Mudcat Café message #1381153 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #62901   Message #1381153
Posted By: Amos
17-Jan-05 - 11:53 PM
Thread Name: BS: Popular Views of the Bush Administration
Subject: The Sanity of Bush's War Explained By A Participan
This story deserves careful reflection. It is from CNN on 1-17-2005:

HINESVILLE, Georgia (AP) -- A young girl clutching her arm blackened by burns, dogs feeding off bodies in mass graves -- the images still haunt Sgt. Kevin Benderman 15 months after he came home from Iraq.

Witnessing the brutal reality of war, Benderman stunned his commanders when he sought a discharge as a conscientious objector after 10 years in the Army.

In an interview with The Associated Press, the sergeant said he never grasped the misery that war inflicts on civilians as well as combatants until he saw it all firsthand.

"Some people may be born a conscientious objector, but sometimes people realize through certain events in their lives that the path they're on is the wrong one," Benderman said. "The idea was: Do I really want to stay in an organization where the sole purpose is to kill?"

Benderman's decision -- choosing conscience over his commitment to fellow troops -- has meant bearing the insults.

An officer called him a coward. His battalion chaplain shamed him in an e-mail from Kuwait. That's because Benderman, whose unit just deployed for a second combat tour in Iraq, refused to return to war.

Benderman, 40, filed notice in December, and his timing could hardly have been worse for the Army. The Fort Stewart-based 3rd Infantry Division began deploying its 19,000 soldiers this month.

Benderman's unit, the 3rd Forward Support Battalion, was leaving for Kuwait on January 5. When commanders ordered him to deploy while they processed his objector application, he refused to show up for his flight.

He said he has his reasons, reflecting on time in Iraq.

Benderman told of bombed out homes and displaced Iraqis living in mud huts and drinking from mud puddles; mass graves in Khanaqin near the Iranian border where dogs fed off bodies of men, women and children.

He recalled his convoy passing a girl, no older than 10, on the roadside clutching a badly injured arm. Benderman said his executive officer refused to help because troops had limited medical supplies.

"Her arm was burned, third-degree burns, just black. And she was standing there with her mother begging for help," Benderman said. "That was an eye opener to seeing how insane it really is."

Now Benderman, a mechanic who has been reassigned to a non-deploying rear detachment unit, could face a court-martial.