Do Violence to No Man
by Laurence M. Vance
by Laurence M. Vance
"And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages" (Luke 3:14)
This message of John the Baptist to soldiers is more critical today than at any other time in American history.
When John the Baptist began his ministry in "all the country about Jordan" (Luke 3:3), the multitude of people who came to him were told to "bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance" (Luke 3:8) and to give to those in need (Luke 3:11). He then instructed the publicans not to collect any more than they were required to. And finally, he said to the soldiers what is quoted above.
In his seminal article, "None Dare Call It Genocide," Lew Rockwell has courageously termed the U.S. invasion of Iraq genocide:
- More than one million people have been murdered in Iraq since the U.S. invasion.
- Nearly half of households report having lost a family member to a killing of some sort.
- The total number of dead exceeds the hugely well-publicized Rwandan genocide in 1994.
- The further geographically you move from US troop activity, the more peaceful the area is.
- The US has unleashed bloodshed in Iraq that is rarely known even in countries we think of as violent and torn by civil strife.
And all this is after the "500,000 children and old people killed by the US-UN anti-civilian sanctions in the 10 previous years."
Who is responsible for all the death and destruction in Iraq? Who is dropping the thousands of tons of bombs? Who is firing the guns to the tune of 250,000 bullets for every Iraqi "insurgent" killed? Who has paved the way for the sectarian violence that makes it unsafe to walk down the street, go to the market, or attend a wedding?
Who is responsible for this genocide in Iraq?
It isn't George Bush; he hasn't fired a shot outside of his Texas ranch since his days in the National Guard. It isn't Dick Cheney; he targets only hunters. It isn't the current secretary of defense, Robert Gates; he hasn't been on active duty since 1969. It isn't the former secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld; he left active duty back in 1957. It isn't the Republican-controlled Congress that funded the war for several years or the Democratic-controlled Congress that is funding it right now; most members of Congress have never set foot on Iraqi soil. It isn't Wolfowitz, Feith, Perle, Abrams, Powell, Rice and the other architects of the Iraq War; most of them have left the Bush administration to follow other pursuits. It isn't the chickenhawks who quibble about strategy; they would probably faint at the sight of blood. It isn't the Values Voters who support killing Iraqis while claiming to be pro-life; they are too busy campaigning for constitutional amendments against abortion and same-sex marriage. It isn't the conservative warmongers who warn us about Islamofascism; they prefer to let others do their dirty work. It isn't the armchair warriors who call for more bombs and bullets with Iraqi names on them; they never personally directed any towards Iraqis. It isn't the neocons; most of them have never even been in the military.
The terrible truth is that the U.S. military is responsible — the troops, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marine Corps — U.S. soldiers. They may have been just following orders, obeying the powers that be, wearing a uniform, serving in the military, supporting their commander in chief, or fighting a war — but they are still responsible.
As unpleasant as it sounds, as horrible as it is, and as much as we don't want to admit it: It is the U.S. military that is responsible for the destruction, brutality, and murder in Iraq. It doesn't matter if a soldier joined the military with the best of intentions, it doesn't matter how careful he is to minimize civilian casualties, it doesn't matter if he thinks he is defending our freedoms — he is still participating in what Lew Rockwell dares to call genocide. U.S. soldiers need to stop en masse their waging of this war. Short of a commander in chief who practices a noninterventionist foreign policy, the war won't end any other way.
I fully realize that many U.S. soldiers are in a position where they feel they must shoot first and ask questions later, kill or be killed. But they must acknowledge that the reason for this is that they are invaders and interlopers, and do whatever it takes to get out of Iraq — regardless of the consequences. If it is done for no other reason than to save their own neck, fine; they just stop fighting and get out of Iraq any way they can.
For the soldiers currently in the United States who face the possibly of going to Iraq the solution is a much simpler one: Don't go. Go AWOL, go to jail, get court-martialed, get dishonorably discharged, lose your rank, lose your retirement — just don't go. Make the military drag you there kicking and screaming.
Are you a soldier in Iraq? Do violence to no man. Do you know a soldier in Iraq? Tell him to not accuse someone falsely of being a terrorist. Are you thinking about enlisting in the military? Be content with your wages and don't covet the Army's $20,000 signing bonus to be a hired killer. Isn't it time, after the loss of a million Iraqis and almost 4,000 U.S. soldiers, to say enough is enough?
September 22, 2007
Laurence M. Vance [send him mail] writes from Pensacola, FL. He is the author of Christianity and War and Other Essays Against the Warfare State. His latest publication is War, Foreign Policy, and the Church. Visit his website.
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