You don’t have to go to war to know that it’s wrong
Regarding last week’s cover story, “Objector:”
Whilst I applaud Kevin Benderman’s decision to go with his conscience, not his orders, in Iraq and I feel for him and his family in their plight, I’m angered by his comments about peace activists and what he claims are their undisciplined, slovenly habits.
To any intelligent person, the first response to such a statement should be, so what? What does it matter how somebody chooses to manage their domestic affairs, particularly in the context of an unjust ‘war’?
But I’m also angry about the motivation for the message that Benderman’s comments are intended to send out. To me, what he is saying is “Don’t worry, I’m still a good ole boy, not one of those wishy washy, bleeding heart liberals or pacifists, I just don’t agree with war!”
Let me tell Mr. Benderman that playing cowboys and Indians in the woods with a BB gun is something that many people grow out of quite young. They realize violence begets violence and certainly don’t think about turning childhood games into a career. On the contrary, they choose jobs that are meant to make the world a better place through positive, non-violent actions: healthcare workers, firefighters, teachers, youth and community workers.
Just a cursory look at the motivations behind all of the major military offensives initiated by the U.S. in the latter half of the last century into this century are fundamentally flawed and have ultimately cost huge numbers of unnecessary deaths with little to show in the way of positive outcomes.
Mr. Benderman is afraid to admit that, despite neglecting their domestic duties, those scruffy, “chaotic” (Mrs. Benderman) pacifists were right. They knew all along that war was stupid, this particular ‘war’ doubly so.
And you know why? Because like other people who really care about making the world a better place they don’t merely act first, think later. Instead they talk and listen to people, find out about history, get wise about the political climate in the areas of conflict and if they see injustice they do what it is their constitutional right to do, they protest.
Ultimately, pacifists in the U.S. believe that the violence endemic to the entire history of this country is not inevitably destined to repeat itself alongside the loss of young lives.
Perhaps Benderman has learnt the hard way that there are other ways for the U.S. to conduct itself on the global stage. But we, the great unwashed, could have told him that a long time ago.
He only had to ask.
Did Benderman refuse or was he just confused?
I just finished reading the recent cover interview with Kevin Benderman in your newspaper. I could not help but notice the glaring inconsistency in Mr. Benderman’s belief that he was “released” from his duty to deploy and therefore was not guilty of missing movement to Iraq. This belief seems at odds with other statements he has made concerning the events of 2005.
If one looks at Mr. Benderman’s own website, www.bendermandefense.org, a specific section contains articles written by Mr. Benderman himself. One article is titled, “Why I Refused a 2nd Deployment to Iraq.”
Why does Mr. Benderman now shy away from taking full responsibility for his decision not to deploy? Would not a more honorable position have been to plead guilty at trial and state the reasons for refusal?
As Mr. Benderman stated when talking about other deserters, he “didn’t go to Canada.” Elsewhere in your article, Mr. Benderman says Vietnam-era veterans laud him for having had the “guts” to do what he [Mr. Benderman] did instead of running.
I guess the question boils down to whether Mr. Benderman “refused” or “confused” that order to deploy in 2005.
A. J. Balbo
Editor’s Note: Due to a misunderstanding on our part, the incident involving Vulcan anti-aircraft guns Sgt. Benderman referenced in the article took place during the first Gulf War. “The Vulcan is no longer in use as far as I know,” Benderman writes to clarify.