Killing in the name of …?: Conscientious Objection in the age of the “Global War on Terror”
Within the last few centuries, the global community has seen an unprecedented amount of warfare that has spanned borders, lasted decades, and created countless environmental crises. The scale of human carnage from wars between 1900 and 1990 alone tell a tale that is well beyond comprehension; the legacy of war and war making in the modern age has become vastly uneven, as the proliferation of advanced, industrial technologies has sparked new and/or exacerbated existing conflicts over dwindling natural resources. Moreover, the competitive potential of new industrial nations has challenged the control and share of world trade, finance, and global resource deposits. It should come as no surprise then that the international community has witnessed such an unprecedented growth of imperial activity. Characterized by Joseph Schumpeter (1962) as 'creative destruction' - literally meaning to destroy what is to regenerate economic growth - modern capitalism, through the technique of militarism, is reshaping the very meaning of existence against the backdrop of a “Global War on Terror.” Amidst the ongoing debates and allegations concerning the illegal invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq by a U.S.-led coalition, a select number of U.S. soldiers decided they no longer want to participate in what is often referred to as an immoral war. With this as a backdrop, this research explores the experiences of U.S. conscientious objectors who had enlisted following the attacks of September 1, 2001; how these individuals came to develop their philosophies of objection; and, the sociopolitical issues surrounding objectionism. Situated within an anti-capitalist theoretical framework, this project employs semi-structured interviews to recount the life histories of four U.S. conscientious objectors. Finally, this research explicates the narratives within broader discussions of militarism in the modern age.