Editorial Attack On Moon Frightening

by Tony Palmeri

February 8, 2003

To The Editor:

I found your editorial attack on Jason Moon ("Modern Pacifist Defies Logic") frightening. To question the wisdom of having a pacifist serve in the armed forces is one thing, but your editorial went further. You wrote that "The military . . . is not the place to be for someone who has doubts about taking an enemy's life, or acknowledges he may hesitate to respond if attacked." Is that from the al-Qaeda training manual?

In the heat of battle, the line between civilian and "enemy" is often blurred. The 20th century featured unimaginable crimes against humanity in part because foot soldiers were trained to have no doubts about taking the lives of those defined as "enemies" by the politicians and commanders. The post-World War II Geneva Conventions and Nuremberg trials demonstrated that your vision of an Army as a "consolidation of like-minded soldiers" could be a blue print for mass murder and genocide.

During the My Lai Massacre of 1968, like-minded American soldiers brutally murdered hundreds of Vietnamese men, women, and children. Their commanding officer defined these people as the enemy. Helicopter Pilot Hugh C. Thompson intervened to stop the massacre, placing himself at great risk. Though the Pentagon tried to keep him in obscurity, Thompson in 1998 was finally awarded the Soldier's Medal for bravery.

Your editorial gives the impression that soldiers should follow orders and not question the morality of what they are being asked to do. But what if the orders are illegal? What if the war is immoral? What if the "enemy" is an innocent civilian? Those are the kinds of questions Hugh Thompson and Jason Moon are asking, as should all soldiers and civilians.

Please try to be more conscientious in your reporting and editorializing about war. Many innocent lives are at stake.

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