Loyalty Oaths of a sort

So today in America’s happiest marine infantry company, an interesting thing happened. We were asked (in that way someone who outranks you asks you to do something not technically within the strict purview of a lawful order) to sign a statement that went a little like this, with highlighted points and all.

  1. We will fight for the establishment of a democratic Iraq.
  2. We will go there to defend the Iraqi people, etc.
  3. We will go there to set up a new and prosperous Iraqi economy.

And so on and so on, for about a page. Now, to be perfectly honest, I am not sure exactly what about this shocks or bothers me. I guess it should be par for the course. There is something about the perception of the young (relatively) infantryman as some sort of child in need of such patronizing babble, something that really disturbs me. I wish I had a copy of the actual text, but I don’t really know where the copy we signed goes or who it is designed to reassure. All I know is that is pretty damned far from, say, supporting and defending the US Constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic, etc. Any thoughts?

From the snippet you quoted, it definitely sounds like you’re essentially swearing loyalty to a country other than your own, something that would no doubt freak out the UN-haters out there who are always upset over the thought of our troops being under the leadership of other countries.

My bad. It was definitely all phrased as “as an American marine, our allies, etc”. Ultimately meaning the same, I guess, but it was definitely not the black helicopter delusions that bothered me. At least not in this instance.

Don’t sign it. Start a ruckus.

“But Mr. King, you did sign this document stating your intention to see a democratic and prosperous Iraq. That has not yet been achieved, and however much you looked forward to your retirement, the Iraqi people still need you.”

Well, probably not.

So does that #3 give you a mandate to set up a new and prosperous Iraqi economy that isn’t a neo-liberal corporate wet dream?

No. In fact, I think it explicitly mentioned freedom of markets and whatnot. Ha.

Also, Euri, I ended up in basic infantry at the bottom of the pile as a result of starting ruckuses. It really is a lot easier to think outside the box when doing so won’t ruin every aspect of your life.

What ruckus was it that you started?

Leak to the media. It’s extremely strange, at the very least.

I agree that it’s rather bizzare, although I’d hesitate to endorse leaking it to the media. Aside from the fact that you already did. ;)

I have a rough time perceiving what is actually strange and what is just every day nonsense sometimes. I believe it is called “institutionalization”. Anyhow, is there any precedent for this sort of thing (modern)?

I’m pretty sure in WW2 infantryman didn’t sign a document stating they agreed with top-level policy goals. I’ve never heard of anything like this.

Yes, but usually it’s in the context of an HR consultant fleecing the hell out of dumbasses in corporate middle management.

Hardly the media. Hardly.

You’d be shocked at the level of Office Space nonsense one encounters on a daily basis in the marines. Most people are. TPS reports are small potatos compared to this…maybe I should read it as such?

See, but I’m not sure at what level of management this sort of thing arises. The level of nco/low co antics never ceases to amaze me.

What’s weird is that someone thinks this was a good idea. What good is such a document except to incriminate the person who solicited signatures in conduct unbecoming?

Doesn’t seem that strange to me. Seems like positive wording for “(1) We will NOT rape any inhabitants of Iraq. (2) We will NOT torture any prisoners. (3) We will NOT blow up innocent bystanders asking us for candy.” That sort of thing. Just trying to get the word out that the motives aren’t to search and destroy.

How did you get that from the opening statement?

I certainly didn’t read anything even remotely similar to it from that. The statements in the opening,

  1. We will fight for the establishment of a democratic Iraq.
  2. We will go there to defend the Iraqi people, etc.
  3. We will go there to set up a new and prosperous Iraqi economy.

all seem to read as us fighting for the Iraqis, nothing to do with how we treat them.

Where did you come up with that stuff?

It sounds to me like someone has the idea of either (1) claiming these forms to be the endorsement by individual Marines of the stated goals of the occupation or (2) using a signed form against any Marine who misbehaves in view of a camera, to demonstrate that he or she acted alone and knowingly against those goals, rather than under orders from above… :?

Maybe it wouldn’t work, but I can’t think of another good reason. You should sign “John Many Jars” and hope they don’t notice. No, wait — sign “Brian Koontz.” K-O-O-N-T-Z.

Catch-22 (yes, I know that it’s fictional)

There was a chapter in which all the enlisted had to recite the pledge and sign the national anthem and sign loyalty documents just to get served in the mess hall. It keeps snowballing out of control with each lieutennant trying to outdo the other through greater mandated public displays of loyalty until some general arrives at the camp and simply orders, “Gimme eat. Give everybody eat.”

That’s some catch, that Catch-22.
It’s the best there is.

Well, I didn’t get that at all from what it said. Also, that should be, you know, automatically assumed to be basic and elementary to the average marine. But perhaps I overestimate your opinion of marine infantry as well as that of my superiors.

Personally, I’d go for it just being an example of the Peter Principle in action, with low to middle level officers trying to justify their existence in much the same way as milo’s reference to Catch-22., rather than anything of a serious or nefarious intent.

My guess: Something from a ROTC trained officer. Having lasted only a year and a half in ROTC before I had to walk away or lose my sanity, it sounds like the kind of thing a ROTC lieutenant or Captain would come up with.