The military glorifies the giving and obeying of orders as somehow something good for its own sake, something called "discipline" or "character." I can't judge whether I have either of those things, but I do know the last place I would ever have thought to turn for a career was an institution in which I would have had to do what a bunch of mean bastards said to do simply because they said to do it. That wouldn 't have worked. I'd have ended up a conscientious objector even in peace time.
But, of course, order-taking is common in many young people's households and potential workplaces. My whole life, whenever I've had a boss who's annoyed me I've quit my job. I've had the good fortune to always find another and to have strong support from family. Not everyone has that luxury. Clearly taking orders from a military officer could sound more liberating than taking orders from a Wal-Mart manager, particularly to someone who currently works at Wal-Mart.
But even such a person, facing a highly unpleasant and unrewarding work life, and facing a taxpayer-funded multibillion-dollar advertising campaign for military recruitment, would not for an instant consider joining the military if they had read "10 Excellent Reasons Not to Join the Military." The 10 reasons are:
1. You May Be Killed
This chapter was written by Cindy Sheehan. It alone should dissuade any potential recruit who does not hate his or her mother.
2. You May Kill Others
This chapter is timely, given the U.S. media's recent and long-in-coming awakening to the killing of civilians in Iraq by U.S. soldiers. Here Paul Rockwell recounts the stories of Iraq War veterans, including Jimmy Massey, Darrell Anderson, and Aidan Delgado. Massey says he was involved in a number of routine checkpoint killings. Anderson said, "At traffic stops, we kill innocent people all the time. If you are fired on from the street, you are supposed to fire on everybody that is there. If I am in a market, I shoot people who are buying groceries."
Delgado described killings at Abu Ghraib: "They opened fire on the prisoners with the machine guns. They shot twelve and killed three. I talked to one guy who did the killing. He showed me grisly photographs and bragged about the results. 'Look, I shot this guy in the face,' he said. 'See, his head is split open.' He talked like the Terminator. I was stunned and said, 'You shot an unarmed man behind a barbed wire for throwing a stone.' He said to me, 'Well, I said a prayer, and I gunned him down.' There was a complete disconnect between what he had done and his morality. He was the nicest guy, a family man, a courteous, devout Christian." (Was there a disconnect? He prayed his Christian prayer as he murdered a non-Christian. The connection seems unavoidable.)
3. You May Be Injured
If you sign up, you may not die, but you are quite likely to be injured, physically and psychologically. You may come back without arms, without legs, without eyes, without sanity. And if you're injured in a support role, not in combat, you won't even count as a statistic.
The stories in this chapter are painful. Robert Acosta, who lost his hand, among other injuries suffered in Iraq, described the attack on Iraq as a time of fear for himself and his fellow soldiers. The largest army the world has ever seen was aggressively attacking a ruined nation, using massive high-tech machinery, but the soldiers inside the trucks were focused on their fear of children:
"I got to call home almost every other day, which would change once we moved north. We stayed in a place called Camp Udairi, not too far from the Kuwait-Iraq border. The whole 1st Armored Division was there, and little by little troops were moving north. We heard stories of soldiers still getting ambushed and little kids stabbing them through the thin plastic on the Humvee doors."
4. You May Not Receive Proper Medical Care
In fact, judging by the accounts here and elsewhere, you are likely to be tossed aside as human waste and allowed to suffer all kinds of unnecessary misery.
5. You May Suffer Long-Term Health Problems
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