Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Mutiny Incident Among US Troops in Iraq?!

Hi Everyone,

The news media is currently under reporting a major story from Iraq. It is getting some attention but the stories are buried and didn't even have the story on its page for a full day! It seems that a full platoon of US Army Reserve troops from South Carolina (343rd Quartermaster Company) refused to drive a convoy of fuel trucks in Iraq recently because they were dissatisfied with the equipment they had (they insist it is worn out and unsafe) and with the lack of escorting troops. The unit has been in Iraq for over 9 months and these type of convoys have been attacked frequently. Technically, this was an organized refusal to obey a lawful order by superior officers. However, their claimed reason for refusing makes this very dangerous politically. Here is a link to the LA Times story on the issue (on their webpage, the story link was nested under another headline that wasn't directly related). The Army is handling this with kid gloves. They are saying things "valid concerns" etc. The last thing the Bush administration wants right now is a major story to get out that volunteer troops who are otherwise "gung ho" are so unhappy about their equipment and troop strength that they would risk being charged with mutiny in protest.

Here is the Webster's revised unabridged definition of the word mutiny: "Insurrection against constituted authority, particularly military or naval authority; concerted revolt against the rules of discipline or the lawful commands of a superior officer; hence, generally, forcible resistance to rightful authority; insubordination."

This is a very disturbing development and is reminiscent of of the kinds of things that happened in incidents when moral collapsed in Vietnam.

Comments? Discussion?


The Law Talking Guy said...

This ought to be getting much wider coverage. It underscores the need for Kerry's "help is on the way." We may be surprised to find a large number of troops voting for a veteran who promises to help them, over a current administration that actually cut combat pay.

Prof. Werner von Brawn said...

This is not a clear cut issue for the troops, I would imagine. While some troops are going to be cheesed off at their pay, being deployed overseas for so long, etc., most are still going to vote Republican. The military, as countless studies have shown, is clearly dominated by Republicans, if not right wing ones. For those with access to the Cambridge Univeristy Press website, check out Oli Holsti's article in the recent Perspectives on Politics for one source of data. For more anecdotal evidence, see Russell Burgos's piece in the same issue.

This event does nothing to change that. While the general public may be swayed against the administration by these revelations, this is not such an obvious conundrum for the troops. These soldiers are likely going to be charged with mutiny or dereliction of duty, which is not going to be ignored by the troops. The military is obviously built on a system of following orders, even when you don't see the logic in them or what good it might do you...and even when you fear for you life. That is a part of being in the military. Many others have been ordered into a whirlwind of death and destruction--Charge of the Light Brigade, anyone?--and many others have volunteer for such missions. I can easily imagine that troops in the field may have a different reaction to this than those of us at home. While we may see sane actions by those who feel they have been pushed too far and left unprotected, your typical grunt may see weakness, an inability to follow orders, and cowardice or betrayal--cardinal sins in the military.

Likewise, Kerry must be extremely careful in how he deals with this issue. My reaction would be to touch on it briefly, if asked, but to word it so that no matter the outcome of this case, he appears as pro-soldier and anti-adminsitration. No mean feat, but I think that running with this issue is playing with fire. Say it's terrible, say there must be law and order within the ranks of the military and you must obey your superiors, but also say that the adminsitration needs to make sure it's soldiers are equipped to fight and that there are enough troops in Iraq to ensure that all Americans in the US armed forces come home safely.

The Law Talking Guy said...

The hook for Kerry is that they are complaining about equipment shortages. He can say, "While this mutiny is a serious matter, so is the shortage of materiel. Supporting our troops is not about words - it's about deeds. Help is on the way."

You are correct, of course, that he cannot be seen as making political hay out of the disobedience.

Raised By Republicans said...

Regardless of what Kerry should or shouldn't do I'm upset that the press isn't reporting this. They gave MUCH more attention to whether Kerry should have mentioned Mary Cheney's sexual orientation or not. You tell me which is more important.

The question is this: is the lack of coverage due to incompetence (not realizing this is an important story) or to pressure from the White House not to run stories that "could undermine the troops."

Prof. Werner von Brawn said...

Or the third option, there is simply no information out there and nothing new happening right now. Or the fourth, that things have been sealed by the court. Or fifth, that nobody connected with the case is talking.

Sometimes, all of the information doesn't appear at once. Patience is a virtue, grasshopper.

Raised By Republicans said...

When has lack of information or anyone to go on the record EVER stopped the 24 hour news cycle from making a stink about something? Besides, its not like everone ran a headline story and then said, "since we don't have the details we'll shut up now." They never even fully reported the basic story. What stories were run were deep inside websites or barely mentioned in long lists of "things that happened today."

This is a huge story that most Americans don't even know happened at all - forget about details.

Dr. Strangelove said...

There's an article in today's LA Times, "Ind Defense of Their Soldiers that details how relatives of the troops are trying everything they can to get the word out to the public. Here's one of my favorite parts.

[Theresa] Hill got a recorded message from her daughter, Pvt. Amber McClenny, 21, asking her to "raise pure hell." Hill started calling the families of the detained soldiers one by one. "We did it on our own initiative," Hill said. "I just called 'em up and said: 'This is what has happened to your soldier, and they are begging for media attention.' They want this to go as big as it can go."