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Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Casey Sheehan: He volunteered to serve America, not a President

Ever since coming back a few days ago I've had some mild interest in this Cindy Sheehan thing at President Bush’s "ranch" (I still haven't found anything on what is produced on this ranch). Maybe it's 'cuz it seems so simple a thing for a sitting President of the United States to come out and talk to a regular citizen on his own, without somebody advising him what to say or how to spin it, and he isn't doing that. The harsh truth of the matter is: we have never seen the real, candid Bush left to his own devices before the American people. I'd like to see that, and Sheehan is really giving him what could only be called a golden opportunity for Bush to show everyone how legit his personality really is. But he ain't taking it. Go figure.

I also know that Sheehan has been targeted by the Bush-bots because she dares disagree with the emperor. Some of the things attributed to her, I don't particularly agree with. But she's a grieving mother and the source of her grief alone merits consideration without regard for anything else she's saying. And if her son was killed in a war based on a lie pushed by this President... well, I don't see how it is that anyone could defend that President against a mother bereft of her son because of that.

But one thing in particular that the Bush-bots (sadly, that is what they are: unthinking robots programmed to follow and adore Fearless Leader) are now claiming got me to thinking. The 'Bots are saying that Cindy Sheehan is disgracing the memory of her son Casey because "he volunteered" to join the Army. That it was on his own volition that he chose to be a soldier. Therefore, in their logic it follows that it was Casey Sheehan’s own choice that led to his death (and I've seen it stated at least once by the Bush-bots that Casey Sheehan had it coming because he was a "bad soldier", believe it or not).

There are a few things wrong with the claim that because "he volunteered" that his death is somehow justifiable. The most obvious is that although Casey Sheehan volunteered to serve in the Army, he did not volunteer to fight in a war that began and is being continued on the basis of a lie. But that's already been stated, and I don't want to retread over ground that others have already covered more thoroughly – and more eloquently – than I ever could.

Instead, out of curiosity as to what it is exactly that individuals are volunteering to do, I did a quick Google search and came up with the oath of enlistment taken by personnel in all four branches of the United States military. Here 'tis...

"I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."
Officers have a similar oath to swear...
"I, _____, having been appointed an officer in the Army of the United States, as indicated above in the grade of _____ do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservations or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God."
For sake of this essay I will refer to the oath taken by enlisted personnel, with the understanding that the one for officers is a necessary adaptation.

That said: Taking this oath at its most literal face value causes the Bush supporters' "he volunteered" argument to completely implode upon itself.

Let's be very clear on something: all service personnel who take the standard oath of enlistment are swearing to serve the Constitution of the United States. They are thus swearing to serve the people who consent to the Constitution. They do NOT – and can not logically – swear to serve the government that derives from the Constitution as though that government supersedes the authority of the people.

There is a difference between the country of the United States of America, and the government of the United States of America. "Government" does NOT equal "the country". Government does not define or establish the country. We are citizens of a country, not citizens of a government. This government does not now, ever has or ever will, establish the rights and freedoms that we have as the American people. We are free by the grace of God, not by the grace of government. And this government exists by OUR grace. It answers to US. Or it's supposed to answer to us anyway.

Casey Sheehan volunteered to do something, on a professional basis for a period of his life, that every single one of us should be doing for free all the time by whatever means God gives us: being wary of threats to our great country. This government, on the other hand, can go to Hell.

Service personnel swear an oath to serve the Constitution of the United States and those who subscribe to it. NOWHERE in this oath is it found that they are servants of the government of the United States. Even much less are they deemed to be servants of whoever it is who currently has power over that government.

The only reference to particular individuals in this oath is the part where the enlistee swears to "obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed" over him or her, with respect to the Uniform Code of Military Justice. That's understandable: the success of any military organization depends on adherence to a chain of command, and this part of the oath is where the enlistee promises to acknowledge that chain. However, it does not ascribe superiority of the President of the United States over the authority of the Constitution. Indeed, it should already be understood that the Constitution is the highest authority of the chain of command, with all others – including the President – deferring to it.

Casey Sheehan swore to defend the people of the United States and their Constitution. Casey Sheehan did not swear to be a member of George W. Bush's personal cadre for the task of executing whatever private vendetta Bush has. Casey Sheehan was our servant, not Bush's servant.

The Uniform Code of Military Justice leaves no room for already-enlisted personnel to object to service in a war on the basis that said war is founded in a falsehood: Article 92 makes it illegal to disobey any lawful order, meaning that unlawful orders can and are expected to be disobeyed (Nuremberg settled that 'un bigtime) but an unlawful war is nowhere in the Code's jurisdiction. It's not supposed to be anyway: Whether a war is morally justified is something left not to the soldiers, or to the "elected leaders", but to We the People.

Whatever her motives may be, right or wrong, that is what Cindy Sheehan is doing right now. She is calling for accountability from the government that was established by the Constitution of the United States. A Constitution derived from the consent of the people. A Constitution that her son Casey swore an oath in good faith that his time and talents would be used to uphold and defend to the best of his ability.

But Bush supporters don't want this government – and especially "their man" – to be held accountable. They are the furthest thing from true conservatives that can possibly be: They want power over other people. And they will attack anything that they deem to be a threat to "the way things are". Truly, they do believe that anyone who signs up to serve in the armed forces is cannon fodder without apology for whatever mad plot comes across the mind of George W. Bush.

How dare the extremist Bush supporters seek to shut up this woman? They refuse to attack the message, so instead they opt to attack the messenger. The best way to counter Cindy Sheehan would be to defend the war with as much vigor as Sheehan is giving to denouncing it. But so far they do not seem willing to do this much.

Or could it be that Bush supporters don't really have anything of substance with which to defend this war? The best they can come up with is "we support our President, we support our troops" blah blah blah (as I noted earlier they're wrong to call them "troops") and use that as the primary basis for attacking Sheehan (more than a few times I've seen it suggested that she be tried for treason and hanged).

Well, as I said earlier, and despite some things she has said that I strongly disagree with... Cindy Sheehan could be doing a far greater good in light of this war than most people realize.

Bush is not our king, and he never will be. He is, at most, a bully who was made President through party affiliation and personal connections. And one way or another he must be made to understand something: That no one among the American people will be considered a disposable resource for sake of his own convenience.


Anonymous said...

Educate yourself.


Chris Knight said...

There's nothing here that I hadn't seen already. So Saddam hated us... big deal. We can't go around invading other countries just because they hate us. You certainly don't waste nearly 2,000 of your own soldiers' lives making that point.

The fact remains: we launched this war because of an outright lie, and the longer we are bogged down in this the worse we will be over time because of it. The United States took over ten years to get to the Constitution from the Articles of Confederation... why should we believe the Iraqi people are going to do better than us in a far shorter period of time?

We are setting up an Islamic theocracy over there, that will probably be in collusion with Iran, because of our actions in Iraq.

Jon said...

When I think of a candid Bush, I see Bush coming out of his ranch in his pajamas, night cap included, to greet Cindy Sheehan...... but with black ear piece and wire in his ear.

Chris Knight said...

My thoughts exactly. He wouldn't be able to say two words on his own without Karl Rove providing them for him.

Why does a "good Christian man" like Bush continue to hang out with someone so mean-spirited as Rove anyway?