Allison Kilkenny: Unreported

Legalized Murder

Posted in Afghanistan by allisonkilkenny on September 20, 2008

Remember the wars, everyone? I know, it’s easy to get distracted with all of this talk about pigs and lipstick, but in Iraq and Afghanistan, the killing continues. Hell, it’s practically legal now!

Belmor Ramos, a US soldier who admitted to involvement in the shooting of Iraqi prisoners, has been sentenced to a puny seven months in prison for his internationally-condemned actions.

Inside an army base in Germany, Ramos finally faced the consequences of his actions last year in Baghdad when he stood by as four Iraqi prisoners were handcuffed, blindfolded, and then executed before him.

While Ramos didn’t pull the trigger, he did nothing to stop the killings. Ramos explained his actions to a military judge: “I wanted them dead. I had no legal justification or excuse to do this.”

Seven months, along with a dishonorable discharge, are the only punishments Ramos will receive. Seven other troops face charges. His supervising officers will likely avoid messy trials.

Meanwhile, Robin Long, the first US war resister was sentenced to 15 months in jail following his deportation from Canada. He too was dishonorably discharged, but Long received over twice the sentence of Ramos.

His only crime was going AWOL because he opposed the conflict in Iraq on legal and moral grounds.

In Iraq, murder is pretty much legal for Americans as long as you’re killing Iraqis, and conscientious objections are worse than murder in the US army. You may get a little slap on the wrist if you kill a bunch of Iraqis when they’re tied up. Ramos’s only miscalculation was when he failed to cut the buggers loose before he gunned them down, so he couldn’t claim they were charging him.

Back in 2005, the Pentagon reported that over 5,500 soldiers had gone AWOL in Iraq.

Another 5,000 deserted in 2007, alone.

The longer the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan go on, the more we will see brave men and women choose to discharge themselves. A soldier vows to uphold the Constitution, not to protect the unfettered greed of an authoritarian regime. First and foremost, soldiers defend the people of the United States, and part of that defense means refusing to obey insane orders like executing hooded and bound prisoners in violation of the Geneva Conventions.

The point is that no soldier can serve honorably in Iraq and Afghanistan because they are not there to defend a greater good. They’re there as occupying forces that can do nothing except perpetuate violence. Astute troops are beginning to understand their dire situations, and they’re looking for ways out.

When our soldiers decide enough is enough, they shouldn’t be treated worse than murderers. They should be embraced and welcomed home without fear of negative retribution for obeying their moral duties.

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