Afghanistan/Iraq: looking for answers

I was also a conscientious objector, in another war. I couldn't in conscience claim the kind of religious grounds that young Joshua Casteel did, but I have to hand it to the kid. This is an amazing story:

More like this

No offense, Revere, but this is pure bullshit (and it took me roughly the first ten seconds of watching it to figure that out). This is so obviously "staged" that it is painful to watch. This guy has perused far too many Tom Cruise films. He's got both the facial mechanics and the rap down really tight. Read up on this guy's history. He's essentially a self-serving jerk-off. And you know that I am no fan of the Iraq war.

Google the guy's name. He tried to game the system, and when it didn't work out to his satisfaction, he came up with this bullshit.

By the way, he is a "Christian," with a very prominent capital "C;" need I say more?

Dylan: I did Google his name and on a quick look didn't see anything amiss. I'm open to an argument, but saying he's a christian with a capital "C" doesn't do it for me. As you said about the War, you know that I'm no friend of religion. But I've known some very sincere and effective religious objectors, including Phil Berrigan, and that's not sufficient argument for me. As I said in the post, a religioius reason doesn't resonate with me, but if his story is at all truthful, I'll extend him my respect and take him seriously until given a convincing reason not to.

An utterly opportunistic asswipe, Revere. Nothing more.

Meet Joshua Casteel, just another disingenuous IVAW member. Hereâs his profile at IVAW;

Heâs also been to the Vatican to convince the Pope to urge soldiers to become conscientious objectors;

In his profile at IVAW, he tries to make you think heâs an officer with this line;

Joshua Casteel first enlisted in the US Army Reserves at the age of 17, received an appointment to the US Military Academy at West Point at 18, but at 25 was honorably discharged from Active Duty as a conscientious objector.

Well thatâs all true, but what he doesn't mention is that he washed out of West Point. He was there from June until September of 1998. I've spent more time at West Point. How do I know? Well, I have his Form 2-1;

He went to basic training between his junior and senior years of high school in 1997, then to West Point after high school and he was home in September. The Army then let him go to college for four years at the University of Iowa and Oxford before they called him back after he graduated. He came on active duty as an E-4 then he went to AIT at Fort Huachuca, then to the Defense Language Institute for 17 months of Arab language training, then to his unit at Fort Gordon. Two months later he was at Abu Ghraib, six months later he was in the States after his tour. Four months after that he applied for conscientious objector and then he was back on the block. He calls that eight years in the Army.

He got out of the Army at the same rank he came on active duty - an E-4;

You're a scientist, Revere. You're not trained to detect the sort of bullshit that this dickwad spews; I spent a total of twenty-four years doing exactly that, as a cop in the ninth largest city in the country. It's a "science," of course, actually. I confronted a solid wall of lies, day to day. That was just the nature of the job. For example: look at the facial tick at 15 seconds into the video; "combat" interrogations? What the fuck does that mean? Combat interrogation? It means that this piece of shit is attempting to claim the status of someone who actually had to go out there and fight for a fucking living. The same sort of things show up all along this little attempt to glorify this asswipe. You don't get it? Not my problem.

This kid doesn't look like he could interrogate his way out of a paper bag.

Dylan: Over the years, there have been few smarter commenters than you, so I take your analysis seriously. You are right. I am not trained to detect the kind of prevarication you are alleging. Although I have serious doubts that anyone can make diagnoses over the internet (cf. Dr. Frist and Terri Schiavo) it also means that I can't confidently say he is genuine, either. So I was looking at this from a different perspective. Did what he say make sense? Suppose this were a total work of fiction, let's say, like Stephen Cranes' Red Badge of Courage or Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front or even just a poem, like Millay's Conscientious Objector or cummings's Olaf. Would that mean there was no truth to it? In other words, I am not focused on the person (whom I admittedly know nothing of, just as all I know about the novelists and poets are scraps of biography; if some of them were drunks or wife beaters or embezzelers or chiselers, what kind of difference would that make?).

I face this question every day because where I live it is a daily occurrence to be accosted by pan handlers. Some time ago I noticed there was a pattern to my giving. I almost always gave whatever I had in my pocket to certain kinds of people and with held it from others according to some inner theory about whether they really "deserved"it or not. At some point I just stopped caring whether they were scamming me or not or even if they were, whether it was a scam. If they were lying that the dollar or whatever was really for a meal or a drink, what business was that of mine. I didn't really know. I did know that in all likelihood the dollar meant a lot more to them than it did to me and I could afford it.

So maybe you are right about this kid, and you are certainly right that if I don't get it, it isn't your problem. On the other hand, if you are right and I am wrong it isn't my problem either, because that's not what this was all about (whether he was genuine or not). I said in the post that his reasons didn't appeal to me but I thought it was an amazing story. It is still an amazing story (and you can interpret "story" however you wish) and one that embodies for me an important truth.

"So I was looking at this from a different perspective. Did what he say make sense? Suppose this were a total work of fiction, let's say, like Stephen Cranes' Red Badge of Courage or Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front or even just a poem, like Millay's Conscientious Objector or cummings's Olaf. Would that mean there was no truth to it"

You're only considering that there might some "truth" to this guy's dubious statement because he tells you want you want to hear. If he was praising the US Army for routing the Taliban and bringing about one of the greatest improvements in the living standards of women in modern times, you wouldn't flutter about looking for a scrap of validity for this guy.

History Punk: I wouldn't have put it like that. I would say that what he said expressed something that made a great deal of sense to me. If you don't accept that is possible, then you don't accept that poems or novels or movies or historical narratives can express something that is valid. Maybe that's true in your world. It isn't in mine. I'm sorry it that is not what you want to hear.

In the late 1980s, Serbs in Yugoslavia believed that fictional accounts of Serbian history like The Noz (The Knife) and Cosic's volumes on Serbia in the First World War "expressed something that made a great deal of sense" to them. The books were utter nonsense, but that didn't stop people from using them to justify things like

or this

or this…

Now, I prefer factually grounded things and ideas over feelings, but just because favoring fictional nonsense over facts brought about what the UN described as "a hellish orgy of persecution" in Yugoslavia does not mean it won't work for you.

Well now lets see. Casteel was a CO after the fact. Gaming the system? I dont know but lets cut to it. 8 years in and STILL an E-4? Seems his 201 indicated that he wasnt a stellar NCO but extraordinarily bright. I dont buy his story in the movie at all. I think he wanted out because boys and girls his unit was going to be held in country ..again.

His conversion to CO may be motivated by many things and for me, the only thing that it seems to be is that he just wanted to go home. He was going to be stuck for another four in the war on his current enlistment and they were pumping promotions out except to the fuck ups and I have no real information on his DD214, but that 201 doesnt lie.

This reminds me of extraordinarily of John Kerry, military when it was advantageous-real puss ball when it wasnt. I wouldnt swift boat this kid but there are some questions that would have to be answered before I would say whether he is or not. Can you say "Run for the Senate?"

It also might be some ass covering too if he is later called on the carpet or was if he was involved in the torture of those prisoners. It might fuck up that run for the government seats as it did with Kerry. Lets see...hmm sitting on a 69 vintage video and I see he was talking about attrocities that every man there said never happened. Again, this is where I diverge. The MoFo that he was talking to was a Saudi... Part of the Army of God. We cant even mention God in our Army....But I digress. This MF was in Iraq to kill Americans and probably was under the leadership of the Al-Mahdi and/or Zarqawi. The avowed mission ? To kill them foreign bastards that are involved in a Crusade for all intents an purposes. But is sure sounds good. I lost my objectivity? Because of some 22 year old? I think he lost it when they issued the stop loss order. This activity was beneath him. Patriot? Not on this one Revere. You are and you stuck to your guns (ahem) from the start.

Listen, it didnt matter why we went -We were going to have to do them anyway. Forgotten is the fact that the UN said that they had WMD and then...hmmm didnt (couldnt find it). Also is forgotten the 540 tons of yellow cake that Saddam had stored up... Yep, now that they couldnt hide because its a lot of stuff. Not one mention in the media about all of this. The media was on a bent to get to an end... Get rid of the Republicans. Quite frankly as a Rep. I think we had it coming.

Now we have the Bamster and we are currently WHERE? urps, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Back to junior here though. So far I have found stuff that said he was gay, a theater major, worst NCO ever seen and someone who talked down to his fellow enlisteds. The first indication here of a problem is that he was appointed to West Point, now what happened there? What? He couldnt get the bus ride? That indicates what we used to call "inability to adapt to military service" and I used to put guys out all the time for this one. As in I give you an order and you have sworn to do it. In a combat zone, Mr. Casteel would have been dead in about as much time as it took for me to pull my pistol out. Oh, he would have worked like a dog for me, my lap bitch for the better part because well there is that pistol you see. He would have been in position and working and that would have been until the higher ups would have sent him to the shrink and I can guarantee you that he went to see MANY of them. And appears to me he was manipulating a situation. Could it have been that this is the story that was generated. Well okay Casteel you have lost your objectivity so we can only use you for two other posts, burials or combat. He was trained for combat by the Army, the burials thing a monkey can do. Its a forms and checklist thing.

Did we mention that he was an actor too? This is soooo well played... How many uhms did he make in the script? Very few. I must toss ten or twenty in about as many minutes when speaking. But lets write a book on the game the system trail while we are at it. Notoriety, Susan Sarandon Fame, jeez its way too cozy Revere. I could be wrong but this doesnt pass the smell test. Hell, he wasnt even in COMBAT by his own statements so he was objecting to what?

The eggs in the chow hall were runny ?

I wont call it bullshit. Nope, because you are right about the fact that we need to get out of there and fast. Its for different reasons that we both want to do it. I want to do high altitude carpet bombing and simply lower the numbers generationally. If I were in the military I would use every available option to leave as there is. First on my list... finish my tour of duty. They probably told him he was going to be sent up on the line and he had another epiphany and that was that he was just scared. Maybe not yellow, just smart.

But I reiterate what will happen when we do leave. It will fall, they will get the bomb or start to do it and we will take the most extreme of actions against them which will wipe young Mohammed off of the earth and many of his co-believers in the Army of God. You know, that army where you go CO and they find you and your family beheaded. And the Berrigans Revere? The mad monks of anti-war activists? So what did they do? Became terrorists......To me it sounds like you idolize that kind of activity if it stops a war.

This war is only going to have one winner and thats the one thats still standing at the end of it. I just hope we get out of it without nuclear fallout involved.

By M. Randolph Kruger (not verified) on 07 Jan 2010 #permalink

You know, History Punk and Kruger and Dylan, here's this kid who may (or may not) be what he says, but it sounds really ugly the way you are dumping stuff on him. I thought this was somewhat an intellectual posting area.

Paula-Yeah, we are dumping on him because maybe you havent been in combat before. Nor have you been to Afghanistan, I have. Its a shit hole at best and something else at its worst. Its an American nightmare.

These people are armed, the Obama rules of engagement suck (ROE) and you cant shoot unless fired upon. There are no missions to pre-emptively attack strongholds. Same thing happened after we got into in Iraq after a couple of months. How many dead/wounded did we get from that. What we went for was to remove the chances for a nuke to go off in our future, and to protect an oil source. We were less than successful and the reason for that is that we didnt go to war for anything more than a month. If you go to war you KILL people and you subjugate them as necessary. We went politically correct instead. This deal is that we are not fighting a war, we are in there create a sense of security in the markets. We leave and the vacuum that will be left will be our undoing this time. The Paki's will be destabilized and the rad Muslims will get Israel capable missiles and maybe, a US reach capable bomb. Russia gets that idea too and is starting to balk with the weapons to Iran. Why? Because they now understand that even the fucking Russians will either submit to the idea of Allah or they will get dead. They were helping them as was France until the terrorists started hitting their country too with the Muslim riots 18 months ago.

Its the political side of this too Paula...Again, the cleanest damned uniform I have ever seen.…

Also see postings by people who knew him personally. I am like a big question mark on this kid.

Paula, I want you to understand something and its the girling up of this government and its the political correctness. CO status after entering the military is like screwing for chastity. You may not know that less than 6% of the Obama administration has ever held a private sector job. As a result the only thing that a bureaucrat can conceive because of that is more government. We have seen that developing at 15,000 govt jobs every 3 months and all of this while the second attack is now underway. Its not the government that will get us out of it, its the military.

Ft. Hood was the first. We are heading into ruin with all of the spending so the ability to head off these deals is based in taxes. Cant tax in this economy and it means they come home. Cant tax and just as it was under Carter you wont be able to defend the borders of the neutral areas... Just like Afghanistan was during Carter. See where that has gotten us? Therefore, a second economic hit is very likely. That would be caused by yet another 9/11 or the complete takeout of New York from a Sheik trial and a nuke, WMD (chemical or bio).

It will only take one more big hit to stagger this nation to its knees. We would get up, but you would end up with the extreme right in charge... Thats what happened under GWB 2. I like my Republicans 2 steps from the center...NO MORE. Its what happened to Carter and Obama. Carter let our people be taken and was negotiating with them on the price... 7 billion dollars worth. Obama? He puss balled on responding to sending more troops, then fettered them after they are in theater. Casteel is very smart and I have seen more than this video now... slick act... Or is it?

Casteel and why is it happening? It is simply Paula because they the radical Muslims dont fear us any longer and its patently obvious that in light of current events that the conspiracy theories about 9/11 are wrong. They no longer fear us and that is because we dont do what we say we are going to do. Defend the nation? Activate a wing of Bones for three months, change the ROE from the air and every area that generates an attack should be leveled. Think not? Remember this post 5 years from now and then think back.

As for CO status, Revere is the most principled SOB on this planet that I have ever encountered. But then again he hasn't water boarded anyone who just killed three of his friends either or obviously shot the bastards for doing so. He is more Christian than the Christians. He would send them aid as a token of peace. To me its a buy off. Are we are supposed to not trash Casteel? He could have just not signed up. Epiphany on the battlefield? Now there is that clean uniform and he was at Abu Ghraib now wasnt he? Clean hands? Hmmmm......

Shortly this exercise is going to end for a number of reasons, largest is in the futility of man to deal with problems and that Paula means war and a goddamn big one is about to unfold.

I would absolutely LOVE to sit around the campfire and sing 1960's songs and take care of people around the world. Unfortunately those people are the first people that the tanks roll over as noted by Revere in his postings on Israel. Wrong? Hell I dont know. But what I do know is that our very survival as a nation is now at stake. I think that Obama is going to spend us into ruin and I also know that young Castell up there needs to answer questions directed to him in a direct manner. So far he has ducked every one of them.

He was trying to get into the head of an Arab? I think the Arab turned the tables on him and gave him an out so he could leave. I did check on his unit and it was indeed part of the stop loss so the only way he could have left IS as CO. I want you to also understand that Revere's CO status in a different war was a different thing. Same war for me but just about 10 years later my mother had bought tickets to Germany for me and I refused to go because I believed in my country, not in the Vietnam war. Got down to the report date and Tricky Dick stopped any further deployments. Five years later I was in the military of my own volition because I thought we were going to go and stick it up Irans ass for the hostages. We saw how that turned out. Fuck me, presented with the facts that Revere was I likely wouldnt have gone at the early time either.

As for intellectual posting area.... Intellect is where you find it and its also in the eyes of the beholder. Revere even in my very conservative view is intellectual at all levels. I just think the ole bassurd is wrong in a lot of cases. He thinks I am too. He is a good guy though. Casteel has to prove himself and that is that just cause you got a piece of paper doesnt mean squat to me. It was an out I think and if not, then follow him across the next few years. If he runs for Senate or the House then you'll know it was likely a Kerry moment. He has to do it soon because if we leave Afghanistan and Iraq then his claim to fame will be gone. In ten years they wont even be thinking of Abu Ghraib. Even now most people cant spell it. Ever heard of My Lai? Another damned fine Abu Ghraib. Its what happens when you fight wars not to win them.

By M. Randolph Kruger (not verified) on 08 Jan 2010 #permalink

Kruger, I don't really disagree with you that a big war is likely, in part from various destabilizations of Pakistan (I'd say "both sides' destabilizations" but am not sure it's so simple). And I certainly agree we need to get out of Afghanistan. But all this ascribing of motives to this kid, guessing what he'll do in 10 years, etc.--what's the point? Anyhow, appreciation for the break from worrying about local issues.

Randy: Maybe the problem is that you and Dylan have been in combat? I don't know what kind of combat you've been in but Dylan saw the real thing in Vietnam. In Vietnam soldiers were also fragging their officers. People in this war come home from combat and they have PTSD. Being in combat gives you a different perspective, but so does seeing a lot of people die needlessly out of combat. I've had people die, literally, in my arms. It was a different kind of combat, the one on the wards and hospital rooms and ER. That doesn't mean I can tell another doctor he isn't qualified to talk about health care. You are so focused on this kid, whom neither you nor I know and upon whom you are making inferences, when it isn't about him at all but the idea he is expressing.

You make judgments constantly about people whose shoes you never walked in. People you call insurgents or militants, mothers and children caught in the line of fire but for you that's OK because we were shooting at someone else (maybe). As far as I am concerned whatever experience you've had like Iraq is irrelevant. Soldiers come back from there who have had all sorts of experiences and those different experiences may or may not change them in ways that make what they do and think more or less valid.

Yes, I was around when My Lai happened. William Calley was someone who was in combat. Do you have William Calley's perspective? Are you OK with massacres because you both were in combat and you understand him? Ever hear of Auschwitz? What if I said that's what happens when you fight wars to win? It would be equally inane.

And I do disagree that a big war is likely to happen. I can't see the future and obviously, on your record, neither can you. Just since you've been commenting here you've probably predicted 10 big wars as imminent and hit on exactly zero. Maybe if you keep doing it you'll be right one of these days, but I don't think so. It will be more and more "little wars" and while soldiers have signed up for them, most of the people who will be hurt haven't. And the little wars will be over oil and whose tribe you belong to and other stupid things. You can celebrate them if you want. I refuse to. As far as I'm concerned this kid had it right, even if were an actor paid by the Mennonites.