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22 September 2005

Swallow the bitter pill: Bring back the draft. Stop atrocities and shameful scandals.

U.S. Army Private First Class Lynndie England, right, returns to the courthouse following a lunch break in her court martial. (Tony Gutierrez, AP)

Oh boy, I used to wear that uniform. So did my uncles who liberated concentrations camps throughout Europe 60 years ago.

As the Nazi military machine collapsed in early 1945, and enemy armies started marching into Germany from all directions, surrendering German soldiers and terrified German civilians desperately ran TO the American soldier's uniform. They knew they'd be safe and treated humanely. (If you saw a Russian uniform, that was a uniform to run FROM. Those guys were ANGRY.)

That's what the uniform of the US Army used to mean all over the world. People would see it and know they'd be safe and treated well.

That's not what the US Army uniform means around the world these days.

This young woman specifically -- there have been suggestions published that she is intellectually weak, and perhaps in another context, public school or a civilian criminal case, might be described as borderline retarded. Although she tried to plead guilty a few months ago, the Army judge did something unheard of: He rejected her guilty plea, entered a not guilty plea on her behalf, and insisted the case be heard before a full court martial -- partially because of concerns about her intellectual ability to understand the charges against her and assist her lawyers in her own defense.

So what's she doing serving in the Army?

Well, that's what happens when you have an All-Volunteer Military. Smart, intelligent, well-educated, competent people don't want to join the military. And they don't have to. They can get better jobs in the civilian sphere.

So the military recruiters have to lower their standards and dip into the bottom of the sludge pot to keep up the numbers of recruits. And yes, particularly in a state National Guard context -- NG will take anybody vertical with a pulse -- the military winds up with more than a few retarded people. Just like some bright people, retarded people can get enthused about being given nifty automatic weapons and live ammunition. Guns are cool, military guns cooler, the possibility that you might be allowed to shoot the guns at strangers and try to kill them -- hey, that's as cool as war movies on TV.

(The combat arms of the military don't demand very much of a young man intellectually. And if you're just too retarded even for infantry combat standards -- well, you die, and get replaced by someone a bit smarter. Or they make you a cook.)

When does the military find out that it's recruited a retarded person? When a scandal like the Abu Ghraib scandal hits the fan.

PatsPub has sent me Stuff about Switzerland's famous traditional universal military conscription. I'll find it somewhere and post some of it. He says it's in decline, that it's fallen on Hard Times recently.

One famous young Swiss man who began politically and publicly opposing Universal Conscription was Albert Einstein. I mention this only to point out that when you have a strong Draft/Conscription -- that's the kind of person who ends up in uniform: Einstein. I suspect that if Private Einstein had been ordered to pose for pictures holding naked prisoners on all fours on a leash, Private Einstein would have said, "Nein."

When I was in the Army, the Vietnam War was having more than its share of atrocities. (The USA didn't acknowledge that their enemies in Vietnam were subject to the Geneva Convention for the humane treatment of enemy prisoners.)

But all those atrocities became known to the American public and to the world because the Draft has filled the ranks with smart, educated guys who knew Right From Wrong and knew what to do when they were given orders that sucked. They called their Congressman and blew the whistle. Or they called the New York Times.

This week the Department of Defense announced they're lowering their recruiting standards again, and will now accept recruits who are high school dropouts AND have not subsequently earned a GED (General Educational Development) degree -- a flimsy paper equivalent of a high school diploma.

There are immediate war-making competency questions when the military is composed of retards and dropouts, and can't tap into the pool of young people with big IQs and some college education.

Every potential enemy of the USA is supposed to be terrified of the Shock and Awe of the American military.

Not if the US military is riddled through and through with borderline retarded people who just couldn't get real jobs in civilian life ... Shock and Awe becomes more Tingle and Awwww.

But atrocities and foot-shooting scandals like Abu Ghraib (and these morons took PHOTOS as souvenirs! You can see them all over the Muslim world's media!) -- this is not the work of smart well-educated drafted soldiers.

This is the work of dropouts and retards, the sludge we have to settle for with the wonderful All-Volunteer Army.

Let's just swallow the bitter political medicine already and bring back the draft.

I don't like war and I don't like the military, but as long as we're stuck with these things, let's marble the military at the lowest ranks with smart soldiers and sailors and marines and airmen. They won't stay any longer than they have to, but while they're there, we won't get nearly as much shit like Abu Ghraib. When the Arab and Muslim world thinks of the USA and its intentions these days, they see my old uniform running the prison at Abu Ghraib.


Associated Press
Thursday 22 September 2005 14:43 USA East Coast

Opening statements begin
in Lynndie England court-martial

FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) -- A former Abu Ghraib prison guard testified Thursday that Lynndie England was impressionable and under the sway of her soldier boyfriend, who prosecutors have described as the ringleader of detainee abuse.

Robert Jones, now a policeman in Baltimore, said the dominant presence of Pvt. Charles Graner trumped military rank to make him the de facto leader of the prison section where the abuse occurred.

Graner surrounded himself with people with weaker personalities, including England, Jones said.

Although Jones is a witness for the prosecution, his testimony may help the defense as it tries to convince jurors that England was trying to please Graner when she posed for the notorious abuse photos at Abu Ghraib.

Prosecutors allege that England's smiles and thumbs-up in the pictures show she was a willing, even eager, participant in the abuse of Iraqi detainees.

England, 22, a reservist from West Virginia, was charged with conspiracy, maltreating detainees and committing an indecent act. If convicted, she faces up to 11 years in military prison.

Graner, who England has said fathered her young son while they were deployed, was scheduled to testify as a defense witness. He was convicted in January and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

The prosecution indicated that its case will be built largely on the photos taken by Abu Ghraib guards in 2003, as well as testimony from several of the soldiers previously convicted.

England's defense team took a different approach than her co-defendants by opting for the all-officer jury, which was selected earlier Wednesday. Two Abu Ghraib guards from the Maryland-based 372nd Military Police Company were convicted by juries made up of officers and enlisted personnel, and six soldiers made plea deals.

In May, England tried to plead guilty to all the same counts she faces this week in exchange for an undisclosed sentencing cap.

But Col. James Pohl, the presiding judge, threw out the deal and declared a mistrial when testimony by Graner contradicted England's guilty plea.

Graner, a defense witness at the sentencing, said pictures he took of England holding a prisoner on a leash were meant to be used as a training aid. But in her guilty plea, England said the pictures were being taken purely for the amusement of Abu Ghraib guards.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


Blogger Sharon Secor said...


You and I have discussed the draft issue before and I really do understand the premise -- once everyone's children start dying, then there will be more of a public outcry. However, it just seems wrong for me to support a draft -- because I think the war itself is wrong -- as a tool to end the war. What will they do with the draft then? Keep it for the next bullshit war, I'm sure. How many more will die or be maimed in the time it takes to end this war? I don't support the war on any level... how can I support a draft? Sigh... a few weeks ago my youngest brother left for his second tour in Iraq. 82nd Airborn. Your blog is wonderful. Thanks for the time you put into it. Hope all is well for you and yours...

Best Regards...


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