Letter to the Editor: On Conformity

4 mins read

March 16, 2003

“I’m in Tantalon, Nova Scotia. I’ve been in Canada since Congress voted to authorize war in Iraq. I’m angry. We should have been allowed to introduce security measures that could have prevented 9/11. Instead, the very people who refused us blame us for that failure.

“I know what will come of war with Iraq. I took part in the war games used to plan for it in 1992. When we oust Saddam Hussein the extremists Saudi Arabian clerics have cultivated, since we chose not to give them Afghanistan in 1989, will pour into the country from throughout the Middle East. They will topple governments or create so much instability we’re asked to topple them for brutalizing their people in an effort to retain control. War will engulf the region.

“I haven’t slept in days. I honestly thought we put this behind us when our inspectors found only the chemical weapons sold Iraq (to aid them in their war with Iran) in the country. They weren’t making or weaponizing them as we’d feared. They weren’t hiding manufacturing facilities or missiles armed with chemical warheads in underground facilities as we’d suspected.

“Saddam is pliable. There’s no reason to risk the leverage we have over him and other local leaders for this. What we’ve learned in the last decade hasn’t led to this, a refusal to acknowledge it has. This is the Saudi led effort Reagan officials promised to embark on in exchange for help driving the Soviets from Afghanistan. I can’t believe we’re aligned with them after all they’ve done to support the movement behind the attacks of 9/11.

“If I hadn’t gone through Officer Selection and Training with the Naval Officer Training Command and Headquarters Marine Corps as a Sergeant I wouldn’t be in Canada now. They taught me to advocate for actions supported by the intel at hand. I’m doing that. It tells me the Bush administration is ignoring all this and embracing testimony that doesn’t add up or is coerced instead.”

I was detained the following morning by Royal Canadian Mounted Police, evaluated by medical personnel, and released. After 5 days without sleep I was acting erratically, so I can’t blame them.

I returned to Maine the following day. I didn’t want to be in a foreign country when we went to war. I didn’t know who to trust. I needed sleep but couldn’t, so I went to the hospital for advice. The story I just told you led them to hold me for a week. I wasn’t happy.

I’m still mad lies became truth to all those who might have supported me. I was a career Marine in need of it, not judgement. There was an effort to force conformity that was never going to work on me. I was trained to adopt and defend the approach I thought best taken given the intel at hand. Had those behind it met me half-way our conversations would have continued and I’d probably be someplace else today.

I suppose the public will always think the military is simply composed of those who do as they’re told, but that’s not quite what’s going on in the leadership ranks. We are both guardians of understanding and loyal servants. We’ll do as we’re told while advising against it, if we believe the intel at hand suggests we should do something else. That causes some friction, but most of us handle it well.

Jamie Beaulieu
Farmington, Maine

Print Friendly, PDF & Email