Because I sometimes stay up all night, I'm one of the first to read emails from someone else that stays up all night. He's a former Marine, Vietnam veteran, civil engineer, and dedicated anti-war everything. Zero four eighteen hours this morning, he wrote:
Code Pink . . . protests of the Marine Officer Recruiting Office in downtown Berkeley . . . have drawn fire from the right wingnuts such as Move America Forward, Michelle Malkin, and Melanie Morgan, KFSO AM 560 squawk-show loonie, who are calling on all Good Americans to show up at noon on Wednesday at the recruitment station, (Shattuck @ University--Downtown Berkeley BART station) with flags and other patriotic-appearing shit to give Code Pinkos what for.
So, on Wednesday morning I will go to the streets of Berkeley with many other true patriot dissidents, to demonstrate determinedly non-violent incredulity to whatever form of uninformed war apologists show up.
The recruiting office that Bay Area activists would like to shut down is fairly new, and slightly different in its operation that most. It is an "Officer Selection" office, and sees college to-be graduates who think they want to lead others into bloody combat, and be responsible for everything that happens after that. The commander of the office, Captain Lund, is youg, earnest, professional, and diplomatic.
We had a lengthy conversation on the first day of the Code Pink protest, he and I. It ranged from some personal topics (I was raised in a military family, and one of my sons is a currently deployed Navy officer), over to the various ways that the phrase "support the troops" is interpreted (he acknowledged the sincerity of peace activists who want them home, NOW), and finally to Army LT Ehren Watada's refusal to obey orders for deployment of himself and his unit.
Things got a little fuzzy at that point, because his view was that LT Watada's stand, if it spread, would be a challenge to civilian authority over the military. His oath to uphold and protect the Constitution meant to him that the military had no voice in its own use, no matter how cynical. He maintained that the Constitution detailed foreign policy--"war is diplomacy [or "politics"] by other means"? (Clausewitz) to the President.
I couldn't dissuade him, although the Constitution assigns ambassadoral appointments and receptions, and treaty negotiating, to the Executive office. Although he was a little heated in asking me why I wasn't putting the pressure on Congress instead (why did he think I wasn't?) he didn't seem to understand that the Representative Branch holds real authority in foreign policy--at the pleasure of the people of the United States--when it does its job. And when all branches give a damn about the Constitution at all.
So there's a thinking Marine officer, only fuzzy on the most critical aspect of why he does what he does, and why I and others do what we do. The role of the active duty military in ending U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War may have escaped him--civilian authority survived that one. If W, or anyone around him, cared about history and possessed critical thinking ability, they might see the some evidence that the spirit of the GI Movement that helped to end the Vietnam war is alive and growing. For a recent example, see today's diary by Brandon Friedman (Angry Rakkasan), "Army Offers Captains $35K; Captains Give Blistering Response."
The tactical lines are not clear on the anti-war side of this protest. We would be somewhat more effective if they were, I think. There is a difference in approach that showed up when the Corps' office was postered and the sidewalk covered with chalked outrage and insults aimed at the Marines within. Nothing was permanently damaged, but activists who believe that type of protest will help drive the office out of Berkeley, and those who want to focus on preventing the creation of Marine Corps officers, occasionally have some different ideas on what works, and what's unproductive.
We have no questions at all about why we're all there. So at noon tomorrow, if the wingnut faithful called up by Michelle Malkin and Muslim-baiter Melanie Morgan, and their ilk, show up at Shattuck Square and try to behave as they've been enouraged, those sibling issues will disappear like chalk on a sidewalk.