is an easy way to assess foreign policy initiatives such as making defense
commitments or sending American troops on foreign missions. First of
all, determine the objective. Then ask yourself these two questions:
Would I be willing to die to achieve this objective? Would I be content
to see my children die to achieve this objective? If the answers are
no, then oppose it."
March 16, 2000
working in Mississippi in the mid-seventies, I spent some time roaming
through the Delta and visited the national cemetery in Vicksburg, where
Ulysses Grant’s forces once defeated a southern army entrenched in the
bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River in as gory a siege as has ever
taken place on this continent. It is a beautiful place but overwhelmingly
somber given that it is filled with the remains of 18, 19 and 20-year-old
boys. I have visited other military cemeteries in the U.S., England,
Israel and Russia. It’s always the same: Countless lives destroyed because
of leaders and belief systems that demonize others and sacrifice their
young in the name of some mad goal or the other. Dead by virtue of the
blindness, crimes, egotism and opportunism of their secular and religious
leaders, the interred are testimony to the anguish created by economic,
ideological and religious wars.
am reminded of this when I read contemporary revisionists proclaiming
that the Vietnam War was indeed just and worthwhile. Or, when I read
of fevered talk emanating from hawks in Washington, Beijing, Taipei,
Serbia and Kosovo and too many other places about how ready they are
to go to war generally with someone else’s children, of course.
Or, in trying to reconcile myself to Israel’s seemingly endless war
with Palestinians and especially its war of attrition in Lebanon. This
latter fiasco led Hannah Kim to ask in Ha’Aretz [Feb.15, 2000]
"why did so many families send their children off to those killing
fields for nearly 18 years without questioning the initial megalomaniacal
aim of the war (to solve the Palestinian problem, for anyone who has
forgotten)." Concerned about their children, soldier’s parents
have begun urging that Israel leave southern Lebanon, though, she writes,
she hardly reads of too many concerned about innocent Lebanese children
killed in bombing raids or whether a self-declared "security zone"
was ever actually necessary. Instead, Kim concludes ruefully, "What
remains is only the desire to protect fledglings, 18 years after the
graveyards have already become filled with them."
there are always exceptional people who refuse to adhere to the voracious
demands of governments and their wars, even at the risk of punishment.
Israel, for instance, has always had its share of principled conscientious
resisters from Yesh Gvul to silent resisters to the newly formed New
Profile Movement [POB 48005, Tel Aviv 61480]. One young Israeli,
Yigal Ben Moshe, recently refused to enter Lebanon because was allegedly
afraid and for which he was remanded to serve 28 days imprisonment.
Though he was released early from prison and returned to his army unit,
at this writing he is being checked by a psychologist, which, The
Other Israel reports,"may be a sign that they intend to
exempt him for being ‘mentally unfit.’" Still, can you imagine?
A soldier afraid? The fearless John Wayne, who never served in a real
military, may have been heroic (at least in Hollywood) but, said New
Profile in defense of Ben Moshe and yet another objector, "In such
a war he who refuses is the hero."
in the new Russia, Dmitry Neverovsky, a young Jewish man, has been imprisoned
for refusing to serve in the ferocious war against Chechnya, in which
Russia is trying to re-establish its hegemony over the Caucasus even
if they have to murder every Chechen man, woman and child. Neverovsky,
who belongs to the Antimilitary Radical Association in the Kaluga region,
and whose mother is a longtime human rights leader, requested alternative
service and was refused. Better to kill than to heal?
who will save the young? Only those who refuse to join in the carnage.