The Berg questions few are asking

I am shocked and hor­ri­fied by the decap­i­ta­tion of Nicholas Berg in Iraq, but not for the chest-puffing rea­sons the folks at Fox News are. U.S. mil­i­tary prox­ies held Berg with­out charges for an extend­ed peri­od of time and there are too many ques­tions about when he was released and who he might have been released to. I’m not one for con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries but there are real ques­tions as to how Berg end­ed up in front of those anony­mous, hood­ed butch­ers. What­ev­er the answers, the U.S. mil­i­tary is involved in his deten­tion, as is the FBI (who made him miss a plane that was sup­posed to take him out of Iraq last month), as is the U.S. gov­ern­ment back home who didn’t coöper­ate with his fam­i­ly to get him out of there.
My major piece on this is over on the main Non​vi​o​lence​.org site: “US mil­i­tary prox­ies held Berg before decap­ti­a­tion; who were his executioners?”:http://www.nonviolence.org/articles/000340.php
I’m sure to get even more hate mail than usu­al for this but I’ll also be watch­ing the main­stream media cov­er­age. I only know of many of these details because Berg was local and Chan­nel 10 News gave back­ground to Berg’s deten­tion. Here’s my pre­dic­tion from past expe­ri­ence: this sto­ry will be too hot for the main­stream media to ques­tion for a few days and then it will only be to report that there are some nut­cas­es ask­ing ques­tions. Only after a few days of this kind of second-hand ques­tion will the nation­al media drop the fas­cade and start ask­ing the ques­tions them­selves. It should be a fun week ahead.

Conscientious Objection, After You’re In

Here’s a web­site of “Jere­my Hinz­man, a U.S. Army sol­dier who became a a con­sci­en­tious objector”:http://www.jeremyhinzman.net/faq.html in the course of his ser­vice. His appli­ca­tions denied, he moved to Cana­da and is seek­ing polit­i­cal asy­lum there.
I find I can under­stand the issues all too well. In only a slightly-parallel uni­verse, I’d be in iraq myself instead of pub­lish­ing Non​vi​o​lence​.org. My father, a vet­er­an who fought in the South Pacif­ic in World War II, real­ly want­ed me to join the U.S. Navy and attend the Naval Acad­e­my at Annapo­lis. For quite some time, I seri­ous­ly con­sid­ered it. I am attract­ed to the idea of ser­vice and duty and putting in hard work for some­thing I believe in.
Hinzman’s sto­ry is get­ting a lot of main­stream cov­er­age, I sus­pect because the “escape to Cana­da” angle has so many Vietnam-era echoes that res­onate with that gen­er­a­tion. I wish Hinz­man would flesh out his web­site sto­ry though. His Fre­quent­ly Asked Ques­tions leaves out some impor­tant details that could real­ly make the sto­ry – why did he join the Army in the first place, what were some of the expe­ri­ences that led him to rethink his duty, etc. I’d rec­om­mend Jeff Paterson’s “Gulf War Refusenik”:http://jeff.paterson.net/ site, which includes lots of sto­ries includ­ing his own:
bq. “What am I going to do with my life?” has always been huge ques­tion of youth, and today in the wake of the hor­ror and tragedy of New York Sep­tem­ber 11th this ques­tion has increased impor­tance for mil­lions of young peo­ple. No one who has seen the images will ever for­get… If I hadn’t spent those four years in the Marine Corps, I might be inclined to fall into line now. Most of the time my unit trained to fight a war against peas­ants who dared to strug­gle against “Amer­i­can inter­ests” in their homelands-specifically Nicaragua, El Sal­vador, and Guatemala… Faced with this real­i­ty, I began the process of becom­ing un-American-meaning that the inter­ests of the peo­ple of the world began to weigh heav­ier than my self-interest. I real­ized that the world did not need or want anoth­er U.S. troop…
There are bound to be more sto­ries all the time of service-people who find a dif­fer­ent real­i­ty when they land on for­eign shores. How many will rethink their rela­tion­ship to the U.S. mil­i­tary. How many will fol­low Paterson’s exam­ple of becom­ing “un-American”?

Duck Rogers Gamma Ray Bombs

Like some­thing out of an old Looney Toons reel, the U.S. mil­i­tary is “try­ing to build a death ray bomb”:www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,12271,1018361,00.html. Part of the next gen­er­a­tion of bou­tique nuclear weapons the Pen­ta­gon craves, this one kills by send­ing nuclear gam­ma rays. The _Guardian_ arti­cle talks about how devel­op­ment of the new weapon might lead to a new arms race. This is of course quite pos­si­ble: new weapons throw off the bal­ance of pow­er and often cre­ate the per­ceived need for new defences in a con­tin­u­ing cycle.
One won­ders why the U.S. needs to be build­ing ever more sophis­ti­cat­ed weapons of mass destruc­tion. It already has enough nuclear weapons to ensure total destruc­tion of a coun­try and the two recent wars have shown that its mil­i­tary is quite effi­cient at inva­sion. A gam­ma ray weapon wouldn’t help in a sit­u­a­tion like North Korea, where there are more-conventional weapons they could strike back with that would seri­ous­ly hurt U.S. or its allies (even with­out their renewed nuclear weapon pro­gram their short-range mis­siles would dev­as­tate South Korea and Japan).