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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Please read the damn job decription

A British muslim in the Royal Air Force has been successfully prosecuted for going AWOL after claiming he did not want to help kill fellow muslims in Iraq.

It seems to me that an excellent reason for refusing to join a nation’s military is the simple desire to not shoot at, or facilitate shooting at, people that you might not feel should not be shot at. If you have a goodly distrust for the wisdom of the state to begin with, taking the view that you are not going to kill someone just because the government wants you to is a very reasonable default position to adopt.

Now of course all states and their militaries are not the same. If you voluntarily contract to do the bidding of the government of Sweden or the Vatican or Switzerland or Costa Rica or Swaziland or Belize or Luxembourg… nations who are certainly not ‘military extroverts’… then the range of things you could reasonably expect to be asked to do will generally not include going to far off places you had never previously heard of and dropping bombs on the locals.


If you do elect to join a military in circumstances other than fighting off the clear and present danger of an invasion, it seems to me that you are offering to allow the state make the decision for you of when it is appropriate to shoot and at which particular people. Moreover, if you join a military of some place like Britain, France or the USA, i.e. states who frequently sent their soldiers off to kill folks in far off lands for all manner of reasons other than the direct self-defence of the homeland, then it seems a bit rich to take the state’s pay checks for several years but then act surprised if you get asked to, well, help kill folks in far off lands.

Read the damn job description before you take the shilling.

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13 comments to Please read the damn job decription

  • David Gillies

    It would be really tricky to be a conscientious objector in the Costa Rican Army. They haven’t had one since 1948.

  • Guy Herbert

    And Switzerland has virtually no volunteers, being a conscript army that actually works. Though that probably because it is indeed defensive.

    Some of the Costa Rican “police” are pretty heavily armed, however, David.

  • Guy Herbert

    The man in question seems to have been in a minority in worrying about who he might have to kill. There were several cases of territorials complaining about being expected to turn out for Iraq because they might themselves get killed.

    You could also look at being a member of volunteer armed forces as a sort of anti-life-insurance. The pay (and in particular the bounty at end of service) is compensation for the risk as well as the general unpleasantness.

    In former, less specialist, times that risk-reward exchange was recognised in two ways: you could buy yourself out, or you could pay someone else to serve in your stead.

  • What I find worrying is that this case is getting more coverage than it probably would have received if this guy won, with the whole issue treated as a rational and complex legal issue, when it’s in fact on a par with a window cleaner suing people who buy his services for requiring that he scale ladders.

    It’s almost as if we’re more surprised by sane verdicts (eg. people who join the army can’t sue when sent to war) than PC ones.

    And why not? I have no confidence at all that this judgement will not be reversed in a few years time.

  • Julian Taylor

    The armed forces do offer the opportunity for people with a personal issue regarding a conflict to be able to informally opt for an alternative role, without the need to register as a conscientious objector.
    During both of the gulf conflicts many Muslim servicemen were able to carry out their normal duties, albeit in alternative locations to their normal ones. Khan seems to have been aware of both the relocation scheme and the conscientious objector system, yet not bothered with either, leading one to presume he wanted to make some kind of ‘protest’ against the war.

  • Eric Blair

    Be glad he only went AWOL. There’s an American Muslim up on murder charges for killing fellow soldiers.

  • ode to a crab

    When are our political leaders going to realize the politically incorrect truth that Muslims don’t want to kill Muslims at the behest of non-Muslims, and Arabs don’t want to kill Arabs at the behest of non-Arabs and set policy accordingly?

  • Ken

    I don’t recall it being that much of an issue when white people were ordered to kill other white people in… the majority of the wars we fought.

    I mean, if American white people can follow orders to shoot at British, Southerners, Spanish, Germans, French, Italians, and drop bombs on Serbians (and I’m sure I’m forgetting a few here), surely Arabs and Muslims can fight foreign Arabs and Muslims.

  • There is a word for individuals like this bloke…its starts with a t but is not terrorist…its traitor.

  • David Gillies

    Guy – last time I checked the Costa Rican police didn’t have a great deal of tanks or artillery. An M4 carbine does not constitute ‘heavily armed’ 🙂

  • Well written piece. While I am aware of the need for and am grateful for the service of men and women that volunteer for our military, I personally would not join unless it were for defence against invasion. Why? Because I don’t want to give up my choice to act according to my conscience when deciding if/who I am willing to use deadly force against.

    (Plano, TX USA)

  • Susan

    Ken “

    I mean, if American white people can follow orders to shoot at British, Southerners, Spanish, Germans, French, Italians, and drop bombs on Serbians (and I’m sure I’m forgetting a few here), surely Arabs and Muslims can fight foreign Arabs and Muslims.”

    Hmmm. .. not the way it goes for them Ken. They are supposed to owe their first loyalty to the Ummah, the world-wide superstate of Muslims. They are not supposed to have a “nationality.” Islam is supposed to be their “nationality.”

    We will see more of this type of thing until we understand just how incompatible the concept of the nation state is with Islam. Otherwise we are in deep doo-doo.