Wednesday, August 27, 2008

When Desertion is a Duty

A young man named Stephen with large hopes and a small bank account answered an employment ad for a security agency. Offered a generous salary, extravagant benefits, and a sizable signing bonus, he inked a renewable employment contract promising to work for the agency for six years.

Only after Stephen passed through the agency's training program did he discover that the security firm was actually a front for a criminal syndicate. Rather than protecting lives and property, he would be required to take part in armed robberies and expected to kill, when necessary, to ensure the success of the "mission."

Stephen had no problem with the idea of risking his life for money, but he wanted nothing to do with crimes against innocent people. So he simply walked away from his job.
Question: Should Stephen be subject to civil or criminal liability for deserting his employers and violating the terms of his contract? That contract was certainly valid at the time of its execution. But it became defective when Stephen's employer required him to commit crimes against innocent people. A contract requiring a party to commit a crime is not enforceable.

When the Mafia puts out a "contract" to have someone murdered, it hardly expects that agreement to be enforced by the courts.

Obviously, Stephen shouldn't be punished for walking away from his contract. In fact, a better moral case could be made for prosecuting those who choose not to do as Stephen did, once they became aware of the true nature of their employer and the "mission" they had been given.

"Stephen" is a hypothetical character.
Robin Long is the reality. The 25-year-old Idahoan, who enlisted in the Army in 2003, was recently convicted of desertion and sentenced to 15 months behind bars for the supposed crime of refusing to participate in an illegal war.

Robin was raised in Boise as part of a military family, and always took it for granted that he would make the military his career as well. When Robin enlisted in June 2003, the Army recruiter -- who, like many others in that line of work, was a shameless liar -- assured him that he wouldn't be sent to Iraq.

Not content to be a contract killer, Robin Long decided to quit his job. Now the criminal syndicate that hired him is throwing him in jail.

Those assurances seemed quite plausible at the time, since they were offered just weeks after Bush's notorious "Mission Accomplished" photo-op. But at the time Robin wasn't opposed to being sent to fight what he then considered to be a just war.

"When the United States first attacked Iraq, I was told by my president that it was because of direct ties to al Qaeda and weapons of mass destruction," he later
recalled. "At the time, I believed what was being said."

Robin's view of the morality of the Iraq war changed not because he learned that the case for it was fraudulent (something no honest person can now dispute), but rather because of the way his training dehumanized the Iraqis he was supposedly being sent to liberate.

"I was hearing on mainstream media that the U.S. was going to Iraq to get the weapons of mass destruction and to liberate the Iraqi people, yet [I was] being taught that I'm going to the desert to, excuse the racial slur, `kill ragheads,'" Robin explained.
Robin's horror was compounded by encounters with Iraq combat veterans who bragged of their "first kills" or showed him pictures of Iraqis who had died beneath tank treads.

When Robin received orders to ship out to Iraq in 2005, he was the only one in his unit called up for combat. Given a month's leave before he was to report to Fort Carson in Colorado, Robin took the opportunity to learn more about the merits of the war.
After long and anguished contemplation he decided that he couldn't be a party to a world-historic crime. So, acting on exactly the same moral premises that "Stephen" did in the parable above, Robin deserted his employer.

Seeking refuge from the crime syndicate he had unwittingly served, Robin took up residence in a friend's basement in Boise, then relocated to Canada, where he lived for three years. He met a young woman he wanted to marry; they got a head start on a family by having a son before a ceremony.

Robin applied for refugee status, contending that he was unwilling to participate in a patently illegal war and confronted "irreparable harm" if we were forced to return to the putative Land of the Free.
Broadly speaking, the Canadian government shares Robin's view of the Iraq war and has never taken part in the Coalition of the Bullied and Bribed Washington assembled to occupy Iraq. Both Parliament and the Canadian public support a return to that country's Vietnam-era policy of welcoming American soldiers who refuse to serve in an unjust foreign war.

But Stephan Harper's government, under pressure from the Bush Regime,
refuses to treat war resisters as refugees. Robin was denied refugee status and required to check in with Canadian immigration authorities every month.

On July 4, Robin was arrested by the Canadian Border Services Agency, which accused him of not "adequately" reporting his whereabouts.
Robin became the first American "deserter" to be deported from Canada back to the U.S. since the Vietnam war.

Although he's a hero to many opponents of the Iraq war, Robin, like others who have refused orders to kill Iraqis, has been accused of cowardice.
Tim Richard, a former National Guard soldier from Iowa, knows what it is like to be assailed as a coward for following his conscience rather than the herd. Like Robin, Tim fled to Canada shortly before he was to be sent to Iraq. However, Tim is uniquely fortunate in that he had dual U.S.-Canadian citizenship, a fact that stymied efforts to return him to the lower 48.

Tim Richard (back row, second from left), seen here with other Canadian anti-war activists.

Seeking money to pay for college, Tim enlisted in the National Guard in 1999. His contract specified a six-year term of service. In 2005, Tim was a semester away from completing his college degree, and four months from the end of his service contract, when he was called up for deployment to Iraq.

After making the necessary inquiries, Tim was shown official paperwork that changed his release date from November 2005 to December 2031.
A contract that can be unilaterally changed by one party is not enforceable. But, as noted here before, the official view of the military, as explained to a soldier deployed in Iraq, is that "we can keep you here just as long as we want, and we ain't never got to send you home."

After reporting to Camp Shelby, Mississippi, Tim was horrified by the pre-deployment training he was given. Much of that training dealt with kicking in doors and holding civilians at gunpoint -- "attacking people who are defending their homes," as he describes it. In one training exercise he ended up "shooting" two role-players posing as Iraqi civilians. The experience, along with the studied indifference of his instructors and fellow trainees, left Tim profoundly shaken.

Along with other soldiers bound for Iraq, Tim was given leave on Thanksgiving Day 2005.
He used that opportunity to take an outbound bus headed for the western U.S., eventually joining his mother in British Columbia.

This act was called "desertion" by the U.S. military. But, as Tim points out, he actually carried out the terms of his service contract before it was unilaterally (which is to say, fraudulently) revised by the military: Tim served the full six years he had agreed to.
Because of the criminal policies of the government that ruled him, Tim was compelled not only to flee to Canada but to repudiate his U.S. citizenship. Now a full Canadian citizen, Tim has continued both his college education and his activism against the Iraq war.

Both wings of the Establishment Party are in agreement that the U.S. will remain mired in Iraq until at least 2011. Meanwhile, Washington is eagerly courting other catastrophes in the region: Preparations are still being made for a strike on Iran, the resurgent Taliban, in time-honored fashion, is slowly but effectively cutting off supply routes for U.S.-led occupation forces in Afghanistan, and the Bush Regime seems perversely determined to goad Russia into a completely avoidable conflict the the Caucasus.

Two more "liberated" Iraqi children join the uncounted thousands who have been killed as a result of Washington's murderous "humanitarianism." May God grant them eternal peace in His presence.

All of this will inevitably mean that tens of thousands of U.S. military personnel -- Guardsmen and Reservists, in particular -- will deal with multiple and extended tours of duty, conscription by "stop-loss" order, and other insufferable hardships inflicted in the course of missions having nothing to do with defending the United States. If we harvest even one-tenth the hell Bush and his handlers have sown, the trickle of "deserters" may quickly become a deluge.

There is nothing criminal about refusing to honor a supposed commitment to serve as contract killers for the world's largest source of preventable criminal violence.

On the subject of officially sanctioned criminal violence --

Media notice

Tomorrow (Thursday, Aug. 28) I'll be on the nationally syndicated radio program Point of View from 2:00-3:00 Eastern Time to discuss "Communitarianism," both the ideology and the movement.

On sale now!

Dum spiro, pugno!


Daniel Maxwell said...

Part of me doesnt feel sorry for them at all. They should have known what they were getting into - volunteer indentured servitude.
Once you sign that contract and take your second oath, they own you.

Sad but true.

Christopher said...

Please excuse the off-topic comment, but I thought you might be interested in this arrest: ABC News reporter arrested taking pictures of Senators, big donors,, via American Conservative,

Anonymous said...

It's time for them to stop bringing nothing but megaphones to those rallies.

robin said...

Do I read correctly that Tim Richard's term of service was extended to the year 2031? 2013 seems more likely, but it's still an outrage.

William N. Grigg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
robin said...

Well, then, it looks like our rulers are resurrecting (in a more sinister form) the old Roman legionary service. During the Republic a soldier spent the best years of his life in the army, and then retired to live on a patch of government-provided farm land. But that was a republic, and the soldier knew up front that he wouldn't be released from service until middle age.

Anonymous said...

The video of the female protester exercising her God-given Constitutional right to denounce the state being viciously attacked by the cop is beyond comprehension. I wonder if this "tuff guy" with a badge would like it if someone would do the exact same thing to his wife/girlfriend/sister/mother? Of course not. There is nothing more despicable than a cowardly hypocrite.

Lemuel Gulliver said...

Dear Will,

At Nuremberg, we hanged German military men for following illegal orders. Now we imprison American military men for NOT following illegal orders. But this is par for the course: Perhaps we should rename the Oath of Office that our "leaders" (or, in German, fuehrers) take as the "Hypocritic Oath."

Why do all American policemen seem to look like Cape Buffalo? Why do they all seem to act as if they have one inch penises?

This is a very sick country. Soon, McCain will be our President, and then perhaps will be fulfilled the words of the Good Book: "Every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire."

Since McCain lives in a fog of Alzheimer's irascibility, perhaps one day in a fit of uncontrollable rage he will push the nuclear button, and the United States will vanish into a nuclear inferno. In about 1,000 years, when the human race begins once more to emerge from the Stone Age, nobody will even remember that the USA ever existed.


Yours sincerely,
Lemuel Gulliver. said...

Thank you for your efforts.

MoT said...

"Once you sign that contract and take your second oath, they own you."....

Daniel, I used to believe that, having served in the military like my dad, but no longer.

I look at it this way. If because of some clause buried deep within sub-section Z sub-article X-ray addendum 666, the signer of said "contract" forgoes all freedoms to originator (liar) of said "legal" instrument, (to be freely reinterpreted as to "legality" or "terms" as originator so wills at any time or for any reason) then I see no recourse for the person with a conscience but to say "NO".

Do absolutely nothing even if it means getting tossed in the slammer or skipping the country. I say this for single people more so than those with family since "family" is sort of an oxymoron within the military establishment.

They have violated the spirit of association and contract so you needn't participate in their evil charade.

As someone who at seventeen didn't know better I was browbeaten into believing the garbage being force fed to me. You don't see them recruiting forty-somethings with no prior military experience do you? If they were forced to only go after the older crowd they'd never have enough robots to program.

This is something anyone in Idaho or any other state for that matter. Notice your congress-critters with their cliche'd posters and find out how many trumpet "strong defense" next to "protecting the unborn".

Clearly there is a disconnect here. One cannot advocate blowing people to kingdom come, and the robbing through taxes in order to support those actions, and then pooh-pooh the taking of a life before they breathe their first.

I just don't get it.

MoT said...

"nobody will even remember that the USA ever existed."...

There was a movie called "Idiocracy", full of cussing so I wouldn't recommend for the family and I certainly won't see it again, but it did paint a picture of Americas culture that is all too obvious. It's incredibly mean and stupid.

Anonymous said...

and of course we have too many of the; i support the war, i wave a flag as i do nothing but eat ice cream and cake,and deny the truth, live in ignorance and hide behind patriotism which is a virus not a holy thing. I am surrounded by them.

Doc Ellis 124 said...

Will 552pm: Please review the ending sentence of your response at 5.52pm

Mot 808am: please review paragraph six, first sentence.

Mot 814am: Does the last sentence refer to the movie, or to American culture?

anon 849am: What is the object of your first sentence? It has adjectives but no object.

troll Doc Ellis 124

Will Blalock said...

The military will always forever be
a draconian institution. Young men
who think the military is a macho
path to manhood are its staple fodder.

Robin's recruiter lied? Of couse he lied,
he's under orders to lie.

Joining was mistake #1.
Fleeing was mistake #2.

Looks like Robin will spend the
next 15 months playing Halo, Sniper,
Mercenary, Combat and Grand Theft Auto
in the brig rather than in the barracks.

belinda said...

If GWB and his crew keep playing with Russia, we'll all be nuked sooner than we think.

William N. Grigg said...

Doc -- Thanks! I was obviously dozing off toward the end of writing my comment. That's odd: My prose usually puts others to sleep....

(I'm serious about dozing off, incidentally. In recent months I've developed a really nasty case of narcolepsy.)

Here's how the comment should have read:

robin, that wasn't a typo, and Tim Richards' experience is not unique. I'm aware of a few other cases in which soldiers subject to stop-loss orders found their service contracts extended by decades.

What that means, in practical terms, is that they would be required to serve in active duty, and/or the reserves, for the indefinite future, until the military decides it's finished with them.

MoT said...

Doc, sorry for getting into the "heat" of the moment and letting those nasty grammatical habits rear their head. Were you politely telling me to proof read better or simply to shut up until my writing skills were up to, in your mind, the level of this present discourse? I can't tell you how many times I would love to go back and edit my comments but that's unfortunately not possible.

MoT said...

"Mot 814am: Does the last sentence refer to the movie, or to American culture?" - Doc

Both. It does hang there.

Anonymous said...


Have you ever had a sleep test done? You might suffer from sleep apnea. I was recently diagnosed with it and they will be performing an operation to correct the problem.
May the Lord bless you in your job search. He is a faithful God who always provides for us even when we know ourselves to be unworthy.


Paul W. Davis said...

I have to ask: Do you believe that man is inherently evil?

It bears greatly on my understanding of where you are coming from with this post.

Incidentally, I opposed the Iraq war for an entirely different reason: it was (and is) a strategic trap that the national leadership fell headlong into. I believe the Iraq affair should have been handled in an entirely different manner.

William N. Grigg said...

As a Christian I do not subscribe to the humanist idea that man is intrinsically good, and only our institutions have made him evil (as Rousseau supposedly learned in an epiphany).

I believe that our Creator has endowed us with a conscience and inscribed His law on our hearts, but that our inclination as fallen individuals is to war against that which we know (both through that witness and the evidence offered by creation itself) to be right and true.

I don't disagree with your view that Iraq is a strategic trap, as we're likely to learn quite soon. But I would oppose it even if it could be considered a roaring success and a strategic masterstroke, because it is a war of aggression and thus morally impermissible. said...

I don't disagree with your view that Iraq is a strategic trap, as we're likely to learn quite soon. But I would oppose it even if it could be considered a roaring success and a strategic masterstroke, because it is a war of aggression and thus morally impermissible.


Paul W. Davis said...

In what way do you view it as a "war of aggression?" It is solely because they did not overtly "attack" us?

Also, how do you square being a Christian with the Libertarian philosophy of man being intrinsically good? Virtually every Libertarain who boaches the subject of governance declares that man is able to govern himself. This is sonething the Scripture does not teach at all.

William N. Grigg said...

Iraq did not attack or threaten us in any way.

Its government under Saddam Hussein was a sub-contractor of Washington from roughly the mid-1960s until about July 1990. During that time the only act it committed that was remotely a causus belli was the 1987 exocet attack on the USS Stark, which the Reagan administration blamed on Iran. (That attack wouldn't have happened, of course, if we hadn't dispatched a fleet to patrol the Persian Gulf on behalf of Kuwait.)

The US has conducted an illegal war of aggression against Iraq since 1991. Washington bombed Iraq every week between 1991 and 2003, subjected the country to a murderous embargo, and then invaded and occupied that nation without legal justification of any sort.

In what sense is this not a war of aggression?

I don't consider myself responsible to answer for the views of other libertarians, much less qualified to speak on their behalf. I do reject the idea that the Bible's teachings foreclose the possibility of self-government, however.

If we are incapable of self-government, why should we defer to the rule of others who share that incapacity? Or are they somehow exempt from the shortcomings of fallen human nature?

The Ten Commandments say nothing about obedience to government. Neither do the Two Great Commandments (love God with your entire being, and love your neighbor -- which means to respect his rights -- as yourself), or the Golden Rule. The Beatitudes do not assume the enforcement apparatus of a state. Jesus and His forerunner John the Baptist were civil in their dealings with political authorities, but they lived almost state-less lives. Until, of course, the State inflicted criminal violence upon them.

Prior to the apostasy of Israel recorded in I Samuel 8, the Israelites had the blessing of living without a temporal/secular government.

The reason the Israelites wanted such a government -- thereby, as the Lord told Samuel, rejecting God as their ruler -- was so they would have someone to lead them to war, just as their neighbors did.

There's a lot more to say on this subject, but I'm currently taking up too much time on a hotel computer terminal while my family awaits breakfast....

Doc Ellis 124 said...

mot 626,631: I sent these replies. Am trying again.
626:Proofread better. You make excellent points. You undermine your presentation of your case when you have errors such as those to which I directed your attention. When you realise that you have erred, you can clarify in a follow-up post. Please continue to post. Thank you for your comments to discussions. (btw: you are correct, I am conceited. I am also arrogant)
631: I agree that the comment hangs there, but because I am sofa king wee todded, I needed clarification. That's why I asked. It is a clever double entendre.
troll Doc Ellis 124

Anonymous said...

On the subject of the police brutallity video you have linked:
Let me make this very clear. If any member of my family are ever treated in this manner, I will not hesitate to kill the officer responsible. Only once we all vow to do the same will such horrible acts of state sponsored terrorism end.

Anonymous said...

"Have you ever had a sleep test done? You might suffer from sleep apnea. I was recently diagnosed with it and they will be performing an operation to correct the problem."

from buffalo_girl ~

For over ten years I was therapeutically treated for sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and finally hypothyroidism.

All three conditions are associated with iodine deficiency.

You can either take prescription medications the rest of your life or find a doctor willing to work with you on iodine replacement.

It gets complicated because of the halogens we are exposed to from our drinking water, industrial food products, and from most flour products. They displace iodine in the thyroid.

DO NOT drink sodas with 'bromided oil'. They are the citrus drinks like Fanta & Mountain Dew. Bromide is an extremely dangerous halogen known to cause psychosis.

I was able to buy Lugol's Solution just before the DEA banned its nonprescription sale in July 2007 as a 'meth lab ingredient'. (Odd was also at the time Homeland Security was on orange alert over a possible 'nuclear attack' on the US. Lugol's contains 10% potassium iodide - exactly what should be taken to block exposure to radioactive iodine.)

I've had to experiment on myself as we are uninsured and there are no doctors here on the lone prairie who do anything but what the pharmaceutical corporations tell them to do.

After taking several drops of iodine a day for a number of months, I was able to wean myself from the thyroid replacement prescription. With a continuation of iodine drops each day I have had no return of sleep apnea. I sleep more soundly than I have for years. I still don't have the energy I would like, but I'm also not falling into catatonia as I had been. Since I'm old enough to collect social security if I were to apply, perhaps a bit of decline in energy is 'normal'.

Introductory research on iodine deficiency can begin here:


Dr. Monteith has interviewed several physicians who are working with iodine deficient patients.

William N. Grigg said...

I do not disagree with the assumption that there is a time to retaliate in kind against criminal violence by agents of the State. I do think killing someone is a disproportionate response to aggravated assault, however.

Yes, State agents are willing to go all the way up the escalation ladder against anyone who resists. Unfair as it is, we need to be better than those whom we're fighting.

So -- some tax-feeder shoves my sister to the ground, it would be perfectly proportionate to pound his goof a**.

If he were to threaten her with a gun, then lethal force would be proportionate.

Anonymous said...

Not sure how else to get this to you, Will, but this is chilling:

Anonymous said...

Will, I am not interested in occupying the moral high ground in such a situation. My only concern is defending my family and making sure the message is understood that such conduct will not be tolerated.

The idealist in me heartily agrees that two wrongs do not make a right.

The realist that has grown in me with the passing of time and experience, however, has learned that such idealism has very little practical use outside the hallowed halls of higher education we occupied in our youth.

Acting in such a way as to always occupy the moral high ground only empowers the enemy who does not encumber himself with such restrictions.

I have seen what many of us will have to become to defeat criminals like these.

Doc Ellis 124 said...

anon 613: You do know, don't you, that Bill Buckley said that anti-communists would have to become like communists to defeat communism.
Many anti-communists in the US government followed his advice. We Americans now have less liberty than before, and communism still thrives. If we become like the criminals that we are fighting, will we bring about more freedom or more crime? Is defeating the enemy worth doing if we become them?

troll Doc Ellis 124
aside:Will, is this post on-topic? Your column was about soldiers who attempt to withdraw from violated contracts. said...

It is revealed that the man accused of supplying the dynamite used in the March 2004 Madrid train bombings was an informant who had the private telephone number of the head of Spain’s Civil Guard bomb squad. Emilio Suarez Trashorras, a miner with access to explosives, as well as an associate named Rafa Zouhier both regularly informed for the Spanish police, telling them about drug shipments. Trashorras began working as an informant after being arrested for drug trafficking in July 2001, while Zouhier became an informant after being released from prison early in February 2002. Shortly after the Madrid bombings, investigators discover that Trashorras’ wife Carmen Toro has a piece of paper with the telephone number of Juan Jesus Sanchez Manzano, head of Tedax, the Civil Guard bomb squad. She and her brother Antonio Toro are also informants. said...

Arrest of Amy Goodman at RNC.