War Resisters

I was watching a show called 16:9 the other day (yet another Canadian “news” program because we can’t get enough of hard-hitting in-depth news reportage)

Anyhoooo, this program was all about American “war-resisters”.  They featured guys who were in the American armed forces who decided they didn’t  like going the whole Iraq/Afghanistan war thing, so they took off and came to Canada.

They lived here, found off-the-radar jobs, found women, had kids. Then they tried to claim refugee status and apply for Canadian citizenship.

Two motions have been passed in Parliament in support of the war resisters’ efforts to stay in Canada. Polls show that 64% of Canadians support these motions. The motions were, however, non-binding and the minority Conservative government has been ignoring these motions and sending the war resisters back to the US.

Liberal and all-around nice guy,  Gerard Kennedy has recently introduced a private members’ Bill C-440, — a binding form of the aforementioned motions.   

Meanwhile, some of the war-resisters have been sent back to the US, court marshaled, spent time in prison, etc…

I can totally understand them not wanting to go to war. Who wants to go fight wars? Especially pointless wars.

I would have been completely behind the 40,000 draft dodgers that made their way to Canada between  1965 and 1973 since they were civilians being forced to go to war.

But the war resisters today have voluntarily joined the armed forces. They were happy to take everything the forces offered them. Then, when they were asked to do something in return – something that could not have been unexpected – they desert.

These guys are now crying about how unfair it is to their Canadian-born children, who are now without a daddy. They’re complaining that their entire lives have been messed up.

If you join the armed forces, do you get to choose which battles you will fight and which ones you disagree with? Or is it understood that once you sign up you go where they send you and do what they tell you to do? I mean, yes, of course, that’s the understanding and the agreement, but is it right? Should Canada be supporting deserters and be granting them citizenship?

How can you have an army or a navy or an air force if you let troops just opt out when things don’t go the way they think they should?? Maybe I’m missing something but I don’t understand why Parliament supported the motions to allow these “war-resisters” to stay in this country or why so many Canadians agree with them.

I really, really hate to side with the Conservatives on anything — particularly when they are once again ignoring the wishes of the majority, but in this case….?

74 responses to “War Resisters

  1. I agree with you and I’m very much nothing like a Conservative. “Pay my education, give me a job, train me” but then they try to send them somewhere and they say no? All take, no give. In a way, the Nice Canadian me wants to say let them stay, but really, they had it comin’. Don’t get involved in the Forces if you don’t intend to fully do everything they expected you to do when you joined.

  2. Nothing in this world is black and white. And some of the war resisters may have good reasons for deserting; such as not participating in something they find unjust or worse. However, this is where personal responsibility for our decisions should prevail. If you chose to join the army, then you should live by their rules. I believe that the right thing to do is to object within the military system and face the consequences such as prison and dishonorable discharge rather than just running away.

    The tragedy here is the children and families affected.

  3. No, I think people join the armed forces to serve and protect their country.

    Both Iraq and Afghanistan are immoral wars with the US as the aggressor. The American people were lied to in the beginning to garner their support. It would be like refusing to offer a career military officer from Germany safe harbour in Canada for not being willing to support the Nazi occupation of Poland etc.

    During Vietnam we also offered safe harbour for American deserters. They give up so much to resist the war – I know Vietnam deserters who proudly hung their dishonorable discharges on their walls, and still anguished over never seeing their family (parents and siblings etc) again.

    By the way there is a Bill before Congress to make military service a requirement for all Americans between the ages of 18 and 42. Here’s a link


  4. I agree…if they got drafted against their will for a war they didnt’ believe in, like Viet Nam, that would be one thing.

    But to voluntarily sign up for the military and then decide to duck out because you don’t want to do your job. …SORRY. You snooze, you lose.

    They feed you…they train you…they educate you.

    But it comes with a price…that you might have to go fight, somewhere.

    This isn’t a Liberal/Conservative thing. This is a common-sense, these-are-the-rules, national defense thing.

    Like Stephanie says, don’t get involved if you don’t intend to serve.

    I just hope Canada doesn’t bend over backwards and accommodate these deserters.

  5. There are a number of issues at play here, and I speak as a person with 9 years of military service.

    First off, there is no comparison between these people and the draft dodgers. These resisters weren’t drafted, they volunteered. While a conscript might be able to claim a moral high ground for resisting service, these people cannot. They signed up of their own accord.

    It’s a crucial distinction. Conscripts are forced into service. Volunteers walked into the job with knowledge of the risks. So anyone who compares these bunch of deserters to Viet Nam draft dodgers is doing the dodgers a disservice and elevating these deekers beyond their station.

    That they don’t believe the war is just is not a concern either. The US military branches have a system to deal with that. These people can avail themselves of that system. Of course, there may be a few downsides, but there is a system. The people who ran to Canada to avoid the service they signed up for are abusing and insulting Canadians by doing so, are reneging on their contract that they signed voluntarily, and sticking it to their peers and colleagues who followed the rules on dealing with their objections within the service. While the debate about whether the war is just or not is a separate topic that could be worthy of discussion, the debate about what their duties and responsibilities are is NOT debatable. They had the duty to follow orders, and the responsibility to challenge the orders they felt are illegal or immoral within a system that does make allowance for such challenge. They didn’t do that, they ran like cowards. Just because the army tells you to do something you don’t like doesn’t make it illegal, immoral or something you can just choose not to do. That’s the price of signing up for the job, free food and education.

    If we assist them, we are complicit in their cowardice, and indeed, in their crime. We’re telling the US military “fuck you, we’ll take your cowards, your layabouts, your leeches who abused your good will then backed out when it was time to ante-up their end of the bargain.” Every country with a volunteer military should be insulted that we’d even consider helping these people, let alone put a motion before parliament. As Canadians we should be embarrassed that it is even a question for us.

    If they were making a stand on principles, they’d do it in their own country. Who knows, a few brave soldiers facing the music for their ethical decision could bring the winds of change. Instead the scurried away and tried to tell their sob story to us… and sadly, too many people bought it.

  6. This isn’t a a question of politics in Canada but a question of respecting your neighbors laws.
    These “soi disant” “War-resisters” are nothing more then cowards. As has already been stated – they signed up for their hitch and now they want out? Its an insult to their units. Lets not forget that the US now has an all volunteer army, and its exactly what they signed up for. IF the soldiers are allowed to make choices then they may choose not to fight.
    What we need to do is remember that we have our own soldiers in Afghanistan and while our own soldiers die these piss-ants are hiding away in Canada demanding our protection. Their legal battles are costing us a shitload of money (If you recall a shitload is way more then an assload). A country that they entered ILLEGALLY, where they have decided to remain ILLEGALLY, and request our protection. Have we forgotten that ILLEGAL immigration is called that because it is ILLEGAL? These asswipes aren’t poor confused people. THEY ARE FUCKING CRIMINALS!
    Deportation is the bare minimum that they should be getting. Personally I think that we should round them up – stick uniforms on then and send them over to fight with our troups in Afghanistan.

    I know that in some countries you have to fulfill your “military service” and it needs to be better defined what that may be. In Israel for example (a country that seems to need every fighter that they can get) the service is actually “voluntary” – meaning that serving in the Armed Forces is voluntary. Combat units are voluntary units and it takes a special type of patriot to serve in them. Otherwise you serve you country in some other capacity.
    Actually those curious can read “Starship Troopers” (and not the shitty movie that was done thank you) and discover the real value that a voluntary service can be when it is tied to citizenship.

  7. National guard – home defense volunteers sent to Irag, people whose tours are DONE – DISCHARGED -forced to stay and sent back, those who enlisted after 9/11 based on a lie, those who witnessed war crimes and speak out face greater punishment in the US under military law than those who commit them!

    We aren’t talking about cowardice.

    Heinlein???? The man was PRO cold war and spoke out against all efforts to halt the nuclear proliferation!

    You want a decent book on why tying citizenship to military service is militaristic propagandist bullshit? Read the Forever War by Joe Haldeman

  8. For those who support the deserters, I’d like to know how they would run the military, if they were in charge?

    Would they allow soliders to quit any time they felt like it, any time it got dangerous, or any time they didn’t agree with the current conflict going on?

    How would such an army be maintained, and mobilized? How would it defend the country, when push came to shove?

    Maybe it could be like that soccer league in Ottawa that didn’t allow stronger teams to win by too many points.

    If the other country had a bigger army, they wouldn’t be allowed to fire their weapons …and the weaker country would win by default.

  9. If we were talking about a country’s military that was “defending the country” this wouldn’t be an issue. During times of just war, whether it’s an active war on your soil or on the world stage the military and civilian population work together to support the war effort. During times like this pacifists happily do national service that doesn’t conflict with their values.

    When a country decides to lie to it’s population to start an unjust war it’s going to deal with desertion and defection. (Thank goodness it will!!!!) I think it’s really important that we as world citizens support individuals of conscience who stand up against being asked to participate in war crimes.

    Why is it that deserters get longer sentences than soldiers who are convicted of killing multiple civilians? 30 months vs 7. Its to shut them up. Being a deserter in a military prison is like being a child molester in federal prison.

    What about people who realized they were fighting an unjust war, but stuck it out for their entire tour, were honourably discharged then forcibly redeployed???? What about National Guardsmen, people who signed up specifically to defend their own soil, and to be a first response team in times on national emergencies like earthquakes and floods who have been deployed to Iraq???

    What about people who signed up after 9/11 based on LIES and now realize that they are the bad guys????

    It isn’t black and white. It isn’t a case of people jumping on a military gravy train at 18 and bailing the first time they’re actually put in danger. And desertions during an unjust war when their country is the aggressor do not destabilize home security.

  10. Stephanie – Ya, I get that maybe they thought they were signing up to defend the country against evil and instead have to go kill people for oil, but that’s what happens when you join the military, right?

    LGS – You’ve hit the nail on the head. They’re blaming our government now for creating fatherless children when they should have been a bit more responsible and not started a family until they were in a stable situation. Many “refugees” deliberately have kids thinking that this will force the government to let them stay – since their kids are Canadian citizens. It doesn’t work that way. We’re pretty soft on immigration, but not that soft.

    Mudmama – Yes, I know they’re deserting because they don’t believe the war is just. If they are people of conscience then perhaps they shouldn’t join the military in the first place. I think when you sign up with military you have to do what they ask of you. We can’t have a military where you never know which members are going to stick around and which are going to refuse to perform certain tasks. Of course they have a right to refuse to participate in the war if they want to, but then they have to face the consequences. Court marshal and a couple of years in prison is a small price to pay to assuage your conscience. They shouldn’t expect us to harbour them here.

    Friar – I don’t even understand how this has gotten as much support as it has. And the thing with the kids really irks me. As I said to LGS I know many refugees who deliberately have kids here because they think that will force the government to grant them citizenship – since their kids are citizens …. And what humane country would split up parents and their kids, right? Or force a Canadian citizen (the kid) to leave with its parents back to an oppressive country? They almost never win that one, by the way.

    Heather – Thanks for the link. The only point I would agree with her on is that a soldier has a duty to refuse to participate in human rights abuses. But that doesn’t exonerate people who signed up with the military or the National Guard or who signed up after 9/11 or whatever and when they were called to active duty decided to leave the country. I don’t believe any military would promise soldiers with young kids that they will never see active duty. I get that joining the army or navy when you’re a teenager is cool. It’s easier than trying to get a decent paying job or trying to into college and slogging away at another 4 years of textbooks. In the military you’re educated, trained for a career, housed, fed, you get a uniform and you get paid pretty well. But before you sign, you really have to read the fine print that says you might have to go somewhere dangerous and unpleasant.

    Squid – Ya the Let Them Stay supporters keep saying that some of the Vietnam deserters were also people who had voluntarily signed up for service. Like that makes it okay for these guys today to do it, too. I’m a little scared that I’m agreeing with you, but I don’t see how I can not.

    Lebowski – Ya, I’m finding the whole thing a little distasteful too. On top of everything else, it’s really pitiful, as I’ve mentioned before, that they’re deliberately spawning kids up here thinking that’s going to force us to keep them. As you know, I personally think this war is nasty and really I’m not a fan of any war. I would never join the military for lots of reasons, but one of the main ones is that I don’t want to be in a position to have to do something I really, really don’t want to do just because I’ve signed an agreement. But if I had, I would certainly feel obligated to fulfill my end of the bargain.

    Mudmama – I totally agree with your feelings about the military and about the war. However, I think if you are willing to take advantage of what the military will offer you or think you signed up to defend against evil or to keep the peace or whatever, you need to read the fine print. Because I really think the military has the right to expect its trained soldiers – regardless of how or where they were trained – to fight when they are asked to fight. The guy you say was discharged had just completed one tour of duty. He was still in the military and happy to stay there – he just didn’t want to go back to the front. Who can blame him? Not me, but that’s life. And you know what really makes him a coward in my books is the thing with the kids. As I mentioned several times. It’s no coincidence that these guys have managed to lay low up here for years and then once they have a kid, apply for immigration.

    Friar – Ha ha ha. That’s my question, too. If you’re going to have a military you pretty much have to accept that some unpleasant and even dangerous stuff is going to happen. And I think it would be really wrong of Canada to tell US soldiers that if they’re not happy with what they’ve been asked to do, they can come up here. It’s okay, we’ll just send more of our soldiers over to get killed instead.

  11. The issue here isn’t whether the war in Afghanistan or Iraq is “right” or “wrong”. That’s a whole seperate discussion.

    The point of debate here, is people voluntarily signing up for the army, under their own free will, and then breaking their contrat and deserting.

    Which, sorry, whether you like it or not…is against the law.

    If anyone has moral qualms about possibly going battle and possibly killing people…then DON’T JOIN. Nobody’s putting a gun to your head!

    But if they do knowingly decide to break the law and desert…then they need to be prepared to suffer the consequences.

    BTW…good point, about taking in deserters, meanwhile sending our own troops there to get shot at.

  12. to the original poster @ XUP:

    US Soldiers – pay attention here
    swear oath word for word

    ” I (state your name) do solemnly swear to defend my country against all enemies, foreign and abroad”

    now I don’t know when you most recently looked through a dictionary

    but go ahead and look up DEFENSE and OFFENSE

    i can teach any elementary school level students this very basic concept

    now you tell me how those soldiers violated any contracts by refusing to serve in the PREEMPTIVE, OFFENSIVE WAR IN IRAQ

    when they only swore to defend, not to offend

    let me know what you come up with in that dictionary

  13. Too Friar:

    Why is it against the law for US Soldiers to break contracts but not against the law for the US Army to break contracts?

    Im noticing a prevalent attitude that soldiers should have to fulfill all of their commitments but the organization offering the contract should not have to fulfill any and should be immune to any criticisms. That is a scary attitude.

    And you stated
    “If anyone has moral qualms about possibly going battle and possibly killing people…then DON’T JOIN. Nobody’s putting a gun to your head! ”

    it is self evident here that in several of the cases it was simply a matter of being lied to, deceived, coerced and conditioned to accept what is happening as legal, justified, and defensive

    thats simply not the case,

    i dont need to go any further in history than the holocaust to remind you just because a paper proclamation and team of lawyers says its ok to invade and kill, it doesn’t necessarily make it true

  14. Regardless to your feelings on whether or not US soldiers are right in tucking tail just because they don’t agree with their assignment, that’s the US’s problem. Our problem is they’re allowed to file a refugee claim up here in the first place, thus taking up space in the system that could better be served helping someone who actually has something they didn’t sign up for to run from. And hey, if we had a safe list of countries from which a refugee claim would absolutely not be accepted, that wouldn’t even be a problem. But, well, the majority in parliament decided we didn’t need that, either. Go figure.

  15. 100 americans are being given hell to stay in canada when americans are the most successful group of immigrants Canada has

    meanwhile through the backdoor you got 200,000 plus non white non english speaking foreigners coming in every year and they dont even appreciate the culture, and tend to milk the welfare state for all it is worth

    this doesn’t make sense

  16. To All Posters:

    Many of you may be educated. Many of you may hold yourselves in high esteem. Many of you are brilliant and thoughtful and introspective.

    When I ask you who was or is the smartest man to ever live what is the first name that comes to your mind?

    The man that comes to my mind is the man who has contributed more to our world to day than any single human being I can think of. From the time I was in elementary school I was taught how great this man and thinker was.

    Albert Einstein.

    Now I dont want to pass moral judgements on any single poster here, but I think it goes without saying that his talents in the realm of analysis surpass any individual posting here.

    Here is what he had to say which I think is relevant to this discussion.

    The pioneers of a warless world are the young men and women who refuse military service.
    Albert Einstein

    simple one sentence

    from the smartest man to ever live

    so what the rest of us have to say regarding the issue seems irrelevant in light of how great a man Einstein was

    he spent the majority of his later years in life researching and doing analysis on economy, war, and capitalism

    it doesn’t take a genius to figure out right and wrong though

    the war resisters have the support of almost every faith based organization in Canada, they have the support of the majority of canadians, they have the support of the majority of parliament

    we are talking about 100 people as Edward has stated

    the tremendous waste of resources on the legal process was one complaint of one of the posters here, but keep in mind the waste was not the fault of the resisters, the parliament, or the majority of canadians, all of that waste is because the conservative government is clinging to an outdated ideology that most intelligent people reject outright, including Einstein

    I am not for or against the Conservative Party. They have done good and have done bad in my opinion, and so has every other party to sit in power.

    Lets refocus our lens here and look at the bigger picture. Its simply not a big deal to let 100 pro-canadian american deserters into our country because they refuse to participate in a war that we also refued to participate in and in many of the cases they are refusing for the same reasons we did.

  17. @Edward: We fix our refugee system, we solve both problems. Sadly, supposedly the majority of Canadians don’t want that fixed either.

    @Gabriela: We’re still participating, and our soldiers aren’t skipping across to the other side of the border to avoid it and/or claim refugee status in the US.

  18. @Albert

    Nobody here is saying the military is above criticism or rules. If you don’t believe me, look no further than the recent case when one of our officers has been charged with killing a wounded Taliban fighter.

    And nobody’s saying the army and government has never done anything wrong or immoral.

    Just that if you sign up with the army…you go where they tell you to. And do what they order you to do.

    Whether you like it or not, those are the rules. That’s the law. That’s how armies work.

    And not just the big, bad, evil U.S. It’s pretty much the same for every other army on the planet.

    Unless you count the “Rainbow-Granola-Unicorn” army, where nobody has to fight if they don’t want to, and world conflicts get resolved with group hugs. 🙂

  19. John, Albert, Edward, Gabriela and the 10 other names the SPAM caught — I know you think we are all stupid and “insane”, but it’s pretty clear even to us that you are all the same person. You haven’t even bothered to change IP addresses for most of them. Why are you hiding behind all these ridiculous pseudonyms? You think people will think dozens of other people think and write exactly like you? If you wish to comment here please be honest about it.

    James – Yes, our immigration and refugee policies and practices are kind of a muddle — that certainly doesn’t help the situation. And for countries that are actually commiting human rights violations we should step up and help, but I don’t think this qualifies.

  20. @Gabriela

    Need I remind you, that Albert Einstein, in his famous letter to FDR, played a key role, in convincing the US Govt to develop the Atomic Bomb.

    Even though he was against war, he recognized the Nazi threat, and that it needed to be stopped.

  21. How about we send edward to Afghanistan? Guess what, edward? Our country depends on immigration–that requires foreigners!

    XUP – signing up after 9/11 should not be the cutoff. Arguably, invading Afghanistan after 9/11 was defending the US. It’s when they took all the people who rallied to volunteer after 9/11 and sent them off arbitrarily to Iraq. So maybe after Iraq started I could agree with you with the ‘caveat emptor’ argument.

    Though I still wonder, if the Iraq war is illegal, are the soldiers that disagree with it but go anyway “just following orders”?

    – RG>

  22. If you join the armed forces, do you get to choose which battles you will fight and which ones you disagree with?

    At the Nuremberg trials, it was established that the fact that you were following orders doesn’t excuse you from punishment for committing war crimes. As a consequence, it is up to each soldier to decide whether a particular war or action is legal, and the onus is on them to refuse if they think it is not.

    Of course, armies don’t really encourage soldiers to do this. That said, not doing so is hypocritical. In order to be consistent, we either need to excuse soldiers of foreign powers for committing war crimes under orders or we must give our own troops a meaningful right to refuse illegal orders.

    States like Canada should grant amnesty to foreign soldiers who refuse to follow illegal orders, and who would be punished in their home state.

  23. Grouchy – I’m thinking the caveat emptor argument is valid for any branch or faction of the military you are thinking of getting involved with, any time, any where.

    Sindark – How can this country grant asylum to soldiers for refusing to participate in an illegal war and/or war crimes if we are participating in and sending our citizens to fight in the same war and/or participate in those same war crimes? If we harbour the American deserters then it stands to reason that we are agreeing that their position is correct and they should not be sent back to serve punishment. And if we do that then we’d better pull all of our support from this war first and begin taking action against the US government for comitting these crimes.

  24. The Nuremberg precedent is that it is up to the individual soldier to decide if a war or order is legal or not.

    We don’t need to agree with them, but we ought to respect the conclusion they reach personally. After all, they are the ones whose freedom and even lives could be on the line if they commit war crimes.

  25. Sindark – But we must have some sort of criteria for granting someone refugee status. So these guys want to stay because going back to the US would mean they face possible imprisonment. Is that enough reason to allow them to stay in Canada? We obviously have to make some sort of evaluation of whether or not their punishment will go against our definition of humane treatment and we’ll have to make some sort of evaluation of their “crimes”, won’t we? Or do we just accept across the board that any US soldier who deserts for whatever personal reasons, is given safe harbour here? So, let’s say soldier X left because they wouldn’t give him vegan meals and his conscience wouldn’t allow him to eat meat and soldier Y left because he felt he was being asked to commit war crimes. They’d both face imprisonment for desertion. Would we say soldier X is being frivolous while soldier Y is in need of our help? Because wouldn’t that mean we are making some sort of judgment on the validity of the war crimes claim?

  26. I agree that not any justification is acceptable. What I said applies only to people who are willing to assert that being deployed with the US armed forces would either be a war crime or would put them in a situation where they could be forced to commit war crimes.

    That said, there is certainly a case to be made that the whole Iraq war is illegal, and we should grant asylum to anyone who refuses to serve there on legal grounds.

  27. Milan – And if we do that, then are we not also obligated to see to it that some sort of action is taken against the US? I just don’t see how we can justify allowing deserters refugee status on the grounds of refusing to engage in illegal or criminal activity and still engage in those actitivities ourselves. I don’t think we can just say we have to leave it up to each soldier’s conscience. Just killing another human being could be against a person’s conscience. The Nuremberg thing is pretty wide open and could conceivably include that. So, some higher body has to make a determination that what is going on constitutes war crimes. Of course then we have to punish everyone involved including our own military.

  28. Again, when we make individual soldiers responsible for deciding what is illegal, we need to actually empower to act on that determination if we are to avoid hypocrisy.

    We don’t need to agree with their position, or even take a stance on it.

  29. I haven’t made up my mind on this one. But I’d like to point out that the kids most likely to sign up for military service are those whose other options are especially limited. A black male in the US has a greater statistical likelihood of going to prison than going to university. Facing such dismal prospects, and targeted by slick army recruiters who promise them an education and a career, I bet a lot of poor black kids could be persuaded to enlist, particularly during times of peace.

  30. Once upon a time things were clearly defined in the field of resistance to war.
    If you objected to the war – you were a “Contentious Objector” and arrangements were made for you. Remember that this was when the draft was on.
    A famous draft evader was someone by the name “Mohammed Ali” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muhammad_Ali#Vietnam_War
    What we have here are a group of people who decided that they didn’t have to live up to the contracts that they agreed to. THEY ARE DESERTERS. And some of you are all for throwing the doors open to this scum? Joining the military has always had its risks. Being a soldier and being ordered to go to war is the risk. Dragging up the Nuremberg trials has nothing to do with this. Individual soldiers were never brought to trial unless they were accused of the most heinous acts. And don’t feed me this crap that “some slick recruitment officer” pulled the wool over your eyes. These men signed an agreement that they feel that they now can black pedal out of because its not what they really wanted. Did they not think first? If not, then tough shit. Life is all about making your decisions in a rational manner. There are no “do-overs”.
    So, whats the next step? “Well you guys should take care of my kids- I mean I liked the fucking and all but I really can’t handle the kids so I’m going to run off to some other place and if the mother catches up to me then they’ll pay to defend me against this evil parenting thing.”
    Is that the type of person that you want coming to your country?

  31. Some of the comments here were SO predictable:

    You take a current topic like soldiers deserting their duty. And the granola-crunchers come out of the woodwork, and turn it into let’s bitch about the Big Bad USA, who’s responsible for all the world’s evil.

    Look, I’m not defending the war in Iraq. And I’m not saying the U.S. is above criticism.

    But I’m getting tired of the constant America-bashing. Especially these inferred comparisons between the U.S. and Nazi Germany (what with references to the Nuremburg trials and the holocaust).

    Sorry, the war in Iraq and Nazi occupation of Europe are NOT morally equivalent. These two situations are totally different and have nothing to do with each other.

    And, by the way, Saddam Hussein and the Taliban weren’t exactly selling Girl Guide Cookies before they were invaded, either.

    But no. God Forbid should anyone bring THAT up.

    No. It’s more fashionable and PC to ignore anything Non-Western countries do wrong, and just continue to criticize the U.S.

    This is my last comment on this topic, because someone will probably misconstrue what I say, jump all over me for being “pro-war” and “red-neck”, and it will just annoy me.

    So I’m going to the beach.

    But it was still a good debate…

  32. When you join the military you are owned by the military and you fight in whatever dumbass war the government gets you into. Canada needs to send them home.

    On another note, the U.S. needs to reinstate that draft, it would end these wars much quicker. Because when people had to join the army to fight in wars that are unjust everyone will take to the streets.

  33. Milan – I don’t understand how a military can function if all the members are allowed to choose what they feel like doing and not doing. As someone points out later on, I don’t think individual soldiers should (or are) held responsible for making those decisions. And I think we should absolutely take a stance on the position of refugee claimants before granting them status. We (the country) has to decide whether whatever the claimant will face if we send him back to his own country will contravene any of our human rights principles. We have harboured criminals who face the death penalty in the US because we don’t believe it is humane or right. We have sent people back to 3rd world countries because the worst they would face is abject poverty and ostracization.

    Zoom – You have a point about the type of people most likely to sign up for the military and the whole thing about teenagers, poor teenagers, disadvantaged teenagers being sent to kill or be killed in wars they (and most of us) really have no stake in is really wrong. But I don’t think the slick recruiters gloss over the fact that signing up means you might have to go to war. Is there anyone who doesn’t understand that learning to shoot guns and blow stuff up means that you might have to actually do it some day? It’s not like they’re promising them a job on Wall Street or anything.

    Lebowski – Very good point about the individual soldiers not being held to account during the Nuremberg trials, nor I suspect would they during any war crimes tribunal these days.

    Friar – Don’t give up so easily…although the beach does sound like fun right about now. Lebowski is on your side, by the way. He just likes to annoy people.

    Cedar – That’s an excellent point. There are a lot of murmurings about this war, but nothing like the very visible protests going on during the Vietnam war. I’m happy to finally hear from an American on this topic.

  34. For you people who are under the assumption that if all of the american army deserted tomorrow somehow america would be invaded look what happened in the “crucial” war in vietnam where it was “necessary” to maintain an armed presence to “defend” the united states

    massive desertions, fratricides, defections you name it it happened the forces fell apart

    america isnt called vietnam or russia today, its still america

    to think it is “necessary” for soldiers to “blindly obey everything question nothing” it simply has not proven to be the case throughout history country after country war after war

    america will still be america even if every american soldier deserts the army

    if america were invaded tomorrow, just like if canada invaded tomorrow, all of us together would collectively resist and fight together

    it is definitely the individual soldiers most basic fundamental human right to say NO this is wrong

    you can twist and contrive and come up with a million and one things to put on paper and call law, but this is human nature were talking about and nothing that you can do is going to stop that human nature

    we are not machines we are not robots we are the most amazing mammal species on the planet for our ability to comprehend and analyze information

    and throughout the entire world a large majority has come to the same conclusion in the final analysis, it certainly was not justified to invade iraq

    what makes you think “our soldiers are still over there” canadian soldiers are not fighting in the war in Iraq, the war resisters support campaign and the majority of the deserters in question served in iraq and object to the war in iraq, exactly how canadians objected and refused it

    another point to make

    ive met several resisters

    i would never in a million years have ever even known these guys were not canadian unless they told me otherwise

    its literally impossible to tell the difference if you dont have personal knowledge of them

  35. the con men who wear nice suits and have million dollar bank accounts that they call “civilian leaders” in the US are the people who belong in prison

    the lies and deception on a grand scale that involves the loss of thousands of lives is what needs to be addressed and those responsible need to be held criminally responsible for their actions

    it always amazed me that a walmart cashier can get fired for being 5 dollars short at the end of the night but the former VP of Haliburton profiteering to the tune of 25 million dollars off of a war that he lied the american people into walks away without question

    entire states in the united states were pushing for impeachment proceedings, were talking governors senators and the like, serious players in the political arena felt the same exact way – they should be held accountable for their crimes

    unfortunately money and power always walks in the united states

    these soldiers dont deserve prison, they dont deserve any negative treatment for their decisions, and those responsible for lying the nation into a war of aggression should be imprisoned

  36. ok breathe deep and think…how can i let these people know that it is truly their interests that i hold dear to me and all i want is a better life for them too…if only i could make them understand

    here we go

    ‎”The [upper class], in control of education, made the class division of society into a permanent institution and created a system of values by which the people were thenceforth, to a large extent unconsciously, guided in their social behavior.”
    Albert Einstein

    From a marketing point of view, you don’t roll out new products in August.” –White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, on why the Bush administration waited until after Labor Day to try to sell the American people on war against Iraq, “New York Times” interview, Sept. 7, 2002

    We working-class people have been conditioned as children to be submissive, to devalue ourselves, to think we are ignorant compared to other people, to feel powerless, to settle for very little, to accept insecurity as an unavoidable fact of life, to feel ‘lucky to have a job’ and to despise ourselves and each other for giving in to violence at each other and to alcoholism.
    Meterial success and economic security are held out as rewards in return for occupying oppressor roles (upper and middle class), replacing genuine human needs with an artificially created materialism which serves both to keep people in their socially constructed roles and fuel capitalist accumulation. See Wachtel (1983).
    We are given a choice as young children to play out our socially expected role (s), a painful process at best, or get punished with far worse. If you are female and act like a boy, or white and act black, or owning class acting working class, if you resist role conditioning, you risk humiliation and isolation, being o…stracized and subjected to emotional even physical abuse.
    The internalization of classist beliefs, attitudes and behavior is the result of a socializing and conditioning process which consists of installing on individuals patterns of behavior, mannerisms, and beliefs that insure conformity to class roles. acting this out or occupying these roles gives up part of our uniquely human quality of choosing our own identities

    Class oppression and privileges are defended on the basis on one person/group claiming to be more important, smarter, better, more deserving, more qualities, etc. than another person/group. These attitudes frame class behavior and thus inter-class relations. The oppressed person/group (the working class) is viewed as… less intelligent, less talented, inferior, and thus not worth very much

    Racial and gender differences have also been used to further divide and separate workers. In the face of class struggle, these divide and conquer strategies have been effective methods to split workers into competing groups that have maintained capitalist exploitation and rates of profit. (Albelda, Drago, Shulman 1997: CH 7-8)

    domination has been extended historically by the use of segmented labor markets and internal labor markets that have separated workers on the basis of artificially created occupational structures and job ladders

    Classism exists because people “agree to” play by the rules. When people decide not to play by the rules, they are confronted by a range of social responses from normal peer pressure to intervention by legal authorities to threats and use of violence by the dominant classes or those acting on their behalf (police or military).

    The primary relation of classism is economic exploitation and consists of squeezing as much labor out of workers as possible and appropriating a disproportionate share of the community’s production (surplus product).
    So when a suit comes on TV and tells you capitalism is good and communism is bad, you should take a lon…g pause and think deeply …who would benefit if you believed this (propaganda), you or him?

    Classism can be defined as the systematic oppression of one group by another based on economic distinctions, or more accurately one’s position within the system of production and distribution. According to Bowles and Gintis (1986) at the institutional level, “Structure allows socially consequential power to be employe…d against the wills and efforts of those affected thereby”

    Understanding the class structure of capitalsim and its class based dynamics are critical to an understanding of the class oppression of working class men and women of all racial/ethnic groups.

    Fritz Pearls once said that “The human species is the only species that has the ability to interfere with their own growth”. This is an important understanding, for our belief systems, which we think we must keep to support our identities, often stand in the way of new, changing understandings and personal growth

  37. now please get this hogwash out of your mind that people should obey the will of the US military at all costs do anything asked to do no questions signed a contract so if they tell me to put a gun in my mouth and pull the trigger im gonna do it cause i deserve it

    screw that line of bullsh*t

    they are totally unnecessary and this self destructive culture of war will not lead your kids and your grandkids to a prosperous future

    subscribing to the official line of rhetoric is exactly what you are expected to do by those who are benefiting from your state of mind, and all of science today has negative and bad predictions for the future based on current trends and analysis

    as we have learned from ages of the past and all of the ridiculous things they did, they used to think the earth was the center of the universe and it was square too, and if you said otherwise you would be ostracized and hazed and looked at as a retard

    this is an equally ridiculous almost makes my want to slam my head into my keyboard kind of culture where we think blowing each other up year after year is somehow necessary or good

    they dont want to blow us up and we dont want to blow them up ask any poor people in any of these countries if they want that

    i have been to all of them they do not want that the american poor dont want it the canadian poor dont want it the iraqi and afghani poor dont want it

    it is wealthy elites on both sides of the playing field responsible for this and they should all be hung for it

  38. typical conditioned response from somebody who either is not interested or has not had access to a wider range and scope of basic information

    “the war resisters should all be executed for deserting the army they are cowards”

    and from me

    “does it take more balls to bite your tongue and eat shovels full of sh*t from your boss, or does it take more balls to give your boss the middle finger, quit and find another job”

    it is actually me who calls the folks with a lack of original identities and only identify with their prescribed class roles cowards, the inability to think outside of the box thats what we call stupid
    the inability to see what is good for ones self and what is bad for ones self …lack of analytical capabilities

    the list can go on and on

    im on all of your (working class) sides but you really need to think and if you dont do that Ill have to consider that a failure of my own to push the correct information through the endless systems of deception you have hardwired with from the time you could read and write

  39. Sorry, Johnson, its nice that you want you spew your communist manifesto ripe with conspiracy theories. Capitalism is a flawed system but no one has yet found one that works better… but here’s a few things you have to remember:
    If you have immigrated to Canada without following proper channels and are here illegally you are a CRIMINAL.
    As a matter of course due to international treaty it is Canada’s legal responsibility to deport CRIMINALS back to their country of origin.
    The nature of the crime is irrelevant.
    To aggravate the situation some of these deserters have chosen a means that burdens us ALL. They COULD have stayed in the United States and been TRUE heroes. I hate the guy but I personally respect John Kerry who served his tour of duty in Vietnam THEN upon his return chose to protest. THAT is a guy who has balls, not a guy who ran off to the sidelines stuck his tongue out at the powers that be and claimed refugee status in another country. Thats just a coward.
    Its nice to know that from 1939 to 1945 there were real men with balls who fought for their country – and don’t fool yourself – there were a lot of people who that the war in Europe wasn’t a just war – but they still went to fight it…. and thank god too… I mean it was only Jews, and Poles, and Ukranians, and Russians and Koreans and Vietnamese and Chinese that the Nazis wanted to exterminate…..
    Anyone want to debate if Neville Chamberlain was the right man for the job back then?

  40. Sorry – the second last line please substitute the word “AXIS” for the word “NAZIS”

  41. I’ve got to say I’m in agreement with Lebowski & Friar on this topic. If you’re are in someone’s country without following proper and legal proceedings, you are a criminal. It’s a pretty simple situation. You broke a law, just like if you stole someone’s car.

    And while the reasons for going to war in Iraq might seem like just a big bunch of hooey, getting rid of Saddam Hussein was not. If for no other reason than that, the war was justified. If you are a soldier and you have signed a contract with the military, you have to fulfill your end of that contract. And that doesn’t mean running off and hiding in another country when you might actually have to follow through on some of the grittier parts of being in the military. So what if you weren’t told all of the reasons for the war? Do you seriously think that ever happens? It doesn’t happen at corporations and it doesn’t happen in the military. It’s mostly on a need to know basis, and for the most part, you don’t need to know. What you need to know is that you have been ordered to do it and what you need to do is follow those orders and get it done.

    If the resisters, or cowards, felt that it was morally wrong to go to war in Iraq they had legal recourse within the military courts. Sure, it sucks to go to prison for a year or two but that would seem a small price to pay for speaking out against such a huge and great injustice, I would think. Also, maybe those runaway soldiers should have focused on the good that that could be done by the ouster of a horrible dictator like Saddam or the oppression of the Taliban.

  42. i’m also very glad that many lf the views expressed here are minority views and the war resisters enjoy majority support

    you may disagree with the scientific analysis of things, it is not communist manifesto it is science

    it is scientifically impossible as tested by the scientific method to continue our society in its current form it is unsustainable

    18 yr old kids fully indoctrinated (look up the word) fresh out of high school really cant grasp this larger picture

    i dont think they should be held fully responsible considering that indoctrination

  43. To Kimberly,

    Friar and Lebowski misled you into believing the resisters here following illegally

    The very people who create your laws shake these peoples hands, sit next to them when their issues are voted on in parliament, and are fully responsible for the fact that the war resisters are still here

    the law is the reason why they are here to date

    Friar and Lebowski are ill informed and seem to have a personal stake as if they would somehow profit off of the removal of the war resisters

    It is not breaking the law just like stealing someone’s car it is nothing like that.

    you said “If you are a soldier and you have signed a contract with the military, you have to fulfill your end of that contract.” no they dont have to, and they are still in canada, and the have defeated the minority conservative government in parliament every single time, there has never been so much cooperation on the part of the opposition on any single issue as this issue

    It would be impossible for people like this to really understand the situation unless it was them being told to shoot your child, and your mother, and arrest your brother, than maybe in that case you would appreciate the will of the soldiers to say “wait a minute, no that is wrong”

    Kimberly says

    So what if you weren’t told all of the reasons for the war? Do you seriously think that ever happens? It doesn’t happen at corporations and it doesn’t happen in the military. It’s mostly on a need to know basis, and for the most part, you don’t need to know. What you need to know is that you have been ordered to do it and what you need to do is follow those orders and get it done.


    please dont omit key facts

    the resisters, if you follow them at all or study them at all, exausted all legal avenues within the military its amazing how little research is actually done by the critics

    when a soldier tells their commanding officer (highest officer in their chain of command) this is wrong i cant do it, if that commanding officer says OK you can file CO status and get out, it might escalate to the discretion of a higher officer in the food chain

    if the captain says NO, the soldier is almost totally screwed

    now say the soldier who was told no jumps his chain of command, After getting severely hazed and reprimanded in a number of ways by the unit he is part of, he may be able to have his case heard again by another member of the chain of command

    it is a completely discretionary function of assigning CO status to soldiers, and there is a strong bias against doing so to maintain force protection strength

    back to science vs religion

    galileo says to the courts, ur wrong this is how it works

    the courts called him a criminal accused him of treason

    Capernicus….same deal

    and today

    you guys are sounding alot like the people of the past

    its important to understand the establishment will ALWAYS reject science, its to be expected, for science is emergent and techonology is emergent but the establishment will always seek to preserve its differential advantage of power , even if it means marginalizing the voices of science and reason

    to perpetuate that marginalization of the voice of science and reason only serves the interests of the establishment,

    and to me its alot like shooting yourself in the foot, i know every poster here is working class just by the very nature of the interests of working class vs upper class, and for a working class individual to support an establishment that only seeks to exploit and enslave them in the final hour is self defeating, very self defeating

    remember if they had their way, you would all work 90 hours a week for 50 cents an hour, make you pay 3/4 of your income to rent so that they can own the property you live in and

    so be careful and treat the system with a high degree of skepticism and question everything

    it is for your own good and especially for your children and grandchildrens own good





  44. Well to Lebowski

    you remember stockwell day? hes actually a conservative

    thanks to him

    “Soldiers who desert the army are not criminally inadmissible”

    regarding iraqis deserting suddan hussein’s army when he invated kuwait


    dont you feel silly now?

    be careful man be careful

    read up on things before flapping the lips

  45. No one has commented on the Bill before Congress that I linked to. I’m really wondering how you feel about requiring military service from ALL people between the ages of 18 and 42?

    If they institute this, and make no mistake, its a draft, are any of you who are opposed to allowing military dissenters safe harbour going to change your opinion on these “cowards” and “criminals” and “welfare abusers”? I doubt it.

    People (not 18 year olds, most often men and women with small children) join the National Guard in good faith that it is a weekend a month 2 weeks a year and that they are going to be training to defend on home soil. They expect that in reality (given Canada is the only country that’s ever attacked them on home soil) they’ll be called on for natural and man made disasters, they expect they’ll be doing everything from sandbagging to stopping looting and controlling riots. They aren’t paid for this as far as I know, it’s volunteer work.

    Slowly, without explaining it to people they recruit into the National Guard, the feds have stripped state governors right to refuse to allow their guardsmen to leave home soil and then again to have that mean they leave the US. Since Iraq started guardsmen have made up the bulk of frontline fighters in Iraq and their tours are 18 months long. Its before the courts as to whether this is even legal. They’re treating the National Guard as a conscription base and that is not what it was created for, and not what people signed up for.

    If they wanted to be career military this is what they would have signed up for. It isn’t.

    Brandishing words about like “coward” to avoid discussing what is happening is frankly, stupid. So is yelling “COMMIE!” LOL!

    Comparing it to a corporate job is ridiculous too. If you take a job and your job description changes radically 5-10 years into it, you can quit. It doesn’t matter if they provided training, maybe you pay back that debt if its in your contract, but you are allowed to quit. You aren’t forced to stay or jailed for dissent. You aren’t forced to work after a contract ends. You aren’t jailed for refusing to break international law.

    I find it amusing when people claim that they should go to prison to uphold their beliefs if they are in opposition. I really doubt they themselves would do that. Rapists and murderers get considerably less time than conscienous objectors do.Its a felony, everything from finding a job, to an apartment will be really hard. We do grant refugee status based on those kinds of things by the way.

  46. I would direct anyone who cares to see the actual length of prison time given to Iraq war resistors to this page on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canada_and_Iraq_War_Resisters#Punishments_given_to_Iraq_War_resisters

    As you can see, the longest prison time actually served was 13 months, and the longest sentence was 15 months. While it is an incomplete list, I think it gives a much more realistic characterization of the prison terms faced by the Iraq war resisters than to say that they are all serving longer sentences than rapists and murderers.

    Also, when I spoke with a recruiter about joining the National Guard after high school, he did tell me that there was the very real possibility of being called up for active duty. He was proven right: the National Guard unit that I would have served with, a medic unit, was called up to active duty in Desert Storm just a few months later.

  47. Wow, this conversation is spicy! I think everyone has made good points, but I have to say I lean towards agreeing with Mudmama, and I like what Milan had to say, too. It doesn’t seem fair that we can hold certain soldiers accountable for things they did while “just following orders,” and at the same time, punish them for not following orders. I think you’re right, XUP, when you say that the military is an organization that requires people to obey, so maybe this double standard needs to be addressed.

    I have heard some sympathetic things online about Stop Loss, which is when soldiers who have fulfilled their Afganistan tours are sent back anyway. I think the US guaranteed soldiers that they wouldn’t have to do more than three tours there (that’s heresay 🙂 ), but now are going back on that promise.

    The military is an employer, and they do need to treat their employees fairly and with respect. Just because they are capable of ordering them to do anything – in theory – doesn’t mean they should. If your own employer did something like, say, requiring mandatory overtime every day of the week, or sending you on several back-to-back business trips, or booking weekend after weekend for “bonding getaways” — I think there would be a revolt, and you’d feel justified. So if the military is not treating the mental and physical health of its employees properly – and they have no way to say “no” without going to jail – maybe we should give them a safe place to be.

  48. @Johnson


    It’s called “punctuation”.

    You might want to consider using it sometimes.

    (Sorry, I said I wouldn’t comment any more, but this is one I couldn’t resist).

  49. Mudmama – I can’t speak for anyone else, but I would welcome anyone trying to avoid the draft. I see a huge difference between someone being a pacifist and not wishing to engage in any militaristic activity coming to live here and someone who joined up and then ran off when they were asked to do something tough.

    Kimberly – I know people in Canada who are in the National Guard and they are very well aware also that they could be called for active duty.

    Lynn – Which soldiers have we held to account for “just following orders”? Are you talking about the Nuremberg trials? Those were all high-ranking officers. The military is more than just an employer. They train people for combat and need to be able to count on them when they actually have to go into combat. You can’t compare it to a regular job. What if, for instance, we were attacked one day and a whole bunch of the soldiers we are counting on to protect us decided that fighting just wasn’t for them and they ran off to some other country? You can’t run a military if you’re going to allow people to do that. It’s ridiculous.

    Friar – Somebody had to say something. Punctuation is as good a thing as any under the circumstances. I guess he’s not called Johnson for nothing.

  50. How easy it is for us to decide what is right or wrong for each individual involved, whether or not they are deserters or traitors or whatever.

    I wonder whether each of us (excepting anyone who commented here who has served) could actually “stand and deliver” when called upon to do so.

    I guess that’s why I never joined up. I know that if required, I could defend my own life, that of my family and my neighbours too – but would I carry out questionable orders at the whim of the politician of the month?

    That, I do not know.

  51. Brett – I don’t disagree with you. I certainly have no interest in putting my life on the line for anything other than myself and my loved ones. And I think war is wrong on so many levels, that I could never bring myself to be part of it. And that’s why I would never join the military. And I think anyone who has doubts about their ability to serve when and where asked, should not join the military. And I think the military makes that pretty clear when you join. So, if you do join, then you have to fulfill your part of the deal even if you don’t particularly like it.

  52. @Xup: I’m definitely not saying we shouldn’t be doing more to help people who actually need a place to go for reasons of opression, persecution etc. But I have to ask–how much more can we do when we have cases like this, where the only problem a “refugee” has is with the military service he *voluntarily* signed up for actually sending them somewhere hostile? Before we worry about doing more for the folks who actually need help, we have to slam the door shut, and lock it, on the folks who don’t–like the folks who like the idea of serving in the military, but not the actual serving.

    @Zoom: I’m not sure most people go into the thing relying entirely on what the recruiter tells them anyway–slick lies or no. Perhaps it’s giving folks way too much credit, but you have to kind of assume branches of military service are eventually going to equate with actual, active duty in a situation you’re probably not going to agree with. We had people over in Cyprus in the early to mid 90’s to keep a peace that had a whole lot less global significance than what–rightly or wrongly–is going on in Afghanistan/Iraq and I don’t think it generated quite this level of pushback, whether people agreed with it or not. And I’m pretty sure going in, most if not all of them understood that was going to be a risk.

    @Mudmama: I think the rules change kind of dramatically when you factor in forced military service. The problem is, no one’s being forced into service in this situation–they made the choice to potentially be sent into a combat situation they may or may not agree with. Had they been conscripted a la 1960’s, then they might possibly have a case. And I’d be all for hearing it.

    @Johnson: I get it. Capitalism bad, socialism good. Let us know how that works out for ya.

  53. Last post from me on this then I go back to post about bacon …. tasty tasty bacon…. 🙂
    A draft does not necessarily mean a hitch in the army. The Israelis CAN serve their federal service in the army if they choose or they can serve in some other capacity. In an age where it seems that people bring the baggage from their homeland to the country that they have immigrated to there should be a mandatory federal service. Don’t want to join the military or the reserves? That’s cool let me introduce you to “Community service” whether its building roads, tending to parks or some other FEDERALLY MANDATED service. I know that in the United States that the V.A. is understaffed. In Canada our military equipment is poorly maintained. In France where there is a Federal service of 2 years the military is top notch when it comes to maintaining its equipment. ( sadly its manned by frenchmen so its oddly ineffectual 😛 )
    What would be so bad about having clean streets, well tended public parks, daycare for those less fortunate? In our rapidly aging society the biggest risk to us is the elderly. Knowing someone who takes care of her Alzheimer’s stricken father – she could use the help. THERE is one government expenditure I could get behind: Building a better country and helping to take care of those who made this a great country in their autumn years. So I am all for a draft.
    Everyone should have to do their bit “For King and Country” and if you are an immigrant who would rather tie up our resources FIGHTING AGAINST having to serve then I really don’t want you here.
    Curiously all of Johnson’s arguments (when they aren’t going off on a racist diatribe against Mexicans) refuse to deal with the point that in our neighborhood, the fat chick who lives next door can as easily allow us the pleasure of her company or she can roll over and crush us. Canada is in the unenviable position of existing thanks to our neighbors to the south.
    While we may not agree with their laws we have to respect them. Marc Emery discovered that flaunting the laws of the US from Canada does not give you a pass.
    It is not our responsibility in Canada to try to right the worlds wrongs from the safety within our own borders, nor can we. Our moral code differs from everyone else’s. But if you choose throw the doors open to people who choose to break the laws of their country of origin and had the wherewithal to run away, just because we may disagree with their laws then you are really just inviting Canada to become a safe haven for drug dealers, paedophiles, brigands and army deserters.
    Good luck with that…. I’ll be long gone.

  54. Are we playing Jeopardy now?
    He said “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it’s natural manure.”

  55. James – Sometimes I don’t understand where you’re coming from at all and other times you make complete sense. You make some good and fresh points here. And your comment to Johnson made me lol.

    Lebowski – I’m pretty sure even if you’re conscripted in the US you have the option of making a conscientious objector claim and/or request non-combatant service in the military or alternative service contributing in some way to national health & safety. I think that was a post-Vietnam thing.

    Friar/Lebowski – I think he was Copernicus’ evil twin who stole that quote from Thomas Jefferson.

  56. I’m not well-versed on this topic, but I’ll throw in my two cents.

    These people who vacated their posts will have to live with their decision. I understand the whole idea of commitment and them having volunteered, though they clearly did not know themselves well enough, nor what was involved. It makes me wonder why they signed up in the first place. And then I also wonder if they had stayed, how effective they would have been in their duties. Maybe they did everyone a favour. Who knows.

  57. Davina,

    You are right, of course. We all have to live with our own decisions, and no one but the individual has the right to judge whether or not it is the right decision.

    Commitment comes in many forms, too (to your job, to your spouse, to the military) – and people change, as they age, as they process new information. How is this any different from someone leaving a job that no longer means anything to them, or a marriage that is broken?

    I mean, it’s not like 30 percent of the standing army is abandoning the post here. It’s pretty minimal, compared with (say) marriages breaking down…

  58. Brett,
    When I first read this I found myself comparing their “walk-out” to workers going on strike. Okay, so maybe some people might laugh here (I’m a bit naive here, I admit), and again, I know nothing of the politics involved. But that’s what it sounded like to me. I suppose the magnitude or intensity of the concept of “war” has magnified this; as well it should, I guess.

    What gets me, and I guess this is one reason why I’ve never enjoyed debates, is one side taking a stand against the other, and how the whole idea of right and wrong divides people. I think I’ll go live with the bears… they’re much more docile, lol.

  59. Davina,

    Exactly – that’s why I feel we don’t really have the right to say anything about these people. We don’t understand them, or their motivations. People change when they acquire new information.

    There are a lot of decisions I would have made differently 20 years ago (20 minutes ago?) had I known what I know now, and only I know whether it will sit right with me or not. Only I must live with the consequences of my decision.

  60. Friar,
    You have misplaced your punctuation, lol. The period should be INSIDE the bracket. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.) 😀

  61. Now, I know what you might be thinking; “this is a troll”. You can either choose to believe what I’m about to tell you or disregard it, your choice.

    One of the more pervasive assumptions is that we are here illegally. That is fallacy. I have legal standing in Canada. I have a job. I pay taxes. I contribute to Canadian society.

    Now, on to my personal reasonings.
    I served twice in the middle east. (I’m going to try to keep this vague to protect my identity somewhat, because I don’t know you people, no offence. Depending on the reception this post gets I may reveal it at some point.) I worked with and around detainees. People detained under the US Military Commissions Act. People the US illegally detained. Someone (who I can’t be bothered to look up at the moment) quoted my oath of enlistment, “to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States… against all enemies; foreign and domestic”. Now, that oath meant a lot to me when I took it, but detaining people outside of the provisions of the Geneva Conventions is contrary to not only International Law, but also US law. This is due to a clause in the Constitution that states that any treaty (including the UN Charter and the Geneva Conventions) becomes “supreme law of the land” in the US. Now for me to continue in my work with these detainees is breaking TWO sets of laws, and the very Constitution I swore to protect.

    I tried to get out of the military.
    I really did.
    Three different times.
    Once under a medical separation due to PTSD, once under a “streamlining” of the forces, and once via a C.O. app.
    They were all turned down at a squadron level by my commander. Not considered; thrown out.

    I joined because I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to do some good. So I enlisted at 17. (Before we invaded Iraq.)
    Riddle me this; how is it that you can’t 1) vote; 2) get married; 3) gamble; 4)drink; 5) buy a house; or a variety of other things because you aren’t “mature enough” but you can sign your soul over to the US military?

    Finally; here’s the exact reason I left:
    I hated myself. I was doing harm to people that had never harmed me. I was lied to, belittled, used, and uncared for. I had no problem being a tool of the state. That’s what soldiers are; instruments of the state. But at a certain point when you have been misused as a tool, you break.

    Now the Canadian Government has very strict guidelines to follow in regards to the treatment and processing of refugee claimants.

    From the United Nation’s High Commissioner’s Handbook on Refugees (The Law.):

    “169. A deserter or draft-evader may also be considered a refugee if it can be shown that he would suffer disproportionately severe punishment for the military offence on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion. The same would apply if it can be shown that he has well-founded fear of persecution on these grounds above and beyond the punishment for desertion.
    170. There are, however, also cases where the necessity to perform military service may be the sole ground for a claim to refugee status, i.e. when a person can show that the performance of military service would have required his participation in military action contrary to his genuine political, religious or moral convictions, or to valid reasons of conscience.
    171. Not every conviction, genuine though it may be, will constitute a sufficient reason for claiming refugee status after desertion or draft-evasion. It is not enough for a person to be in disagreement with his government regarding the political justification for a particular military action. Where, however, the type of military action, with which an individual does not wish to be associated, is condemned by the international community as contrary to basic rules of human conduct, punishment for desertion or draft-evasion could, in the light of all other requirements of the definition, in itself be regarded as persecution.
    172. Refusal to perform military service may also be based on religious convictions. If an applicant is able to show that his religious convictions are genuine, and that such convictions are not taken into account by the authorities of his country in requiring him to perform military service, he may be able to establish a claim to refugee status. Such a claim would, of course, be supported by any additional indications that the applicant or his family may have encountered difficulties due to their religious convictions.
    173. The question as to whether objection to performing military service for reasons of conscience can give rise to a valid claim to refugee status should also be considered in the light of more recent developments in this field. An increasing number of States have introduced legislation or administrative regulations whereby persons who can invoke genuine reasons of conscience are exempted from military service, either entirely or subject to their performing alternative (i.e. civilian) service. The introduction of such legislation or administrative regulations has also been the subject of recommendations by international agencies.24 In the light of these developments, it would be open to Contracting States, to grant refugee status to persons who object to performing military service for genuine reasons of conscience.”

    The bottom line is that Canada is a signatory to this, and therefore must uphold it. Hope this was at least helpful.


  62. @”Deserter”.

    Wow. That’s a poweful story.

    Thanks…it certainly sheds a bit more light on the subject, when hearing a different point of view.

  63. From this article:

    “Desertion is an offence in Canada under the National Defence Act,” says the notice, issued July 22.

    “The maximum punishment for desertion under section 88 of the (National Defence Act) is life imprisonment, if the person committed the offence on active service or under orders for active service. Consequently, persons who have deserted the military in their country of origin may be inadmissible to Canada.”

    Just some food for thought. The article points to our own defense act, but given you won’t be permitted to cross the border if you’ve been convicted in the US of a federal offense according to Canadian law–DUI, for instance, it’s something to consider.