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Rules of Disengagement Paperback – April 1, 2009

4.5 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Rules of Disengagement is an important contribution to understanding what men and women in the military are enduring - and a useful volume to help them assert their rights." --Book Review by By Elaine Elinson, The Daily Journal Jul. 23, 2009,

"Whether you're considering joining the military, know someone who is or has, or are deeply concerned with the moral and ethical issues of making and conducting war, this book is for you." --Book Review, Veterans for Peace, Will Shapira, Oct. 8, 2009

From the Back Cover

"In Rules of Disengagement, Marjorie Cohn and Kathleen Gilberd chronicle the inspiring resistance of GIs to the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. Such resistance proved vital in helping bring an end to the war in Vietnam and is still urgently needed today. Rules of Disengagement is a clear, bold, and timely call to action."<BR> --Anthony Arnove, Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal<P>

"Rules of Disengagement describes acts of dissent from men and women who've served in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, providing an urgently needed guide to GI resistance. A must read for everyone in today's military and for all those who support disengagement from illegitimate wars and occupations."<BR> --Camilo E. Mejia, Road from ar Ramadi: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Camilo Mejia<P>

"The horrors of Abu Ghraib would have been concealed were it not for the courage of a single principled American military guard who released photos on the Internet. That one incident reveals the vital importance of protecting and expanding the right to dissent among those who serve in our military. Marjorie Cohn and Kathleen Gilberd have provided heroic service in this book."<BR> --Tom Hayden, The Tom Hayden Reader and The Long Sixties<P>

"Future generations will point to the words and actions of the courageous military resisters who held the line in protecting our nation's dignity and democracy. This remarkable record of soldiers' stories is evidence of strident opposition to the crimes of the U.S. government and to the effort by those in uniform to reclaim their own humanity and tell their truth."<BR> --Aimee Allison, conscientious objector, and producer/host, The Morning Show, KPFA


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 227 pages
  • Publisher: NYU Press (April 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0981576923
  • ISBN-13: 978-0981576923
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,780,612 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Hugh Hamilton on May 12, 2009
Format: Paperback
Rules of Disengagement should be required reading for anyone with a modicum of empathy for the wellbeing of our troops and for the thousands of American families who struggle daily with the burden of debilitating injury and irreparable loss inflicted by the carnage of war. From boot camp to battlefield and (sometimes) back, authors Marjorie Cohn and Kathleen Gilberd document the physical, emotional and dehumanizing brutality of the industrial war machine, and empower our servicemen and women with the knowledge they need to exercise their constitutional right to dissent.

The long shadow of questionable legality that hangs over the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan renders this work particularly urgent and timely. Drawing on the lessons of Vietnam, the precepts of international law and the extensive record of American jurisprudence on the issue, this book illuminates the distinction between politics and patriotism. It disentangles the often confusing web of false choices between courage and conscience, law and morality, deference and disengagement. Utilizing the actual testimony and experiences of servicemen and women themselves, this invaluable book is much more than just a guide to the conscientious objector. On topics ranging from racism and sexual harassment in the military to the proliferation of suicides and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder among our returning veterans, Cohn and Gilberd have crafted a seminal work that is both scholarly and accessible, a thoroughly researched must-read that elevates the quality of public discourse on what it truly means to support our troops.

Hugh Hamilton
Pacifica Radio - New York
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Format: Paperback
As a retired officer (26yrs USMC) and an attorney, I found this book an invaluable reference source. I would recommend that professional military schools (especially for junior officers & SNCOs) include it in their curriculum for study and to lead discussions. I applaud the authors' effort. Our military can only get stronger by full open disclosure of its difficult personnel issues.
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Format: Paperback
Although I came of age during the Vietnam War, and was politically active during that time, I learned many things from this book, including the extent of military dissent and the range of options. In that era we young folk had scant inter-generational guidance and support for our efforts to support our troops in not supporting an immoral and self-destructive war. So I was particularly pleased to see that the authors of this book related the current efforts of military dissenters to the extensive Vietnam-era GI Movement of the prior generation. The authors have a political viewpoint that the wars these military persons seek to disengage from are illegal and/or immoral, which is an essential underpinning of the right to refuse to obey an order. However, the authors also cover the other bases upon which to disengage from even a "good" war on grounds such as hardship and conscientious objection. In addition, the authors discuss means of objecting to service-destroying obstacles such as medical inadequacies and sexual harassment. The writing style is accessible. This is not strictly a "how-to" manual, but a discussion of various avenues of disengagement and redress available to a military person illustrated by stories of actual efforts by soldiers, sailors and their civilian supporters. The book allows the military person to understand his or her individual predicament in a larger social and historical context.
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I've served 26 years of active duty including Command at sea. I'm not what you would consider a liberal. I found Marjorie's book incredibly valuable. The resources contained in the appendix alone are worthwhile.

I disagree with what I consider as a flawed premise - that the current wars in Iraq and Afganistan violate the law; I fully believe that the current efforts meet "Just War" criteria. [See the PS below]. That said, the authors make a compelling case that our military members are not served well by the military if those members are trying to "disengage" from military service. This book meets that unmet need very well, providing anecdotes and reference material for assistance. I further believe that there is in fact honor in following ones conscience. As per the subtitle, anyone following down the path of disengagement has to deal with both the politics and personal honor when dissenting.

If you are in a position of authority in today's military, you should read this book as a professional obligation. It will make you a better leader and expand your awareness of alternate points of view. If you are interested in military matters, you should be aware of the issues raised in this book. If you are considering leaving the military as a matter of conscience, you should use the resources contained in the appendix.

While I personally believe that service is both honorable and worthy, and the wars in which we are engaged are just both in cause and in the manner in which they are being fought, this book is needed for those that do not share my convictions. Had I had this while in Command, I would have made it available to any that were pursuing this path, while vigorously defending the interests of the government and our nation on the whole.
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