What would happen if the soldiers simply decided not to fight?

Imagine the following scenario:

March 17 (or whatever deadline is [or is not] approved as the start of war) rolls around. Dubya announces that Iraq must be disarmed by military means, and gives the green light for a military invasion of Iraq by US forces. A thousand journalists are on-hand, videotaping every event leading up to the cruise missiles launching and bombers taking off. Several battalions stand ready to begin the ground invasion.

Suddenly, on live TV, to the horror of Dubya watching, US soldiers en masse lay down their arms and begin protesting the invasion. Pilots emerge from their bombers refusing to fly missions, and Navy enlisted men refuse to press the button(s) that initiate cruise missile launches. It turns out that a vast secret petition has been circulated among all US non-commissioned forces (in other words, the grunts) stationed in the Gulf. Any soldier who signed the petition would refuse to carry out the orders to invade Iraq, despite the possible ramifications, such as being thrown in prison, being branded a deserter in wartime, etc.

What would happen? I would think that if anything like this happened, even on a small scale (say, only a few thousand soldiers in real life), it would already be a huge psychological victory for Iraq. Could the US conceivably still go ahead with the invasion, even if it meant that some vital services (radar, refueling, etc.) would not be performed?

It’ll never happen. None of us want to go to jail, for one. Also, the vast majority believe that this is just, especially in the Air Force, where our pilots have been shot at fairly consistently for years. That they weren’t shot down doesn’t make us any less outraged.

“What if they threw a war and nobody came?” That was BS even back in the 1960s. Nothing has changed,

Look, I’m totally against this war, but even I realize that this scenario is about as likely as the sun rising in the West tomorrow. Our millitary is volunteer, so everybody who’s in it knows that they will have to engage in millitary action regardless of their politics. If there was a draft, it might be different.

That said, if a few people did actually disobey orders, they would be removed immediately from their position, and punitive action would be taken against them (imprisonment, court-martial, what have you). I honestly can’t see this scenario affecting US millitary capability in any fashion.

Just wanted to add, I’m not in the millitary, so that’s just my perspective. If someone who’s in the millitary has a different opinion, I’m all ears.

Iraq would win the war. They would procede to kill all the Christians, Jews, and other infidels in America.

The point is, habs, these troops are out risking their lives in the desert to protect your ungrateful ass.

If, contrary to all logic, military tradition, and common sense (and, like B&S, I’m strongly anti-war), this did happen in large numbers, the United States has experienced a very weird coup.

Without his powers as Commander and Chief, Bush is effectively nothing. Congress would have no choice but to cave into our strangely pacifistic military, and install a new executive that meets their demands, before someone notices taht the military has effectivelly disbanded itself and takes advantage.

While a mass desertion seems like a nice fantasy for pacifistic dreamers, not only is it terribly unrealistic, it would place us under a military dictatorship just as surely as if they all turned around and marched on DC.


He’s allowed to have an opinion, december. And he wouldn’t kill all the infidels in America. Just in Iraq, or if we were really unlucky, the Middle East. Not that that’s any better.

Let’s not blow things out of proportion here.

Ahh, I love the smell of rhetoric in the morning.

Idealistic pacifistic dreamers like me look forward to the day when soldiers all over the world wake up and go “Hang about, why am I fighting this guy just because Saddam/Pol Pot/Tony Blair/George Bush told me to? I don’t have a grudge against this guy. He’s just doing his job, just like me.”

It’ll never happen, unfortunately. People will keep fighting rich men’s wars for them until we manage to successfully federalise the globe. And if we don’t manage to do that it will never stop.

Who says I’m ungrateful? :mad: I just merely proposed an imaginary scenario, and was curious to see what the US would/could do if faced with such an (admittedly) unlikely scenario. Please excuse me for contributing my thoughts. :rolleyes:



Ok, I’ll play. If a few thousand soldiers opted out, probably nothing happens. No reputable millitary organization would make its strategy dependent on a small percentage of its soldiers. So, the invasion would continue as normal, and the troops would be in Baghdad before Saddam could put the info to propoganda use.

But, lets say, for some reason, a large percentage of the millitary opts out. Then I agree with Menocchio. The US has to quickly reorganize the executive branch, otherwise the millitary has become superior to the civillian government. Congress would have to intervene, or effectively, the US is over.

Now, could Congress act quickly enough? Probably not. We’d get filibusters, court rulings, partisan bickering, and ten years later, when everything is sorted out, Saddam would be firmly entrenched with no possibility of getting him out.

I guess they would get slaughtered by the Iraqis loyal to the regime, who would not believe their good fortune.

“Stupid Americans, your guns are right there at your feet!”



The scenerio is impossible. Not even ridiculously unlikely- IMPOSSIBLE!

America’s armed forces are voluntary professional warriors. They’re in the military BECAUSE they’ve accepted the fact that they might be ordered to go out and fight a war. That’s what soldiers do!!!. They CHOSE to place themselves under military discipline, which includes fighting where and when told to.

Now, if GWB went insane and ordered America’s armed forces to invade and conquer Britain, with orders to throw all children under two into bonfires, and to pick one quarter of the populace at random to be flayed alive as examples, THEN you might see a mass mutiny. But I doubt that one American soldier in a thousand, if that, thinks for a second that Saddam Hussein is the victim of unwarrented American aggression. And if a handful of, say, fundamentalist Muslim soldiers declared themselves concientious objectors to a war against an Islamic country (which Iraq barely counts as anyway), they would probably be given dishonorable discharges.

There was a kind of mass desertion vaguely similar to the OP in recent history.

In 1991, hardline communists in the flailing Soviet Union temporarily took Gorbachev out of the picture and engaged in a coup to try and “take back the Soviet Union” for themselves. The Soviet military, who were essentially ordered to garrison their own citizens, for the most part refused to carry out their orders.

Of course, the U.S.'s military leadership hasn’t suffered a recent coup (unless you count the 2000 Presidential election debacle as a “coup”, but however you slice it, that election was so close it hardly mattered who won). Nor are U.S. troops being asked to carry out actions against U.S. civilians.

Oh yeah, almost forgot – a good deal of the Soviet military consisted of people who were only there because they were required to serve. (Draftees, if you will.) The U.S. hasn’t had a military draft since the Vietnam war.

Right, just like Costa Rica was swallowed up by its land-hungry neighbors after it abolished its army. Oh, wait, that didn’t happen? Well, I guess it goes against your silly argument.


I didn’t realize I clicked on “Great Debates for 6-year-olds” this morning.

The scenario is fundamentally impossible.

And another thing, December, Iraq is not an Islamist state that has anything against “infidels.” The vice-president Taqiq Aziz is a Christian. Sadaam fears Muslim fundamentalism because it threatens his rule, which is a modern style of government.


Something similar happened in WWI, when, in 1917, a section of the French line mutinied and refused to participate in an offensive. The mutiny was put down, 23,000 soldiers were found guilty of mutiny, and about 400 were sentenced to death, but only something like 50-60 soldiers were shot. The army then increased pay, improved rations, and called a halt to any offensives.

Of course, the difference there is that the French troops were mainly conscripts, the war had been going on for 3 years with heavy casualties, and offensives brought about extremely heavy casulties, so morale was extremly low. (There are some reports that the reason the Germans didn’t press an attack into the mutinied lines was that they were afraid their own soldiers would join the mutiny)

The more general answer is that if enough soldiers refuse to fight, of course, you can’t have a war, just like in any other profession (if the workers in the automobile factory refuse to work, you can’t make cars), but like Airman said, morale is high enough in the armed forces that that probably won’t happen.