Sunday, November 27, 2005

Military Ethicist commits suicide in Iraq over 'immoral war'

Excerpt from LA Times article:
A note found in his trailer seemed to offer clues. Written in what the Army determined was his handwriting, the colonel appeared to be struggling with a final question.

How is honor possible in a war like the one in Iraq?


The Army would conclude that he committed suicide with his service pistol. At the time, he was the highest-ranking officer to die in Iraq.


Westhusing, 44, was no ordinary officer. He was one of the Army's leading scholars of military ethics, a full professor at West Point who volunteered to serve in Iraq to be able to better teach his students. He had a doctorate in philosophy; his dissertation was an extended meditation on the meaning of honor.

So it was only natural that Westhusing acted when he learned of possible corruption by U.S. contractors in Iraq. A few weeks before he died, Westhusing received an anonymous complaint that a private security company he oversaw had cheated the U.S. government and committed human rights violations. Westhusing confronted the contractor and reported the concerns to superiors, who launched an investigation.

In e-mails to his family, Westhusing seemed especially upset by one conclusion he had reached: that traditional military values such as duty, honor and country had been replaced by profit motives in Iraq, where the U.S. had come to rely heavily on contractors for jobs once done by the military.


When Westhusing entered West Point in 1979, the tradition-bound institution was just emerging from a cheating scandal that had shamed the Army. Restoring honor to the nation's preeminent incubator for Army leadership was the focus of the day.

Cadets are taught to value duty, honor and country, and are drilled in West Point's strict moral code: A cadet will not lie, cheat or steal — or tolerate those who do.

Westhusing embraced it. He was selected as honor captain for the entire academy his senior year. Col. Tim Trainor, a classmate and currently a West Point professor, said Westhusing was strict but sympathetic to cadets' problems. He remembered him as "introspective."

Sad to say that the "army" that serves the neocons is a totally different creature.

In fact, though, there were neocon types in the 60s, including President Johnson. That is the era and Vietnam is the war that spawned the proverb that "The first casualty of war is truth". And indeed the numbers of lies told by officers during and over the invasion and occupation of Iraq has been staggering, though the corporate press does not dare to openly rebuke the speakers. Their best efforts will come later in a story that is given little air, that such and such a program (that an officer had declared well done and a boon to the Iraqi people was another waste within the hundreds of billions of dollars going down the drain to support what now looks a lot like a Stalinist government in Iraq.

How many of our young people will die supporting this new totalitarian state or just managing the civil war that ensues as the Shiites and Kurds grab what they can in wealth and power, while the Sunnis fight back the only way they can?

I'd say the current conflict looks more and more like Vietnam everyday.

We're just waiting for the photo of some general blowing some poor guy's brains out in a summary execution.

A Journey That Ended in Anguish


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