I read a post from one of my friends on Facebook today that stung…. It made light of the actions of another country based on the premise that we had no right to take action against the country because we (the USA) have been responsible for similar conditions. I have posted the words my friend wrote below. I challenge each of us to read them and then really think about how we feel about the combined situation.
In 2004 at Fallujah
US forces used White Phosphorus a chemical weapon in shake and bake operations.
The use of WP is illegal in civilian areas according to international law and
according to US laws of war.
I spent six years on active duty in the army and the marine corps. I deployed hundreds of WP. And I had hours if training about the rules of war and my responsibilities under the Geneva convention. I knew for example that illegal orders were illegal to follow and I would be held rounds and were illegal to use as such. I knew killing civilians intentionally is illegal. And killing prisoners is murder.
I was never told that using WP as part of a military operation in the vicinity of civilians (eg a city like Fallujah) was illegal.
Yet we did it.
Now the United States claims the moral authority to take action against Syria for alleged war crimes as a result of their use of chemical weapons that killed women and children.
We need to clean our own house before we cast stones at others. We need to stand down. On Syria.
My initial thoughts after reading my friend’s post was agreement—how can we condemn Syria’s actions when we have also behaved so reprehensively. ….BUT…. Not taking action against Syria doesn’t sit well with me either. Like it or not, the world has learned to look to the US for assistance when they have been treated so shamefully, and we have developed a reputation for being there to assist those countries in their time of need. I wonder if we can really justify the damage done by Syria just by saying that we need to clean our own house before providing assistance to their victims?
I agree with my friend. We need to clean house. I find it morally reprehensible that we have allowed our elected officials to order military engagements that defy the Geneva Convention. It is also unconscionable to require our soldiers to fulfill those orders and then make them responsible for the illegal activity. I have long felt the need to make a public stand about my feelings, but I have failed to do anything beyond gossip about it with my friends at lunch or in coffee shops.
I am grateful to my friend for bringing his feelings to the forefront, and I apologize to him that my portion of the collective inaction of American citizens was responsible for putting him in such a terrible morals and values situation. I am sorry for the grief he feels almost ten years after being in that spot! And last, I want my friend to know that I am accepting my responsibility to do everything I can to help change American terrorist behavior to behavior that is acceptable in war—behavior not against the Geneva Convention. But….. I also want my friend to know that I will also begin to let my elected officials know what I want done about countries like Syria, because the world needs US leadership, and we, as a country, need to continue to accept responsibility for helping those who need our help.
These things need to be done, not because it will sway public opinion to favor the United States, but because they are the RIGHT thing to do. I need to start honoring my own ethics and values. I need to take responsibility for what I think is right, and use the tools provided me by the founders of our country to let the people I chose to serve me know WHAT IS RIGHT—BECAUSE IT IS RIGHT!
No more will gossiping about how I feel about politics or the world at lunch suffice. I am increasing my efforts to be heard with this blog, with posts on Facebook, and maybe, a letter to the editor. If I don’t make what I believe public, I have no right to complain when things don’t go the way I want them to go. I know that my one voice is tiny, and it probably won’t have much volume. However, I believe that many of you feel the way I do, and our voices collectively can have great sway!
So, I challenge each of you---It is NOW time to make your comments heard here, on this site, and to start on Facebook with a LIKE and a SHARE with a COMMENT stating how you feel about the terrorist behavior the US has been responsible for, and the terrorist behavior conducted by other countries. It doesn't take long to let your voice be heard, but it WILL BE POWERFUL! We are fortunate as American citizens to have the inalienable right to FREE SPEECH! Now is the time to USE IT! Then, also let your voice be heard through media contacts, in your church, in your workplace, in your schools, and in your home! Post on Blogs, write a letter to the editor, call in to radio shows. Start to take your responsibility to be the American Citizen you want others to see you be!
We are citizens of the greatest country on earth! Take the responsibility you have! Make your voice heard!