the Marine Corps., who has received a Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts from action in Viet Nam, has no spine, and mental failure. The president has started making remarks that members of Congress agreed with this illegal war based on the same intelligence he had.
I think we should examine this a little more closely in light of the Downing Street Memos, statements from ambassador Joseph Wilson concerning the lack of evidence about Iraq's attempt to obtain enriched uranium, and various other sources that disprove this administration's claim that Iraq was involved in the September 11th attacks on our country, having plans to overthrow this country. How can the claim be made that Congress had the same information? All of these revelations came out after the war started, much later, and even after this information came out this administration continued to attempt to discredit the people who provided the information. I have to ask, is this having the same access to enough pertinent information to declare a war? I don't think it is. Furthermore, I don't believe that members of Congress would make the same decision if they had access to the same intelligence the administration had.
Facts are there for anyone who wants to see them for themselves. The 911 Commission report states that although there was an attempt by Al Qaeda to negotiate with Saddam Hussein to form an alliance, Hussein flatly refused to be associated with Al Qaeda.
Facts show that Iraq did not attack the US in any way whatsoever. This shows that what we did was launch an aggressive, pre-emptive war against a nation that had done nothing to provoke us into a self-defensive posture.
Facts will show that this is an illegal war as based on our laws. The Nuremberg Tribunals, that came into existence after World War II as a result of Nazi aggression against neighboring countries, specifically state that no nation can legally wage war against another unless it is for self-defense. The US, along with our allies, contributed to drafting this document after the Nazi defeat to ensure that no one would ever again conduct pre-emptive military action against a sovereign nation. It was considered, agreed to, and signed into our laws in perpetuity by our Congress with no objection from any sector of our government. It is still in effect to this day.
Facts will show the conduct of this war to be illegal as well, as evidenced by the order of torture of enemy prisoners of war from the highest levels of the Department of Defense. Again, this nation's government considered and adopted as a law of this nation, the Geneva Conventions, in 1949, which has specific rules that outlaw torture of any type to any captured combatant. I qualify these statements, which prove these documents are the supreme law of the land, by highlighting our Constitution which states that any treaty or other such documents agreed to by us, shall become the Supreme Law of the Land.
I respectfully but strongly urge all Americans to get copies of these documents and see for themselves what they contain. After studying them I have reached the conclusion that the initiation of the war was illegal and the conduct of parts of it are illegal as well. This has damaged America's credibility and our standing as a responsible world citizen.
I believe it is time for all Americans who hold true the ideals set forth by our Constitution to stand and be counted - not for what is politically expedient, but for what is morally right.
November 20, 2005
Congressman John Murtha, a veteran from the Viet Nam war, came up with a well reasoned plan to start withdrawing our military from this debacle that the war in Iraq has been shown to be. Immediately after his introducing this proposal, elements of government that would not benefit from a military withdrawal unleashed a vile personal attack on a decorated 27-year veteran. I was enraged that someone even had the audacity to call this man a coward.
Congressman Murtha received a Bronze Star and TWO Purple Hearts from action in Viet Nam. I don't know about you, but from my standpoint, this man is the exact opposite of a coward. Congressman Murtha, I salute you for your service to our country, and I salute your courage to stand up and make a well thought out, common sense proposal to get us out of this ill-conceived and completely unnecessary war in Iraq.
I respectfully urge all Americans to stand with Congressman Murtha and demand that his proposal be entered into the Congressional Record and be given a fair and open hearing so that it may be judged on its merits. The entire manner in which his courageous and wise
proposal has been handled is a disgrace and an insult to Americans' intelligence.
Please contact your elected representatives and let them know that you will not stand for such an obscene twisting of facts heard in the public statements made about Congressman Murtha's proposal, or such vile and disrespectful treatment of an honorable decorated war veteran. The American people need to send a message to Congress, we will not tolerate such political grandstanding with the lives of our service members at stake.
November 18, 2005
Recently I've heard quite a few stories about funding cuts for the VA, and I thought to myself, "Why would an administration that claims to be so concerned about the welfare of our service members allow these cuts to be made?" And then I thought, "We should be ensuring that our veterans are given the same dedication to their long-term healthcare concerns as they brought with them to their tour of duty."
This current war is generating so many people with new demands for healthcare, both mental and physical, that it is incomprehensible to me that the VA budget would be cut. Especially in light of the fact that there are still thousands of veterans from the Persian Gulf
War, Viet Nam, Korea and World War II that require and depend on the VA for healthcare.
Why are these VA cuts considered even remotely acceptable? The people who have served and worn the uniform of this country proudly are deserving of so much more than this type of disgraceful treatment. No veteran of combat from any of these wars should ever have to go to bed wondering if they are going to get the treatment they need and have earned at so great a cost to themselves. It enrages me to hear our government reneging on their end of the agreement made with our service members who have kept up their end even as it cost them an arm or a leg.
November 16, 2005
Civilization or Third World Country? Democrats or Republicans? Conservative or Liberal? Immigrants or Native Born? Old or Young? Black or White? Labels, labels, labels. I have had it up to here with labels.
What will it take for people to realize that each and everyone of us on the planet are human? As humans all of us have the same basic needs - food, shelter and a desire to live in Peace in our homes.
I want to know why we have allowed our differences to obscure our humanity? Across the world we have played up our differences to the degree that many nations spend large amounts of energy and resources developing vast arrays of weapons systems to destroy each other over differences in religious beliefs, cultural and political beliefs, and many other beliefs that do not justify the death and destruction that we have brought down on ourselves for far too long. How many more wars, deaths, and waste of our resources are we as humans going to tolerate before we realize that we are not reaping any positive benefits from what we have sown with the seeds of war and massive killings over the years?
Humanity has killed millions of each other throughout our centuries of existence and we continue to do so, all the while saying we are doing this to bring about peace. How colossally stupid a statement to make and yet many people actually believe that without war there would be no peace. People have actually made this statement to me with a depth of conviction that was rather alarming. This past century saw the most devastating destructive force ever created unleashed on mankind with the event of the atomic bomb, and yet we still pursue the institution of war as though it were a viable way to solve our problems. I don't know about you, but I think that if the destruction of two cities and over two hundred thousand people with relatively small bombs is not enough to wake people up to the fact that our destructive capabilities are not the answer, then I don't have the slightest idea what will. But I sincerely think that we should start seriously reconsidering our approach to reconciling our differences because the policy of war is not the answer.
"Man must put an end to war, or war will put an end to Mankind." (John F. Kennedy)}
November 6, 2005
When I decided to become a member of the Armed Forces of the United States, I took an oath to defend the constitution and the ideals it set forth. In this document is a clause that states that any treaty that the United States enters becomes the Law of the Land. The Geneva Conventions is such a treaty. The United States, along with numerous other countries, worked to establish the principles of the Geneva Conventions, then agreed, in perpetuity, to abide by the laws that the Conventions set forth with regard to the treatment of POW's.
During Basic Training all initial entry soldiers are required to take a course covering the Geneva Conventions and the Law of Land Warfare, which specifically prevents any service member from torturing or mistreating enemy prisoners of war in any way whatsoever. I learned to respect the fact that the professional soldiers of the United States were being instructed to perform their duties using a higher standard as being the only way to perform when dealing with captured enemy soldiers.
Upon reaching the rank of NCO serving this country, I was required to memorize the Non-Commissioned Officer's creed, which gives non-commissioned officers a strict outline of how you are to conduct yourself as an NCO in the United States military. One of the lines in the creed is "I will never compromise my integrity nor my moral courage." After going to Iraq and seeing for myself that there were no WMD's present, and learning that we weren't really there to protect or liberate the Iraqi people, I realized that in order to follow the laws of this nation, and if I were to maintain my integrity, I could no longer take part in a war that at best was based on erroneous information. Now it is becoming more and more obvious that it was based on an outright lie. With all of the information that continues to come out concerning the statements attempting to justify this crime against humanity, I made the decision to not compromise my integrity by filing for status as a Conscientious Objector to War. I decided to no longer participate in a war that was based on lies, which makes this war a crime against humanity, as defined by the Nuremberg Tribunals.
There was no other decision for me to make, as I would not have been able to look myself in the eye if I had returned to Iraq as a combatant in an illegal and immoral war.
November 5, 2005
Solutions to the situation we now face are very desperately needed. What can we do to solve the problem of war that is now in front of us? The first step, I think, is to start getting assistance from other Middle Eastern nations to help provide security for Iraq, and training for their army. How do we accomplish this? The most important thing we have to do, as citizens of this country, is to inform our elected representatives that solutions such as this is what we want them to start working towards.
We are going to have to make them understand beyond a shadow of a doubt, this is the standard we expect them to meet. We must show them that we will not let them shirk their responsibility, by making a determined effort to hold them accountable for doing what is right in this current situation. This is a crucial step that must be taken in order to solve the problem we now find ourselves facing.
Once we get this immediate crisis under control, we, as American citizens, need to take a good long look at ourselves, and ask ourselves why we have become so apathetic and fearful of how our country is being run.
The US Constitution gives us, the citizens, the ultimate responsibility for keeping this country running with the idea of doing what is right. For far too long we have given up that responsibility. We have allowed the employees of the United States to become our caretakers, and as a result, our elected representatives have become our quasi-parents.
I, for one, do not want my government to act as my parent or guardian. But I do expect them to perform the job they were hired to do within the guidelines of our constitution.
There are certain individuals who are on the payroll currently, who feel that they are not governed by the laws of this nation. It is our duty, right and responsibility to remind them of the fact that not one person is above the law. If we had continuously ensured that all of the laws were being followed, then this current situation would have never arisen in the first place. Now that it has, and if we truly believe it is the wrong direction for this country to be headed in, then stand up, call your hired employee, and inform them that we expect them to take the correct action, and come up with a viable plan to use to bring other countries on board to assist us in solving the problem that we have created in the Middle East.
In the future, we must not allow complacency and apathy to rule our actions. We cannot allow the atmosphere to grow where we expect our elected leaders to be our saviors, or our parents, that can solve all of our problems, paying no attention to their actions nor holding them accountable for the misguided ways in which they conduct our business.
Blind faith may be a viable condition of religion, but it will never work when it comes to politicians. We must actively take part in our government to ensure that we do not become involved in things that are not allowed by the laws established through the principles set forth in our constitution.
November 5, 2005
We have witnessed the events unfold at the Abu Ghraib prison complex in Iraq. We have seen the destruction of hospitals and other civilian structures in the city of Fallujah. We have heard the reports of the bodies of dead combatants being set ablaze as a method of taunting the Al Quaeda.
We hear our president calling for the torture of EPW's and other combatants as a perfectly acceptable way of obtaining information, in spite of the fact that this country signed an International agreement to abide by the Geneva Conventions permanently.
We hear a senator calling for a reaffirmation to follow a higher path all the while this administration is attempting to drag us down to a level of government authorized brutality never before practiced by the United States.
During World War II and the Holocaust against the Jewish nation, we were appalled at the treatment of human beings at the hands of a mega-maniacal politician, and yet it seems as though we are attempting to take a page out of a very disturbing period of history and incorporate it into our current life.
It seems that, if we are going to announce ourselves as a shining example for the rest of the world to emulate, then we had better ensure that we are above board in all of our actions, or else we are all just a bunch of hypocrites. I, for one, will never find these types of actions tolerable from my country, and I do not understand how a nation that claims to base itself upon the teachings of Christ can sit by idly while this happens.
Where is the moral outrage from our moral majority?
As our government calls repeatedly to make this type of mindless brutality legal, I have heard one voice in Congress calling for the rejections of such outright inhumanity. Are we going to add our voice with his to renounce this lunacy, or are we going to become willing accomplices in crimes against humanity?
November 3, 2005
In order to eliminate war from our lives we are going to have to stop glorifying it in the eyes of our young people through the use of pop-cultural media such as video games and movies. I have seen so many different movies and video games of this genre that I can't even count them all. Not one of these can even come close to the real horror that war is. As a matter of fact, these video representations all seem to portray war as a tour filled with glamour and honor. Speaking from firsthand experience, I can honestly say that nothing can be further from the truth. War is the most inhumane and disgusting endeavor that mankind participates in. The modern weapons systems that are now assisting in our pursuit of annihilation of one another have to be seen in action in order to understand just how destructive to the human body they really are. Video games and movies cannot do this realistically.
It may seem cliche, but war is moments of extremely tense waiting for shooting to start followed by long hours of monotonous and tedious activity designed to pass the time. After the initial adrenalin rush that comes when you cross the berm and you settle into the daily routine of existence in a war zone, you experience every emotion that humans possess and you see things that are able to sicken you to the core.
I cannot fully explain how I felt when I stood at the edge of a mass gravesite and saw the rotting bodies of women, children and old men.
I can't explain the anger I felt when the equipment we took with us failed and caused a First Lieutenant in my battalion to get killed.
No one can understand the anger I felt when the First Sergeant gave orders that caused the soldiers I served with to be seriously injured for no good reason.
No one will ever know the anger that went through me when the Company Commander gave orders to shoot children when they were doing nothing more than tossing pebbles and laughing.
Let's stop glorifying this madness and show it for what it really is - Man's greatest inhumanity to Man
--Sgt. Kevin Benderman - Conscientious Objector to War
Click here for Letters from Fort Lewis, 8/12/05 - 10/31/05