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Page 31
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<< 30. Songs of Protest32. Letter to the Editor >>

An Open Letter From the Troops You Support

By Todd Arena & Jonathan Hustad

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To whom it should concern,

We do not believe that supporting the war is analogous to supporting soldiers. Support for the war, contrary to intuition, is support for disenfranchisement; robbing us of our basic economic and moral agency through endangerment of our persons. This is an inevitability of institutional conflict; some citizen is going to have to make the sacrifice to go and do the actual fighting. However, the fact that many soldiers embrace this choice does not justify the institutional conflict itself. As US soldiers, we recognize that our decision to fulfill our duty is a necessary sacrifice for the cause of federal republican government. We also recognize that what we really fight, and possibly die for, is a goal not in the hands of the human giving his life, but in the vote of the people determining his or her fate.

A soldier is a human tool. A soldier in the US Army is a seminal vessel of corporate and political desire forcing the course of an entire era of human development and directive. We were US citizens prior to our enlistment oath; since then we have become something greater and lesser, citizen-soldiers. We have given up a portion of rights and freedoms in an oath to serve an institution whose sole official purpose is the protection of all rights and freedoms given to any citizen. Whatever an individual soldier's personal motivation behind making their oath, the justification for their decision is the well-founded rationale of public service. The citizen-soldier is a volunteer, and it is a position that serves by being a surrogate of the public will. Despite the obedience to the commander-in-chief, despite our direct accountability to Congress, the will of the public is sovereign over all aspects of military activity.

The only justification that allows for the existence of the US Army, as a standing policing force equally active in both peace and wartime, comes from a matter of governance. No other precedence in American history, not real or imagined enemies, not current or possible threats, not academic or political ideals; none of these stands above the level of excuse for confusion or abuse of power, save the singular saving grace of public accountability. The Army's existence is only acceptable as a vehicle of public interest, as an institution in direct service to the people of the United States. The implied complaint here is embodied in the following question; whose will is being done in the current use of the US military infrastructure? Can the public even be understood as sovereign when we find ourselves lost over even basic facts about the "War"; namely what our true motivation in the matter is, who are really our desired targets, and how we expect to benefit from any of our current actions?

The most fundamental complaint is not that this war is happening, because despite unilateral economic motivations and searing blind aggression, Saddam is truly an abusive totalitarian dictator. The real problem is that no one cares about the former assertions, and everyone moves sedately and directly to the latter exception. The point is that it does not matter to anyone that the war as a whole is unjust, self-destructive, and abusive simply because one of its auxiliary conclusions is beneficial. If we don't evaluate the place in history we are at and simply let the powers that currently set the agenda to continue to direct the public mindset further and further from debate and towards complacent acceptance, then we risk losing sight of the fact that the actions and precedents our nation takes now are overturning a century of international focus and assistance. While the fates and welfare of all humanity becomes more and more intertwined, our current leaders wish to make us more exploitative, reactionary, and isolationist. We must come to terms with the fact that this is an outcome we cannot accept, and that every life on this planet will be made worse because of it. The only way to prevent this situation is to stop accepting the decisions and rationalizations of the present enfranchised leaders.

We ask you to stand up and act now. Responsibility for our common welfare is not limited to the professional politicians. They may represent us, but they also rely on us. As citizens and, more importantly, consumers the course of national and international policy is ultimately determined by our shared will. Shake off your apathy and exercise your rights and duties as Americans to ensure a better future. Speak out, any way you know how and any way you can. Do this before your lives are irrevocably changed, as have ours already, because you will feel the consequences of today's decisions all too acutely tomorrow.

Todd Arena
Jonathan Hustad
Members of the US Army Reserve

<< 30. Songs of Protest32. Letter to the Editor >>