PEN LETTER TO THE EDITOR OF THE SUN:

Here We Go Again

EDITOR'S NOTE: The following letter was sent to The Sun's editorial page editor, but was not published. We publish it here as a public service.

So, the 19 soldiers who would not run a fool's errand in Iraq will be court-martialed while the bozos that dreamed up this war will be glorified for how tough and resolute they are.
The front page article, "Soldiers refuse 'suicide' duty in Iraq; Army investigates," (Sun, 10/16) is reminiscent of the War in Vietnam, where mutiny and "fragging" of officers & non-coms was commonplace by 1970. In fact, over 65,000 soldiers had deserted by 1970. Search & destroy missions had become,"search and avoid."

Resistance by our soldiers in the field to that discredited war was hardly reported at the time, so they don't get the credit they deserve for ending it. Joining the Army is the functional equivalent of selling oneself into slavery for a few pieces of silver. Our military has little tradition of democracy, and the assumption is that wisdom resides in the rank, not the person.

Discipline in the ranks is always more important than any independence of thought or action from below. "Rank has its privileges" was the common expression when I "did my time," to use the also quite-common prison metaphor.

Of course, the military is not unlike our corporate world where CEOs are rewarded with multi million dollar pay packages, obscene perks, and speaking engagements as if they were celebrities, while the rank and file are de-unionized and de-humanized.

Neither corporations nor platoons willingly tolerate organizing in the ranks. So, the 19 soldiers who would not run a fool's errand in Iraq will be court-martialed while the bozos that dreamed up this war, and who will not properly equip it, will be interviewed on Fox TV and glorified for how tough and resolute they are.

By what twisted logic can this be called a volunteer Army?

J. Russell Tyldesley
Catonsville, Md.


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This story was published on October 18, 2004.