5/31/07

Bush and the GOP Fucking with the Soldiers

And it is all political.

I still get the occasional call from recruiters, but lately those calls have been fewer and farther between. I have repeatedly and respectively told them over and over again that while I support the troops, and I even considered reenlisting for Afghanistan, that I cannot reenlist because I am against the illegal invasion of Iraq. In other words:

I am a war protester.

I tell them that I am doing everything I can to end the war in Iraq and then I thank the recruiter for their service to their country. You see I question the legality of the war in Iraq, and more importantly, I question the rational for having gone to Iraq to begin with.

It was all a pack of lies.

I am lucky, as I am a veteran that has long since passed my separation date (in 2001) and received my official honorable discharge in 2005. There are many veterans and soldiers that risk serious harassment and possibly even charges if they question the logic of the Iraq war, never mind protest it.

Here are 2 examples of this.

Part 1
Marine veteran faces hearing on discharge
status for wearing uniform at protest rally


An Iraq war veteran is scheduled to appear before a military panel Monday for wearing his uniform during an anti-war protest.

Marine Corporal Adam Kokesh was photographed with several other veterans wearing their fatigues while attending a protest last month marking the forth anniversary of the war. After superiors spotted his picture in The Washington Post, Kokesh was told he might have violated a rule that prohibits troops from wearing uniforms without authorization.

Kokesh finishes up his reserve commitment in less than three weeks. The military panel will decide whether to change his discharge status from "honorable" to "other than honorable."

Here is a man that served his country honorably and separated from the service. Unfortunately for him, and I don't know if he knew this, when you initially separate from the services you are still bound contractually for a total of 8 years service. Suppose you get out after a typical four year stint, you are still not officially discharged for another 4 years.

When I separated in 2001 I was still bound by many rules and regulations that the Army could have nailed me with. Up until around mid 2005, if I had worn any Army uniform (even one of the Army PT uniform T-shirts I wear so often to this day) to a protest, or political activity of any sort I would have been in the same deep shit this soldier is in now.

Unfortunately for Kokesh, and even though he had separated from the military with an honorable discharge, that is not the one that counts. He is 3 weeks away from his second, the real, honorable discharge that you need to end your 8 years of service. Kokesh faces the very real possibility that he could lose all of his benefits, have to repay the thousands of dollars he earned and used for school and, the worst of all, he could have some sort of "Less than honorable" discharge tag added to his service records. That can be the kiss of death on many job applications.

This sucks in so many ways because you can be god-damned certain that if he had been at a rally supporting the war they would not be fucking with him right now. Just think how many times bush (Mission Accomplished!) and the GOPeeons have used these soldiers as props themselves.
The video conveys the impression that somewhere in Iraq, a soldier is having his mission and Christmas tarnished by weak-willed Democrats. Here is a frame from the ad and the actual picture of the soldier, taken two years ago. As shown below, the soldier was really watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

The doctored photo of a soldier as GOP political prop


Bush has distorted images of U.S. soldiers before. During the 2004 campaign, he got into trouble when one of his ads, titled "Whatever It Takes," doctored the images of soldiers. The ad showed a crowd of soldiers listening to the president. But some of the faces appeared several times in several different places within the same crowd shot, the result of an attempt to increase the number of soldiers appearing to listen to Mr. Bush.

What neither party has done—until now—is inject the idea that the other party is undermining our troops overseas. The RNC is pimping a mute and unnamed soldier not just to defend the Iraq war but to imply that Democrats are white-handkerchief-waving cowards who want the United States to lose.

The absurdity that all of these soldiers can be freely politicized by the President and the GOP but have no right to a voice of their own...

Part 2

I am not going to comment on this soldiers situation beyond saying that I share many of the same questions this soldier is asking, as do millions of other Americans. The difference? I have an honorable discharge securely in my files already. He doesn't.

After 20 years in service the military is fucking with him. Not for any public statement he has made, or any public action he has ever taken, but simply because he has questions that have never really been answered thoroughly and honestly and he mentioned it in an Email to other soldiers.

Since joining the Army in 1987, he had risen to the rank of sergeant first class, serving in both Gulf Wars, Bosnia, Rwanda, and Korea. He ended up with shrapnel scars and a Purple Heart and, back in the U.S. after his last tour in Iraq, a job as intelligence analyst at Fort Sam Houston.

He couldn’t have foreseen that one e-mail could derail his career and put him on his way out of the Army. One e-mail, speculating about events that millions of people have questioned for the last six years, was all it took.

Sgt. Buswell wants to know: What really happened on 9/11? And he said so in his e-mail. In the few paragraphs of that August 2006 message — a reply not to someone outside the service, but to other soldiers — Buswell wrote that he thought the official report of what happened that day at the Pentagon, and in the Pennsylvania crash of United Airlines Flight 93, was full of errors and unanswered questions.

“Who really benefited from what happened that day?” he asked rhetorically. Not “Arabs,” but “the Military Industrial Complex,” Buswell concluded. “We must demand a new, independent investigation.”

For voicing those opinions in an e-mail to 38 people on the San Antonio Army base, Buswell was stripped of his security clearance, fired from his job, demoted, and ordered to undergo a mental health exam. (Via Raw Story: Read on!)

I am a firm believer that as long as soldiers bear the responsibility of performing their duties honorably, duties that he or she must perform under the most hazardous and strenuous of conditions imaginable, they should be allowed to represent their personal and political views and beliefs whether they are in or out of uniform. They should be given the option of not showing up to some presidential propaganda effort if they do not want to be a propaganda prop. They should be allowed to voice their views publicly on the wars that they have to fight. In or out of uniform AND without fear of reprisals.

They are, no doubt, the people with the eyes directly on the objective. As close to the situation as anyone can get and they can add to the debate with legitimate concerns that should always be considered. Both tactical and/or political considerations.

4 comments:

The Mad Liberal said...

Hey, thanks for the link, I will check it out.

Did you see some of the foul comments about how this guy is a traitor, and he should hang and all that garbage? So aggravating. He fought 'for our freedom' right? So why isn't he free? Makes my head spin. These people make no sense at all.

Connecticut Man 1 said...

"He fought 'for our freedom' right? So why isn't he free? Makes my head spin. These people make no sense at all."

It is one of the greatest ironies of military service. One of the things I strongly believe in, and a reason I served, was to support the Freedom of Speech that this country allows for. I found it ironic when, in basic training, they gave the first talk about how soldiers give up that right to freedom of speech when they signed on the dotted line.

It is flat out wrong.

a rose is a rose said...

is it a usual circumstance for one to be separated from service in one year and not receive their (HONORABLE) discharge until four years later?

Connecticut Man 1 said...

No ... it is the norm. Like I said, it is an 8 year contract. If you only serve for 2 years you are still obliged for 6 more on the IRR. I served for 4 years (until 2001), so I got my official discharge in 2005.