Expectations: The warrior immunized against the infection of moral blindness.
our adult children say when asked about who Americans are and what core values represent America's best message to the world?
our children opportunists with little regard for whatever America's core values truly represent because they are more motivated
by some slick sales presentation that says excitement awaits when you're on the path of being all that you can be?
they, as has been pointed out in several venues, children out of poverty who joined up out of economic and intellectual desperation?
they genuine civic-minded patriots who combine their personal sense of self-development with career objectives blended with
legitimate appreciation for what it means to live in the American democracy?
Or somewhere in between?
military recruits - both those who've enlisted and those with commissions - bring to the military initiation process that
set of ethics and morality cultivated in childhood. Although family circumstances in some cases were inadequate in helping
create a solid foundation of ethics and morals, most who join come out of families where at least some degree of a value system
was encouraged and demonstrated.
Ideally then, entry into military life would include a strengthening of moral and
ethical traits into a blend with a warrior's code of conduct.
Soldiers are neither devoid of nor excused from ethical
and moral responsibility. If - in destroying those preconceived notions considered by the military to be contrary to the values
and skills necessary in a soldier - new notions, values and skills do not include a strong sense of moral responsibility then
our basic training and combat training programs are harming both recruits and the nation.
Our sons and daughters are
not to become amoral killing machines totally lacking in moral responsibility. This sense of moral responsibility absolutely
must graduate from basic training intact in a soldier's mind and heart.
In the absence of real moral responsibility
in our soldiers, not only will we see more and more tragic incidents of the shaming of one's self, one's unit, one's branch
of service, one's community, and one's country, but the absence of moral responsibility will stand more fully revealed as
a flaw in the civilian society as well.
The antics of civilian leadership when it deliberately ignores or downplays
the horrific consequences of war, bombing campaigns and torture justified by something other than literal defense of the homeland
reflects a legitimate moral blindness.
We do not send our children out to fight irresponsibly with no sense of ethics
simply because the ethical and moral sense has been assigned to higher authorities.
We don't excuse our soldiers for
ethical and moral lapses because authorities placed in positions of appointed power have - with self-preserving hypocrisy
- labeled offenders as some few "bad apples," who deserve no further close scrutiny and need to be locked up, the key thrown
We should not tolerate civilian administrators pleading innocence because of the vast gap between the highest
echelons of authority and the lowest front line chain of command; that front line where sergeants can be punished because
a corporal suffered the same moral blindness as those self-serving civilians on Mount Olympus.
Moral blindness at an
even more starkly elevated level insists that:
An invasion that became a military occupation must be continued in the
name of staying on an immoral and unethical course of deliberate destruction of innocents because we were lied to by the liars
who now declare that to cease the immoral aggression would be "cutting and running."
This is the lack of moral responsibility
we've seen in the civilians now seated at the steering wheel who are passing judgment on the moral fiber of anyone who disagrees,
thereby labeling dissent as treason.
Our soldiers absolutely must emerge from basic and combat training with moral
I hope that stories of institutionalized programming of racial hatred, bigotry, stereotyping and
name-calling are not predominantly a part of teaching warriors a moral and ethical code. If the stories are true, I declare
here and now :
They are not doing it in my name nor on behalf of my family. I repudiate these tactics of moral
That is of course why we raise our children to become independent and self-reliant adults.
my son or daughter join the military and enter into its initiation, I am not being unreasonable in expecting the military
to blend its own sense of ethical and moral responsibility with that which we as parents have endeavored to plant in our children's
I clicked on a link in the article referred to at the end of this post and immediately found a book by Shannon
French entitled The Code of the Warrior.
This from the Amazon site quoting Publisher's Weekly:
"French, a professor of philosophy and ethics at the U. S. Naval Academy, believes
that the warrior needs an ethical framework not only to be an effective fighter but to remain a human being-and even to save
his or her soul."
To which I want to add that as an American citizen
who willingly endorses - if it happens - the decision of my own flesh and blood to join and serve in the military, I request
that the military act in ways that reflect professionalism, integrity and personal class, teaching the real moral and ethical
code of the warrior.
If my child has an officer's commission and is to become a leader of soldiers, I do not
expect a professional military leadership to attempt to destroy the inner sense of integrity of that fledgling officer. Nor
to try to replace integrity with moral blindness.
Moral blindness can be infectious and if left untreated will pass
from soldier to soldier, even from officer to officer.
Discernment is the key here and it is absolutely vital to this
nation that we do not place morally blind officers in positions of command that lead to blind amoral obedience.
do not want morally blind soldiers who cannot act competently when confrontations with ethical dilemmas arise. We want to
see in our soldiers' behavior a strong support for legal authority, moral authority and ethical authority. To the degree that
such authority is lacking or not modeled by the political leadership, America suffers.
This is no more amply demonstrated
than by behavior at the highest levels that denigrates genuine dissent and genuine efforts to ascertain legalities, moralities
and ethics involved in launching an invasion that has become an occupation of Iraq.
Hiding behind shallow "cut-and-run"
slogans demonstrates aptly and without question the moral and ethical shallowness of placing politics at the forefront of
national security priorities.
... of placing soldiers in confrontations demanding high ethical and moral values where
none were taught or encouraged in a military too focused on fear of its civilian leadership.
Our 2004 election has
been publicized as a victory for voters supporting moral values. The most prominent and whining conservative Religious leaders
in this country have contributed to this fog of confusion regarding ethics and moral competency.
We have prominent
voices declaring ethical nonsense like the U.S. should "blow them away in the name of the Lord," (J. Falwell)
or the disingenuous non-Christian immorality of looking the other way while a Republican administration invaded and occupied
Iraq, requiring our children in the military to kill thousands of innocent Iraqis in the process.
These are ethical
and moral lapses of the highest gravity - especially when it's revealed that Christian celebrities and policy lobbyists consider
a Constitutional amendment against gay marriage or teaching creationism in schools to be higher godly priorities than murder
wearing an American Military uniform.
... As if God were focused on gays and evolution, looking the other way
with no almighty interest in focusing a divine gaze on Iraq.
So what do we do when a soldier refuses an order based on his own developed sense of ethics, morality, loyalty and patriotism?
from the author of The Code of the Warrior
"The best way to ensure that military personnel will not commit a war crime even if
given (illegal) orders to do so by a superior officer, is, not to drill them on codes of conduct and provisions of international
law but rather to help them internalize the significance of the history and tradition of the military and of concepts such
as honor and courage in order to develop a coherent sense of what it means to be a member of the military."
What does the initiation into the military teach our children?
Discipline ... which of course
takes many forms.
What does moral and ethical discipline look like in the life of an American soldier?
moral and ethical values are the primary instinctive and emotional guides in a human being?
Certainly none taught by
those infected with moral blindness.
I recommend the following article:
Teaching Military Ethics: Personal Development versus Moral Drill
By Mrs. E.M. Wortel
Faculty of Military Sciences
Netherlands Defense College
Netherlands Royal Military School
Which can be found at
The International Military Ethics Symposium.
Cross posted to Daily Kos
Set up in basic training to act in such a manner.
Anyone who's seen current films about the military in which basic training and combat training are discussed can't help but
see how military training attempts to "desensitize and dehumanize" recruits presumably for their own good ... so when they
need to harm or kill someone attacking the homeland, the soldier's defense can be timely and instinctively automatic.
Perhaps on the highest level, where what is suspect is the need for sabre-rattling and war, we ought to make a case for peace,
an end to all wars and the need to brainwash our children with hate and authorized aggressiveness.
On lower levels of reality, the military's ability to construct an effective organization that will literally defend the nation
requires recruiting with sizzle in order to lure future soldiers who will fight and fight effectively.
I do not want to see my child or grandchild brainwashed to hate another human being because of nationality (this more than
race since nationality facilitates a broader horizon of human beings who are all citizens of this nation's real or pretended
So it's a dilemma. Is there a better way to turn fun-loving dream-filled American young people into instinctive killing machines
without fracturing their humanity? Is that question an oxymoron?
All the more reason to demand of ourselves that we do our duty to make sure leaders have justifiable reasons for turning our
youth into characters like Kurt Russell in "Soldier."
This will become a cliche, but Haditha will reveal itself as a pattern, then a behavior and then a syndrome. Agent Orange
and My Lai will be wedded in modern Iraq by DU and Haditha.
But the ultimate cause lies at the head of the country, the so-called heart of our national leadership that has duped the
millions with an unjustifiable invasion built on lies and the commencement of a war to start all wars.
Yes, this is a problem of bad apples; apples apparently rotten to the core before they fell from their own poisoned apple
tree, rolled into our orchard and took over our government - contaminating and spreading their own rot among all of us.
© Arthur Ruger 2006, 2007