Dear Senator Levin,
You wrote, in your recent correspondence, that you told the servicemen and women in Iraq "that Congress and the American people are proud of them and back them one hundred percent..." Since you presume to be speak for not only your constituents, such as myself, but for the American people in general, I think it is incumbent upon you to explain what it means to be "proud" of the troops in Iraq, and what it means to "back them one hundred percent."
Is not to say that one is "proud" of the soldiers also to say that one is proud of what they have accomplished? In this case, what has been accomplished is a war of aggression, defined as "the supreme international crime" at Nuremberg. Are Americans proud of this? Should they be proud of this? Are we to "back" this "one hundred percent"? Should we? Why should Americans be "proud" of soldiers who participate voluntarily and willingly in a war of aggression? Why should we "back" such a crime "one hundred percent"? What is there to be "proud" of in that? What is there to be "proud" of about a heinous international crime containing within itself numerous lesser war crimes? Shall we be "proud" of the estimated 600,000 Iraqis that have been killed as a result of this crime? Shall we "back" this violence "one hundred percent"? Shall we be "proud" of the chaos Iraq has been thrown into as a result of this crime? Should we "back" it "one hundred percent"? Or perhaps we should be "proud" of these soldiers because they obey orders?
Another principle enshrined at Nuremberg is that "individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience imposed by the individual state.... The true test...is not the existence of the order, but whether moral choice was in fact possible."
I, for one, am proud of those members of our armed services who have courageously stood up and refused, saying, "I will not fight an unjust war predicated upon lies and deceptions." Among those who have gone to Iraq, I am proud of those who have spoken out against crimes and abuses they have seen there. I am proud of those who used their position to prevent or mitigate further atrocities and further violence, rather than willfully escalating them or doing nothing; men like Joseph M. Darby, who acted with the modicum of decency and morality necessary to report the abuses he witnessed at Abu Ghraib to his superiors in order to try to put an end to it.
As for support, I supported the troops one hundred percent prior to the invasion of Iraq on March 20 and the escalation of bombing on March 19 of 2003. I supported them by doing what little I could to prevent them from going to fight an unjust, immoral war. I supported them by writing to friends and family to declare my protest of the coming war and to encourage others to similarly speak out against a planned war of aggression. I supported them by pointing out the patent lies and blatant deceptions of the Bush administration in making their case for war (you and everybody else knows that this notion of an "intelligence failure" is a myth; the emperor has no clothes, so let us dispense with this thinly veiled pretense of naivete). I supported American servicemen and women one hundred percent prior to the invasion by trying to prevent them, in whatever meager way I knew how, from being sent to fight and die in a war of aggression. I support them now by saying they should come home. Now.
Given the wide variety of meanings different people associate with the notion of being proud of and supporting American servicemen and women, I think a clarification of your meaning would be appropriate.
Jeremy R. Hammond