Saturday, September 29, 2007

Another war resister The Nation won't cover

The lie is there is no movement of war resistance. The Peace Resister Katrina vanden Heuvel maintains that lie by refusing to allow The Nation to cover war resisters in print, by refusing to allow the words "war resister" to be used to describe either Camilo Mejia or Aidan Delgado in the embarrassing July article and by writing of the Quaker's peace work without noting that war resistance is not only one of their biggest items today but is also the reason that the American Friends Service Committee was created. It takes a lot of work to be The Peace Resister and possibly that explains why a once readable magazine has fallen.

But they do exist, even if giddy school girls like KvH prefer to write about American Idol, than about them. Fortunately, the world's not populated entirely by giddy school girls.

Patrick Maloney's "London again gives refuge to resister from war in Iraq" (Canada's The London Free Press) explains that Linjam Mull, Matt Lowell and Tim Richard are no longer the only war resisters in London, they've been joined by another, twenty-year-old James Stepp of Dayton, Ohio who came to Canada with his wife Vicki and their children Cheyenne and Tilford.
Stepp thought (because he was told and signed up for) that he would be "driving trucks in Iraq" but, once inducted, "was reassigned to the infantry" and the US military didn't want to discharge him so he began his journey on September 10th. Now they are living with Beth Guthrie (War Resisters Support Campaign) and are applying for refugee status. "Anyone interesting in donating to support the family can e-mail"

But remember, The Peace Resister prefers not to cover these 'types'. Much better to cover the pocketbook issues of the war -- and is anyone surprised by that emphasis on the pocketbook? -- in those oh so rare moments when she remembers an illegal war is ongoing. An earlier article (from yesterday) on James Stepp can be found by clicking here but, sadly, never in the current print edition of The Nation under its current management.

Another war resister in Canada is James Burmeister and he's been avoided by all US independent media. Apparently KvH's cowardice is contagious -- there she is now, entertain us -- which is a real shame because this week's 'big' story about the US utilizing 'kill teams' in Iraq was actually revealed in June of this year by anyone bothering to cover Burmeister. If KvH hadn't issued her royal edict, she could be doing another one of her crowing blog posts where she insists that "We at The Nation" were covering ___ forever ago. The way she did yesterday on Blackwater citing Jeremy Scahill's work but failing to note that the work on Blackwater began while he was at Democracy Now! and that Scahill established his bonafides on the topic long before he moved over to the magazine. Well, if you were in charge of a magazine and running it so badly that "I wish Victor would come back" has been replaced with chatter of "Victor's coming back," you'd want to skirt the truth as well.

Mina Al-Oraibi does what KvH refuses to let anyone at The Nation do, reports on Burmeister today. From "Escaping War: America's Refugee Soldiers" (Asharq Alawsat):

He revealed that going to Iraq last year was his first military combat experience, saying that the suffering he had endured there was unexpected. "It's nothing like what we see in the movies or what we are told. You go looking for trouble and you don’t see it for weeks, then suddenly there is so much chaos," he said in reference to the targeting of US troops in Iraq.
Burmeister arrived in Canada in May 2007 from Germany where he had been in the American military hospital [Landstuhl Regional Medical Center (LRMC)] recovering from an injury he had suffered following a bomb explosion that targeted his convoy in the Iraqi capital. Following three months of lengthy treatment and surgery for a head injury, the US Army issued an order to send Burmeister back to Iraq. "They wanted to send me back there on crutches and taking anti-depressants," he said.
Burmeister spoke at length of the psychological effects the war had on him, saying "I realized how my mind was changing while I was in Iraq, I just wanted to kill. I had to step back, it was frightening."
This is when Burmeister knew that returning to Iraq was not an option. He went to Toronto with his German wife whom he had met during the time he was based in Germany before his first trip to Iraq. After he contacted volunteers from the War Resisters Support Campaign, he relocated to Ottawa where he stayed with a volunteering family since all the houses of the volunteers in Toronto were occupied by other soldiers.
Burmeister feels a certain sense of guilt towards his comrades who remain in Iraq, thinking at times about returning to his country. "Because I feel it's the right thing to do -- even if I face prison or a dishonorable discharge from the army," but added, "I can't go back to the killing."
Burmeister says he refuses to participate in the practices of what he described as "small kill teams", which include "four of five soldiers, with a couple of snipers, who would go out on the streets and put something out, like a camera. Then they'd put a sign out [that said] if anyone touched it, they would be killed. But a lot of these people do not read English, so they would touch it to see what it is, and then they would be shot. [This is justified by] saying the American army has the right to shoot anyone trying to steal its property."

The kill teams. As the illegal war drags on, let's all stop pretending that a fiery editorial once a year qualifies as being part of the peace movement. Victor led the magazine in the opposition to the illegal war. His successor likes to talk "peace and security" when pressed but left to her own inclinations would be dashing off another 16 magazine style gush over American Idol (which -- after the sugar high wore off or was it the circulation high? -- would embarrass even her so she would have hit it 'disappeared' -- it still lives on online). Sadly, Victor running is just a rumor at this point (a hugely repeated one, but still just a rumor).

And a fourth book by a war resister will be published Tuesday. As Elaine noted, "Letters from Ft. Lewis Brig is published October 1st. What is it? Letters from Fort Lewis Brig: A Matter of Conscience by Sergeant Kevin Benderman with Monica Benderman. Kevin Benderman could not continue to fight in the Iraq War after what he witnessed and the military wasn't about to let him go so they created a kangaroo court system with some phony charges. You can read about it in the book and the book comes out on October 1st which is this coming Tuesday. You can check bookstores, order it through the publisher (link at the top of the entry) or online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble or wherever you elect to shop." The book will join Aidan Delgado's The Sutras Of Abu Ghraib: Notes From A Conscientious Objector In Iraq, Camilo Mejia's Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia and Joshua Key's The Deserter's Tale. At some point, The Nation may get around to reviewing one of them. Most likely not.

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like maria said paz