Our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan


Our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan are war criminals. This can be a difficult thing to deal with if you are a soldier (but of course it's even harder on the victims of the criminality), but knowing and then acting on the truth is how otherwise moral men and women will get themselves right. Seeking forgiveness from the victims (as is now common among Vietnam veterans) might be part of some sort of absolution too, I don't know.

Unfortunately, many if not most on the left, in deluded 'solidarity' or strategic thinking that is neither, don't want to state the plain fact of what the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and occupations -- and their shoot first get garbled translations later standard operating procedures -- makes our soldiers. How do we get them to wake up and stop doing what they're doing, by lying to them and putting all the blame on the policymakers and superior officers? Leftists and pseudos have been discussing all this at Lenin's Tomb, where my most recent comment is the following:

I want soldiers who are war criminals to be aware of that fact. One of the main reasons is because a lot of the time when they know that truth they refuse to fight (or refuse to enlist if they get aware before joining the military). The 'our poor naive soldiers' rap is fine (although their life typically is better materially than the lives of similarly situated guys/gals who chose not to enlist and are employed in minimum wage jobs without much of a future), but not at the expense of the truth.

Our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan in fact are often amenable to the awful truth, they already mostly know the truth in a not fully coherent way, and many believe confronting the truth is part of the cathartic process for 'getting through/over' the psychological pain caused by the guilt for what they have done to many Iraqis and Afghans. The antiwar left just needs to fully inform them and perhaps provide an overarching narrative.

I personally would forgive anyone who goes AWOL once they become fully aware of what they are actually doing, but that's just me. For example, I'm not sure whether the relatives of Afghan or Iraqi civilian victims would want to do the same. Their right to justice for the killing of their compatriots in an illegal war is also something to weigh.


As we all more or less know, perhaps even the working and middle class high school students who are the primary targets of military recruiting, aggressive war is illegal and immoral. Uninvited invasion and occupation of sovereign states is illegal and immoral. The restrictions on belligerent occupations are severe and it is standard operating procedure for U.S. soldiers to violate them against the opposing army, POWs, and civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan.

By the way, how similar is the following, written in March, 2004 by Stephen Zunes about President Bush's rationale for the Iraq invasion, to President Obama's justification for our war of occupation against Afghanistan?

President Bush now declares that a successful American-led pacification of the anti-occupation resistance in Iraq would be an "essential victory in the war on terror." In linking the legitimate international struggle against al Qaeda with the illegitimate U.S. occupation of Iraq, it becomes possible for the administration to justify the president's determination to "spend what is necessary" in controlling this oil-rich country and to depict those in the United States and elsewhere who oppose the occupation as being soft of terrorism. . . .

There appears to be no evidence, however, that those Iraqis currently fighting U.S. occupation forces in their own country actually want to somehow sneak into the United States to kill American civilians. Indeed, no Iraqis have ever been known to commit an act of terrorism against Americans on American soil.

BTW 2, to the many honorable veterans, particularly of WW II, I salute you on Veterans Day.

Tags: Afghanistan, Iraq, U.S. soldiers, war criminality (all tags)



See comment on your Nov 10th

Somehow it got detached from here and attached there.

This post on this day is simply an attempt to launch a flame war. Or an incredibly bone-headed move. Either way a waste of precious bandwidth and page space.

by Bruce Webb 2009-11-11 08:56AM | 0 recs
Hillary & Barack: 'War on Terror' back on!
The diary at http://www.mydd.com/story/2009/11/10/157 5/8660
That's what this diary is a lament over. It's an important moral question, one that on any day imperial war crime supporters would make a flame war over.
by fairleft2 2009-11-11 01:42PM | 0 recs

Watch what happens when a disgusting comment turns into a disgusting diary!  It's like a Chia Pet turd sandwich.

by thatrangeofshadesbetweenredandbluestuff 2009-11-11 09:20AM | 0 recs
Re: Our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan

We will always be fighting stupid wars as a nation if the anti-war movement continues to marginalize itself with crap like this.

You can tell all the self-proclaimed truth you want, but it makes no difference if everyone just tunes you out.

by Steve M 2009-11-11 10:08AM | 0 recs
The antiwar movement already marginalizes itself

because it refuses to call war crime war crime and instead 'supports the troops' who are killing Afghans and Iraqis in an illegal and immoral occupation.

by fairleft2 2009-11-11 01:25PM | 0 recs
Actually Code Pink

Code Pink regularly refers to soldiers as war criminals. I know they've said it to me before, so despite their "honesty" they seem to be marginalized.

Also, it must be asked, do you consider Cindy Sheehan's son a war criminal?

I notice too fairleft that you have in the past used gory pictures of dead and injured soldiers on this site to advocate an end to war...if these people are war criminals, why should we feel bad about them being killed and injured?

by ND22 2009-11-12 01:15PM | 0 recs
I'll tell you what's a crime . . .

this diary.

This is one of those times I wish we had a HR function for diaries.

by jsfox 2009-11-11 10:18AM | 0 recs
I wish we could HR substance-free comments.

by fairleft2 2009-11-11 01:29PM | 0 recs
lol wut

What international war crimes treaty or treaties, specifically, has been violated by every single soldier in Iraq and Afghanistan?

by JJE 2009-11-11 01:07PM | 0 recs
Willingly participating in and supporting

aggressive wars (and wars of occupation) in Afghanistan and Iraq. The most important war crime according to the Nuremberg Tribunals.

by fairleft2 2009-11-11 01:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Willingly participating in and supporting

Is that why every last soldier in the German Army was prosecuted at Nuremberg?

by Steve M 2009-11-11 01:54PM | 0 recs
Re: Willingly participating in and supporting

To a similar comment I made the following response, to which I've added a parenthetical comment:

I don't excuse the policymakers and they probably should suffer much greater punishment than the end `executors' of their war criminal policies. In fact, typically the soldiers have not been prosecuted, but under international law of war that doesn't mean they're not guilty. But it is a requirement under the law of war to disobey an illegal order unless you would suffer death or severe injury by such a refusal. It is simply absurdly inefficient and not common-sensical to prosecute and jail tens or hundreds of thousands of soldiers, so war crime prosecutions focus on the order givers and policy makers.

(You'll recall the Nuremberg Tribunals never declared Third Reich soldiers innocent lambs, though it was recognized that if the price for disobeying orders is death or severe injury that is a valid excuse for not disobeying such orders. That's an important distinction between the morality of the actions of U.S. soldiers and Hitler's: ours at worst simply suffer imprisonment, and fear of prison time has never been recognized as a valid excuse for obeying orders to commit war crimes.)

And no, ignorance or being buffaloed into believing lies is not an excuse for war criminality. We still are required to obey international law of war and the Geneva Conventions even if we think the WMD and terrorists are everywhere. One of my points, though, is that I think many or even most of our soldiers in the field know something is horribly morally wrong with what they are doing. They feel it in their guts and in their hearts. There's not as much ignorance as you think.

by fairleft2 2009-11-11 02:17PM | 0 recs
that's great

but it doesn't support your contention that rank-and-file soldiers are criminally liable for participating in wars of aggression under international law.

by JJE 2009-11-11 04:17PM | 0 recs
;criminally' liable but likely would not be


by fairleft2 2009-11-11 06:01PM | 0 recs

if you want to argue the wars/occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan are unjustified wars of aggression resulting in illegal occupations, and therefore unlawful, fine.  There is a term for this under international law: jus ad bellum.

But even assuming that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are not justified under international law I don't think it follows that any soldier who participates in such a war is thereby a war criminal.  The legality of the conduct of a war, whether by states or individual soldiers, is a separate concept from jus ad bellum, and is called jus in bello.  "Justice to war" vs. "Justice in war."

Thus. whether an individual soldier is a "war criminal" depends on only on whether his/her conduct is jus in bello and the question of the justification for the war itself is not really relevant.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laws_of_war #Applicability_to_States_and_Individuals

Moral objections to the wars and participation in them are probably best made straightforwardly, without hyperbole about broad war criminality by rank-and-file soldiers.

by JJE 2009-11-11 07:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Ok

My only problem with your comment, JJE, is your use of the word "probably" in the last sentence.

by Nathan Empsall 2009-11-11 08:04PM | 0 recs
Enabling and/or executing aggressive war,

illegal occupation, and occupation violence that violates various provisions of the Geneva Convention are war crimes. The policymakers, order-givers, and those who carry out the orders are all guilty. This is not complicated, but apparently I have to provide an analogy: the crime boss who orders a hit is a criminal, and the underling who carries out the hit is a criminal.

by fairleft2 2009-11-12 06:32AM | 0 recs

it is not the case that "those who carry out the orders are all guilty."  It is, in fact, more complicated, and I tried to explain the complication to you.  If you know of some provision of international law that supports your position, please provide it.

Your mob analogy fails, and actually demonstrates the fallaciousness of your argument, because murder is illegal whether it was ordered by a mob boss or not.  As I've demonstrated, that is not the case w/r/t soldiers in armed conflict.

by JJE 2009-11-12 02:13PM | 0 recs
Spitting On You In An Airport

For the love of God, on Veteran's Day? On the day we remember those who liberated concentration camps, freed us from Britain, and helped end slavery?

My little brother is a United States Marine, you're advocating a Constitutional crisis if you want soldiers to ignore policies they don't like set after they enlisted, and you can go f*** yourself, you arrogant, self-righteous sack of chickenshit.

by Nathan Empsall 2009-11-11 07:03PM | 0 recs
Re: Spitting On You In An Airport

If your brother is enabling or executing wars of aggression or a blatantly illegal occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, I feel much more sorry for his victims than I do for him having to suffer my accusation. I think most people should feel as I do, and I wonder why they pretend that they don't.

by fairleft2 2009-11-12 06:34AM | 0 recs
You missed the final sentence?

BTW 2, to the many honorable veterans, particularly of WW II, I salute you on Veterans Day.

Why would any rational person associate the liberators of the concentration camps with our neo-colonial troops executing aggressive wars against impoverished peasants?

by fairleft2 2009-11-12 07:05AM | 0 recs
Re: I have a sentence for you....

It warms my heart, as a veteran, to know that I helped for a time (in some small way) to keep the world safe. I actually enjoyed fairleft's entirely inappropriate comments, for with them he has once again clearly distanced himself from polite society - a fact which can never be emphasized enough - and it is so much more powerfully convincing when it comes in the form of a confession.

On behalf of all my fellow veterans, living and dead, I'd like to formally request that fairleft have his discredited MyDD persona 'banned', thus requiring him to invent a new user name before he comes back to do the same old shit over again.

by QTG 2009-11-12 08:05AM | 0 recs
Re: I have a sentence for you....

Polite society says nothing about what our soldiers are actually doing in Afghanistan and Iraq? No, a society in denial of its most evil deeds and those who are doing them says nothing.

by fairleft2 2009-11-12 09:23AM | 0 recs
Re: I have a sentence for you....

 When did you serve your country? Other than here, I mean. Other than your selfish cowardice, what qualifies you to judge those who serve in part to protect your chicken ass?

by QTG 2009-11-12 11:54AM | 0 recs
You mean the WW II veterans

who incinerated civilians in Dresden, Hamburg, Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

So it was ok then?

by ND22 2009-11-12 01:16PM | 0 recs

should I surrender to the Hague now or are you going to turn me in?

by ND22 2009-11-12 04:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Thanks

It would be a start if you wrote a letter to the editor of an important news publication recognizing the error of your ways. I think that might discourage other young men and/or women from emulating your morally wrong choice.

by fairleft2 2009-11-12 06:36AM | 0 recs
You want me to APOLOGIZE

for joining the military? You wanna know why people think liberals hate the military? You are why.

by ND22 2009-11-12 11:05AM | 0 recs
Re: You want me to APOLOGIZE

fair left is not a liberal, he's a provocateur posing as what he and his ilk think it is to be a liberal. Why he is tolerated while real liberals are banned is one of the great baffling mysteries around these parts.

by QTG 2009-11-12 11:57AM | 0 recs
A liberal loves his/her country and fellow

countrymen. The diarist is not representative of liberalism.

by louisprandtl 2009-11-13 10:37AM | 0 recs
The censored title of this diary

Original title: Our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan are war criminals

Realistically it is an inflammatory topic, and so an accurate and informative headline is necessarily inflammatory.

by fairleft2 2009-11-12 07:03AM | 0 recs
Re: The censored title of this diary

It's also against website rules. If you don't like the rules, don't use the website. It's that simple.


by Nathan Empsall 2009-11-12 07:06AM | 0 recs
Inflammatory is one of those amorphous words

that would never be considered a constitutional restriction if this were a public forum. But, of course, at pwogressive sites, we're very strict about proprietors' rights not to be considered owners of public forums.

by fairleft2 2009-11-12 07:55AM | 0 recs
Re: Inflammatory is one of those amorphous words

No one ever said it's a Constitutional thing.

People look for certain types of communities. It's good to have places where we can have free-for-alls, but it's also good to provide people with the more specific forums they seek. If it's a free-for-all you seek, there are places for that. Others seek elsewhat, and this is the place for them. You get yours, they get theirs. Deal with it.

by Nathan Empsall 2009-11-12 09:57AM | 0 recs
All my responses to comments above censored

There needs to be a free and civilized discussion about the wrong choice of deciding to serve in the U.S. illegal war and occupation forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. Not that the 7 comments above were a start, but my responses certainly were. Now disappeared into 'cyberspace'.

by fairleft2 2009-11-13 08:41AM | 0 recs
We don't GET to choose

we join the military for various reasons, but we don't get to choose when to serve, if our government sends us, we go...we get to choose our governments, and if we don't like where we go, we get to change the government, but we don't get to choose to serve or not.

by ND22 2009-11-13 05:43PM | 0 recs
Sure you get to choose

Sure you have a choice. You can evade the draft, you can go to jail, you can join up...there are choices. That's 3 choices so far.

People are not owned by governments. But if you think you are,  then you believe you have no choice but to do what those in authority tells you.

by stu Piddy 2009-11-13 08:52PM | 0 recs
Um, there is no draft

by ND22 2009-11-14 08:16PM | 0 recs
Re: Um, there is no draft


There has been, there may be...it doesn't apply only to America. All soliders are not American soldiers.

Many nations have mandatory service....those people have choices.

Um....the whole world is not um....America...there are other nations in the world too. They have a draft and they have soldiers.

by stu Piddy 2009-11-15 05:44AM | 0 recs
War is for Dummies

All world leaders thoughout history have been war criminals or just criminals. Being a world leader is one of the lowest forms of human expression throughout history. T

The purpose of world leaders is to keep people down, confused and unaware. That's human history.

Soldiers are people who get used. That's what they are for. All the hoopla about remembering them, cherishing them, calling them "brave young fighting men and women" has become so automatic that no one questions what the hell solidiers have been doing throughout human history.

At the behest, entrapment and under the hypnosis of their "leaders" they have kept humanity from developing awareness and injured the psyche of generation after generation and given those generations an psychic inheritance that borders on psychosis.

War is for dumb people. It's instituted by dumb people....world leaders and executed by dumb people.

We have all been made dumber by war and it's affectation of "glory".

by stu Piddy 2009-11-13 02:04PM | 0 recs


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