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US military circles are now noticing that some of the Americans who had the misfortune to fight in the Bush forces in Iraq are now in homeless shelters in the US. Almost 1/5 of all the veterans have serious mental problems.
The situation of being part of an occupying army, hated and fought by a population ready to die to win back its independence, frequently killing helpless civilians and seeing one's buddies do so, confronts a person with a moral conundrum: to continue on their path and survive means becoming a monster. The moral justifications that help soldiers fighting a justified and legitimate war to remain ethical beings are not available.
The only clear solution to the conundrum is to desert. For those that went in thinking they were going to "serve their country", this requires recognizing that everything they had been told was a lie, and what they serve has become evil. Doing it would mean cutting themselves off from everything and everyone they have ever known, including their buddies and their family. Few people have the moral courage for that; it is much easier to tell oneself there remains some doubt, not to do anything drastic, to "keep on keepin' on".
But those who don't solve the conundrum are compelled to suffer its effects. Either they deny the facts of what they have done, which means reinforcing the lie to a point where it becomes insanity, or they hate themselves for it. Either way, they end up more or less crazy. They have serious mental problems, and may end up homeless.
I feel sorry for every one of them, but they are suffering this wrong as a consequence of commiting a much greater one, and we must not disregard the latter for the former. The sooner the Bush forces are defeated and out of Iraq, the fewer Iraqis, and the fewer Americans, will have their lives ruined by this inexcusable war of aggression.
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Copyright (C) 2006 Richard Stallman
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