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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Calling bullsh*t on a shameful double standard

It never ceases to amaze me how the ultra-left moonbats of the Peace Now camp can keep a straight face while making pronouncements such as the following:

"Rightist elements are making a lofty effort to divide the IDF, and turn the Shimson Battalion into a private voice for the settlers...  It's up to the IDF to remove from reserve duty every soldier who supports insubordination, and tries to make the IDF political."

A little background for those who haven't been following the news:

At a recent swearing in ceremony for new soldiers of the Shimshon Battalion, a couple of the soldiers held up a banner critical of the use of IDF soldiers to expel settlers from their communities, and calling for soldiers to refuse orders to participate in such actions.

On the heels of this, a group of reservists from the same battalion circulated a letter stating that the Army should not be used to carry out 'political caprices'... especially those designed to pit Jew against Jew.

I am on record as being completely and unambiguously against soldiers refusing orders.  The entire process of creating a soldier - from basic training through every segment of his/her service - is designed to do only two things: condition him/her to think/act as part of a unit rather than as an individual... and to carry out lawful orders instantly without hesitation, fear or personal considerations.

Without this conditioning (brainwashing, if you wish), it would be impossible to get human beings to run towards gunfire, perform extremely dangerous and often painful physical acts and deliberatly take human life. 

The first two of these things is against every self-preservation instinct nature gave us, and the third is an ancient taboo that is deeply ingrained in our, and most other culture.  What we do to our soldiers is condition their instinct for self-preservation out of them, make them lose nearly all of their individuality (sense of self) and make them even set aside one of the most dearly held social laws of all; the prohibition against taking another life.

By politicizing soldiers, we are asking them to start thinking as civilians and acting as individuals.  Essentially, by telling them that they can/should refuse orders that conflict with their political sensibilities, we are undoing everything that makes them effective soldiers.

It's funny, though... when the left tells soldiers to refuse service in 'the territories' or to refuse to serve entirely, that is seen by them as a bold and honorable choice.  But if the right tells soldiers to refuse orders because of their own ideological conflicts, that is 'dividing the IDF'.

The only thing I can conclude form this is that the far left truly has no shame.

Even before the disengagement, I came out strongly against the government using the IDF for what amounted to domestic law enforcement (albeit on a large scale).  The army is not to be confused with a police force.  It is the government's primary resource for protecting the country from enemies, both foreign and domestic... not evicting or arresting law-breakers. 

When the Sharon/Olmert government made a deliberate decision in 2005 to use the IDF to uproot Israeli citizens (who, at worst, were breaking the law... not threatening the government or the country)...  the message was unmistakable; 'the settlers are the enemy'.  One can argue about the legitimacy and legality of the disengagement law.  But those who decided to defy it were at worst, law-breakers... not enemy combatants requiring the intervention of the army. 

But even so, I came out against soldiers refusing orders. 

As much as the previous government wanted to vilify the right in general, and settlers in particular, I felt (and still feel) that refusing orders would have allowed them to play the 'disloyalty card'; the demonstrably false notion that the right (especially the religious right) is disloyal to the state and is always poised to embroil the country in bloody civil war in the name of selfish Messianism.

And to treat the army as a hired hand filling in for the lack of manpower in the police force is also shameful.

The IDF is far more than just an army.  It is a social mechanism (perhaps the only one of its kind) where nearly all of Israel's diverse social, economic, cultural and religious groups are thrown together for an extended period of time and allowed to get to know one another.  This isn't necessarily the melting pot people might imagine it to be.  But it does allow people to get to know one another rather intimately who might otherwise go through life having only rumors and hearsay with which to judge 'those people' (whoever those people might be).

By forcing the army - a body made up of conscripts, not volunteers like the police - into a policing role against one specific segment of society, the government took one of the only unifying elements of our fragmented nation and divided it against itself.  And in my opinion, this was not done accidentally.  It was done to deliberately create a situation where rightists - a group which, ironically sends a far higher percentage of its population to field/combat units than the left, was forced to make a choice between forcefully confronting their ideological brethren... or being labeled disloyal citizens.

And here again with today's story we have the left playing the 'disloyalty card' against the right. 

Apparently leftists can refuse to serve in the army, refuse lawful orders based on disagreement with operational objectives, glorify draft dodging and even interfere with ongoing military operations (e.g. Machsom Watch or the moonbats carrying out nearly daily violence against security foreces near the village of Bi'ilin)... and it is considered an honorable matter of conscience rather than proof of disloyalty. 

But let rightists resist evacuation, stage violent protests or suggest that soldiers express individual opinions... and lookey here, we have us some disloyal citizens!

As I stated earlier, political sentiments such as those expressed by the Shimshon soldiers - regardless of whether I agree with them - are best be left to civilians to give voice.  But hearing Peace Now and their ilk attacking the very behavior they pioneered... well, I have to call bullsh*t on that, and on anyone who subscribes to such a shameful double standard.

Posted by David Bogner on November 11, 2009 | Permalink

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two comments
as you stated "to carry out lawful orders" is at question who decides?

Is it not the responsibility of the commanding officers to understand what is going on or are they just blind politicos covering their A**? They have the responsibility of of the soldiers to protect or they loose credibility will not be followed.

Posted by: dave | Nov 11, 2009 7:54:03 PM

Dave... I deliberately used the term 'lawful' to modify the word 'order' because there are obviously some orders that soldiers may not follow... such as those the Nazi soldiers followed during the holocaust. That is obviously an extreme example, but the idea is that while we don't want soldiers to think too much... we want them to understand where the bright lines are in terms of conduct and morality. Beyond that, all orders issued by the government are lawful until the supreme court decides otherwise. No soldier... not even very senior officers... may second guess the government. The military is the instrument of the government's policy. Soldiers don't make policy in the field. That's called anarchy. The obligation to question government decisions lies squarely on the civilian population. We need to leave the soldiers to do their job without interference or conflicting political input.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Nov 11, 2009 8:18:32 PM

Dave,

When David and I were in US Navy boot camp, we were taught military law (UCMJ) and the Law of Armed Conflict. The latter was instituted after the My Lai Massacre in Vietnam. Both covered the subject of lawful orders and the duty to disobey unlawful ones. I was told, and I'm sure David was too, that if we thought an order was unlawful and we disobeyed it, we had better be right. I heard that several times over my Navy career. Why such an emphasis on obeying orders? David already covered that pretty well but I'll add one more reason. Military forces that don't obey civilian leadership are a threat to the elected government that commands them. Not all coups begin in the senior ranks, either. One can look around the world and see the danger of a military that won't obey civilian leadership.

A banner put up by a handful of soldiers may not seem like a big deal but each act of sedition, like the one mentioned in David's post, is a crack in the foundation of free government and must be dealt with in a decisive manner. Free nations settle their issues at the ballot box or in the courts, not on the parade ground.

Posted by: Karl Newman | Nov 11, 2009 9:13:42 PM

Karl Newman... in fairness, I don't think the banners or the letter rise ot the level of sedition. But I agree with your overall point.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Nov 12, 2009 11:48:23 AM

So your argument is... since the left wing is hypocritical about refusing orders, the right wing has the right to be hypocritical as well?

Posted by: Shlomo | Nov 12, 2009 1:05:53 PM

Shlomo... If that is what you took away from this post then I have a suggestion for you: Unplug your computer, put it back in the box and donate it to some poor person who has basic reading comprehension skills so that they can enjoy the wonderful world of the Internet. You are obviously not able to read on a level that justifies the expense of a computer. Nowhere have I excused or forgiven hypocrisy on either side of the political divide. Nowhere have I said that the soldiers (or any other right wingers) have acted better than the left. The sole point of my post (which seems to have eluded you) is that the left does not have the right to condemn the right for behavior that they themselves condone in their own camp. In the future perhaps you can email me in advance for a 'Cliff Notes' version of the post so you can study up before posting a comment.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Nov 12, 2009 1:58:46 PM

David,

You're right. I went back and checked; it seems I misread the original news report. My bad.

BTW, one of the signatories to the letter is a reservist Staff Sergeant (Paygrade E-6 in the US) named Newman. Just a coincidence, of course. :)

Posted by: Karl Newman | Nov 12, 2009 10:43:05 PM

You're a few years younger than I am, so maybe your generation didn't belittle the Germans and others who excused their murder of Jews with: "I was just obeing orders."
There are times when the orders are wrong, immoral and/or dangerous.
During Olmert's Lebanon War, my son's commander was ordered to bunk them in a building which he deemed unsafe. He refused and they found another spot. Another officer obeyed the order and many of our soldiers were killed and wounded.
And about the Leftists, they're descended from the "non-conformists" of my day. I'll never forget overhearing: "All the non-conformists must have green bookbags."

Posted by: Batya from Shiloh | Nov 12, 2009 11:24:19 PM

Batya... You also seemed to have only skimmed my post. Th rem 'lawful order' is a very specific one that denotes legal, ethically acceptable orders issued by officers in the chain of a government's command. Soldiers may not refuse lawful orders for political reasons. full stop.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Nov 13, 2009 1:06:25 PM

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