What’s Your POV About ‘Soldiers of Conscience’?

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For those of you coming to this entry post-broadcast, Soldiers of Conscience is available on the POV website through November 30, 2008. Watch it now and return here afterward to enter your comments on the film.
Soldiers of Conscience is not a film that tells an audience what to think, nor is it about the situation in Iraq today. Instead, it tells a bigger story about human nature and war. The film begins with a little-known fact: after World War II, the Army’s own studies revealed that as many as 75 percent of combat soldiers, given a chance to fire on the enemy, failed to do so. The studies showed that soldiers, despite training, propaganda and social sanction, retained a surprising inhibition when it came to taking human life. The statistics surprised and alarmed America’s generals, who developed training techniques to overcome the reluctance to kill. But if the military found a solution to its problem, the moral contradiction for the individual soldier remained. The mental and emotional burdens carried by soldiers who have killed affect America’s families and communities after each of its recent wars. As this film shows, every soldier is inescapably a “soldier of conscience.”
Soldiers of Conscience airs on most PBS stations on Thursday, October 16 at 9 PM. (Schedules vary, so check your local listings.)
Joshua CasteelJoshua Casteel is a conscientious objector who was raised as a deeply religious, highly engaged Evangelical Christian. He asks, “When are there situations in which loyalty to a nation-state comes into conflict with loyalty to the kingdom of god?”
Pete KilnerLt. Col. Pete Kilner is a West Point professor of ethics, and a former infantry commander. He has studied the morality of killing, but for him, “The million people who are out defending our country fighting our wars, and the millions who have done it throughout history are not immoral people. No one likes to kill — no healthy person. . . . It may be nasty, it may be unpleasant, but the alternative’s worse.”
Filmmakers Catherine Ryan and Gary Weimberg worked to bring the voices of eight American soldiers, including four conscientious objectors, and four who believe in their duty to kill if necessary, together in the film. “[One of the goals we] had in making this film was to build respect for one another — even when we disagree,” says co-director Ryan. “We tried to make a war film that examines and explores our common ground. Where we can find common ground, we can eliminate problems. Perhaps even war.”
Do you think American soldiers are properly prepared for the realities of war? Is killing a difficult but necessary action in war time? Or is it morally wrong? How can individual soldiers reconcile their personal and spiritual beliefs with the army’s training? Share your thoughts about Soldiers of Conscience with us in the comments below.

Ruiyan Xu
Ruiyan Xu
Former POVer Ruiyan Xu worked on developing and producing materials for POV's website. Before coming to POV, she worked in the Interactive and Broadband department at Channel Thirteen/WNET. Ruiyan was born in Shanghai and graduated from Brown University with a B.A. in Modern Culture and Media.
  • Robert W. Carlson

    FOREIGNID: 17714
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    The Republican Party has a history of lying for the last 28 years. Lies are a part of politics, but when these lies endanger the survival of the country, or the world, it seems to me someone should say something about them. I hope that someone is you. Our lives may depend on it.
    Robert W. Carlson

  • Allen Valkie

    FOREIGNID: 17715
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    This film is was misrepresented and is pure anti war. It’s basis is a lie and so are most of the scenes, and representations. The overwelming bias towards anti-war views and presentations make this film more a sales job for that point of view than a quest foir the truth.

  • terry

    FOREIGNID: 17716
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I thought I lost my capacity to believe in hereos. Today, I found my faith in humanity from the soldiers who truly believe in true peace. I was touched with their courage to stand up for what is right despite the consequences. These soldiers are the true patriots.

  • Cate Witter

    FOREIGNID: 17717
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I have been struggling with this question of war. To hear soldiers talk from the heart like this had a massive effect on me. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this very human insight.

  • bill Carli

    FOREIGNID: 17718
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    You may use HTML tags for style and links.I just want to thank these brave soldiers or defending the integrity of our country. I’ll take any person honoring their own beliefs about right and wrong over the pharasees and money-changers any day. I’m not a flagpinner or flagburner but I would salute any of these men.

  • Haya

    FOREIGNID: 17719
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    First of all, I want to thank you for the efforts in making that movie. This fiim showed part of reality of war. I want to thank Camilo Mejia and
    Aidan Delgado for their corage to stand up and say no for war after they experinced the reailty of that war, eventhough they knew that there will be consequences for their action. Probaly the expriences opened their eyes, or open their minded. It is not wrong to stand up and say no for wrong doing even that has a little effect. Sometimes one event change everything in our lives, but that change could be in the right direction.
    Thank You
    Haya

  • Edward Gorczyca

    FOREIGNID: 17720
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    We should go to war only as a last resort. We should go to war when the cause is just. We shouldn’t go to war unless we have an overpowering majority in favor of it. We should foster a society that discourages hatred of all kinds. We should not teach kids to be violent. We should not object to C.O.s. We all have the potential to be a killer. There are times when threatened or acosted that instint takes over. At that time one may not think “turn the other cheek”.

  • Kenneth Telesca

    FOREIGNID: 17721
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    This documentary spoke to my heart and values of the need to make peacemakers not killers in order to guarantee and protect the freedom of all people in the world. I agree with Kevin Benderman’s POV, and I hope and pray that America chooses leaders next month who in the words of Joan Chittister, OSB will “lead our nation to virtue, leaders who can tell strength from power, growth from greed, and leadershipship from dominance.” Most of all I hope our next President will work toward regaining the world’s respect for the U.S. that the current administration squandered by its lies, arrogance, poor judgments, breach of the Constitution, and violations of the Geneva and Warsaw Conventions.

  • Kannan Krishnan

    FOREIGNID: 17722
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    The movie has dared to document and bring out a truth that probably faces every soldier in war. It is obvious that the conscientious objector is a product of an environment sensitive to pain, suffering and a believer in life and mankind. I have heard of soldiers who dread to pull the trigger, battling between the call of duty and the voice of conscience. Leaders and religious philosophies that profess non-violence do make an impact on the mind which sets a basic question in us as to whether aggression and killing do they form a part of human nature !

  • Liza

    FOREIGNID: 17723
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Its time the truth was told. Great documentary. When our leaders abuse their power and misuse our military (as these conscientious objectors found) then it is wrong and inhumane. To me, these soldiers objection was more courageous (as they knew of the consequences) than had they sold out their principles. I abhor the idea that distortion of biblical scripture is used to justify killing, (as told by the soldier suing the Good Samaritan story).

  • john

    FOREIGNID: 17724
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Interesting how PBS runs such propaganda just prior to the election. Weimburg identifies the objectors as having a “higher calling,” after going to great lengths to say how difficult killing is. It seems to me that those who stick it out and do the unpleasant job are the ones with the higher calling. The film does a great job of helping our enemy’s cause. I wish PBS would mention during their fund drive that they take $350 million in tax dollars each year to generate such propaganda.

  • Amy

    FOREIGNID: 17725
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    My partner was awarded the Purple Heart for physical injuries sustained in Iraq. He is a Combat Engineer with the Army National Guard. His main job was to search for IEDs.
    This documentary opened a door for us that was before barred. Besides the physical injuries he sustained while fighting in Iraq, his mental and emotional wounds may never be healed. It was a huge step for him, watching this documentary with me, because I, along with every other civilian in his life, have been “spared” his brutal memories and tales of war.
    I found myself mentally bouncing back and forth while watching the show. On the one hand, I know that the horrors of war will never be forgotten and take a huge toll on mental health. I can understand why the men featured in the documentary realized that they simply couldn’t do it anymore. However, I also realize that no one in my partner’s unit would have chosen to be a CO because they are soldiers through and through. And I also feel as if they would have felt let down by a soldier in their unit who did not feel as if they were there for the right reasons, to the point of desertion.
    My partner believes in the greater good. I asked him about the morality of it all once, soon after his return stateside, and was told that he felt as if he would be forgiven because he was doing what was expected of him and doing it to help secure our nation. Granted, he does feel the emotional and mental tolls of the war and the things he had to do to survive. He was witness to his best friend being blown up by a vehicular IED, and he had to help gather the remains of his best friend. He knows the horrors of war but would never consider letting his country down.
    As for the COs, I believe that it is probably best that they are no longer members of the United States military. I would hate to think that my loved one was counting on a man to help defend and protect him who wasn’t up to the task. I feel it is probably best for everyone involved that those men are no longer soldiers. My thought is that they were never really cut out to be soldiers in the beginning but were able to fool themselves into thinking they were until they were placed in a war.
    My partner bleeds red, white, and blue. The one line that really stuck out in my mind was the comment made by the Major that it was the men and women fighting in wars that guarantee the COs the right to be COs.
    I would recommend that anyone who does not know a combat veteran to visit a VA center and spend some time volunteering. Talk to the men and women, get to know them and gain some understanding of who and what they are. After all, isn’t knowledge the only true cure for ignorance?

  • Tricia Saenger

    FOREIGNID: 17726
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    This was an important and moving documentary. Americans debate our policy in Iraq but rarely is anyone reminded that all the justifications for invading Iraq were untrue. Obama and McCain argue over timetables instead of how to make amends to the Iraqi people for waging aggressive warfare. But this documentary showed the reality of civilians dying and soldiers being killed and traumatized and the massive destruction of war. It is not about patriotism or our honor or some ill-defined concept of “victory” (against what enemy????). It is about getting beyond the superficial abstractions and propaganda to the reality of the horror of war.
    I can only hope that this documentary will prompt some Americans to stop and think. The three conscientious objectors were truly inspiring while Major Kilner embodied a very dangerous self-righteousness.

  • VMota

    FOREIGNID: 17727
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    It is this type of cowardace that lead to the 911 attacks and the enbolding of the enemy. The region is filled with these enemy regardless of the title used. They agree that this war will NEVER end. Isreal has come to understand this. The American public must wakeup. Don’t wait until you have to defend yourself on your own door like the Isreal.

  • Sara

    FOREIGNID: 17728
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Thank you for making this posible, I wish every body in the world will see this, it should be translated to every language becouse the message is universal. We are all humans, every single live is important, even of the live of the ones who do’nt believe in their own lives. I feel that the soldiers are being taking adventage of. We all know everything was I lie by now, they were never weapons of mas destruction, we invaded and still invading other lands. Is all about the money and power, why can”t we get a long? Maybe becouse no one should be killig anyone. That is almost not even posible to say becouse then anyone would be dead. Lets bring PEACE back to life.

  • http://great14u@sbcglobal.net Jim

    FOREIGNID: 17729
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Amy’s and Tricia’s comments above embody the deeper thoughts AND more immediate effects of this and all wars than does VMota’s, which cleaves to a great irony: I’m Jewish and support a free and unfettered Israel, but that state, unlike ours, is merely trying to survive in the face of many others intent on the death of innocents, infidels, whatever–and who do not wish to discuss right or wrong…theirs is the only right. The US went in to Iraq for the same reason we are all about to enter a war against our own economic and emotional (nevermind societal) survival, and it was the greed of a few, damn the good of the larger population. We all must think about why we might justify, much less participate in, the death of another. Kudos to Channel 11 for this brave and thoughtful showing, and Bless You to all the Brave, Spiritual and Thoughtful people who made and participated in this groundbreaking production. This, this, is what all TV, not just public TV was supposed to do.

  • Thomas C. Washburn

    FOREIGNID: 17730
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I have been a conscientious objector to all wars since I was 20 years old. When it came time for me to serve my country, I joined the U.S. Pulblic Health Service as a physician. If I had not had that option, I would have declared C.O. status and accepted the consequences of that decision.

  • Lourdes

    FOREIGNID: 17731
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Thank you PBS to bring such a great presentation about another point of view of what the war means to whom have lived it. Great words from Gary, I think that watching the news, reading the newspaper and even this film cannot make us feel what those brave soldiers have faced.

  • http://books.google.com/books?id=Qsh_IadOKEcC&pg=PA109&sig=hZnBUBq41jf1wwdJ2IpIGqjM7h4&source=bmap&bkcxt=15&q=%22Ashiya%22#PPP1,M1 Morrow

    FOREIGNID: 17732
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    AUTHOR AND ONE OF THE LAST BUFFALO SOLDIERS – KOREAN 1950/51.
    “The nine months I served in Korea,
    as a Combat Infantry Rifleman,
    will hunt me for the rest of my life…
    Especially when witnessing an unjust wars,
    as we are engaged in now”.
    A REALITY OF WAR AND THE AFTERMATH.
    At 17, Mr. Curtis Morrow enlisted in the United States Army and joined the 24th Infantry Regiment Combat Team, originally known as the Buffalo Soldiers. Seven months later he found himself fighting a bloody war in a place he had never heard of: Korea. During nine months of fierce combat, Morrow developed not only a soldier’s mentality but a political consciousness as well. Hearing older men discussing racial discrimination in both civilian and military life, he began to question the role of his all-black unit in the Korean action. Supposedly they were protecting freedom, justice, and the American way of life, but what was that way of life for blacks in the United States? Where was the freedom? Why were the Buffalo Soldiers laying their lives on the line for a country in which African-American citizens were sometimes denied even the right to vote.
    His question now (57 years later) “will White people vote for a Black-President? When he had known of mortally wounded White Soldiers, that choose death, then accept the life saving blood of a Black Soldier.
    THE WAR:
    http://books.google.com/books?id=Qsh_IadOKEcC&pg=PA109&sig=hZnBUBq41jf1wwdJ2IpIGqjM7h4&source=bmap&bkcxt=15&q=%22Ashiya%22#PPP1,M1
    THE AFTERMATH:
    Following my four years tour of duty, one in Korea and 2, 1/2 in Japan,
    my quest for self discovery, begins with my introduction to nationalism in New York City during the cultural revolution of the early 1960s. Disillusioned with the social and political situation that prevailed at that time, I moved to Accra, Ghana with less than $300.00 and a vow to make a new home for myself. My Sankofa concentrates on my eleven years (1965 to 1976) living, working and traveling in Ghana, Togo and the Ivory Coast”.
    http://www.amazon.com/Sankofa-Former-Title-Return-African-american/dp/1884056121/ref=cm_taf_title_featured?ie=UTF8&tag==tellafriend-20
    Sincerely,
    A FORGOTTEN WARRIOR.
    A FORGOTTEN WAR.
    The Author.
    PS: Yes, the nine months I served in Korea, as a Combat Infantry Rifleman, will hunt me for the rest of my life… Especially when I witness unjust wars, as we are engaged in now.

  • Linda

    FOREIGNID: 17733
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    This is a great documentary. It seems as if some take it as one sided is because the CO side or the alternative to war is seldom broadcast. As the soldier who was training men admitted he enjoyed the exercise, there are actually a vocal pop. who only see violence as a solution and enjoy the struggle. In all wars civilian noncombatants have had higher casualites than soldiers, this is especially true when we are fighting a country and not an army. the 9/11 attack should have been handled as a police action, ie. they are criminals. Britain, Spain, Germany have many more terrorists attacks than the U.S. and they are all treated as police business. It is true that if you want peace work for justice. That may even mean cooperating with other countries to assure peace.

  • Vince

    FOREIGNID: 17734
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    COMPLACENCY IS DANGEROUS
    You and I would be arrogant to believe that this war is only against the USA. The US serves as a buffer to the rest of the world because it is the only superpower in the world that stands between them and the rest of the world that will slowly but surely burn. You cannot compare other “wars” to this one. Nor, compare the US to the Nazis like the film does (really?!)
    The US cannot afford to be complacent. The price has been to high.
    The film trys to appeal to the christian by referencing Jesus ability to ease suffering and a man who claims to be christian who waivers at the first sight of true devotion and sacrifice. It’s called conviction. A true christian knows that conviction is a two edged sword. It cuts both ways. Please do yourself a favor and don’t embarrass yourself as a filmmaker to portray such a comical representation of a christian. I can’t believe he got off so easy.

  • Christine

    FOREIGNID: 17735
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I am awestruck by the courageous steps taken by the soldiers to become COs. What a heavy price they paid when they became conscience. As a Mennonite, a Christian denomination that is part of a historic peace church, I too became conscience when I realized Jesus’ call to Christians to be peacemakers meant to work for peace by way of peace. Countries fight wars to protect the innocent as some interviewees stated and yet, the innocent become victims of wars. By innocent, I mean the children scorched by weapons and anyone ordered to obey commands that dehumanizes them and their enemy. Also, Lt. Col. Pete Kilner’s p.o.v. on the Good Samaritan parable was an excellent example for all of us against war to ponder. I would only add that wars involve a lot more characters than the Good Samaritan story provides. Would we as an army of Samaritans be willing to accept fatal casualties of children and the aged if we could prevent a band of robbers from fatally wounding the same group of innocents? The other issue raised in the program for COs and those of us against war to wrestle with, is do we or how can we exist with freedoms bought by the service of the military? I am glad that a major TV network is asking its viewers to wrestle with the issues rather than telling us what we need to believe and to dismiss opposing arguments.

  • Hugo

    FOREIGNID: 17736
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    You may use HTML tags for style and links.
    It always makes me wonder why people cannot find an answer which explains things and could be used to stop them when we claim they are “wrong”. War is such a subject. There are so many fragmented POVs on it that it is practically impossible to find a common ground. The problem with this is that there seem to be no basic understanding why wars actually exist. There is only one reason which explains why people fight against people which they have never known exist. And that is the fight for resources. Which goes on in small places between single people, between tribes as tribal wars and between countries as full blown wars and have gone on since human exist. The basic natural reason for wars is to keep people to overpopulate and outgrow the natural resources. Humans do not have other predators like animals which do this for them, so they have to kill each other to keep the balance. This goes on all the time all over the world in all kinds of shapes.
    If you want to stop wars then you have to take this into consideration. As long as the resources of this world are not properly distributed or peoples expansion is properly controlled then there is no other way then war. This usually happens when the leaders fail to keep their own people happy. At the current advancement of humans there is no way that wars will end soon. But what could be better controlled is why wars are declared and the possibility to declare wars. If citizens are being educated why wars exist then they can decide if the war their leaders want to fight is done for the right reason and is therefore morally acceptable. It would also give solders the possibility to judge if their leaders are right when they are ordered to subdue their own people and could stand up against dictators. Solders are useful in war and peace but should only be used to what they agree to.
    As usual people are their own enemies because they do not know the real facts and therefore are unsure which decision is right. To make a film about the history of war, which focuses on the reason which is common to them, would be probably the best way to give people an understaning of the nature of war. And it will give them the the necessary knowledge to say NO. As your film pointed out violence is not necessarily a human trait but is usually indoctrinated.

  • martin stewart-mccormick

    FOREIGNID: 17737
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    POV…
    Whoa…well done…These guys are heroes…ABU GRABE still makes me sick…as well as realize WE, (America), hold no moral highground in the world, anymore…Maybe we never did…

  • IlaJean Kragthorpe

    FOREIGNID: 17738
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    You may use HTML tags for style and links.
    Our country needs young men of integrity and conscience whether in the military or in society in general. These men have wrestled with deep spiritual considerations that many in our materialistic society would just as soon forget about. If their faith and conscience convince them against war, I say they are just as heroic as those who go into battle. To court martial a soldier with a commendable ten year record in our military is immoral; he has served his country, OUR country, honorably. Let us honor him in return.

  • BABS IN THE DESERT

    FOREIGNID: 17739
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Thank you for producing such a moving documentary – the soilders that returned from Vietnam were never the same again and the soilders from Iraq will never be the same again. We must stop this horrible war and we must try to have peace!! Your movie needs to be run over and over and over again and on U-Tube – we need more to realize REALITY!!!!!

  • Dean D

    FOREIGNID: 17740
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I was able to sit through the, largely, unchallenged and self-serving assertions of your film’s 3 protagonist but when the director comes on for the postscript to assert his efforts to present both sides, I’d have enough. Please, at least be honest with your agenda.
    Personally, I wish to thank the brave men and women who have the integrity to honor their commitments and the courage to risk their own life for sake the others. Who don’t need to think of others as “sub-human” or learn to ” hate” in order to kill. Theirs is the “higher conscience”. They are not as surprise as our directors that killing is hard. It is their sacrifice that makes forums for the naive or mentally challenged like this one here a reality.
    I understand there are some who don’t have the constitution for war and never will. “Let them depart. We would not die in that man’s company who fears his fellowship to die with us.” We have an all volunteer army because no one wants them there. Least of all the man next to them. Let the wars be fought by those who have the strength and willingness to protect the weak. These CO’s should be understood and pitied, particularly when they bear the relatively minor penalties of their double-mindedness (e.g. LACK of personal integrity) – but they should not be honored nor should it be a cause for respect. And they should not be allowed to denigrated the truly honorable without contention.
    Given this world’s realities the only pacifism that is due any respect is one that would rather have an evil man kill your loved one than for you to killing him – and only because you believe your loved ones go to a better place and you want to afford the evil man more time for his redemption.
    Everything else is playing the percentages and living off the sacrifice of others!

  • monica

    FOREIGNID: 17741
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    First I would like to commend all of those brave soldiers for sharing their stories. Second I would like to say thank you to PBS for bringing such stories to our attention. So many times throughout the documentary I caught myself gasping in disbelief. Some scenes were very difficult to watch, especially those displaying the mistreatment of those we imprisoned. I do not judge the army for those terrible acts that some soldiers choose to partake in. But I do feel that our fighting men and women endure very traumatizing experiences and one should not be judged for feeling a moral obligation to not kill another human being. It is my hope that this film be shown to as many people as possible. Once again thank you PBS.

  • Jodi Dybala

    FOREIGNID: 17742
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I just finished watching ‘Soldiers of Conscience” and I am outraged that Sgt. B. didn’t get awarded C.O. and had to go to jail. It breaks my heart to see him go to jail and have a dishonorable discharge.
    I completely support these soldiers and any others who come to the conclusion that war and killing is not the answer. I am very proud of them for going through what they did in order to get the Consciencious Objector status. I am a veteran of the Army. Believe me, I know how difficult and frustrating it can be.
    I think more people need to see this film. It shows so much of what really happens, that if people knew, they would definately object to this war.
    I commend you for making this film. I sincerely thank you. I’m sure you faced many obstacles during the course of the shoot and I really appreciate you getting the soldiers’ stories out there.
    I would really like to know if there is any way we can help Sgt. B or any other soldier who filed for Consciencious Objector and did not get it. He really deserves to be honored. Actually, I think all the COs should be. I believe they are doing the right thing.
    THANK YOU to the soldiers, film makers, producers, PBS and anyone else supporting this effort!

  • dave young-williams

    FOREIGNID: 17743
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    It’s time. It’s time for law enforement not war.
    In an all volenteer army there are all heros and no heros.
    It’s all about ignorance, coersion, needing a job or showing off.
    I’m disgusted by the tripe I keep hearing about how it’s a good thing to kill innocent civilians as well as soldiers who never asked our army to come after them.
    This war as well as most of the others have been sold to our citizens for the benefit of greedy people who our republican president (remember good old Dwight) warned us about.
    I don’t imagine that many of the people who will vote for McCain have read Naomi Kline, Howard Zinn or a close examination of the new testament for that matter.
    Most of the sources of our grief are self imposed with the toughest resistence imaginable to awareness.
    Like hey!!! What does greed look like? Ever heard of usury? Thou shalt not kill? It’s all there for anyone wanting to graduate above animal status.
    The juvenile little egos need to be detached from nationalism. It’s is disgusting to see wholesale murder approached with a sportsfan mentality.
    If we cannot subscribe to and manifest the dream of these concientious objectors, then we will deserve what we get. More war!
    So let’s let the folks who make good cops go work for the united nations. And we will have a justice by international consensus rather than a wild hair by an idiot president and his oil buddies.

  • Maarri Donaldson

    FOREIGNID: 17744
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I want to express my gratitude for this program. I have been against war my whole life and believe in my heart that it is possible to live in a world without war. What it takes is more and more people like the young concientious objectors in this film to touch into their heart of hearts and be unwilling to support war of any kind. The soldier who was court-martialed has my deepest wishes for his well being. He is a magnificent human to stand up for what he believes and to be willing to accept the consequences for his action. I felt the West Point professor was convincing himself of the morality of war but I totally disagree with him. I think the young man who said (in a paraphrase of Goethe). If it can be dreamt it can become a reality like putting a man on the moon. I applaud all the young concientious objectors. They give me hope that a warless world can happen, not in my lifetime as I am old, but perhaps for my grandaughter. I have pondered a lot as to whether WWII could have been avoided but my thinking was focused on the powers of the various countries and Chamberlain and others agreeing to appease Germany. I had never thought of it from the perspective of the young German soldiers refusing to go to war, the suppose they gave a war and nobody came position. That was the first war in which I was alive. I feel every war this country has been involved in since didn’t need to happen. Again, thank everyone who is opposed to war and to the filmakers for bringing this to the publics attention.

  • dan dufty

    FOREIGNID: 17745
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    music in the background when CO’s speak, dead silence when the military people speak. Nice touch, says alot about you.

  • JAMES EILERS

    FOREIGNID: 17746
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    This is a great documentary that will survive those who throw insults toward it — Some people cannot let go of their addiction to anger, hatred, and their own internal, unresolved violence. There is only one problem: It should have been made and shown many years ago. For that tardiness, we must hold the media, and PBS (the only thing we have resembling a free forum of ideas) for lacking the courage to present it. Who can find to address one of the two primary problems that lead to violence: ignorance and poverty. When will George Soros establish courageous media — But thank you, PBS, for finally getting there.

  • Anonymous

    FOREIGNID: 17747
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    To the American Soldiers,
    I feel very sad for the soldiers caught up in this mess, I feel even sadder for the innocent victims of this mess. My message for the soldiers is not to ridicule them, but it is too ask the tough questions.
    If we fail to recognize who the enemy is, then we may end up fighting for the enemy. Please investigate what the 911 truth movement is saying before you take another “Terrorist’s” life. If the enemy was a domestic enemy, would you recognize it? The Nazi soldiers didn’t. They believed they were doing the right thing too. You have the responsibility to do your due diligence on the issue before you take someone’s life. The military would just like you to trust them with all of those kinds of right vs. wrong decisions, and for you to just follow your orders and do your job. That is what the Nazi soldiers did. They trusted their leaders to handle the right vs. wrong decisions, and they did their jobs for honor and country. For the “Fatherland”, sounds kind of like “Homeland” doesn’t it? If 9/11 really was an inside job how would that change things? Are you brave enough to really face the tough questions and look into what really happened on 9/11? If you are going to defend the country from domestic enemies as well as foreign ones, then you need to be able to recognize them both. Which enemy is more likely to pose as your friend the domestic enemy or the foreign one? Hopefully it isn’t already too late for America to wake up, but for innocent people caught in the quagmire of war, it is already too late. Infowars.com

  • Tom

    FOREIGNID: 17748
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I find the film very interesting, and the comments by others amazing. I do agree there are times when going to war is necessary but with good reason. I have watched and listened to everything about the war in Iraq
    and have concluded that the leaders and the people of the US got fooled just as much as being lied to.
    The US’s involvement in WWII, for example, was triggered by Japan’s agressive behavior; the war in Iraq was not. We should know by now that some of our leaders relied on unfounded intelligence reports and that is why the US is in Iraq. Because there is no WMD, the US has changed its mission. Sounds like a quicksand issue.
    Now that the US military is doing the dirty work, we all must realized that 75% – 80% are not willing to kill. Out of that percentage, there is a very small percentage that is CO. Why? Simply, many are not willing to compromise that paycheck; that’s the bottom line.
    Initially trapped by US recruiter’s who asserts the need to be financially independent, travel the world, free education, etc., etc, the dotted line soon gets signed. In peace time, many have stayed on for 20 to 30 yrs. But during war time, many have entertained that thought of being a CO, but only a hand full have executed it. I may be wrong but it seem to me that “Stop Loss” and tour after tour can trigger one to be CO.
    If one wants to be a CO, I think it would be best to do it before going to war or not signing the contract in the first place. Missing movement or changing ones mind to not shoot anymore after a tour of duty is not a strong reason to be a CO.
    I think the toughest thing in serving in the military is that the man/woman at the end of the totem pole is told that the war is all about defending democracy or some other ‘make no sense” reason. Among other things, this war is about someone believing that going to the root cause would solve the problem – terrorism.
    Well, I’d like to conclude that once a person signs that dotted line, 100% dedication should exist. Fulfill the contract and then go home. I have been taught that “obedience is better than the fat of lambs”, and that the burden of responsibility is on the shoulders of those appointed over you even if your life is at stake. After all, we all must die. How we get there is an on going debate.

  • cecile Moochnek

    FOREIGNID: 17749
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    You may use HTML tags for style and links
    .thank you to the courageous co’s
    what great spirits each of these individuals have
    thank you to them and the filmmakers
    it saddens me to see some of the commentaries
    thank you to pbs for showing this film

  • James Hug

    FOREIGNID: 17750
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    This film hit hard, I almost joined the Marines six years ago, I don’t know why the recruiter never came to pick me up when he said he would, my application was all filled out and I had no idea what I would have been involved in. Thanks to my job I am a happy civilian and two of my employees are in the army.
    It was sad how the soldiers were treated after their decision to become a CO; they jail them – that is pretty messed up. I think that would make anyone NOT want to join the military, but then choosing to be a CO after taking the oath is kind of the equivalent of dropping out of school or worse dropping out of a master program, especially with a dishonorable discharge. All that hard work for nothing, or is it all that hard work and you realize it’s not what you expected or you just don’t like it anymore?
    The one major made a good point, although he took the story of the good Samaritan out of context/added thoughts outside the box. what if the Samaritan got there early? Would he wait for the beating to stop or would he take action against the person doing the beating? risking your life to save someone else…
    In lifeguard training, we are reminded not to save a drowning victim, if our lives are at risk; if you jump in after them and they are pulling you under to keep them selves afloat, that’s not a good idea.
    Recently I had a rush of an experience, when I went to a shooting range to shoot handguns – I shoot riffles and shotguns with out a problem, but the moment I walked into the shooting range and saw all the handguns and picked one up for the first time, I got chills in my body thinking how could someone pick this up, point it at someone else and pull the trigger – then BANG! their dead.
    I want to say that if I saw someone evil attacking an innocent person, I could pull the trigger, but I don’t know how I would feel about killing someone until after the first time. I hope that I would feel as if I did the right thing killing the evil one, as opposed to that horrible feeling you get when you do something on accident like crash a car, break a plate, spill a glass of milk.

  • Joe “A retired Marine”

    FOREIGNID: 17751
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I am a retired Marine with over 22 years of service. I have participated in several conflicts, small wars and yes “Police Actions”. I viewed this film with an open mind. Unfortunately, I have to say that it bears all the marks of a liberal, political platform which would have all of america believe that if we can just “talk to one another” we will never have to resort to violence. I will be the first to tell you, war is an ugly, brutal and shocking experience. There is no glory and time spent on the battlefield is a focus on preserving your life and the lives of your brothers in arms. I am not suprised that these COs all eagerly took the opportunities and benefits which the military offered them when they initially volunteered. However, it never ceases to amaze me that when the bullets fly, some people will develop a “moral conscious” as an exuse to avoid going in harms way. Don’t get me wrong, I had two navy corpsmen that were COs who would run through hell to save a wounded Marine, and you know, I really respected that because they devoted themselves to making a difference while maintaining their moral compass. So I really have to question the personal motives of the COs depicted in this film. They all expressed how they had some sort of “epiphany” which clarified their moral stand against war. I had many a “epiphany” when the bullets were flying, however, I kept my moral compass pointed in the right direction by taking care of my brothers in arms and trying to get the job done so we could all get back home. Its really simple, in this world you have sheeps and wolves. The sheep mill around and have no idea just how dangerous the wolves are. The wolves are pure evil, they will never stop trying to kill the sheep. As for me, I see myself as a shepard, and I will guard my flock, and if necessary, I will kill the wolves, because I know they will show no mercy to the sheep. So I would ask those COs, would they just be sheep and see their families and friends slaughtered by the wolf? I don’t think so.

  • Anonymous

    FOREIGNID: 17752
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Dear PBS,
    This is the best program I have ever seen on your network, hopefully you will take up the courage to take a fresh look into 9/11 and stop regurgitating the official story that took us to war in Afganistan. Thank you for the program, it is nice to at least see a little glimmer of truth in the mainstream media.

  • Holli

    FOREIGNID: 17753
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I would first like to say that I commend these soldiers for speaking up and speaking out. They have risen above many injustices to give hope to the American people. I have to say that I remember the day we made decision to go to war with Iraq and I have been against it from that moment. The one problem with this country is the fact that we try to force our ideals onto other countries that don’t want those ideals to begin with. Once we found out that Iraq had no Weapons of Mass Destruction and that Saddam Hussein wasn’t involved with Al Qaeda, then we should have left the country. This is not an Anti-War movie, an Anti-America film, etc. This is an eye opening, gut-wrenching film. These soldiers put their lives on the line for their country, but the government and the military are turning their backs on these brave individuals. I can’t believe some people think of these men and women as “traitors” and Anti-Americans. DId you happen to noitce that when the men in this documentary signed up to be in the military it was shortly before or after 9/11? They signed those contracts to protect the country because they believed it was in danger, but what did they find while they were there? The mistreatment of prisoners, conflicting feelings with their faith, and the fact that they were no longer themselves, but killing machines. If they want to make that decision to become CO’s, then the military should respect that. Not everyone can look down the sights of their guns and kill another individual. It’s that simple. You men make me extremely proud to be an American because you are standing up for what you belive in. What’s more patriotic than that?

  • http://Debbie Debbie

    FOREIGNID: 17754
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    First, I commend Amy for her comments. I am the daughter of a WWII veteran who is now in his mid 80s. I cherish every minute of the conversations with my Father and I respect his opinion, even when we disagree. I have volunteered at my local VA. I have also lived in a conflict zone in Africa for a year. All humanity would agree that a world without war or consternation of any kind, would be our ultimate goal. However, all people are not humane. It is so convenient for opponents of war to declare their objection, their passivism, and call it a higher moral stand. ‘Listening to a higher moral calling’ I believe Gary Weinberg, one of the filmmakers basically said. How CONVENIENT it is for all the proponents of absolute peace to let others do their dirty work, do their their ‘killing.’ Where would we be now if Hitler was not opposed? I believe the number of conscientious objectors in Germany at that time, listed on the film, was highest. It obviously did not work. It took the brave men and women of my Father’s generation to defeat Hitler and the militaristic stand of Japan at that time, to allow the current freedom of the current conscientious objectors of today.
    We have been protesting, peacefully, the atrocities in Darfur, Africa and now that the Olympics are over, the conversation has died completely. The killing of innocent women and children goes on. The war in DRC goes on. Africa is a forgotten mess. All the rhetoric and filmmaking will not save them. Sometimes a fight is the only way to save the innocent weak from the atrocities of the powerful. As Col. Pete Kilner said “the alternative is worse.” I have seen the alternative, children with their limbs chopped off, and no brave soldier to stop the slaughter. It’s worse. I thank all the men and women of the United States Armed Services, my local Police and any strong person who puts their lives on the line for my benefit and safety. Thank you. I also want to thank PBS for FRONTLINE, a true non biased view of events, really giving all sides equal time. — POV, not so good.

  • Ms. Cynthia

    FOREIGNID: 17755
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    When we are swept up and motivated by our anger in to action, we become the victims of our own outrage and the places it takes us.
    War is the absence of control not true conviction? We all become the victims of a war.
    My empathy is for soldiers on all sides of the argument. Shame on us for not offering them with any alternatives to a war.
    It is a form of child abuse that we allow our youth to make such life changing decisions before they are mature enough to understand the consequences.
    It is my prayer that the painful experiences that this generation learns from serving in Iraq will inspire them to do things that are proactive in preventing the next war.
    God knows with the way this week is going around the world we need to see their talents expressed in more creative ways.
    In stead of trying to finish off Al Qaeda, in Afghanistan lets just out spend them in human development projects that empower the local population against bullies.
    What a world of good it would do if the Muslim brother hood had to compete with us on that plain of ideas. Somebody thrown down that challenge to them.
    Meanwhile lets beat them at their own game by becoming less energy dependant so that they have less funds to work with.

  • Doug Bamar

    FOREIGNID: 17756
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I’d enjoyed and was moved by this show. I felt angered that the sergeant was sentenced and wondered why he called only his wife to lobby for him. I’d have used my religious pastor/minister/priest.

  • Omar Adiong

    FOREIGNID: 17757
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    You can be patriotic in a different way. There are many other occupations that does not put you in a position to go to war. You can be a Firefighter, Bookkeeper, Secretary, Salesman, Healthcare Professional, etc. My question is, why sign up in the US Army Infantry and then decide you want to become a Conscientious Objector? This is really mind-boggling! It really doesn’t make any sense at all! You don’t decide to become a Surgeon and then decide you made a wrong decision at the first sight of blood. If you can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen. Stay out of the US Military. It’s people like these that make the US Military weak in the eyes of every Terrorist out there! By the way, have you paid any attention to what the Terrorist do to innocent civilians? What about their human rights? Finally, there is a cost to the Freedom that we all enjoy here in the United States of America. Right or wrong, the US Military upholds that freedom with great discipline and self-sacrifice.

  • Joyce

    FOREIGNID: 17758
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    You may use HTML tags for style and links.
    I only caught the last 15 minutes of this snowjob but was appalled at the complete lack of balance. I was married to a conscientous objecter during the Vietnam conflict. He didn’t think the war was “illegal”, he just didn’t want to get shot at. I was especially struck by the naivete of the guy who said we had eliminated human sacrifice and slavery, now we should stop war. Hitler would have loved that. In the first place, we only eliminated slavery in North America and Western Europe. It is alive and well in most of the rest of the world, particularly third world countries. And human sacrifice was eliminated by waging wars against the perpetrators until they were defeated. It took centuries. As for constant peace, there have been those who have tried to force others to their will since Cain and Abel and if you don’t fight, you become–guess what!- a slave. It was people he was putting down who made the USA possible. if no one had fought then, we would have been British until WWII. if we had not fought in WWII, we would be speaking German or Japanese, depending on where we lived and how they split us up. The top three networks and PBS are so virulently anti-Republican, it is nauseating. For the person who said Republicans have been lying for 28 years, what do they think the Dems are doing? Our politicians all think the opposing party is the worst enemy we have. I would love for some of these reporters to actually give an unbiased report. It would be a breath of fresh air.

  • Kim Stockman

    FOREIGNID: 17759
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    This post has been deleted by the moderator for personal attack.

  • Jen

    FOREIGNID: 17760
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I came across this program today while channel surfing and couldn’t tear myself away from it. It was very thought-provoking and informative. Thank you to Aidan, Camilo, Joshua, and Kevin for sharing your stories. I think you are true heroes.

  • Sue

    FOREIGNID: 17761
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Thank you for airing this movie. It is a point of view of war that needs to be openly addressed whether or not the viewer agrees. I have utmost respect and feel honored to have had men and women committed to serving our country and who have, and are currently, serving their time. I also commend these men, the conscience observer, for standing up for their convictions concerning this war. There are no rules in our “humanity” that say a person serving in a war cannot express their preference to become a CO. These soldiers have their reasons whatever they be. And their preference should not be viewed as undermining a soldier who chooses to complete his or her duty, it should be observed as their preference only. Both are sacred in their own right. Of course there is honor in staying with ones commitments, but to a degree. The atrocities of war are a reality. Is it possible that these atrocities alone can cloud a persons opinion of what a soldiers commitment ought to be? Not all wars are created equal as the current one shows us. Some wars have been justified but this one is questionable and it’s surprising that there haven’t been more CO’s speaking out. We all mourn for every soldier who has died in the Iraq war and we vow never to forget them. We cannot do enough to honor them. Yet the outcome of this war cries for more to speak out. As was shown in this movie it is only right that what was occurring at Abu Ghraib prison be exposed to the world. Thank you Aidan Delgado for writing about it.

  • Jean

    FOREIGNID: 17762
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    First of, I would like to thank you for making such a thought provoking documentary and for being able to show that there is soldiers that deal with issues of morality. I had the pleasure to meeting Camilo Mejia at a Non-Violent protest in GA, a few years ago and after hearing him speak I felt extremely proud for the courage he showed by standing up for what he believed. It takes a lot to stand up for what one believes is wrong specially when you become ostracized by fellow soldiers and face martial law.
    Thank you again.

  • Ruth

    FOREIGNID: 17763
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Most disturbing in this film was the West Point instructor whose every assertion was accompanied by the hateful smirk of a bully.
    This is the best that Westpoint could find to deliver psychological perspective on killing and who, most surprisingly, never had to exercise the courage of his convictions by actually serving in war.

  • Pete Kilner

    FOREIGNID: 17764
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Ruth:
    I’m sorry you don’t like my facial expressions.
    You should know that I have deployed to Iraq twice (2003, 2007) and expect to deploy to Afghanistan this winter. It’s not that I haven’t served in war; it’s that I haven’t had occasion to kill anyone.
    If you want to become informed on my background and arguments about the morality of war, check out http://soldier-ethicist.blogspot.com. If you do so, please engage my arguments; name calling doesn’t advance society.

  • Ralph L. Branham

    FOREIGNID: 17765
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Lt. Col. Kilner I agree with you Sir. But why do people still think that turning the other cheek will work? Or would they prefer to speak German or Japaneese , depending on how the U.S. would have been devided?

  • Pete Kilner

    FOREIGNID: 17766
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Ralph:
    When people ask me why other Christian Soldiers and I don’t “turn the other cheek,” I ask them why they haven’t plucked their own eyes out after viewing pornography, nor cut their tongues off after speaking unkind words. I ask why they haven’t sold all their possessions and rejected their families.
    By this point, they begin to get my point–they have to admit that they do not consistently interpret the Bible as a “pluck-a-line” guide to morality.
    You probably noticed that NONE of the conscientious objectors in the film were combat-arms soldiers. We heard the stories of two mechanics and two interrogators. They were articulate, but it’s not like they have any combat experience, except perhaps for Meija.

  • Betty Wirt

    FOREIGNID: 17767
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Thank you, thank you so much for this much needed discussion on the morality of war. I have been against war since I was a child, being raised also in “Peace Church” that strove to follow the teachings of Christ, such as turning the other cheek, and the sacredness of life. Truly the heroes of war in my eyes, are the men who having seen what war really is, having the courage to follow their conscience. What do we expect of people who are taught to see other human beings as less than human and kill them? I have often wondered why we wonder what has happened to a militarily trained person who snaps and commits a heinous crime. Why are we surprised when they turn to killing when that is exactly what they have been trained to do. Why can’t we learn from past horrors? Why can’t we learn to talk and negotiate and work for peace? I hope and pray this documentary can be used to start people thinking and talking about the futility of war. Thank you. Betty Wirt

  • Michael James Ahles

    FOREIGNID: 17768
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Until we teach our children never to war,
    the war will never end.
    =
    MJA

  • LCW

    FOREIGNID: 17769
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    An excellent film. I honor the decisions of those that chose to become CO and to follow through with the consequences. I also honor those that go to war ion service to the country. I am sadden by those that struggle with a violation of conscious between duty and conscience.

  • Don

    FOREIGNID: 17770
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    In 1980 I was threatened with imprisonment when I failed to register with the selective service. When I finally went to the post office, I checked the conscientious objector. My wife was in the navy for four years under CO status and never shot a gun. Now we have four sons and our eldest is 18 in May and will be registering with CO status also. We told their school to keep the recruiter away from our sons. If the military did not target young people, they would not have enough soldiers. The tactics used to trick these immature minds into signing on are shameful. I am an atheist, and when I hear about these pro life christians supporting unnecessary killing and offering their children up for slaughter I am sickened. I wish I could argue my POV in public, but I’m disabled and don’t work. There isn’t a place to protest anymore, and fear of retaliation for speaking out is real. They could mess up my disability checks or get my wife fired or give my kids bad grades. It just hasn’t felt like the land of the free lately. They didn’t eguip our soldiers with armor and mistreat our vets when they come back. These republicans tell our soldiers “you signed up” as if that were a reason for the conditions they are made to suffer in.

  • Peter

    FOREIGNID: 17771
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    The fact that the filmakers have a point of view is not troubling to me; they did a nice job expressing it, and although it could be fairly criticized as “propaganda” there is plenty of propaganda from those holding the contrary point of view.
    What is troubling is the repetition of a “fact” that has been in disrepute for decades. The only source of the “statistic” that 75% (or 85%) of soldiers don’t fire their weapons in combat was S.L.A. Marshall ‘s interviews with combat veterans after WW II. While much of Marshall’s methodology and his reputation have survived the test of time, his conclusions on the “ratio of fire” have been genarallly discredited. A thoughtful article on the matter (and interesting biography of Marshall) can be found online at
    http://www.americanheritage.com/articles/magazine/ah/1989/2/1989_2_36.shtml
    The Wikipedia article on General Marshall is also balanced and informative, and has links to original sources:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S.L.A._Marshall

  • J. J. Smith

    FOREIGNID: 17772
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    However well meaning the producer responsible for this (no matter what disclaimer was put out at the end said) bias piece of guilt invoking drama was, it still comes off, to people interested in the survival of our Republic as yet another of thousands of cuts to the our national sovereignty. This type of an-war dribble empowers not only future generations of cowards but all the enemies, of our way of life, who will never in a million years, not to mention the past 2000 for one group of enemies, subscribe to the love thy neighbor philosophy vomited by the sadly mislead idealists associated with this production. Yes we do go to war and one of the only unfortunate side effects I can see is the fact that war has repeatedly afforded these kinds of people their freedom of speech.
    We are feminizing and emotionalizing generation after generation of warriors to the point that eventually they will not be able to defend any of our freedoms. For example, you can’t change a channel on TV anymore without coming across a commercial that portrays the woman as stronger, smarter and in the position of power over the man who is consistently portrayed as a bumbling, weak minded fool. Those who are aggressive in our defense are tried as war criminals giving the next up to bat all the more reason to hesitate leaving themselves and fellow combatants in jeopardy.
    We began fighting these kinds of limited engagements in Korea bringing our troops home, with the exception of Grenada, pretty much defeated or stopped short of solving the problem in every serious conflict we have engaged in since. We are always afraid of hurting the enemy’s feelings or making them or surrounding countries any angrier than they already are. And God forbid we go against NATO. I’m sorry; did I say God on PBS? And when we leave those countries they hate us even more than when we were blowing them up. Remember the good old days when we vanquished our enemies.
    • Japan; we bombed them into submission after crushing their forces on every Island between Oahu and Taiwan and you can nott find a better friend and ally today.
    • Germany? Yep we pretty much bombed them to rubble twice and get along great today.
    • Great Brittan, did I mention our beating the crap out of the British a couple of hundred years ago? Admittedly, we did not beat them down as others but we showed enough resolve that we did not have to.
    • Great Britain in 1812; see what happens when you don’t devastate your enemies? They have the propensity to try you again and you are fighting the Revolutionary war again.
    At 57 I am not too far from the end of my days; hopefully I will not live to see our nation’s final days but I am saddened that my children may.
    J. J. Smith Ms
    You may use HTML tags for style and links.

  • Ron Brunk

    FOREIGNID: 17773
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I thank you for presenting a documentary showing the true picture of this war. I wish that all young people could view it and see and hear the real heroes of this war who have stood up to witness for moral conduct and to follow their conscience.

  • Larry E.Noyes

    FOREIGNID: 17774
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I was fortunate to catch a good protion of this documentary early this morning and can honestly say, I am extremely happy that finally someone had the courage to standup and tell the truth about our goverment and it’s totalitarium ways. I myself quit the war in VietNam because I finally saw the truth in lies that were fed to me and thousands of others just like me. However, I never knew about an opportunity to file for conscience objector, I
    jsut quit playing the game. After 3 years 10 months of service in which I volunteered to serve and to go to Viet Nam, I was belittled, jail;ed, demoted, and final discharged under conditions other than honarable. Simply because I didn’t believe in the war. Today, thirty eight years later, our goverment again has mislead our soldiers and it’s people. I have lived regardless of the militrary’s threats that my life would be meaningless. I have lived to hopefully to to influence the innocent of the evils of our goverment and it’s leaders.

  • Douglas Jones

    FOREIGNID: 17775
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I’ve just finished watching “Soldiers of Conscience” for he 2nd time, and as I watched it, I remembered a conversation I had some time ago. One of my friends that I used to work with used to be a staff sergeant in the Marine corps and he explained to me what basic training really was. You see, individualism is frowned upon in the military. They don’t want free thinkers fighting our wars. The whole point of basic training is to break down the individual and build him back up to be an automaton who’ll follow orders without question. When one of the sergeants in the film says “no matter what you may think of the order, follow it,” he, in effect is showing the world what our soldiers are; nothing but tools for politicians.
    To quote Clausewitz, war is politics by other means. And make no mistake about it, Iraq is a political war pure and simple. The Iraq war was begun as a facet of Bush’s “liberation theology” which states that everyone wants to live under a democracy. The only problem is no one in Iraq knew what a democracy was, let alone how to set one up. Add to this a mismanaged attack plan, poor follow through, and incompetence at the highest levels of our government, and you have the blueprint recipe fora quagmire where soldiers die for no reason. I salute those men who realized that killing and war are wrong and fighting and dying in a war based on lies and deceit is obscene.

  • John

    FOREIGNID: 17776
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I am not going to go into alot of how this film made me feal, but i will say that i have no respect for any of the “CO’s” . When you join the military you make a commitment. You know before you sign up that there is the possibility that you may go to a war that you are not going to agree with. Best solution to this problem? DON”T SIGN THE DAMN PAPERS!!!!! You are cowards and you are not brave. The real brave men and women are the guys that stuck through it. The men and women that said I care enough about my fellow soldiers, airmen, and Marines that i will suffer through this hell because I would gladly give my life for theres.
    Guess what I am saying is this. If you are a “CO” I don’t care. That is your choice. Matter of fact I am glad that you did get out, because i wouldn’t have wanted you to be in the fighting hole next to me. But don’t go on t.v. and try and make me feel sorry for you. Because in the end the only people that feel bad for you are the ones that have never been to combat and have know idea what they are talking about. We both know deep down why you objected going to war and it had nothing to do with “morals”.

  • John Eblen

    FOREIGNID: 17777
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I am a Vietnam vet, Sgt. USMC. I remember back then feeling as if the true CO’s were every bit as brave as we who volunteered to fight and was amazed at myself for believing that way. I know some misused the system but to me, it wasn’t hard to tell the ones who were sincere. This Iraq war is so misguided and poorly led on the civilian level. It has been clear for some time that we are not there to protect Americans or Iraqui’s. The mastermind of 9/11 is still free and the Taliban are getting stronger than ever. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqui civilians have died since we took control of their country. I recently saw and listened to the Iraqui elected President state that they wanted us to leave. After studdering for 24 hours I saw our leaders present a variety of reasons why we simply could not. We have changed our alliegence from one ethnic group to another – and we call that stability. I recently listened to Sen. McCain singing in public “Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran” as if it were just another cute Beach Boy song – shameful! America deserves better leadership. Honest information as was shown here by POV is the right step in educating our citizens as to what is really being done in our name. Informed citizens willing to stand up for what is right is the only way we can hope for a better America and in turn, a better world. We did not get the leadership Americans deserve in this conflict and many of our military are paying for it in many different ways.

  • Susan Romero

    FOREIGNID: 17778
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Praise God for this film. Thank you soldiers for standing up for your belief. I was a child when the Vietnam war was happening and even then I had strong feelings about war. I was losing faith that anyone in America stop to consider that human beings were being killed on both sides. I hear people say all the time blow all the Arab people away, shoot them dead, bomb them all. They never see the faces of the innocent be it man, woman,or child. We are all humans not just the people that live here in America. Thank you gentlemen for doing what you have done and raised awareness of how morally wrong this war and any war is. Praise God and may he bless you for your stand. You have my fullest respect

  • Melissa Bartlett

    FOREIGNID: 17779
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I would like to support Kevin Benderman in what can only be termed his genuinely heart wrenching decision to turn CO from a clearly straight-up staunch military man. It is wrong of the US military not to support him in this choice. To expose our good men and women in the service to war means to bring them into difficult and frequently untenable situations of conflict between duty and conscience. To do so for trumped up reasons and the interests of big business as the current administration has done in the Iraq War is a matter of national shame.

  • Ron Patterson

    FOREIGNID: 17780
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Thank you for airing “Soldiers of Conscience”. The distance between the military and the society it serves has become too great, and I hope the POV film helps to narrow the gap.
    I also hope that advocates of war will spare us the specious WWII analogies which provide so much grist for their propaganda mill.

  • AM

    FOREIGNID: 17781
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Are we in a position to judge others when we ourselves will be judged on chooses and decisions we make in our life time?
    Is each person accountable to a higher power of authority or does their country come first?
    What is our intention here on this planet earth—to respect and nurture all life forms or to destroy it?
    When you meet your final judgment, will you take the blame yourself, or blame your country for taking a human life?
    There is a level of operation that lies somewhat beyond tick-tock, in which one accepts absolute responsibility for the circumstances of one’s life and understands that by correctly projecting consciousness and actions onto reality one can dominate that reality, going beyond its restrictions and moving it in any direction one wishes. The fact that a million people standing next to you don’t know how to do that doesn’t make you wrong and them right.
    (Stuart Wilde)
    Depend more upon the intuitive forces from within and not harken so much to that of outside influences—but learn to listen to that still small voice from within, remembering as the lesson as was given, not in the storm, the lightning, nor in any of the loud noises as are made to attract man, but rather in the still small voice from within does the impelling influence come to life in an individual that gives for that which must be the basis of human endeavor for without the ability to constantly hold before self the ideal as is attempted to be accomplished man becomes one as adrift, pulled hither and yon by the various calls and cries of those who would give of this world’s pleasure in fame, fortune, or what not. Let these be the outcome of a life spent in listening to the divine from within, and not the purpose of the life.
    (Edgar Cayce Reading 239-1)
    *They decorated all the generals who fought the war behind the lines. They had forgotten all the soldiers, the brandy puts them way behind the times.
    Insanity has found its way to TV screens. Vision seems impossible to me. They fight for king and country. I never would have thought this in my Wildest dreams.
    The evening comes, we sit and watch the VJs, clips and rushes come from, who knows where, from Washington across to California, with fighting breaking out in Leicester Square.
    We see the soldiers moving on to victory, and children trampled under marching feet.
    They fight for king and country, how many millions will they put to sleep?
    Wildest dreams/ No, not in this world, No, not in the next, No, not in my wildest dreams.
    They recommended euthanasia, for non-conformers anywhere. Some men’s dreams for others turn to nightmares. This never would have happened in their Wildest dreams.
    *Asia / Wildest Dreams Lyrics
    People of the World: Let’s learn from our lessons and join the human potential movement—
    “Unity Through Diversity” AM

  • Falon Curtis

    FOREIGNID: 17782
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I am so thankful the reality of war is being examined by not only the public but the military as well. I can not begin to judge these soldiers who chose to object nor can I judge the soldiers who chose to fulfill their duty. My brother served two tours in Iraq and he will never be the same. People can talk politics all day long but this documentary showed soldiers for what they truly are- human. Most soldiers do not enter the military with death as their main objective. Soldiers do their jobs and sometimes that job involves killing or doing things none of them would do within different contexts. I respect every soldier who has the courage to protect my freedom and make the sacrifice that being a soldier demands. These images of injured children and destruction should stop the world in its tracks but it never has which means that the real question is, what is humanity?…what is inside of any person to allow this type of pain to be brought upon any other human? What does it say about our country to ask our returning soldiers “Did you kill anyone?” Or better yet, “What does it feel like to kill?” How often does a civilian ask, “How many people did you save?” On a moral level death is justified easily through a utilitarian sense of morality, “the most happiness for the most people.” As for the CO’s, they chose to operate from a spiritual set of morals which are simply different from what is considered common morality. The impact of death in war needs much more examination on the part of the soldier’s ability to process such events. The rate of PTSD among returning veterans can not be ignored and as a society we can not continue to pretend that death does not affect these men and women. I am a firm believer that death in war is justified, perhaps it would not be so in a perfect world but the reality is our world is full of evil What the world needs to do is see the need for healing of not only our soldiers but our own hearts and that of our enemies. We must all remember that these soldiers are trained and trained well to kill on basic instinct; the key word here is trained. The purpose behind this training is to protect everyone of us. We are the individuals that create the need for a military and we are the only individuals who can ever begin stop the death and pain that is taking place. Humanity is in question here, not the morality of soldiers because we as citizens and felllow humans are the creators of the very morality that the soldiers are trained to protect and uphold.

  • Katherine Rao

    FOREIGNID: 17783
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I would like to respond to the soldier who used Jesus parable of the good Samaritan to justify war, saying what if the Good Samaritan had come just a few minutes earlier when the man was being attacked, wouldn’t he have intervened instead of standing by and watching it happen. It is a natural reaction to come to the aid of someone in distress to protect them from harm. And in the context of this parable that would be an example of true neighbor love. But it’s interesting that the scriptures make a distinction between accidental manslaughter and intentional killing. For example under the Mosaic law six cities of refuge were designated where someone who had killed someone accidentallhy could flee to, find refuge in, and, after a trial, be spared from the death penalty (Number 35:11-14) But warfare throughout history is completely different in it’s intent. In fact the Bible at James 4:1,2 says: “From what source are there wars . . . You desire and yet you do not have. You go on murdering and coveting You go on fighting and waging warfare.” This highlights that the underlying motives for war are greed (land, profit) and sovereignty (power, control, protecting national interests). A soldier thereby is not acting as a good samaritan, protecting his neighbor from harm but instead is an agent of the State, killing intentionally to protect the State’s interests. That is why it goes against a human being’s conscience.
    Jehovah’s Witnesses as a religion in all nations have demonstrated their objection to warfare and to this day are being subjected to imprisonment because of their stand.

  • Roland Schulz

    FOREIGNID: 17784
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I think sometimes war is necessary. I was born in Germany and live currently in the U.S. I’m glad that the U.S. entered WWII and defeated Hitler. I also liked the film. I think it is necessary to show the dirty side of war and the moral problems with it to make sure we only go to war if there is really no other possibility. It was way to easy for Bush to sell the Iraq war. And as a result so many civilians have died.
    Regarding the large number of CO in Germany: It is very easy to object the military service and do civil service instead. It doesn’t show that people wouldn’t be willing to fight. The reason there was no other war after WWII in western Europe is the European Union and not the number of COs.

  • Talisan

    FOREIGNID: 17785
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    This was a moving and chilling film. I am not a pacifist, but I admire those who are. I think that I would be able to kill to protect myself or others, but I would hope only if there were no other option. But I am troubled by the claims of those who berate the anti-war people. I particularly object to this notion that just because our country has gone to war that it was necessarily done to protect our life and freedoms. Nor do we owe all our freedoms to the military. People who demand justice and fight for equal rights and fairness are just as responsible, if not more so. I could not be a member of the military because I could not kill because someone else told me to. Vietnam and Iraq are two examples where there was no threat to this country. The soldiers sent to these wars were not fighting for my freedom, not protecting me or my country. In fact, in rather hysterical response to 9-11, the leaders of this country showed such cowardice that they began dismantling some of or most cherished freedoms, engaged in reprehensible behavior in condoning torture and have waged a propaganda war of terror to frighten their own people. It takes all kinds of people to make the world go round, and to those soldiers who risk their lives in defense of lives and liberty, we do owe a debt of gratitude But I weep when I read the names and especially ages of young men and women killed and injured as a result of the irresponsible, incompetent leadership and propaganda. Shame on them, and shame on those who glorify war and shrug off deaths of children as “collateral damage” and “bad stuff happens in war.” Violence is only justified as a last resort. First you talk. Even Gen Petraeus says we should talk to our enemies. Everyone, even a soldier who has signed a contract, has the highest moral duty to consider the justifications and possible consequences of his or her actions and to act in accordance with what he or she truly believes is the right thing to do. Even in a “justifiable war” not all actions are justified. You don’t get a pass on personal responsibility because your group may ostracize you or you were given an order. Military training is geared to making actions automatic and it employs psychological conditioning and propaganda to sublimate the conscience. I understand why this is done, but I don’t know that if in the end that it is worth it.

  • Ferdinand Gajewski

    FOREIGNID: 17786
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    The American Civil War should never have taken place,. People have a right to self-determination (as per the Declaration of Independence). The South should have been allowed to secede.

  • michael

    FOREIGNID: 17787
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    You may use HTML tags for style and links.This was a well presented film regarding the horrors of war. Societies have relied on organized violence for centuries. This unfortunately is human nature. In today’s America we exhort those who are being wronged to call the police. What are the police,but armed individuals we call upon to get others to see things our way. I have never served and am grateful to those who have and are serving. That being said, I find the political slant to the presentation offensive. Liberals who want religion banned from the public square (Christianity in particular) have no trouble using it to advance their arguments. If our next president is a Liberal,will PBS show a film like this? I guess I shouldn’t hold my breath.

  • Daniel

    FOREIGNID: 17788
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I am a former marine but must remember “once a marine always a marine” As I am and proud of. But, now since I was a marine then well after this part of my life I was then called by Jehovah. So then of course I had a problem with God and being a marine.
    So what have I found through my walk with the bible, Jehovah and Christ, and war? What is a Christian warrior? Can we be a soldier of conscience without religious conviction? Well, I do not go by what preaches, pastors, reverands, and man’s religious say. I go by what the bible itself says. So what bible do I read? I’m American and English is my native tongue so King James version is my bible.
    The Lord is a man of war, Exodus 15:3 Strongs number 4421 milchamah Hebrew definition is as follow; in the sense of fighting a battle (i.e.. the engagement) gen. war (i.e.. warfare): battle, fight (-ing), war (rior)
    King James Version 1611
    Exodus chapter 15 verse 3
    V3) The Lord is a man of war: the Lord is his name
    KIng David even sings a song to express all that God has done and taught King David.
    2 Samuel chapter 22 verse 35
    v35) He teacheth my to war: so that a boiw of steel is broken by mine arms.
    1 Chronicles chapter 5 verse 22
    V 22) For there fell down many slain, because the war was of God. And they dwelt in their steads until the captivity.
    God used war to even punish Israel for commandments they broke. Kings lost wars because they did not take counsel before they started to war of God.
    Revelations chapter 19 verse 11
    V 11) And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse and he that sat upon him was called faithful and true and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.
    So as you see even Christ himself who is the one who sits upon that white horse does make war and archangel Michael makes war in heaven against Satan. So war even in humanity is always a war of religion and good against evil and religion is usually always their God or no God. So id you claim because of the word of God then you are wrong because the bible says the opposite wars bring on the will of Gos must needs be.
    GOD BLESS ALL MILITARY MEN AND WOMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Walt

    FOREIGNID: 17789
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    This documentary was extraordinary; the real heroes were the CO’s who, when faced with the dire consequences of their actions, chose to live their beliefs and consciences. Kudos to them, and to the filmmakers. Of course, the real villains have occupied the Whit House for eight years; there is hope now for a change, much-needed and welcome

  • Harris

    FOREIGNID: 17790
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    “Those who beat their swords into plowshares usually end up plowing for those who kept their swords.”
    – Benjamin Franklin

  • Ethan

    FOREIGNID: 17791
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I am a christian, and these CO’s get my respect. The choice they made
    came at great cost to some of them, all of us should respect that. This said, I
    also highly respect the soldiers who continue to fight. I don’t think I could, I have never been a soldier, but I do appreciate their sacrifice for my security.
    The bigger picture of war, and if it is ever justified, I think can be answered by first looking at a small example. Could or would you or I defend
    a loved one from an attack? What about someone we don’t know, would we risk our own life in defence of another? Should the USA bring war to Islamic
    extremists who wish to kill us and enslave and mutalate women? I believe there is a time for war and a time for peace, and right now we are at a critical time in history, and war against evil terrorists is justified. So my deepest thanks to those who risk their lives to protect mine.

  • Meredith

    FOREIGNID: 17792
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    This film was so very powerful. What struck me the most, as I was listening to the stories of so many of the men who decided to turn away from war toward another vision, was how much strength and dignity seemed to surround them and come out of their every gesture.
    I think these men have a lot to teach us about humanity and how to stop war, all together. I think that listening to the men and women who are closest to this issue who also morally object to it, should become the new focus for the peace movement.

  • akivah

    FOREIGNID: 17793
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Your portral of war and the COs POV makes a very powerful and informative film. The decisons, opinions and reasoning of these young men really touched my heart and mind. The film also gave me an even greater understanding of the need for peace in the world now and the importance and role of peacemakers – who can come from diverse religious, philosophical and social POVs. Excelent job! Thank you filmakers and PBS. This is why and listen, support and appreciate U.
    I work with women and children and men who suffer or use domestic violence. We teach and model Domestic Peace. Peace can be a powerful force in the home and needs desperately to be taught and caught everywhere there is human life. May God Bless your efforts.

  • John

    FOREIGNID: 17794
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    It appears that most people, judging from the opinions expressed on this board, do not want discussion about the price of killing in war. Instead we focus on name-calling and venting our frustrations. The point of the documentary is that killing is not all it’s cracked up to be in the movies. It is hard and takes an emotional toll. The discussion should revolve around those issues and whether the benefit is worth the price.
    I have served in combat. My experiences in Iraq were very different than the COs in the movie. We went out daily and engaged the enemy. We saw day in and day out the horrible atrocities committed by the people we were fighting. Their torture facilities and mass graves. And no most of the enemy were not the people of Iraq.
    I have watched young men who risk their life and even die because they were not willing to risk killing civilians so they took more danger upon themselves. That is exactly what they were trained to do. I have seen men in the heat of battle make conscious decisions to kill or not to kill based on the particular situation. They are not mindless conformists.
    I harbor no ill will against the COs. I believe it is a testament to our nation and the freedom we experience that in an all volunteer army we even allow COs.

  • Karen Turner

    FOREIGNID: 17795
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    You may use HTML tags for style and links.

  • Tommy Monahan

    FOREIGNID: 17796
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I’m astounded at the attitude of many citizens, of this great country, regarding war and military service in general. I think a prerequisite for commentary, on the merits of films such as this, should be a declaration of age and whether military service is part of the contributors’ history.
    As with most of my neighborhood friends, registering for the draft and subsequent military service was part of our “right of passage” into manhood. It was something we all expected to do AND did, back then. Back then is the mid to late 50′s and I am in my late 60′s.At no time did we hear of CO’s , except in the movies . It appears to me this concept gained momentum with the advent of the Vietnam War and the concurrent attack on and breakdown of societal values, all brought about by the anti-war movement.My humble opinion is, the majority of male protesters were NOT conscientious objectors but shirkers of their duty and obligation.. They wanted others to do their duty for them..Had that been the case in earlier times , they might not have had the right to protest at all because different outcomes would have occurred.
    When people voluntarily join the military , they become part of something greater than the individual, something structured which relies on order . If all members deciide which, if any, war they choose to fight , an unravelling of the structure ensues and chaos reigns. The military cannot exist or function under these conditions. And the military must exist, in orderly fashion, for OUR PROTECTION. To believe otherwise is naieve,foolish and dangerous.
    No one in a civilized world WANTS war. It is a necessary evil, as the history of civilization attests to, that must be dealth with. Should we come to a point that CO status is claimed by all, we shall seek to exist as a free nation, because other less idealistic nations will overrun ours. The notion, that other nations would follow our lead and throw down their arms, is simply absurd.
    Wake up and smell those roses, before they no longer are there to smell. We need a standing military , a great one , to protect and defend us and to show strength, as a deterrent. History shows that the best defence is a great offence..Military duty should be, as it once was, a privilege, right and duty for all citizens who want and expect the rights and priveleges available to all in a free society. The film was poignant, dramatic and fair in it’s presentation of the stories of the CO’s and the other personnel . However, I did detect a bias toward the CO perspective, by the producers..Not surprising !

  • Joe Pitassi

    FOREIGNID: 17797
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    The policy of war is based on too many facets. One must understand that the other side does not have the feelings of killing or being killed that we have learned through our different religions,
    There have always been people that feel war is evil and that humans should not kill other humans but we all know that is wishful thinking. We will never be the CO people because survival is our enemy and it will keep us doing what we need to do for survival.
    I commend both sides of this documentary.

  • Frances Donnelly

    FOREIGNID: 17798
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I just watched “Soldiers of Conscience” on PBS. I happened to see it quite by accident– didn’t know anything about it’s being on.
    I really think it is the most important program that I have ever seen in my whole life, probably the most important documentary or film ever made, and the boldest, bravest and most needed.
    Congratulations. The people involved in making this documentary should win the Nobel Peace Prize.
    The part I liked best was the question raised about — what if Hitlar’s army of Soldiers had been Consciensious Objectors.

  • Brian McLaughlin

    FOREIGNID: 17799
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Just watched Soldiers of Conscience on MPT – best show about (Iraq) war I’ve seen on PBS or anywhere. Programming like this is what our country so urgently needs more of, and for the long haul, as was so eloquently expressed by the CO stories in your movie. Thank you.

  • Ron Meyer

    FOREIGNID: 17800
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Thank you so much for producing and airing the program Soldiers of Conscience. The young men who took a stand for morality and to be true to their consciences exemplified real courage. I am deeply encouraged by your willingness, in producing this program, to confront the blindly “patriotic” endorsement of war by our leaders.
    About 25 years ago, PBS aired a multi-part documentary on the history of war that was simply titled “War.” It was written and narrated by Gwin Dyer and it shared many of the facts and conclusions that you present in Soldiers of Conscience. In that production (and the accompanying book) I was first exposed to the fact that soldiers are reluctant to kill. And how the U.S. army (and now others around the world) has developed conditioning methods to overcome that reluctance, to overcome the scruples of conscience. But the aftermath of killing haunts these soldiers for the rest of their lives. That cannot be conditioned away.
    I wish you would have stressed that there is a definite limit to the number of days of combat that anyone can endure before breaking down (200-240 days, according to Dyer) and that the trauma of killing is a wound that never leaves a soldier. This is simply the way people are built — we are not designed to kill others.
    I wish I could speak with the soldiers in this program who decided to confront the military system. I want to let them know that there are many who support them, some of whom have have taken the same path. I am a Mennonite and my denomination has a long history of conscientious objection (and of being persecuted, even here in the U.S., for that position). And currently the Christian Peacemaker Teams organization sends volunteers around the world to conflict situations (including Iraq) to actively stand with those facing violence and to nonviolently stand up to that violence. Talk about courage — they demonstrate it far more than someone who has a gun in hand.
    A final note: the West Point instructor who kept talking about the “morality” of war indicated that there are only two alternative responses when faced with violence — fight or passivity. I strongly disagree. There are many creative steps to take that are not violent. The question of “what would you do about Hitler?” is too simplistic. Hitler came to power through the complicity, even encouragement of world leaders, including those in the U.S., who were anxious to make money from a strong Germany and who turned a blind eye to his violent and hate-filled policies. Prior to World War II a ship (I can’t remember the name) of Jewish refugees sailed around the world looking for a country to take them in. All refused, even the U.S., and they were forced back to Germany, where they were taken to concentration camps. Hitler’s response: “See, no one else cares about the Jews, either.” He was encouraged to continue the policies which led to the extremination camps.
    “What would you do about Hitler?” There many things that could have been done, years before war came, but we don’t hear about them. We face the same situations today when governments ignore oppression by others in order to look out for their “interests.” There are many things we could do to slow or stop the escalation to war.
    Again, many thanks for this program. Please keep them coming.

  • David Engelhardt

    FOREIGNID: 17801
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Your POV program on conscience objectors in the military was excellent, but may have avoided an important point in the Christian interpretation of forgiving one’s enemy. The Methodist church has a Sunday School program which deals with relating one’s religious beliefs (including literal Biblical understandings) with concern for scripture, tradition, experience, and reason. The most important point of our discussions on resolution of disagreement by force, involves the use of police of force. I personally do not believe that the Bible speaks of the right of civil authorities to have a police force to maintain peace within a community. With significant anti-social behavior exhibited by sociopaths, some of whom welcome death, the option of using force must be morally acceptable under protocols or guidelines adopted by most police forces. The critical issue is to use the violent resolution as a last resort, which is usually mandated by internal review processes of police departments.
    Now expand this notion of police action to the international scene, which literally was used during the Korean War. Possibly the UN will find its major role as a policing agent for the world. This demands moral agreement among major religions of the world, but, for instance, genocide is generally agreed to as abhorrent and grounds for intervention — even within only one country. This also brings to the fore, are religions necessary for moral thought — e.g., Kantian ethics is not religiously based, but rationally derived imperatives for survival of civilization.
    It appears that the global society now needs moral policing, and that armies will be used to enforce what the world feels is desirable. This may be called war, but in essence the action is small policing action against rogue states and in defence of the innocent or fringe of power in countries. The Darfur crisis is an example of the need for international policing. So is the effort to irradicate the Taliban, which generally denigrates human life and women’s rights, is an example of a rogue influence or a movement that police action might try to correct. Did Christ not want force used against such evil forces. Are we to turn the cheek to a rapist or bigot that takes forceful action against a minority member? I believe Jesus never intended the word “enemies” to refer to such a personification of the devil or influence of evil in this world.

  • Loyd Cooper

    FOREIGNID: 17802
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Hi. At the end of your POV Program about Consientious Objectors, you asked for comments. Here’s mine… I cried throughout the program. Being a Vietnam Combat Veteran of 3 tours. I wish I had had the courage to be a consientious objector; instead, I was an Airborne Infantryman who, after each tour “thought” that I had somehow failed to “become a man” and enjoy taking out America’s enemies. I would sign up for another tour to “do it right this time”; but it lead to drug addiction; discipline problems; general discharge; PTSD; alcohol-problems and severe depression… nightmares, guilt and a host of other problems. Unhappiness and lonliness has been my “reward” for my military service. I lost faith in God, in my country and in myself. I admire those who saw that war was wrong before it eats them alive. Thanks for letting me tell about the heartbreak of war.

  • Andrew Jackson

    FOREIGNID: 17803
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I believe that though soldiers are professionally trained and are expected to execute orders as given, yet have the responsibility of not only coping with the outer man but also having to live with the inner man. The objectives of war are always the same, to win. However the core values that are used to create these elites are the same values that we are asking them to violate. Picture two legally married people and for whatever the reason one decides not to be married any more. Should that person have a choice in the matter? As we all are free moral agents by choice often deciding to do either what is in our views justifiable or not but accountable for these actions. Should a man basically develop the stature of an attack dog that kills on command. Face it man through his time on the earth has come a long way having had many experiences bot good and not so good at times. We are vastly moving towards a more civil society that views the horrids of these at times necessary human conflicts as uncivilized.

  • Peter B. DuMont

    FOREIGNID: 17804
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    THANK YOU for a wonderful and balanced show!
    As an eighteen-year-old during the Vietnam War in 1969, I applied for C.O. status. My case never came up for review, as my student deferment made it unnecessary. But the process of applying was a life-changing experience. With assistance from the Quakers and other draft counselors in the Berkeley campus area, I studied excerpts from Gandhi, Tolstoy and other great thinkers; imagined myself in extreme situations, and took a conscious decision to “opt out” of the cycle of violence. It was a profound and healthful process, but also created a scary realization: If I, a mild-mannered young man from a protective and privileged family had found so much potential violence inside myself (until I decided to purge it) — what was the rest of society like: a bunch of “walking powder kegs?!” And with nuclear weapons around??!!
    Short months later, I was fortunate to begin practice of the Transcendental Meditation (“TM”) technique, which reduced stress on a daily basis and produced marvelous, repeated personal experiences of inner peace. Within three years I became a qualified young teacher of TM, and found I could indeed share this experience with others of widely varying lifestyles. All this gave me much hope for a better world.
    By the mid-eighties, frustrated after TM had been temporarily sidelined from mainstream funding (and from sustainable careers for teachers at that time), I teamed up with a friend and started the STAR ALLIANCE Foundation for Peace, which has developed over the last twenty years a variety of citizens’ peace declarations and pledges for “Universal Peace Ethics.”
    People with an interest in creating a more peaceful society may take inspiration and guidance from some of of the writings already available at http://www.STARALLIANCE.org. Importantly: anyone with website editing and site-building skills (especially someone in the Berkeley, California area who could make him/herself personally available to train some core volunteers) could help us develop this site and make it much more accessible and effective in spreading the message of, and useful, nonpartisan, nonsectarian guidance for: personal responsibility for peace.

  • morgan rothe

    FOREIGNID: 17805
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I just saw most of “questions of Conscience”. Simply want to say it was one of the best documentary films if not the best I have ever seen.POV is an outstanding series and I have yet to catch up on them all. I loved the one about the Gold mine in Romania. Please keep up these remarkable productions PBS. In these tough times these insightful programs help keep me hopeful and proud about our country and the future of humans and this planet.

  • P Kopp

    FOREIGNID: 17806
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Just a note to those who think we Christians were not to fight. (I am also for peace and I hate war and what it does to innocent people).
    God didn’t tell us to turn the other cheek. God had armies that fought for him. To give us peace. Example: II Chronicles 20:14-16 He promoted his armies to fight for him. Evil in the world will always raise it’s head. There will never be true peace until Jesus comes back to get rid of it for once and for all. Where do you think he will send the evil people?

  • Fernando Quevedo

    FOREIGNID: 17807
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    It is 4:30 am in the morning and I just finished watching your Soldiers of Conscience documentary. It was phenomenal. This is film making at its finest. They tackled a difficult and controversial issue with great care and exposure on all aspects. I wish that more people would watch this film and see what war does and how it affects people. All too often we reduce it to a bumper sticker slogan and declare our support from the comfort of hours daily lives. We should force our politicians to watch this film since they are the ones sending our children to do the fighting.

  • Douglas Jones

    FOREIGNID: 17808
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I just finished watching “Soldiers of Conscience” on KCET-W out here in California and I was struck with how de-humanizing military training really is. I used to work with a man who was a staff sergeant in the Marines. He explained to me, over a pitcher of beer, that the Marines don’t like individuals. People who think for themselves are dangerous, he told me. the whole point of basic training is to tear people down and then build them back up as part of a group. I also remember him telling me how they used reflexive training to make it easier for soldiers to shoot and kill, bypassing the decisions based upon individual morality.
    This is why, when most people blame the army for the current mess in Iraq, I can’t. Soldiers nowadays are nothing but tools in a political game. And to quote Clausewitz, war is politics by other means. Soldiers are taught to follow orders, without question, and let the chips fall where they may. Please make no mistake about this, Iraq is nothing more than politics and capital for the political gain of Bush. Patriotism is being used to disguise the utter failure of a “war” based on lies. I salute the men that had the courage of their convictions to stand up and say, “No, I will not kill others for no reason.”

  • A Viewer

    FOREIGNID: 17809
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I just watched your doc on soldier’s of conscience. First of all i loved it, but it brought back a lot of flashbacks for me. I myself have been there twice, but the second time was not by choice. The army called me back to duty.. It has taken me years of theoropy to get where i am today. And the V.A. nor the Army did not start understanding the importance of mental and physical effects of war vets until just a few years ago. Which i fell is bull shit, but either way there are helping now. Though it is a little to late for most and the outcome of my life hasn’t been the greatest since the first time.
    Once again i have found that i am alone in the world which does not help those who need it. I would how ever like to get into contact the gentleman who where in your docomentry that have the shirts Iraq war veterans against the war. I do not recall there names but i am sure they could help me and i could help them as well.
    so thank you, and please understand that i was in there shoes but didn’t react in there manner in fear of what they went through.

  • A. Napolitano

    FOREIGNID: 17810
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Thank you for giving the American people a true account of what is actually happening in our name. A special thank you to the courageous individuals who are coming foward to tell their stories about the injustice they have witnessed. Kudos to PBS for this important and necessary information.

  • Pete Kilner

    FOREIGNID: 17811
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Viewers of SOC should understand that the four conscientious objectors in the film are not opposed merely to the Iraq War, but to ALL war. If they had lived in Poland in 1939, they would not have defended their countrymen and their families against the brutal aggression of the Nazis. They would not have used force to protect Jews against the SS. They would have “hoped” that all the Germans became COs.
    The four “heroic” CO’s apparently all had upsetting experiences in their non-combat squads in Iraq, and then generalized from their experiences in one place, at one time, in one war, to condemn all wars. Logically, that’s called a hasty generalization.
    An analogy: Just because some marriages are marred by spousal abuse is not reason to condemn the very idea of marriage. I could make a film that highlighted four beaten wives who speak eloquently about how awful they found marriage to be, and if you knew nothing more about marriage, you would be horrified by it. But you would be making a decision based on an incomplete understanding of the situation.
    If that analogy seems unfair, it’s only because we have all seen good marriages. A problem of making judgments on war based on isolated data points (like this film) is that so many Americans have absolutely no experience of war, nor of the military. Learning about war from conscientious objectors is like learning about marriage from beaten wives. They will tell you what they know, but it won’t be the full picture.
    It would be easy to make a film that focused primarily on the good that wars accomplish–yet such a film would be called “propaganda,” although it would be no less unrepresentative of the full reality of warfare than is SOC.

  • Talisan

    FOREIGNID: 17812
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    As a woman, I never had to face the draft, but I was married to someone who was during the Vietnam war era. He joined the AF to avoid going to Vietnam. It was an interesting experience living in the Far East at this time and I got an education about the military from the perspective of both career and one-tour troops. I also worked for many years for civilian defense projects where I came in contact with numerous military and ex-military people. One thing I walked away with was that the military was a big Socialist organization, quite ironic since we were supposed to be fighting the “commies.” The other major impression was that especially with those in for a career, there was this sense of otherness. They spoke of the rest of the country as the World, a place they were separate from. And there was such classism — officers allowed on this section of the Beach, enlisted on the other. It felt very weird to me. I couldn’t get used to the saluting, to restrictions of rights and speech, and the feeling that the troops were treated as children. It seemed so un-American. There are followers, leaders, and free-thinkers. Followers might do okay having others make decisions for them. Leaders might do okay if they rise in the ranks. But free-thinkers will not adjust well. They ask too many questions. War is never simply a case of good guys and bad guys, and it always involves horror and carnage including to the most innocent, children. Those who support wars invariably defend it in simplistic black-and-white terms, and they seldom really show any compassion to the damage to the innocent, to the environment, to the lives of people on which bombs rain down indiscriminately. If we could rely on our political and military leaders to only go to war as a very last resort, many of these pro-war arguments might hold some water. But I am 63 years old and in my lifetime I have heard too many lies, too much propaganda, too much demagoguery
    and seen too much just plain incompetence to have faith in anything they say. I used to be mystified to see the mother of a suicide bomber elated by the actions of her child, but then I hear an American mother extol the sacrifice of the life of a child killed in battle, and I think that while not exactly equivalent, these emotions are not all that different. If all the mothers of the world could keep their children from going off to war, perhaps we could stop it. Frankly, I have given up on you men. Too much strutting around, macho posturing, and psychological need to feel important. And too much copping out to God. Funny how religions always impute to God all the vanities and frailties of mankind. God may [or may not] have created Man, but Man sure as shooting created religion. Do you really think God is so dumb?

  • Amanda

    FOREIGNID: 17813
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    “Soldiers of Conscience” just finished. And I just sit here and think about how it must be for those soldiers, today. I can see that they have moved on since then, most of them that is, and that is good. We all choose what we want to do in life. But, they all made a decision that effected thier lives in different ways, however. Most people who are very patriotic, just joining the military or whom are already in the military, would not see these soldier’s point of views because they do not think like these guys do.
    I do feel strongly that if I were to ever decide to be a CO soldier, the best way to go about it is just to submit for it but do not go awal because you feel that you are a CO and that was the best thing that you could do. Some of the guys on the show did the right thing and just waited for his time to be known as a CO and get out with an honorable discharge. At least they were able to be an honorable discharge for the matter, though.
    I once served in the army too just like these guys but I did not ever go to war. So in a sense, I can not begin to feel what they must have felt during the time of war. I can only imagine that they all still have nightmares of war today. But like I said before….we choose what we want in our lives. My choice to stay in the military was merely on the edge of doing what I felt was necessary at the time, as well. Although, I was never a CO, I chose to get out under a pregnancy chapter in 2002, also at Fort Stewart, GA. And it was a very hard decision for me to undertake because I really did love being in the military. Some people would look at that as giving up but I only looked at it as a chance to be a mom and stay at home wife for the first time. I just wanted to try something different for once.
    My husband at the time, now ex, was even then still in the army as well so I felt like I was not really leaving the military family for good. But if I could have made the decision to stay in and risk getting deployed I probably would have done it just to get the experience and to understand what I was fighting for.
    In this video, there was a lot of direction however as to why these guys decided to become COs. The more I looked at the news today, the purpose of the soldiers being in Iraq and Afghanistan is slowly fading away. I think that the majority of soldiers today feel that they are confused as to why they are even doing what they do. And that is why there are more COs than soldiers fighting in this war. I don’t think that there is anything more powerful than how we choose what we want to do for our lives; our conscience is something we can not run away from no matter what people say.
    In all honesty, I do not believe that these guys are considered cowards or traitors to this country. I feel that they were just doing what they felt that they needed to do. Life is full of questions today. In fact, there are so many unanswered questions today that we can not even begin to imagine what kind of answers we wll find.
    I can say that I am a christian but at times I do not follow the christian ways. But I do believe that there are strong powers at work when we decide to make decisons for ourselves. And I do think that that is what we did not see during the halocaust. With the halocaust, people were blinded by the truth. They saw the Jews as the enemy or anyone who stood against them. It seemed like you did not have any room for a conscience and if you did you probably would have gotten shot for it.
    Unfortunately, when it comes to the internet these days, people are looking for answers on the web because they do not infact, have a conscience, either. The straight forward fact is that most of everything that you read on the web is not so very real anymore. And the sad thing is that lots of people actually belive what they read about on the web and it is just crazy. The same thing goes for this iraq war. People are not seeing the real truths. The real truth is that not all american soldiers are brutal and nasty to all the prisoners; most of them turn out to be COs because they do not see a purpose as to why they should fight in a war that should not have been.
    I believe that this video was great because even though I have never fought in a war, I could actually see what these guys saw. That does not make me an unpatriotic person, though. It just gave me more of a sense of respect for those soldiers that actually came forward with how they feel and such. You just can not keep things like that bottled up inside of you, however. And these guys finally came forward with their beliefs even though some of them just did the right thing. The army is all about hurry up and wait, though. All I know is that these former soldiers knew what they had to do and they did it and I don’ see any harm in doing what they did.

  • Amanda

    FOREIGNID: 17814
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    When I was a little girl, my dad use to tell me storries about his time in Vietnam. He said that even though he had a job to do while he was out there in that country, there was a fight amongst fellow soldiers due to race issues. One black guy got killed in a fatal accident that was blamed on a white guy and then everyone wanted to get involved. They were just not acting like a team out there.
    Then my dad told me about when my Uncle Tom, who was a Marine in Vietnam, had to blast off a young boys foot because the boy had stolen some supplies. LIttle did he know that the boy was ordered to get the supplies or else risk having a dead family. When a child like this is left like so, you have wonder why it is you do the things you do.

  • Jeremy McConkey

    FOREIGNID: 17815
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I am currently serving as a medic in the U.S. Army, have never been deployed and know that it will destroy me as a person to end someone elses life. It goes against all that I believe. I also know that as long a we are sending good men and women to war, my services will be needed. Going through Basic Combat Training (BCT) and Advanced Individual Training (AIT) I was offended by the term soldier. In AIT we were referred to as Soldier Medics. Soldiers kill, not me I’m a medic, I’m here to save you friend or foe. Thats what I tell myself. Of all of my friends that have served in Iraq the only one that came back mentally stable is the one who never fired a single round the others all suffer from PTSD and are no longer fit for duty. It is soon to be my turn to go over seas and try my luck at retaining my humanity and test to my courage. I know that in the heat of battle I will keep my focus and save lives, I seriously doubt that I will pull the trigger, it’s just not me….

  • Jeremy McConkey

    FOREIGNID: 17816
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    One note to the CO Soldiers and any future ones as well. God bless you and thank you for your service. I think the real betrayal comes from those who choose to chastize you for following your heart…

  • Larry Gara

    FOREIGNID: 17817
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    The film showed the nature of warfare, the ultimate form of violence. With 21st century technology a major war would most likely end human life on planet earth. There are alternatives to war.Gandhian Nonviolence is one alternative for settling disputes between nations. As one who was a resister in World War II I want to thank you for making visible the important contribution of the Iraq resisters. They are the pioneers of a warless
    world.
    contribution of the Iraq war resisters to the virtually invisible but significant history of nonviolence.

  • A1C Joseph R Thomas III

    FOREIGNID: 17818
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    As an American airman of one year now and growing up as an Air Force “brat”, I greatly appreciate the quality and attention to detail of this film. However, I cannot commend the conscientious objectors for giving up on their promise to serve their country due to their own religious convictions. I personally have my own strong religious convictions, and although I have not deployed yet and I have not shot anyone when the time comes what will be going through my head is not if my savior would want me to turn the other cheek but would the American people and my family in particular want to be that cheek I turn to the enemy? I fight not only for myself and my fellow Christians but for the millions of Americans who do not believe in turning the other cheek. I fight because my 4 year old brother does not want me to leave them be so that they (the terrorists) can bring the fight here. I fight so that my 4 year old brother doesn’t have to, on his swing set in our back yard. They attacked us here on 9/11. They attacked a symbol of America, a building filled with people of all religions, race, and ethnicity. Let’s say all of the Christians who died that day wanted us to turn the other cheek and love thy enemy that’s fine but what did the rest of those who died that day believe? I fight for those who died that day and their families who didn’t believe in turning the other cheek. Someone has to stand up for them and until recently I believed it was everyone who took an oath before god and the flag to do just that. However, the conscientious objectors believe that because of what they believe we should be at risk. They left their wing man in that fox hole alone to be that other cheek. If our country didn’t fight back the twin towers would have been a daily occurrence and I truly believe that. The Air Force right now is less than 320,000 strong; it is smaller now than it has ever been. During a time of war we cannot afford to just not fight. We have airmen who are deploying for six months every six months to help these people who hate us so much. War is hell, but we are rebuilding and if that isn’t “loving thy neighbor” in a realistic 21 century then I don’t know what is. They are right civilians just don’t understand, they had options besides getting out. There are career fields in the military which don’t involve raiding houses and sitting on roof tops with rifles.

  • Lynnette

    FOREIGNID: 17819
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I do not believe that it is ok to take ANY human life. EVER. “Death is not the opposite of life. Life has no opposite. The opposite of death is birth. Life is eternal.” Eckhart Tolle. The ending of one’s physical form should not be the decision of anyone. If you believe in life after death, you should not be in fear of it and not need to protect physical existence. When you learn to love and accept everyone for who they are no matter how radical, then the violence and hate dissipates and world peace is created and heaven is within and everywhere. I love and forgive everyone. I chose to let go of my ego and let life happen.

  • Lewis Pinch

    FOREIGNID: 17820
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    This ws one of the most moving pictures I have seen and more people should see it. The crying little girl whose whole family was removed from the house after it was invaded by soldiers, broke my heart. All I could think of was my grandaughter and how that could have been her. The makers of this film should get a Peace award.

  • Jeremy Banchiere

    FOREIGNID: 17821
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    “Lt. Col. Pete Kilner is a West Point professor of ethics, “The million people who are out defending our country fighting our wars, and the millions who have done it throughout history are not immoral people. No one likes to kill — no healthy person. . . . It may be nasty, it may be unpleasant, but the alternative’s worse.”
    This perspective completely bypasses the most important question about war: is the conflict justified? Should we even be forcing our troops to endure this sort of moral dilemma in the first place?
    The Iraq war is NOT justified. We are NOT keeping the American mainland safe by the fighting in Iraq. Saddam Hussain was NOT a threat to our national security. Human beings can not use preemptive military action on the basis that at some point a particular nation COULD pose a threat. Military action should be the absolute last course of action, not the knee jerk reaction to a nameless fear.
    If you conclude that the Iraq war is not justified, then WE are the antagonist. We are the ones that are causing pain and suffering to millions of people in the Middle East. We are the ones that are unnecessarily placing the lives of American men and women on the line. We are the ones that are murdering hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in a campaign that need never have happened.
    The question that I pose to Lt. Col. Pete Kilner is not “Can war be justified”, but “Is THIS war justified? All questions on the ethics of war stem from this overriding question.

  • Jeremy Banchiere

    FOREIGNID: 17822
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    “You need to honor your contract. Even if you don’t like something, if they give you an order, you gotta do it.”
    So what you’re saying is that the German war criminals of WWII were justified. “Just following orders” frees you from any moral obligation.

  • http://mnelson56 Mike Nelson

    FOREIGNID: 17823
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Lt. Col. Kilner’s rationalizations help perpetuate the cycle of violence that plagues mankind. This war, like the Kuwaiti conflict, is preemptive. This is a frightening moral turn in foreign policy for this nation. Our counties’ leadership has taken leave of it’s senses. The C.O.s reflect that in their changes of heart in the middle of service.
    I felt sick after seeing footage of US soldiers cheering after the killing of their so-called enemy; after seeing them scoop the brains out of another; not to mention the Abu Ghairb foolishness.
    I am ashamed of our government’s handling of the men of Abu Ghairb. The basic human rights for which many fought and died, were and are being suspended when it is inconvenient. I am surprised and shocked that more people are not speaking out in protest.
    After 911, the entire world was sympathetic. We have made many enemies since, via our counties’ immoral behavior. The Conscientious Objectors are trying right some enormous wrongs.

  • Chris

    FOREIGNID: 17824
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I am a little offended by that statement. As an Iraq vet I will be the first to admit we did horrible and inexcusable things to people. Truth be told I shouldn�t be able to sit here and type this. But guess what? We did what we did and I will not accept anyone who was not there judging me or any of us. I get rather angry at that. Regardless of what one�s view of the war is, if you find yourself in the middle of it you will do things and take part in things you never would think any human being is capable of. I respect this COs and anyone who is against this war. In hindsight we should have never been involved in the first place. The fact is lots and lots of innocent civilians were killed and brutalized and yes much of it was at the hands of American military personnel. The chaos of war and the hatred and frustration you feel out there causes one to do unspeakable things. While it�s not realistic to expect anyone who�s never been in it to understand, I still will not respect anyone who negatively judges us.
    Edited by the moderator for personal attack.

  • Chris

    FOREIGNID: 17825
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Deleted by the moderator for personal attack.

  • Chris

    FOREIGNID: 17826
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Deleted by the moderator for personal attack.

  • Val Rios

    FOREIGNID: 17827
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    This program was very moving and brought back memories and feelings of my own struggle with CO status. My heart went out to the soldiers who made the deciosion to seek CO status. It is much more difficult and painful to seek CO status as a soldier than it is prior to entering the military as I did. each of these soldiers still had a love for their comrades and did not pass moral judgement with their descision to remain in the military. Rather, this was an excellent program showing the personal struggle and inward jouney that each of these soldiers made to come to the decision, not to take the life of another person. In so doing, while they may be considered an outcast and coward by many, the inner strenght gained through this process has indeed set them free!

  • Chaplain (Major) James Lewis, Al Asad, Iraq

    FOREIGNID: 17828
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Thank you for presenting “Soldiers of Conscience.” It was at
    least an attempt at showing a “balanced” perspective, yet in comparing
    the amount of time spent on the Conscientious Objector stories and the
    amount of time spend with presenting the “traditional” view of the need
    for those willing to wage war, the scales tip dramatically in the
    direction of the CO stories. I write to you from the unique perspective
    of one who left the military as a CO years ago because of my faith, and
    after a number of years’ growth, have returned to the military as a
    Chaplain, also because of my faith.
    Considering the central place ethics, values, morals and
    religion play in these discussions, I am concerned that the Chaplain is
    conspicuously absent from your film and discussion. While these
    concerns are not solely in the realm of the Chaplain, Chaplains play an
    integral role in every CO application process, and are often the central
    players in helping Service Members sort through these issues. I would
    submit that it was a poor choice of yours to omit any reference to
    Chaplains, and would suggest that if you do any follow-up with this in
    the future, that they play an integral role in the discussion.
    Additionally, I was disappointed to see that the only
    “Christian” perspective that was shown, was the “peace church”
    perspective, without balancing it with the majority of the Christian
    tradition and the majority of Christian churches, which accept the ugly
    necessity of war.
    In my experience with the military, it would be safe to say that
    most Service Members consider themselves to be “peacemakers,”
    recognizing the necessity of sometimes ensuring peace through strength
    of arms. Yet in this film, the perspective repeatedly presented was
    those who left as COs saying that they were doing so to be “peacemakers”
    as if one cannot be a peacemaker in uniform.
    The closing comments by the producers at the end, asserting
    that the CO is responding to a “higher calling,” is by nature,
    denigrating the many who feel it is their calling, also often from a
    well-grounded faith, to serve in the military, even when necessary, by
    killing.
    Thank you very much-

  • Larry Gara

    FOREIGNID: 17829
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    As a war resister who served three and a half years in prison during and after World War II I was thrilled to see this film. It clearly depicted the thinking of those who had entered the military and realized that killing another person is wrong and it should not be legalized by calling it war.
    My wife and I edited A Few Small Candles: War Resisters of World War II Tell Their Stories to make that part of history visible. Soldiers of Conscience does the same for the resisters of today as well as telling the more popular position of accepting killing in war. It is a masterpiece.

  • Korina Knudson

    FOREIGNID: 17830
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Have you ever seen a Vietnam Vet put a lit match to his hair engulfing himself in flames, I have. I was 15. It was on Center & Shattuck right outside the Bart station, in the mirrors of See’s Candy.
    He looked into my eyes as he set the match to his hair and I will never ever forget what I saw in his eyes. I watched him and I smelled him and I tried to help him while everyone else passed by.
    r>In Berkeley, the high school is just two blocks down the street. The school itself sits across the street from Vet’s Admin and the back door of the courthouse, and directly across Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.Way, from the police station. I had no choice but to literally watch my step walking to school, or I would find my shoe wreaking from the human feces of the Vietnam War.
    Provo park, the only green grass at the school, sits in the middle of all those buildings.
    Back then, the Vietnam Vets lived in that park, up by the empty fountain. Finally the city put in a Honey Box for them, and a water hose that led from the court house. Back then, Reagan was the Govenor of California and closed some VA hospitals.
    When we look to the past, we look to the past and learn….

  • mike

    FOREIGNID: 17831
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Brilliant, true heros. Great to see people with character. Standing up to the authorities and saying NO. Our God is a God of Love. listen to your spirit . Be still and know.
    perfect peace. of the Holy Father.

  • John Mundinger

    FOREIGNID: 17832
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    The film did an excellent job of presenting the moral dilemma faced by individuals in combat. However, it did not discuss the larger moral dilemma faced by the country with its decision to go to war in the first place.
    Lt. Col. Kilner did an excellent job of articulating the moral perspective of the individual who is willing to kill another human being, motivated by a sense of duty. He equated the behavior of the individual soldier with that of the Good Samaritan, suggesting how the Good Samaritan might have acted had he had the opportunity to intervene prior to the beating and robbery. If that logic applies, however, it also sets a high standard for decision to use military force – it must be for the purpose of achieving a greater good, not just for the purpose of achieving selfish objectives. The colnel also noted that morality is most important in guiding the behavior of the individual. But, how can morality guide the soldier’s behavior if morality was not foremost in guiding the nation’s decision to go to war?
    Soldiers swear to defend the country from all enemies, foreign and domestic. The implied commitment that the nation makes to our soldiers is that, when we ask them to fight and kill and bleed and die for the sake of liberty, the cause must be liberty and the cause must be just. We break faith with our women and men in uniform when we send them into combat without first determining that there is, in fact, a real and imminent threat and without first exhausting all reasonable alternatives to combat to neutralize that threat. We failed that test in Vietnam and we failed it again with the decision to invade Iraq.

  • Frank McCauley

    FOREIGNID: 22587
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    My uncle was in our first real night battle in what today is called Iron Bottom Sound. His ship the heavy Crusier “Chicago” was the only ship not sunk. He has many real stories to tell and I can not contact anyone to get his offical interview. He is 93 and failing. HELP!!!
    PBS ORG NEEDS TO INTERVIEW HIM. Contact me via resortlike@live.com with helpful information as to contacting a historian or pbs org or someone.
    Thanks
    Frank McCauley
    resortlike@live.com. .

  • Steve

    FOREIGNID: 30579
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I just watched the show and am sick to my stomach over the wimps who “could not fight”. What did they think that the military was? They did not want to kill so they got out. That means that someone else had to take thier place. They claim thier beliefs made them leave. Im glad that Jesus did not leave when it got tough. He stayed to make a difference. They should have stayed and tried to make it better. If they did not like the way that prisoners of war were treated. They should have stayed to be the one light to make it better.. But as a scared dog… Ran with thier tails between thier legs.. God Bless the strong soilder!