US Army Major Quits Intel Agency Over ‘Unqualified’ US Support Of Israeli ‘Ethnic Cleansing’

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Army Major Harrison Mann condemned “unqualified” US government support of the State of Israel (LinkedIn)

A US Army officer has resigned from his post at the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) to protest Washington’s “nearly unqualified support for the government of Israel” — support that’s facilitated “the killing and starvation of tens of thousands of innocent Palestinians.” Mann describes himself as a “descendent of European Jews” who was raised to be “particularly unforgiving” where “responsibility for ethnic cleansing” is concerned.

When Major Harrison Mann left DIA in April, he sent a two-page letter to a group of his colleagues there, saying he felt they were owed an explanation for his “relatively abrupt departure.” On Monday, Mann shared the letter with the public, via a post to his LinkedIn page.

His post targets others in government who are feeling morally conflicted by performing duties that support the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) rampage in Gaza. The apparent catalyst for going public now: the start of  IDF attacks on the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where more than a million Palestinians have sought refuge after being forced to evacuate other areas of the 25-mile-long strip.

“I cannot justify staying silent any longer…It is clear that this week, some of you will still be asked to provide support — directly or indirectly — to the Israeli military as it conducts operations into Rafah and elsewhere in Gaza…I am sharing [my letter] now in the hope that you too will discover you are not alone, you are not voiceless, and you are not powerless.

In the April letter explaining his departure, Mann describes how his growing misgivings grew as the IDF’s retaliation for the Oct. 7 Hamas invasion of southern Israel continued, with US government help:

“Each of us signed up to serve knowing we might have to support policies that we weren’t fully convinced of. Our defense institutions couldn’t function otherwise. However, at some point it became difficult to justify the outcomes of this particular policy. At some point — whatever the justification — you’re either advancing a policy that enables the mass starvation of children, or you’re not.” 

A malnourished 6-year-old being treated at a field hospital in Rafah, Gaza (via Human Rights Watch)

In April, UNICEF said one in three Gaza children under two years old are acutely malnourished. When Israel began retaliating after Oct. 7, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant declared, “I have ordered a complete siege on the Gaza Strip. There will be no electricity, no food, no fuel, everything is closed. We are fighting human animals and we are acting accordingly.”

Mann described how imagery emanating from Gaza made him feel increasingly guilty about the DIA’s role in “directly execut[ing] policy” that supported the IDF-inflicted mass misery:

“The nearly unqualified support for the government of Israel…has enabled and empowered the killing and starvation of tens of thousands of innocent Palestinians…The past months have presented us with the most horrific and heartbreaking images imaginable — sometimes playing on the news in our own spaces — and I have been unable to ignore connection between those images and my duties here. This has caused me incredible shame and guilt.” 

The IDF has unleashed mass destruction of civilian infrastructure, as seen here in the vicinity of Al-Shifa hospital (France24)

The William & Mary graduate said he’d hoped for a quick end to the war. As it continued, he tried to rationalize his continued service to the DIA and, by extension, the IDF:

I told myself my individual contribution was minimal, and that if I didn’t do my job, someone else would, so why cause a stir for nothing? I told myself I don’t make policy and it’s not my place to question it. Above all, I was afraid. Afraid of violating our professional norms. Afraid of disappointing officers I respect. Afraid you would feel betrayed. 

Mann said his resignation was ultimately sparked by “moral injury” — a term that Syracuse University’s Moral Injury Project defines as “damage done to one’s conscience or moral compass when that person perpetrates, witnesses, or fails to prevent acts that transgress one’s own moral beliefs, values, or ethical codes of conduct.” Moral injury is considered to be one factor contributing to the high rate of suicide observed in military veterans.

Mann also explained how his upbringing affected his moral calculus:

“As the descendant of European Jews, I was raised in a particularly unforgiving moral environment when it came to the topic of bearing responsibility for ethnic cleansing — my grandfather refused to ever purchase products manufactured in Germany — where the paramount importance of ‘never again’ and the inadequacy of ‘just following orders’ were oft repeated. 

I am haunted by the knowledge that I have failed those principles. But I also have hope that my grandfather would afford me some grace; that he would still be proud of me for stepping away from this war, however belatedly.”

In addition to objecting to Israel’s mass harm to civilians, Mann noted that “[America’s] unconditional support also encourages reckless escalation that risks wider war.” Mann was originally commissioned as an infantry officer and later became a foreign area officer focused on the Middle East. Along the way, he earned a master of public administration degree from the Harvard Kennedy School.

The Red Crescent said six Palestinians were killed when the IDF bombed this ambulance in January; Israel denied responsibility (ABC Australia) 

Mann’s resignation-in-protest strikes us as much better and more effective choice than the one made by Air Force Airman Aaron Bushnell, who fatally self-immolated at the Israeli embassy in Washington. In another high-profile resignation, the State Department’s Josh Paul in October quit his job in a role that supported arms transfers to Israel. Speaking at Amherst, he cited the lack of consideration for the consequences: “[There was] no interest in debating: Are the weapons that we are providing going to be used appropriately? … Should we be having conversations with the government of Israel about what they’re doing?”

According to the latest estimates reported by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, more than 34,000 Palestinians have died since Oct. 7. Of the identified dead, 32% are children and 20% are women. In April, Speaker of the House Mike Johnson collaborated with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to push through another $14.3 billion in aid to the State of Israel.

Mann said that after distributing his letter to his DIA colleagues in April, he received “an unexpected outpouring of support.” As his protest now reaches a far larger audience, some may say this Army officer should have just kept following orders and serving as a cog in the empire’s machine, keeping his concerns about America’s unqualified support of Israel to himself. Safe to say that George Washington would think otherwise.

 

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