Monday, January 12, 2009

Where Does The Right of Self Defense End?

By my moral compass, self-defense is not an unlimited right since a higher directive tells me to love my neighbor as myself and a guiding inspiration tells me that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

I would be completely unjustified in claiming that I was merely defending myself if I began shooting at a mugger in a crowd, knowing full well that the bullets could end up hitting people who had nothing at all to do with the mugging. It would be particularly reprehensible for me to drop a bomb on a neighborhood simply because someone in that neighborhood was defiantly shooting fireworks at my home because of some kind of long term feud.

Just in case you do not understand my allusions; I am officially declaring that I do not support my government's declared policy with regard to Israel. It is morally unsustainable, stupid in both the short and long terms, and something that must be changed as soon as possible. This is, of course, not an easy thing to do. It is not easy for me as a serving military officer to state a position that is opposition to the elected government's position. Here I take my oath of office seriously and remind people that commissioned officers in the Navy agree to adhere to the Universal Code of Military Justice which requires us to obey orders, but we also swear an oath to the Constitution of the United States of America that requires us to defend that Constitution against all enemies "foreign and domestic". That oath is silent on obeying orders.

In my interpretation of that responsibility, it means that commissioned officers swear an individual loyalty to the founding principles of the country, to the established checks and balances and to the limited powers of the executive office holder. I would never organize or participate in any kind of coup, but I feel it is my moral obligation to speak up and to attempt to bring my country's official policies back in line with our historical justification for our own existence.

Our policy of preventive attack is illegal under the way that I understand international law - aggression against another nation was the first real crime that gained the status of international law. Bombing civilians, even with "precision" weapons cannot be justified, even if we used that technique during WWII. Israel, by following the Bush doctrine's lead, has attempted to elevate its right of self-defense to a level higher than is justified by morality of law.

Armies and navies are required to take all possible actions to avoid harming non-combatants; claiming, as some do, that entire civilian populations represent supporters for the combatants is tantamount to using the same justifications used by the 911 attackers on the World Trade Center. I do not buy it for either side.

Please think deeply about why the US government continues to tacitly support and enable Israel to use carefully engineered explosive devices to destroy lives and property for innocent residents of Gaza who have no possible way to escape their destructive force. Here is another thing to ponder - why do some think that Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) are somehow less moral as weapons than those developed at enormous expense? Why are roadside bombs considered to be an asymmetric threat when F-16 dropped bombs are not? Both kill without discrimination.

Here are a couple of quotes from a recent report by the Congressional Research Service regarding military aid to Israel:
Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II. From 1976-2004, Israel was the largest annual recipient of U.S. foreign assistance, having recently been supplanted by Iraq. Since 1985, the United States has provided nearly $3 billion in grants annually to Israel.

Strong congressional support for Israel has resulted in Israel’s receiving benefits that may not be available to other countries. For example, Israel can use U.S. military assistance both for research and development in the United States and for military purchases from Israeli manufacturers. In addition, all U.S. foreign assistance earmarked for Israel is delivered in the first 30 days of the fiscal year. Most other recipients normally receive their aid in installments. Congress also appropriates funds for joint U.S.-Israeli missile defense programs.

In August 2007, the Bush Administration announced that it would increase U.S. military assistance to Israel by $6 billion over the next decade. The agreement calls for incremental annual increases in FMF to Israel, reaching $3.1 billion a year in the near future. The Administration has requested $2.4 billion in military assistance and no economic aid for Israel in FY2008. H.R. 2764, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008 provides the full Administration request.
Did you know just how much of your tax money was going into building up Israel's military might? Do you like the way it is being used? Does it frustrate you to know that Israel already has all of its US military assistance money for fiscal year 2009 (which started on 1 October 2008) and to realize that even now, there is little we can do to cut it off until next year?