Covert anti-military operatives.

It’s becoming apparent that there is a new anti-War tactic coming out, and it’s using the military as the base for operations. More and more, people with long-standing anti-War agendas have enlisted in the military after the Iraq War began with the apparent purpose of gnawing away at the military from the inside — especially with the help of that ever useful shill, the American media. I’d first heard about this tactic this in connection with Army Lieutenant Ehren Watada, a cause celebre amongst the anti-War crowd, because he’s being court-martialed for refusing to serve in the Iraq War.

Watada is not your garden-variety conscientious objector. Traditionally, COs were unwilling draftees who were going around living their ordinary lives when the government’s long arm swept them into war. Many had strong religious ties to religions, such as the Quakers, that had long-standing oppositions to serving in war. Beginning in WWI, significant numbers of COs and anti-War agitators were socialists, who envisioned a brotherhood of workers being forced to wage war against each other by capitalists and imperalistic regimes.

Watada doesn’t fall into either of these categories. To begin with, he is not an unwilling draftee. Instead, he is an officer who willingly joined the military after the war began, and underwent training while the war was going on. In other words, he knew what he was getting into and where he’d end up. Given these facts, his only reason to have joined can have been to get a platform from which to broadcast his resistance to the War, something he couldn’t do if he were just your ordinary anti-War activist. It’s just so much more exciting and photogenic when you’re a military anti-War activist. (Watada is still getting air time on reliably liberal forums.)

Not only is Watada a new breed of conscientious objector — someone who joins the military, intending to desert so as to make a loud political statement — he’s also not alone. At the Mudville Gazette, Greyhawk has a long post discussing Jonathan Hutto, who seems to have done precisely the same thing. Hutto was a socialist and a very visible anti-War activist who, in 2004, suddenly decided to enlist in the Navy. His service was apparently exemplary but he used his time in the Navy to gather data about discrimination against African-Americans. From there, he went on, while still in the Navy, to design an anti-War web page, much touted by the usual cast of anti-War activists as a, yes, you guessed it “military anti-War website.” Again, the “military” aspect garnered more media attention than any run-of-the-mill anti-War protest could have.

Americans have always had a warm spot in their hearts for genuine COs who played by the rules. They did not join the military but, if they were drafted, they made a formal declaration of their unwillingness to serve, with their time in jail the necessary martyrdom to garner public interest and, perhaps, change hearts and minds. Some, like the famous socialist Eugene V. Debs were too old to be drafted, but spoke out so vociferously against the way that they ended up jailed for treason. Although the American public was not very sympathetic, his was certainly a newsworthy sacrifice, of a type that can’t be replicated nowadays.

This new breed of CO, however, is a fox in the henhouse, a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Knowing his opposition to the war, he nevertheless signs up, takes the military’s money (or, rather, your and my tax dollars), takes military training and then, at the last possible moment, sets up a hootin’ and a hollerin’ that catches the press’ fickle eye. He’s not an innocent swept up in the military draft net. Instead, he’s someone who intentionally places himself in the middle of the game, only to cry foul. It’s sneaky, it’s dishonorable, and it’s a story that deserves to be told so that those who listen to these new COs can fully unerstand how they are manipulating the system to gain maximum attention for their anti-War position.

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  • ymarsakar

    The reason why spycraft was a skill the Soviets excelled in is because soldiers do their job via doing their duty and honoring their committments. Spies do their job by betraying their oaths and turning on the people that have trusted them. That is why the Soviets excelled in spycraft, because the Soviets (Stalin purging Trotsky) were excellent at betrayal. And so is the Left.

  • ymarsakar

    Btw, I remember COs being given a chance at non-combat roles or chaplan roles, so that they didn’t have to kill. A lot of people took up the military’s offer, because their innate patriotism would not allow them to give up their country if some accomodation could be made for their pacifist beliefs.

  • Bookworm

    Re 2: You’re absolutely right, Y. I’d put in a line about these alternate jobs, but it was so muddled I deleted it. You made just the point I was thinking of, but couldn’t articulate.

  • BigAL


    I disagree with someone joining the military for the sole purpose or with any intent of being an anti-war activist or to gain anti-war attention. I would not, however, want to bunch all members of the military who refuse to go to Iraq into one group. If a person comes to believe, AFTER becoming a member of the military, that the war they are being asked to fight is illegal or contrary to their beliefs, they may choose to accept the consequences of desertion/refusing to obey an order. This is possible in any war, any time, any military.

    The only way to stop this from happening is to increase the level of punishment for deserting or disobeying orders.
    You have to make the consequnces of such a decision really really bad..and you have to make these consequences clear to any person BEFORE they sign up.

    So you can scare people into going to war, or you can try to make better decisions about where and why you go to war.
    If you have good reasons for going to war, you will have less of these kinds of problems the way I see it.

    And I’m sure this is really not a big problem. That’s why, out of all the topics you could be discussing about the war, you’re choosing to discuss this really small problem of deserters who are obviously ALL clever (and determined) anti-war protesters and not just young, scared, confused, kids– of whom many can’t even legally drink a beer.


  • ymarsakar

    Duty and honor are not priorities for some people, I see.

    Glad to oblige, Book.

  • swampacreage

    As, Agent 86, Maxwell Smart, reminds age 99, from Control Headquarters, “AH – HA -,the – Old – FAKE – that – you – care – for – the – country – but – REALLY – sign – up – too – gather – ammo -(no pun intended)- for – my – book – and – guest – appearances – on – talk – shows – TRICK.”. Machiavellian!!

  • Bill Flint

    turn 20 into 40 ? Check it OUT!