With the Canadian Supreme court refusing to hear the appeals of war resisters Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey, the hopes are now pinned on a legislative solution. Vic notes Matt Mernagh's "Soldiers’ uncertain future" (Canada's NOW magazine):
In the wake of the court ruling, NDP MP Olivia Chow, supported by the Bloc, attempted to pass a motion in the Standing Committee on Immigration and Citizenship on Tuesday, November 20, granting special immigration status to Iraq war resisters.
But led by MP Jim Karygiannis, committee Liberals were obviously unable to find their inner Trudeau. They moved deferral of Chow's motion and replaced it with a successful motion to hold hearings on the matter before the year is out. (Liberal committee members and a spokesperson for Stéphane Dion did not respond to calls.)
The good news is that war resisters and supporters will be given an opportunity to testify, something resister and Toronto resident Phil McDowell, who attended the committee meeting, is looking forward to.
"We'll give them an understanding of what we're doing here. I think we can make a great case," says McDowell, who served in Iraq for a year but made his way to Canada when he was deployed again.
It's not clear, though, whether this will make any difference for Hinzman and Hughey. Resister lawyer Jeffry House says it'll be six months or so before the two are "put in chains and forcibly removed." Their last legal formality will be a risk assessment to determine if they'll be tortured or put to death if returned to U.S. military custody.
The final removal order has to be signed by the minister of immigration and citizenship, but some hold out hope that in the months ahead that might not be the current minister, Diane Finley.
"There could be a whole new government," says an optimistic Chow.
And we'll also note the magazine's "How can we resist?: We can't call ourselves peacekeepers if we reject the ultimate soldiers of peace" by Michael Hollett:
Thousands of Yank turn-the-other-cheekers enriched the Canadian scene by bringing their heightened morality and love of fellow men and women north. CBC Radio morning man Andy Barry is just one of the two-way success stories that saw an American on the run get a fresh start and this country gain an enthusiastic and talented new citizen.
We've already reached the "Nam film" stage of the indefensible imperialist invasion that masquerades as a war on terrorism when filmmakers like Brian De Palma direct inevitable Hollywood testaments to mad plans in Iraq gone horribly wrong.
His Redacted, a fictionalized, fact-based account of the rape of a teenage Iraqi girl and the murder of her family at the hands of U.S. soldiers, tells just the kind of story that Hinzman, Hughey and the others want not to be part of.
Many of the current "deserters" joined the U.S. Army shortly after 9/11, believing they would somehow be protecting their nation from further "terrorist attacks." Their commanders didn't dwell on the fact that Saudis, not the Iraqis whose country they were invading, had actually struck at the U.S.
Other "deserters" are simply reservists who joined for weekend duty, exercise and a cheap education, never anticipating serving in a shooting war. These same duped defenders have found themselves automatically "re-upped" with no choice as to whether they would serve again in a war that makes less and less sense.
Brian De Palma's Redacted is playing in selected cities in the US (Texas community members, it opens in Dallas and Houston next Friday -- use the link to see where it is playing and where it's due to open). The points Hollet's making are correct. This isn't about "WE HAVE A DRAFT!" (or, in Canada's case, "THEY HAVE A DRAFT!"). The draft trucked along for years with no major opposition. Eliminating the draft was one of the wins of the peace movement but it and the decision by Pierre Truedeau came about due to an illegal war. Not due to a draft. Today's 'reporting' is so santized that we need film makers like De Palma to tell the realities. Abeer. Who could you count on for that coverage? The New York Times offered the defense of the accused -- before they could present it in court! Before they could present what military law go-to-guy Eugene F. would term a defense never imagined. But somehow the Times could conceive of it before the defense attorneys could even argue it? Get real. I've been arguing with a friend at that crappy paper this morning. The earlier entry has some points, supposedly, Damien Cave was making in a Q&A at the paper's website. Would I link to it? Sure . . . until, while on the phone, I open the paper up and see his nonsense this morning. You know what, I'm sick of the 'bravery' of going on to campuses and getting applause (Dexy Filkins) or giving interviews where you say your outlet is self-censoring (Christiane). You either do your damn job in your job or you don't. Damien Cave allegedly made wonderful points in a question and answer 'online exclusive'. They aren't to be found in his nonsense in the paper today. I was all prepared to give Cave his due. Within the confines of the paper he can be a very effective reporter. But what's in the paper today isn't 'reporting' and I'm not rewarding that nonsense.
Of the Liar of Falluja Dexy Filkins, Christian Parenti once infamously noted that the Dexy of the paper and the Dexy in person were two different people. Well good. I'd hate to think anyone could be as much a liar in person as Dexy was in print. But who cares? Writing what you witness is not a 'column.' It is objective (by the paper's standard), first hand reporting. The fact that you refuse to do that but give a speech that is heard by far fewer people than read your propagnada is of no interest to me. Leaving the Times, who noted Abeer? Robin Morgan. Off Our Backs. Ellen Knickmeyer. USA Today.
Where was The Nation? Where was the 'feminist' columnist at The Nation? Not a word in 2006. In 2007, almost exactly a year later after the gang-rape and murder of Abeer (and the murders of her parents and five-year-old sister) were public knowledge, Katha Pollitt gives a 'shout out' to Abeer in half of a single sentence. The first and, thus far, last time she's bothered to write about it. You've got a monthly column and bill yourself as a feminist and can't make the time for a year to write about the gang-rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl by US soldiers? Give it up, just pack it in because you're little stylistic rants where you play Big Bad Broad Taking On Some Right Wing Author aren't helpful, don't make for good reading and only serve to embarrass yourself and anyone who reads that slop.
Other writers should have written about Abeer. (Alexander Cockburn did.) But if you're the designated 'feminist' columnist, you can't hide behind the fact that others didn't write about it or that you hoped they would. If you're the feminist columnist, this is something you need to weigh in on. It's certainly more worthy of weighing in on than sharing your opinion as a White woman about what the NAACP needs to focus on. But that was another chance to try to 'sizzle' with style while having no intellectual or ethical backing.
The War Crimes are not in question. There have been convictions, there have been guilty pleas. And yet Abeer remains unnoted. Her story remains largely untold and that's by All Things Media Big and Small. These same desk jockeys that refused to cover Abeer are awfully quick to (wrongly) slam students today as "apathetic." Whose apathetic? An over fifty-year-old woman jaw boning through top ten lists (laundry lists) attempting to pass themselves off as columns or students who damn well know the story of Abeer? The apathy is in the desk jockey set not in the students. And they can finger point from their desks all they want but in their own spaces and forums they haven't done a damn thing.
The United States is at war. It's an illegal war. But try to find the lefties who give it time. The fright-wing lands in denial but give them credit for knowing the Iraq War is ongoing. Disagree with them, think they're nuts, whatever. But they fight for the war like it matters. On the left? We've got a lot of useless voices who would rather talk about anything other than the illegal war. A lot of allegedly gifted 'voices' who refuse to use their outlets and alleged gifts to raise awareness. "Well 70% of the people are against the illegal war already!" Oh, okay. Well that certainly excuses your not exploring known war crimes, war crimes that are not in question (with the exception of Steven D. Green who states he is innocent and will be tried in a federal court).
Congress is a do-nothing Congress. No question about it. But we've also got a do-nothing left and that's not the grassroots or students who care passionately about ending the illegal war. That's gas bags with perches they should have been pushed off of a long time ago.
The Nation is of course infamous for the article they so wanted praise for. It managed to piss off all involved. They included centrists veterans and a right-wing front group (PR Watch has identified them as that) and under included the left. But their lousy article managed to piss off every segment that participated. Exactly why The Nation magazine felt they needed to turn in something more suited for The Saturday Evening Post goes to the lack of courage at the top; however, it should be noted that The Saturday Evening Post likely would have run photos of abuse and not just bragged to readers that they had 'dozens' of photos of abuse.
The Nation felt the need to 'protect' their readers from those photos. That's the same lie that keeps the evidence of the Abu Ghraib crimes largely out of the sight of the public since only Congress was allowed to see it in full.
Think we don't have a lousy left? Look no further than those useless cowards running The Nation which won't even use the term "war resister" in print since the handover of the magazine at the top. In January 2009, all their wasted space over the 2008 elections will be meaningless. It's a shame that same energy couldn't have been used to explore the realities of the illegal war. But, as Katrina vanden Heuvel has noted, Bully Boy is good for The Nation. And so is the illegal war. (Less so more and more because the magazine has the worst image on campuses. For a good reason.) It's about time for another one of their indigant yearly editorials about how important ending the illegal war is. Those self-serving, self-righteous editorials never translate into coverage which is why those editorials are seen as little more than sop tossed out to string everyone along a little bit longer.
There's a reason the magazine's been invaded with centrists the same way there's a reason it refuses to address the illegal war. Where's the editorial on war resisters in Canada? Well, as Katrina vanden Heuvel explained in another bad post at her blog, she's for peace and security. Spoken like a gas bag who can't get serious about the illegal war. Let's close with Vincent's highlight, from Scott Harris' "Let war resisters stay" (VUE):
Some have argued that as volunteers, rather than conscripts, the men cannot appeal as conscientious objectors to the war. This argument of course ignores the relatively basic fact that one can oppose a war because of its nature or illegality without necessarily opposing all wars.
Hughey put the argument poignantly in an interview with the San Angelo Standard-Times, saying, "I feel that if a soldier is given an order that he knows to not only be illegal, but immoral as well, then it his responsibility to refuse that order. It is also my belief that if a soldier is refusing an order he knows to be wrong, it is not right for him to face persecution for it."
On everything from war crimes to genocide, governments are adept at retroactive displays of morality, bandying about well-worn phrases such as "never again" long after any opportunity to take action that would actually have any meaningful impact has long since passed.
During the American war in Vietnam, Canada bucked this tendency and made the moral choice to allow tens of thousands of war resisters to stay in the country. It should make the same decision now by making it possible for brave men and women whose consciences will not allow them to participate in their government’s illegal endeavour in Iraq to remain in Canada.
The e-mail address for this site is firstname.lastname@example.org. Isaiah's comic goes up immediately after this entry.
brian de palma