Shades of gray.

A friend wrote me an email tonight, raising some thoughtful and valid questions about the ethics of what I’m doing.

So to clarify: I’m not working for Halliburton, CACI, or any of the other monolithic contractors over there. Nor would I. The company I work for is relatively small, and their sole purpose in this is to provide medical services.

Am I conflicted by all of this? Of course I am. I’ve never made a secret of my opposition to the Iraqi War; quite the opposite, in fact. I spent the better part of the last decade denouncing the war in print and online. My position hasn’t changed; I think the war was a horrible mistake in almost every possible way: ethical, moral, logistical, and in terms of what it has actually accomplished. I think that it was architected by bad people for cynical reasons, and I think that any good which has come out of it was incidental to the actual purposes of the war.

However, my opposition somehow didn’t actually stop the war from happening. It has happened, is happening right now; and I find myself in a position to make things better, maybe, in a very tiny way. Maybe I can be part of a system which helps save a few lives.

That doesn’t mean that money isn’t a major motivation here. Sorry, but it’s true. In an economy that’s spiralling downward, the chance to make decent money would be hard to pass up under any circumstances. Making decent money doing something I find exciting and challenging and useful for the world is something I couldn’t pass up.

I get the feeling, even on short acquaintance, that the people I’m working with are sincere in their desire to use their skills to build technology that will benefit the people who have been victims of this war. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be here. Money is good, but I still have to sleep at night, you know?

I’ve thought long and hard about this, and I think I’m making the right decision. Time will tell.

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  1. Blimey. It never even occurred to me to ask the question, because it never occurred to me that you’d have taken the job if it was ethically questionable. Is this faith?

  2. Yeah, but don’t you have to lose a certain amount of weight as a requirement for participation? And we all know that isn’t going to happen – certainly not in time for the deadline,anyway. We’ve all heard this from you many times before about your “New Diet Plan”, etc.

    What it really comes down to…you can talk the talk & walk the walk like you are going, but ultimately you won’t because it will be deterred in a passive way – you won’t lose barely ANY weight at all! Not being mean here, just telling the truth as the way things will really play out.


    “One in five military-age Americans are too fat to qualify for the military. Since 2005, the military has turned away 48,000 overweight recruits, more than all the American troops in Afghanistan.

    Army recruiter Sgt. Jessica La Pointe says she has to become a personal trainer for many recruits just to get them ready for boot camp. “We do get people who come in the office that are overweight by Army standards, said La Pointe, “And then what we do is try to work out a program through nutrition and exercise.” The fitness standards vary by service, with the Army allowing 26 percent body fat for men and more for women. Curtis Gilroy, the Pentagon’s accessions chief, acknowledged that the national obesity epidemic is a problem for the Army. “We’re faced with a dwindling pool of the youth population in the 17-to-24 year old group about which we are very concerned,” he said. “

  4. Why, thank you, Monica. I suppose the 50+ pounds I lost last year count as “barely” losing any weight.

    I didn’t keep going then, mainly due to poverty. But I’m going to be able to afford to eat right now, and I’m dead fucking serious about all of this. I will lost weight.

    And I don’t need to be to the Army’s standards. I need to be to my own.

  5. It’s not even shades of grey. There is nothing morally questionable about giving medical support in a war zone, and it doesn’t matter which side.

  6. Blimey. It never even occurred to me to ask the question, because it never occurred to me that you’d have taken the job if it was ethically questionable. Is this faith?

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