What do you do with Naser Abdo? A 20 year old young man who enlisted in the U.S. Army just over a year ago. His unit, the 101st Airborne division's 1st Brigade Combat Team, has already deployed to Afghanistan. PFC Abdo has not. His deployment has been deferred.
Why? Because Abdo now says that he is a “conscientious objector.” He says that he is exercising his freedom as an American to choose to understand his Islamic faith in a way different than he did a year ago when he originally voluntarily chose to sign up to join th Army and to serve in a military already engaged in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Abdo is claiming to be a conscientious objector. Really? When Muhammad Ali sought such a status as a member of the Nation of Islam in the late 1960's (a case ultimately resolved by the Supreme Court in 1971 on a technicality due to the government's failure to execute the details of its own policy), the Department of Justice contended that three tests must be met in order for a person to receive status as a conscientious objector.
First, the candidate must be opposed to all war, i.e., war in any form. Mere opposition to a single war (e.g., Vietnam, Afghanistan, War of 1812) is not sufficient. A conscientious objector morally objects to the very concept of war. Think the Quakers, the Amish, or the Mennonites, whose moral compasses intrinsically reject war and violence in all forms at all times.
Pfc. Abdo would have us believe that he is opposed to all war when his statement reads, "I realized through further reflection that God did not give legitimacy to the war in Afghanistan, Iraq or any war the U.S. Army would conceivably participate in." That is an odd way of saying, “I completely morally reject the concept of war.” In fact, it sounds more like a fellow who is having enlister's remorse when faced with the real prospect of engaging terrorists who prefer hacksaws and YouTube when dealing with American soldiers who happen to be Muslim
Second, a conscientious objector's reasoning must be based on religious training and belief. Again, Quakers were instrumental in the formation of America, but they steadfastly refused to serve in the Revolutionary War due to their moral objection rooted in Quaker thought and theology.
Abdo would have us believe that Islam is a longstanding example of pacifist teaching. Really? Perhaps Mohammed, Islam's founder, missed that particular revelation while exercising his military leadership in raiding caravans, massacring villages, and organizing armies for war. It would also be helpful if Abdo might pass on his newly received Islamic pacifist revelation to the jihadists who have led 103 terror attacks in 14 countries since Ramadan began less than three weeks ago. The 472 persons who died in those global Islamic-motivated attacks will be glad to know that PFC Abdo has discovered a new level of Islam. Pacifist strain in Islam? We all should be so lucky.
Finally, a candidate for conscientious objection status must demonstrate that he/she is sincere. In spite of the absurdity of the above claims to pacifism, let's give PFC Abdo the benefit of the doubt on sincerity.
In the end, the government will have to decide what to do with Pfc. Abdo. Send him to Afghanistan to fulfill his oath and service and you risk another Hasan Akbar, who rolled three grenades into the tents of his own fellow 101st Airborne members in Kuwait in 2003. Allow Abdo to serve the remainder of his military time stateside, and you potentially sow seeds of dissension in the ranks. Release Pfc. Abdo as a humanitarian gesture and invite others to enlist voluntarily and then use extreme Corporal Klinger-esque tactics to remove themselves. Or court martial Abdo and forward his mail to Ft. Leavenworth.
None of these options accomplishes much in executing and advancing the mission of the U.S. Army. Nevertheless, valuable Army time and resources will be wasted considering the absurd claims of a young man who appears not to have known himself very well when he enlisted and then discovered either a strong dose of cowardice or a conversion to a religion that heretofore has not existed.