To save this undefined to your undefined account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your undefined account.
Find out more about saving content to .
To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure firstname.lastname@example.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below.
Find out more about saving to your Kindle.
Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
It is with some misgiving that I presume to comment on the Freedom House advertisement, for I rather suspect its message was not addressed to the likes of me in (he first place. It is most unlikely that my personal conviction that the war in Vietnam is an unjust war quite undeserving of.the active or direct support of any religiously motivated American would qualify me as a “moderate” in their eyes. On the other hand, since I support the principle they choose to condemn as some kind of a “fantasy,” I feel this gives me something of a right to present these comments as an unsought, and probably unwanted, rebuttal.
The remarks on conscientious objection in the Freedom House statement do not clarify a complicated, difficult subject. Indeed, I think they reduce an important complexity to a polemical simplicity.
One of the “fantasies” which Freedom House objects to — and which it attributes by implication to the anti-war movement on the issue of Vietnam — is the notion “that military service in this country's armed forces is an option exercisable solely at the discretion of the individual.”
Accounts of litigations and debates over conscientious objection frequently mentioned the precedent of the Nuremberg and other war crimes trials. It is argued that if men may be tried and executed for participation in aggressive wars and illegal wartime acts there must be a moral right and duty to refuse such participation. Indeed, there should be a right to avoid possible trial as a war criminal, I will attempt to assess the validity of this argument generally and its relevance to the Freedom House characterization as a “fantasy” of individual interpretation of the prerogative of conscientious objection.
In previous essays on the nuclear obsession, I have criticized those whose horror of nuclear war seems to have impaired their perceptions of military and political reality. Such individuals and groups either look for abstract theories which promise that wars can be fought at minimum cost (perhaps by mercenaries who are outside the mainstream of American life) or strive for moralistic declarations of intent designed to inhibit nuclear proliferation.