Conscientious Objection as a Pass


    Cowardice and fear at the Department of the Army (DA) is evident in the processing of PFC Naser Jason Abdo who is accused of plotting to attack Fort Hood soldiers. The decision at DA in this case debases the status of conscientious objector and threatens good order and discipline.

    The Army’s Conscientious Objector Review board denied (Abdo’s) request, but the deputy assistant secretary of the Army Review Boards Agency recommended this year he be separated from the Army as a conscientious objector. – Washington Times

    Army leadership in the ranks was on the mark in its handling and processing of the young soldier’s appeal for conscientious objector status. Then a weakling at the DA intervened. Where Major Nidal Hasan’s lower leadership failed to take him to task, Abdo’s immediate leaders took appropriate action, then were overruled. Abdo’s case is also different because unlike Hasan, he clearly indicated he would refuse to follow orders. This one was a no brainer.

    “I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t ready to die and meet God.” – PFC Abdo

    Not many want to die and meet their maker. That’s not a substantial objection. If that were a basis for discharge, we’d have a very small military. And it’s a volunteer military, has been for decades, so this should have factored into the decision to enlist.

    Genuinely coming to the realization that one is a conscientious objector while on active duty is unusual. In a long career and having dealt with more than a few who decided to take this path out of their obligation, only one demonstrated the philosophical sincerity that merited an honorable discharge in this status. And even that gent I doubted would practice his beliefs long after he had his discharge. The others not only lacked the sincere beliefs required for the status but also the character to complete their service honorably and were eventually afforded their just deserves. But someone at DA was afraid to do the right thing. And because of that, soldiers’ lives were placed in danger. There is no reason to believe that if the Army had handled this case expeditiously, given him bad paper and sent him on his way (which is what he wanted) that Abdo would have ended up at that Killeen gun shop intent on acting out.

    The military attracts all kinds. It shouldn’t and doesn’t keep them all. And society is not well served when those who merit punishment or discharge with a poor characterization are allowed to slip away unscathed. In this case, additional revelations that reflect on Abdo’s character demonstrate that the lout at DA who decided to use the status of conscientious objector as a way to avoid taking responsibility committed a grievous error. That individual seems the only one who missed seeing that Abdo was a bad actor and should not be given a pass.

    “We just never felt good about (Abdo),” said Michael L. “Mikey” Weinstein, the founder and president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation  – as reported in the Washington Post

    According to information about Abdo, he appears to be just another disillusioned young soldier; a discipline problem who started by playing every trick of passive resistance in the book. When those failed, he moved to the conscientious objector track. He was going to do whatever it took to get out of the Army. Planning to kill flys directly in the face of his claim of conscientious objector status but this is not someone solidly grounded. Every act and claim that followed his being charged with possessing child pornography looks more like acting out in order to prove his original objection to going to Afghanistan than anything else; a smokescreen.  

    Nothing about Abdo demonstrates a philosophical objection to war or killing. A conscientious objector doesn’t selectively object. It is a tough and honorable moral position to take when one is sincere. Persons of conscience should not be dishonored by having their status used as a pass card for malcontents. And decisions about claims of moral objection should not be made by someone with weak moral character. In this case, two people were hiding behind the status.

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