There's a movie out there that's just incredible. I just watched it. It's called Soldiers of Conscience, and it's all about conscientious objectors, who realized what they believe when they were already in the US military, and fighting in Iraq.
I was stunned. First off, while the producers have a definite perspective- that war is wrong- this is not a Michael Moore style movie. It is also incredibly balanced and fair, even in its treatment of those who are supportive of the use of violence. One of the primary commentators in the movie is a philosopher-soldier-professor at West Point, sharing about the ethical nature of violence- and making some pretty good arguments. The producers were up-front with their perspective and what they were doing (unlike some other movies like Expelled), and even had permission from the US Army to film. They sent out advance copies to drill sergeants shown in the movie, and gave them the option to have themselves removed from the movie if they felt the portrayal was inaccurate or unflattering.
And yet, this is a powerful condemnation of war. It is a powerful support for the right to not kill, and the right to be a CO, even when in the military. It brings home the war like nothing else I've seen- so strongly that there were numerous times that I had to turn away from the screen. The movie shows what would bring brave men to realize that killing can not be justified, and that they can fight no more forever. And it shows the huge fight they face once they've made this decision.
Two elements struck me. One, was that in military studies of WWII, they found that only 1 out of 4 men would use their weapons in the field of battle. One out of four decided they could not fire at another human being. Rather than celebrating this, the military saw this as a problem. So they began training their soldiers to do "reflexive firing"- so that they would kill without thinking or contemplating the morality of the action. The soldiers are now trained to do that. The result has been that, in every successive war, the percentage of soldiers firing their weapons has steadily increased, until in the first Gulf War it was around 90%, and the carnage of this war is unseen before in US military history.
Secondly, the moment of crystallization of conscience that came to a conservative Republican evangelical soldier, when he realized his paradigm shift, was when he was in Abu Ghaib, interviewing an admitted Jihadist. The Jihadist challenged him, that he was not following Christ's teaching to turn the other cheek. Here was a Jihadist Muslim preaching the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Soldiers of Conscience is playing Nov 2nd - 8th at the SIFF Cinema in Seattle. See the film's website for when it is playing in a theatre near you.