Friday, October 19, 2007

Kyle Knight explores the draft, Michael Espinal goes public

First, all 20 year-olds must report to their local draft board then 21, 22, and so on. Other aspects of the draft also differ from Vietnam. The S.S.S. states that no one can cite school as a possible deferment.
At most, the student could postpone until the end of the semester and not until they finish their degree. Also, the S.S.S. no longer men to carry the draft card with them.
The Vietnam War marked the last introduction of a draft.
Some, including, instructor of Rhetoric and Composition, Kenneth Johnson, who teaches "Impact of the 60's" at USI, believes parallels between Vietnam and today exist.
"During the time of the Vietnam War, we saw powerful, corporate, conservative groups and people overtake the political agendas both by claiming the moral high ground and seeking to stifle conversation. We see those same tactics employed today."
Although eligible himself, Johnson did not have to fight in Vietnam. Often to avoid the draft, men chose to cite conscientious objector, which the S.S.S. constitutes anyone that expresses beliefs that conflict with war.
The S.S.S. states "beliefs which qualify a registrant for C.O. status may be religious in nature, but don't have to be.
Beliefs may be moral or ethical; however, a man's reasons for not wanting to participate in a war must not be based on politics, expediency, or self-interest."
To claim conscientious objector you must appear before your local draft board and present a written statement on the influence of your beliefs on your life and how you arrived at them.
You can even include someone to speak on your behalf, then the Selective Service Appeal Board will either reject or accept your claim. If accepted you must engage in one of two alternative service choices. You might receive a job with a local employer judged "to make a meaningful contribution to the maintenance of the national health, safety and interest." If your beliefs allow you to serve in the military, then the military will place you in an area of the Armed Forces without weapons.
During Vietnam, Johnson said, "many who opposed the war believed the government's decision to press the war breached the laws of the United State, and they believed that claim deserved a public hearing."

The above is from Kyle Knight's "If there were a draft. . ." (University of Southern Indiana's The Shield) in which Knight looks at the laws and policies already in place to determine what would happen should the US government reinstate the draft. File it under just another apathetic student today. That was sarcasm. Students are not apathetic and were not apathetic when all the desk jockeys dusted off the decades old columns to push that lie. Of course, the obvious apathy of the desk jockeys was never examined. Just another issue not to be raised. The same way the desk jockeys refuse to raise the issue of war resisters. But without coverage from our alleged independent media, the number of war resisters continues to grow. Despite The Nation's continued silence on the topic, the word get outs. Another war resister goes public to the press today. From Denis St. Pierre's "'I decided I wasn't going to jail'; U.S. Army deserter comes to Sudbury as conscientious objector" (The Sudbury Star):

Four years ago, living in poverty and trying to work his way through university, Michael Espinal took the gamble of his life. And lost.
"I knew there was a 50-50 chance," Espinal says of his perceived odds of being sent to Iraq once he joined the United States Army in late 2003.
But the benefits of enlisting proved too tempting to resist, says Espinal, at the time a 23-year-old resident of Miami, Fla., struggling to pay for college while bouncing from one low-wage job to another. The army offered not only a steady paycheque, but two veritable luxuries for low-income American youth - paid university tuition and medical insurance, he says.
"I didn't care for the army, but what caught my eye was that they pay for your school and they give you (health) insurance," says Espinal, now 27.
"They were offering what nobody else was offering at the time and I jumped on it."
It wasn't long after Espinal completed basic training that his hopes of avoiding combat faded. Within a few months of enlisting, he was stationed in Kuwait and bracing for the inevitable. By fall 2004, he found himself in the middle of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
For the next several months, Espinal says, he was involved in some of the U.S. Army's most-destructive and deadliest activity in Iraq - in Baghdad, Ramadi and Fallujah. He says he witnessed - and participated in - authorized missions that saw hundreds - perhaps thousands - of innocent Iraqis killed, injured, imprisoned and humiliated, their homes destroyed, their families ripped apart.
In Espinal's view, he and his colleagues committed numerous human rights abuses and criminal acts. When his first tour of duty in Iraq ended, he resolved not to return.
As a result, Espinal now is taking another life-altering gamble. Having deserted the military rather than return to Iraq, he is again testing the odds by seeking refugee status in Canada. If his claim fails, he faces deportation and imprisonment in the U.S.
Espinal and his partner, Jennifer Harrison, who are expecting their first child in April, have been living in Sudbury for the last few weeks. They are the first Americans to attempt to settle in the city with help from the War Resisters Support Campaign.
War Resisters is a country-wide coalition of community, faith, labour and other organizations and individuals helping U.S. soldiers who seek asylum in Canada rather than fight in Iraq.

Meanwhile, despite all the talk of the price of oil a barrel about to drop -- in hours, they claimed daily -- AP notes, "Wall Street tipped toward a lower open Friday as crude oil crossed $90 a barrel for the first time and heightened concerns that more expensive fuel will hurt both businesses and consumers." Other people's misery is big business. While some may worry about the fatalities from a battle in northern Iraq, others see it as time to make a few more blood dollars.

In grading the failed escalation,James Glanz "Head of Reconstruction Teams in Iraq Reports Little Progress Throughout Country" (New York Times) covers the report issued by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction which has found: "Attempts by American-led reconstruction teams to forge political reconciliation, foster economic growth and build an effective police force and court system in Iraq have failed to show significant progress in nearly every one of the nation's provincial regions and in the capital, a federal oversight agency reported on Thursday." That's Glanz' summary of the report. David Wood's "Report says buildup in Iraq gained little" (Baltimore Sun) also addresses the report:

The study, based on the assessments of dozens of U.S. military and civilian officials working at local levels across Iraq, runs counter to the optimistic forecasts by the top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, and Ambassador Ryan Crocker. It said that with the exception of Anbar province, there has been "little progress" toward political reconciliation, a key U.S. goal in Iraq.

On the same topic, Lloyd notes Karen DeYoung's "Reconstruction In Iraq at a Crawl, Auditor Reports" (Washington Post):

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has described the teams as the front line in the administration's "bottom up" strategy of developing local governance even as sectarian divides have stymied political reconciliation on the national level. As the number of U.S. military forces in Iraq increased earlier this year, Rice doubled the number of reconstruction teams, boosting their overall cost through this fiscal year to $2 billion.
The need to work on the local level -- as opposed to the massive and largely unsuccessful infrastructure projects that characterized initial U.S. reconstruction efforts -- has been described by Rice as an important "lesson learned" during four years in Iraq.
Bowen agreed, telling the oversight subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee that "if the story of Iraq reconstruction tells anything, teaches any lesson, it is that the U.S. government was not well structured . . . in 2003 to engage in the kind of post-conflict relief and reconstruction operations we have faced."

Which the report issued yesterday says was unsuccessful. Translation, the 'answer' pushed has not yieleded results. The escalation produced nothing. (The escalation was supposed to provide the time and space for the US controlled puppet government to make strides. That didn't happen.)

Meanwhile, what's it like to be attacked in your own neighborhood, to ask your local sheik for help, to see your children slaughtered as you attempt to visit the sheik and, when you make it to the sheik, you discover "some of the same people who had kidnapped their sons a few hours earlier and realized that they had been betrayed." Alissa J. Rubin's "Shiite Refugees Feel Forsake in Their Holy City" (New York Times) which tells the story of one family making up the internally displaced in Iraq. The focus is on Najaf which may have seen a population increase as high as 400,000 as a result of displacement.

A10 of the article refers to "More than 1.1 million Iraqis have been internally displaced" and that is, hopefully, a typo. The United Nations estimates the number of internally displaced is 2.2 million and the same amount is estimated to be displaced externally -- with 60,000 more added each month.

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