Author Topic: Resisting the deadly weapons culture  (Read 42260 times)

John Mundinger

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Re: Resisting the deadly weapons culture
« Reply #270 on: October 21, 2013, 10:57:56 PM »

Sterling - I'm not sure how you made the leap to abortion, but I think you might benefit from a measure of your own advice.  Specifically, I think you have misunderstood/mis-characterized what I have said in those conversations.

I you had actually served with conscientious objectors, maybe your thinking on the matter likewise would be muddled.  The point, quite simply, is that conscientious objectors were not exempt from the draft.  They were just exempt from assignments to a combat MOS.  They also were prohibited from carrying weapons which meant that, in a combat zone, they were easily identified and often ridiculed.

I very much understand the reason why the selective service system does not accommodate the principles of those who hold to the just war theory.  However, that would not be an issue if our country walked its talk about being an advocate for peace in our world.  And, I don't care how you slice it, it is not possible to justify Vietnam or the recent debacle in Iraq on the basis of the theory of just war.  They both failed the test on all of the criteria.
Lifelong Evangelical Lutheran layman

Whoever, then, thinks that he understands the Holy Scriptures, or any part of them, but puts such an interpretation upon them as does not tend to build up this twofold love of God and our neighbour, does not yet understand them as he ought.  St. Augustine

peter_speckhard

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Re: Resisting the deadly weapons culture
« Reply #271 on: October 21, 2013, 11:08:06 PM »
Which of the criteria for just war did they fail? At least one criterion, that there be a reasonable chance of victory, was obviously met in the Iraq war and in Vietnam Nam as well; just because victory wasn't achieved doesn't mean there was no legitimate possibility of it. Why, precisely, was it immoral to fight in Viet Nam or Iraq?

George Erdner

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Re: Resisting the deadly weapons culture
« Reply #272 on: October 21, 2013, 11:49:41 PM »
fwiw, Pr. Johnson, I have a very vivid memory of a conversation with a medic who objected entirely to military service and yet wore the uniform and served as a medic on the field of combat.


The Selective Service during the Vietnam Era had a tendency to respect the objections of anyone who had a long term affiliation with an organized church that had pacifist teachings, like the Quakers, but to regard anyone from a faith tradition that didn't have a history of pacifism with suspicion. If a Lutheran claimed to object totally to the military, many Draft Boards wouldn't believe him. Remember, Selective Service was operated by local draft boards, not the Federal Bureaucracy.


One of the reasons that so many of us conservatives object to all Federal intrusions into our private lives is that we've seen too often how haphazardly Federal programs end up being managed by the bureaucrats. If you can't trust the Federal government to determine when to fight a "just war", how can you trust that same government do decide any other life-and-death issue, like who gets a transplant?

Richard Johnson

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Re: Resisting the deadly weapons culture
« Reply #273 on: October 22, 2013, 01:15:20 AM »

fwiw, Pr. Johnson, I have a very vivid memory of a conversation with a medic who objected entirely to military service and yet wore the uniform and served as a medic on the field of combat.

It may be that his draft board did not give him the classification he desired. There were two different classifications:

I-A-O Conscientious objector available for noncombatant military service only.

I-O Conscientious objector to all military service. A registrant must establish to the satisfaction of the board that his request for exemption from combatant and noncombatant military training and service in the Armed Forces is based upon moral, ethical or religious beliefs which play a significant role in his life and that his objection to participation in war is not confined to a particular war.

In the case of the latter classification, those who were drafted were ordered to perform what was called "alternative service" which was in the civilian sphere.
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

Charles_Austin

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Re: Resisting the deadly weapons culture
« Reply #274 on: October 22, 2013, 03:26:20 AM »
In 1967, I asked that my draft board give me CO status. They refused to do so. They said they were required to put me in the "lowest category" for which I qualified. That meant the "clergy" category, which would exempt me from the draft.
Opposed to that war, and advising some young men who were draft resisters, I did not think it was just or fair for me to be exempt solely because I was clergy. I thought I should be subject to the same chance of being called up as they were.
So I appealed the classification and the exemption. I lost.

John_Hannah

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Re: Resisting the deadly weapons culture
« Reply #275 on: October 22, 2013, 05:47:36 AM »

fwiw, Pr. Johnson, I have a very vivid memory of a conversation with a medic who objected entirely to military service and yet wore the uniform and served as a medic on the field of combat.

It may be that his draft board did not give him the classification he desired. There were two different classifications:

I-A-O Conscientious objector available for noncombatant military service only.

I-O Conscientious objector to all military service. A registrant must establish to the satisfaction of the board that his request for exemption from combatant and noncombatant military training and service in the Armed Forces is based upon moral, ethical or religious beliefs which play a significant role in his life and that his objection to participation in war is not confined to a particular war.

In the case of the latter classification, those who were drafted were ordered to perform what was called "alternative service" which was in the civilian sphere.

I-A-O status did not keep one away from combat. It only meant that one was not required to use a weapon. Many of them served honorably as medics in very dangerous situations.

Peace, JOHN
Pr. JOHN HANNAH, STS

John Mundinger

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Re: Resisting the deadly weapons culture
« Reply #276 on: October 22, 2013, 08:40:19 AM »

fwiw, Pr. Johnson, I have a very vivid memory of a conversation with a medic who objected entirely to military service and yet wore the uniform and served as a medic on the field of combat.

It may be that his draft board did not give him the classification he desired. There were two different classifications:

I-A-O Conscientious objector available for noncombatant military service only.

I-O Conscientious objector to all military service. A registrant must establish to the satisfaction of the board that his request for exemption from combatant and noncombatant military training and service in the Armed Forces is based upon moral, ethical or religious beliefs which play a significant role in his life and that his objection to participation in war is not confined to a particular war.

In the case of the latter classification, those who were drafted were ordered to perform what was called "alternative service" which was in the civilian sphere.

Pr. Johnson - I have a very clear memory of the form that I completed when I registered.  Draft boards may have made such distinctions.  Persons did not request such a distinction when they registered.  There were two questions.  1) Are you opposed to ALL war?  2) Are you a member of a church/denomination that is opposed to all war?  And, as I noted above, there was no accommodation for persons who, based on their religious beliefs which played a significant role their lives, objected to the Vietnam war because it violated the principles of just war.
Lifelong Evangelical Lutheran layman

Whoever, then, thinks that he understands the Holy Scriptures, or any part of them, but puts such an interpretation upon them as does not tend to build up this twofold love of God and our neighbour, does not yet understand them as he ought.  St. Augustine

John_Hannah

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Re: Resisting the deadly weapons culture
« Reply #277 on: October 22, 2013, 08:49:28 AM »

fwiw, Pr. Johnson, I have a very vivid memory of a conversation with a medic who objected entirely to military service and yet wore the uniform and served as a medic on the field of combat.

It may be that his draft board did not give him the classification he desired. There were two different classifications:

I-A-O Conscientious objector available for noncombatant military service only.

I-O Conscientious objector to all military service. A registrant must establish to the satisfaction of the board that his request for exemption from combatant and noncombatant military training and service in the Armed Forces is based upon moral, ethical or religious beliefs which play a significant role in his life and that his objection to participation in war is not confined to a particular war.

In the case of the latter classification, those who were drafted were ordered to perform what was called "alternative service" which was in the civilian sphere.

I-A-O status did not keep one away from combat. It only meant that one was not required to use a weapon. Many of them served honorably as medics in very dangerous situations.

Peace, JOHN

Now I recall that during WW II, a man in I-A-O status was awarded the Medal of Honor (highest possible award from the United States) for heroism in Okinawa. Most men in that status were members of the Seventh Day Adventist Church.

The Chaplain of the Senate, much in the news these days, is a Seventh Day Adventist.

Peace, JOHN
Pr. JOHN HANNAH, STS

peter_speckhard

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Re: Resisting the deadly weapons culture
« Reply #278 on: October 22, 2013, 10:04:21 AM »
Again, how did the Viet Nam conflict, or Iraq for that matter, fall short of the criteria for just war? Which specific provisions were not met? I find just war theory very interesting and would like to explore it rather than simply assume that these wars were immoral because someone said so.

If, as I do and many others do, we consider the war on global communism to be essentially WWIII, then Viet Nam, which was technically as "conflict," becomes more like a battle, not a war. Korea, Berlin, Cuba, etc. were battles in essentially one worldwide war. Given that communism was a genuine threat and horribly oppressive to people ensnared in it, why would it be immoral to fight against it?   

swbohler

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Re: Resisting the deadly weapons culture
« Reply #279 on: October 22, 2013, 10:13:49 AM »

fwiw, Pr. Johnson, I have a very vivid memory of a conversation with a medic who objected entirely to military service and yet wore the uniform and served as a medic on the field of combat.

It may be that his draft board did not give him the classification he desired. There were two different classifications:

I-A-O Conscientious objector available for noncombatant military service only.

I-O Conscientious objector to all military service. A registrant must establish to the satisfaction of the board that his request for exemption from combatant and noncombatant military training and service in the Armed Forces is based upon moral, ethical or religious beliefs which play a significant role in his life and that his objection to participation in war is not confined to a particular war.

In the case of the latter classification, those who were drafted were ordered to perform what was called "alternative service" which was in the civilian sphere.

I-A-O status did not keep one away from combat. It only meant that one was not required to use a weapon. Many of them served honorably as medics in very dangerous situations.

Peace, JOHN

Now I recall that during WW II, a man in I-A-O status was awarded the Medal of Honor (highest possible award from the United States) for heroism in Okinawa. Most men in that status were members of the Seventh Day Adventist Church.

The Chaplain of the Senate, much in the news these days, is a Seventh Day Adventist.

Peace, JOHN

This intrigued me so I looked him up (PFC Desmond Doss).  Here is the Medal of Honor citation:

"He was a company aid man when the 1st Battalion assaulted a jagged escarpment 400 feet (120 m) high. As our troops gained the summit, a heavy concentration of artillery, mortar and machinegun fire crashed into them, inflicting approximately 75 casualties and driving the others back. Pfc. Doss refused to seek cover and remained in the fire-swept area with the many stricken, carrying all 75 casualties one-by-one to the edge of the escarpment and there lowering them on a rope-supported litter down the face of a cliff to friendly hands. On May 2, he exposed himself to heavy rifle and mortar fire in rescuing a wounded man 200 yards (180 m) forward of the lines on the same escarpment; and 2 days later he treated 4 men who had been cut down while assaulting a strongly defended cave, advancing through a shower of grenades to within 8 yards (7.3 m) of enemy forces in a cave's mouth, where he dressed his comrades' wounds before making 4 separate trips under fire to evacuate them to safety. On May 5, he unhesitatingly braved enemy shelling and small arms fire to assist an artillery officer. He applied bandages, moved his patient to a spot that offered protection from small arms fire and, while artillery and mortar shells fell close by, painstakingly administered plasma. Later that day, when an American was severely wounded by fire from a cave, Pfc. Doss crawled to him where he had fallen 25 feet (7.6 m) from the enemy position, rendered aid, and carried him 100 yards (91 m) to safety while continually exposed to enemy fire. On May 21, in a night attack on high ground near Shuri, he remained in exposed territory while the rest of his company took cover, fearlessly risking the chance that he would be mistaken for an infiltrating Japanese and giving aid to the injured until he was himself seriously wounded in the legs by the explosion of a grenade. Rather than call another aid man from cover, he cared for his own injuries and waited 5 hours before litter bearers reached him and started carrying him to cover. The trio was caught in an enemy tank attack and Pfc. Doss, seeing a more critically wounded man nearby, crawled off the litter; and directed the bearers to give their first attention to the other man. Awaiting the litter bearers' return, he was again struck, by a sniper bullet while being carried off the field by a comrade, this time suffering a compound fracture of 1 arm. With magnificent fortitude he bound a rifle stock to his shattered arm as a splint and then crawled 300 yards (270 m) over rough terrain to the aid station. Through his outstanding bravery and unflinching determination in the face of desperately dangerous conditions Pfc. Doss saved the lives of many soldiers. His name became a symbol throughout the 77th Infantry Division for outstanding gallantry far above and beyond the call of duty."

Wow.  Very deserving.

John Mundinger

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Re: Resisting the deadly weapons culture
« Reply #280 on: October 22, 2013, 10:45:29 AM »
Again, how did the Viet Nam conflict, or Iraq for that matter, fall short of the criteria for just war? Which specific provisions were not met? I find just war theory very interesting and would like to explore it rather than simply assume that these wars were immoral because someone said so.

If, as I do and many others do, we consider the war on global communism to be essentially WWIII, then Viet Nam, which was technically as "conflict," becomes more like a battle, not a war. Korea, Berlin, Cuba, etc. were battles in essentially one worldwide war. Given that communism was a genuine threat and horribly oppressive to people ensnared in it, why would it be immoral to fight against it?

Where was the real and imminent threat?  In both Vietnam and Iraq, the excuse for going to war (Gulf of Tonkin incident and weapons of mass destruction) failed the smell test.


And, absent a real an imminent threat, the remainder of the just war criteria don't even trigger.  Regardless, what was the U.S.' legitimate authority for engaging the conflicts?

What non-militarized efforts did the U.S. make to neutralize the supposed threat?  What is the basis for concluding that armed conflict was engaged only as a last resort?

How were our military responses proportional to the respective threats?

What efforts did we make to ensure that civilian casualties would be minimized?

How did we determine that the peace that would be achieved through conflict would be more peaceful than the present reality?  What was the basis for concluding that, as planned, the intended peace was realistically achievable?

I stand on the assertion that both conflicts failed on the basis of all just war criteria.

If, as I do and many others do, we consider the war on global communism to be essentially WWIII, then Viet Nam, which was technically as "conflict," becomes more like a battle, not a war. Korea, Berlin, Cuba, etc. were battles in essentially one worldwide war.

I think the majority of Americans have come to understand that Joe McCarthy was a dangerous fool.  And, as a footnote, we lost the war in Vietnam and no dominoes fell.  The victors did much more to accomplish a durable peace in that country than that which would have been achieved had we prevailed.  Vietnam is now one of our trading partners.

Given that communism was a genuine threat and horribly oppressive to people ensnared in it, why would it be immoral to fight against it?

It is not a question of whether it was immoral to challenge global communism.  It was a question of intentionally choosing to engage the conflict in an immoral fashion.  By doing so, we demonstrated for everyone (but ourselves) to see that we are just as immoral as our adversaries.  If we are to challenge the evil-doers, we dare not be evil-doers ourselves.  Yet, we were and we still are evil doers.
« Last Edit: October 22, 2013, 10:55:46 AM by John Mundinger »
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Whoever, then, thinks that he understands the Holy Scriptures, or any part of them, but puts such an interpretation upon them as does not tend to build up this twofold love of God and our neighbour, does not yet understand them as he ought.  St. Augustine

George Erdner

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Re: Resisting the deadly weapons culture
« Reply #281 on: October 22, 2013, 10:52:17 AM »
Again, how did the Viet Nam conflict, or Iraq for that matter, fall short of the criteria for just war? Which specific provisions were not met? I find just war theory very interesting and would like to explore it rather than simply assume that these wars were immoral because someone said so.

If, as I do and many others do, we consider the war on global communism to be essentially WWIII, then Viet Nam, which was technically as "conflict," becomes more like a battle, not a war. Korea, Berlin, Cuba, etc. were battles in essentially one worldwide war. Given that communism was a genuine threat and horribly oppressive to people ensnared in it, why would it be immoral to fight against it?

Where was the real and imminent threat?  In both Vietnam and Iraq, the excuse for going to war (Gulf of Tonkin incident and weapons of mass destruction) failed the smell test.


And, absent a real an imminent threat, the remainder of the just war criteria don't even trigger.  Regardless, what was the U.S.' legitimate authority for engaging the conflicts?

What non-militarized efforts did the U.S. make to neutralize the supposed threat?  What is the basis for concluding that armed conflict was engaged only as a last resort?

How were our military responses proportional to the respective threats?

What efforts did we make to ensure that civilian casualties would be minimized?

How did we determine that the peace that would be achieved through conflict would be more peaceful than the present reality?  What was the basis for concluding that, as planned, the intended peace was realistically achievable?

I stand on the assertion that both conflicts failed on the basis of all just war criteria.


And you pointedly ignore the fact that draft boards were local and inconsistent in their rulings. And you ignore the fact that the same Federal government you condemn for making judgement calls you disagree with you applaud for making calls that you do agree with.

Charles_Austin

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Re: Resisting the deadly weapons culture
« Reply #282 on: October 22, 2013, 10:53:48 AM »
Mr. Mundinger is absolutely correct here. But if Peter thinks the Vietnam war was a war against communism and nothing else, there is really no point in going over old ground again. If Peter thinks all conditions for a just war were met, he is allowed to think that. I have no doubt that he will not be moved and that no depth of discussion would change his mind, so I'm not going to try to do that.

Donald_Kirchner

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Re: Resisting the deadly weapons culture
« Reply #283 on: October 22, 2013, 11:02:00 AM »
Now I recall that during WW II, a man in I-A-O status was awarded the Medal of Honor (highest possible award from the United States) for heroism in Okinawa. Most men in that status were members of the Seventh Day Adventist Church.
.

That medic was Desmond Doss. My father was in the 307th, 77th Division with him, and in the battle for the Maeda Escarpment on Okinawa. They'd climb up the escarpment with makeshift ladders and ropes, and every night they'd get knocked off. Somehow, Doss was able to stay up there, tending the wounded and lowering them down. He is credited with saving over 70 lives.

Several years later the St. Paul Pioneer Press had an article about Doss, who was awarded the Medal of Honor. Dad clipped it out and kept it with his book about the 77th "Liberty" Division in WWII. My brother and I found it and asked Dad about it. That's the only time he talked about the horror of Okinawa. He also was in the night raid on Ishimi Ridge. They were surrounded for 3 days. On the 2nd night they could have tried to get out but were ordered to stay; they did get out some of the wounded. Finally, on the 3rd day, replacements broke through and relieved them. 22 out of 200 in Easy Company, Dad being one of them, made it back.

 http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desmond_Doss

http://www.thestate.com/2013/03/09/2668922/columbia-wwii-vet-revisits-3-terrible.html

« Last Edit: October 22, 2013, 12:36:10 PM by Pr. Don Kirchner »
Don Kirchner

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peter_speckhard

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Re: Resisting the deadly weapons culture
« Reply #284 on: October 22, 2013, 01:07:16 PM »
Mr. Mundinger is absolutely correct here. But if Peter thinks the Vietnam war was a war against communism and nothing else, there is really no point in going over old ground again. If Peter thinks all conditions for a just war were met, he is allowed to think that. I have no doubt that he will not be moved and that no depth of discussion would change his mind, so I'm not going to try to do that.
Helpful as always, Charles. Thank you for the permission to think; I was waiting with baited breath to see what your verdict would be. But as it happens I find just war theory fascinating and have never said I think all the conditions were met; I wanted to know how John arrived at the conclusion that none of them were met.

Predictably, he doesn't seem to think global communism was a genuine threat to anyone, he doesn't view coming to the aid of an ally as an legitimate cause; he simply assumes a war has to be defending our own interests to be just, which conveniently allows critics to treat wars of self-interest as also blameworthy for the opposite reason-- if you stand to gain, you are selfishly going to war, and if you don't stand to gain you are merely war-mongering for the sake of it. And he assumes that no efforts were made to minimize civilian casualties, and he neglects the only true clear-cut comparisons, N. Korea and S. Korea and E. Germany and W. Germany, in favor of a hypothetical comparison between the Viet Nam that is vs. the Viet Nam that might have been.

Solzhenitsyn was no war-monger, but his biggest complaint against the West was our willingness to liberate people from fascism and hesitance to liberate them from communism. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.