Friday, July 11, 2008

Facts do matter, war resistance should grasp that

Vietnam-era draft dodgers were breaking the law, but at least they could claim to be avoiding conscription. Today's U.S. soldiers and reserves are volunteers, who enlist knowing full well that they could be sent overseas and into combat. Military recruiters don't hide this detail. In return for their service, volunteers often get substantial education and other benefits. Fulfilling their service tour is part of the deal.
War is hell, and no doubt some of these deserters are responding to the trauma of their experience. But a military can't succeed in its mission if soldiers can decide on their own when and whether to obey orders. The Army officially describes desertion or going AWOL as "crimes that not only affect the soldier, but in a time of war, put other soldiers' lives at risk. Not only do these crimes go against Army values, they degrade unit readiness." This is why, in previous eras, deserters were simply shot.
The Harper government's decision to send the Yanks home shows respect for the U.S. military and our rule of law. It also honors those Canadians who are serving, and dying, as part of the NATO force in Afghanistan. American deserters need to return and face their responsibilities.

The above is the Wall St. Journal's editorial "AWOL in Canada." Is it correct? To listen to today's 'movement,' it is. Repeatedly we have noted that Canada welcomed war resisters. Over and over. Just last night, we were walking through it again. If the 'movement' would wake the hell up, then we could all laugh at the Wall St. Journal for getting it so wrong. Those of us who have TOLD THE TRUTH still can laugh. But a lot of people can't. Because they have LIED over and over. They have refused to tell the truth. Then there are people who feel they can be 'leaders' without ever bothering to learn what happened. That's the sort of 'leader' I want flying the plane home tomorrow, a 'leader' who decides to be a pilot and feels no need to study! (Yes, that was sarcasm.) The 'movement' has had five years to get their act together and they still can't. The Wall St. Journal is wrong. But not a lot of people can point that out because they've spent the last five years stamping their feet and insisting, "Well Canada welcomed draft dodgers!" Yes, little children (and old people who blew their brains on drugs), Canada did. And yes, it also welcomed deserters. And that last one, that's the one that applies to today. That's the one the 'movement' should have been stressing for five years instead of WASTING everyone's time with talk about the draft. A draft that is no more.

By repeatedly ignoring that Canada welcomed BOTH deserters and draft dodgers, the 'movement' has created this nonsense argument. Again, they've had FIVE YEARS to get their damn act together and still can't. They can't tell you what Ford did and what Carter did. They apparently love them some Jimmy so they give him credit for things HE DID NOT DO. Facts be damned.

In fact, if today's 'movement' has a slogan, that's probably it: "Facts be damned."

I'm really sorry that today's 'movement' thought they could get by without facts, thought there was no need to educate themselves or others.

This isn't the only editorial in the US that's been discussed. It's just the first to make it into print. More may follow.

Five years the 'movement' has wasted. Five years of gas bagging about a draft -- when there is no draft today. Five years of insisting that Canada took in draft dodgers -- when there are no draft dodgers today. Five years of blathering on about crap that doesn't matter.

The only point today's 'movement' should have made regarding Canada granting asylum to today's war resisters was: "They should because they welcomed deserters during Vietnam."

That's not a difficult sentence. And, unlike what the 'movement' offers today, it is factually correct.

Factually correct.

Facts are facts.

But prepare for the stupidity, here's "Most Canadians say: Let war resisters stay" (Northumberland Today):

As a member of the Individual Ready Reserve, Glass could still be recalled to active duty, possibly in Iraq, at any time until July 2010 and be forced to serve past that date, through the "stop loss" program.
Often described as the "back-door draft", stop-loss legislation allows the U. S. military to unilaterally extend soldiers' contracts for an indefinite period of time (in one case, for over 25 years), even after they have already completed their required tour of duty. Many other resisters in Canada also face a fate similar to Glass's if the Harper government continues to ignore Parliament and the majority of Canadians.

They are wrong. Corey Glass is wrong. From another article (the one noted last night that we're not linking to because it's one error after another), Glass is quoted stating, "My MOS (Military Occupation Specialty) typically gets stop-lossed because of the nature of the job that I was trained to do. And we get stop-lossed a lot." "We" may but there's no indication that Corey Glass was. What he thinks has happened is that he may be in the IRR. The IRR is not stop-loss.

By his own statements of what he thinks has happened to him, Corey Glass has not been stop-lossed. (He signed up in 2002 -- an 8-year contract presumably which would mean his contracts hasn't expired.) By his own statements, he appears to have been placed in the IRR.

Elaine was going to grab this topic but now 'editorial boards' are repeating this LIE so we have to address it here. (She'll still address it tonight.)

Someone should have taken him aside and explained the facts to him. If he's unable to grasp the facts, keep him away from the press.

Camilo Mejia was stop-lossed. Before his contract expired, right before, he was informed he had been stop-lossed and was being extended.

The IRR is not "stop-loss." The IRR has a long history. After you are discharged, you are in the IRR. The IRR is being abused for a number of reasons today -- including the fact that the Iraq War is not a national emergency. But Corey Glass was not stop-lossed and floating the possibility that he might be -- might be! -- is as much a waste of time as all the other nonsense. And some editorial board wants to make a case on he might be stop-lossed? Are the facts too much work? Is it just so much better to 'invent' and 'create'? Heaven forbid anyone deal with the actual facts and merits, right?

He deserted with time still on his contract. He signed up in 2002, he deserted in 2006. He may now be in the IRR (he may not be). He has not been stop-lossed.

Facts are facts.

Here's Tom Squitieri's "Army expanding 'stop loss' order to keep soldiers from leaving" (January 5, 2004, USA Today) reporting on stop-loss:

The Army will announce as early as Tuesday new orders that will forbid thousands of soldiers from leaving the service after they return this year from Iraq, Afghanistan and other fronts in the war against terrorism, defense officials said Monday.
The "stop loss" orders mean personnel who could otherwise leave the military when their volunteer commitments expire will be forced to remain to the end of their overseas deployments and up to another 90 days after they come home. "Stop movement" orders also bar soldiers from moving to new assignments during the restricted period. The orders do not extend any unit's stay overseas.
Although the orders cover all the approximately 160,000 returning troops, the Army said it estimates only about 7,000 of the returnees will have their time in the service involuntarily extended. Most deployed soldiers are not affected because they have service obligations that extend beyond their current deployments, Army Col. Elton Manske, chief of the Army's Enlisted Division, said Monday.
"This decision is really being driven by the readiness of units and the absolute intent to keep the units themselves intact down to as low as the squad and crew level, so we are assured of putting the best fighting force on the battlefield," Manske said.

That's stop-loss. Your contract is not up, you have not been discharged. Individual Ready Reserve is what Adam Kokesh, Cloy Richards and others were in when the military tried to crack down on them. They had been discharged. They were in the IRR. It's the same thing with Matthis Chiroux currently. The IRR and stop-loss are two different policies.

Corey Glass was in the National Guard, he falls under the army. You can click here for the army's policies re: IRR. In Canada and in the US, Corey Glass has been called a liar because the army says he is discharged and not a deserter. If Corey Glass' status changed, it changed without his knowledge. Glass did not lie on that. But when he then appears to not know the difference between stop-loss and IRR, he just invites laughter from the right-wing -- begs for it. And some 'leader' in the Canadian 'movement' should have sat him down and explained it to him. In the US especially, pro-war bloggers with military experience will pounce on his statements. They will go to town on him. He invited it. No one needs speculation about what might happen after 2010. Since Glass wasn't smart enough to take the army's claim (true or false) and build a case for staying in Canada with that, his whole story is speculation after the point he self-checks out. You don't need to pile on further speculation by saying "And, this one time, at IRR camp, they said that in two years, I might be stop-lossed."

And the 'movement' invites nonsense arguments. Wall St. Journal is unaware that deserters were welcomed in Canada during Vietnam, neither's the bulk of the 'movement' and neither is Courtney Whalen. From Whalen's "Orillians rally for U. S. war resisters: Group urges Ottawa to let ex-soldiers remain in Canada" (The Packet and Times):

While he said he empathizes with the war resisters, Stanton said the situation Canada is facing today is different than that of the Vietnam War, when individuals had no choice about joining the military. At that time, Canada welcomed so-called draft dodgers.
"There is a process there they can go through to become conscientious objectors," said Stanton.
He will present the Orillia and Midland petitions to the House of Commons when it resumes in the fall.
"I think it's a political issue that's worth spreading the news," said Vivien Abbott. "I think there are quite a number of us who don't feel it's worth sacrificing some principles for showing friendship to the Bush administration."

Do we need to repeat it? Canada welcomed deserters. The draft made no difference -- Canada didn't have a draft. During Vietnam -- draft dodger or deserter, you could get asylum in Canada (after 1969) and there was no, "You're a deserter? Well did you freely enlist or were you drafted?" questions. It didn't matter. How many times is the 'movement' going to play AND be stupid? This should have been established in 2003. It should have been established in 2004. It is 2008 and the 'movement' still hasn't provided the basic education required to fight that revisionary lie. History is on war resisters in Canada's side. The truth is on their side. It's too damn bad the 'movement' isn't on their side. All this time later and the lie continues.

Dee Knight's "Canadian court reopens door for U.S. war resisters" (Workers World):

A Canadian court on July 4 ordered Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board to review U.S. war resister Joshua Key’s claim for asylum. In a ruling that could affect many other U.S. war resisters, the court said, "Military action which systematically degrades, abuses or humiliates either combatants or non-combatants is capable of supporting a refugee claim."

The court concluded that the Immigration and Refugee Board imposed "a too restrictive legal standard" on Key. In a clear statement affecting other U.S. war resisters, the court also found that "similarly situated individuals" should have their refugee claims reviewed.

Key's lawyer, Jeffry House, said the ruling is "a huge victory for numerous soldiers who are here [in Canada] and maybe others who are thinking of coming here." House himself is a Vietnam-era war resister. A spokeswoman for Canadian Immigration Minister Diane Finley said her ministry was reviewing the court decision, which adds another layer of pressure to let the war resisters stay.

The decision could not come at a better time. A large-scale campaign is under way in both Canada and the U.S. to press the Canadian government to stop the deportation of Corey Glass, slated for July 10. Glass would be the first U.S. war resister to be deported from Canada. The Toronto-based War Resisters Support Campaign has led a massive effort in Canada to force the Canadian government to stop his deportation and respect a majority vote in Parliament on June 3 that called on the government to stop deportation of U.S. war resisters and let them stay permanently.

A national poll in June showed that 64 percent of Canadians favor letting the war resisters stay. Meanwhile, in the U.S., vigils and demonstrations are taking place at Canadian consulates in 14 cities, organized by Courage to Resist, Veterans For Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War and Project Safe Haven.

Elliott Adams, the national president of Veterans For Peace, will visit the Canadian Embassy in Washington July 10 to deliver an "Open Letter to the Canadian People and their Government." The letter says, in part:

"U.S. soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen who have refused to participate in this war have shown great moral courage. Unlike many governments around the world, these war resisters are respecting international law and following their own consciences. They witnessed war crimes with their own eyes. They were sickened by the racist attitudes that the U.S. military fostered toward the Iraqi people. Some are struggling with the psychological wounds of war, commonly known as Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.

"So it is from the bottom of our hearts that we thank the many Canadians who have sheltered our war resisters," the letter says, and concludes with a strong demand that the Canadian government respect the Parliamentary vote and the will of the Canadian people, and let the war resisters stay.

Joshua Key went to Canada with his wife Brandi and their four small children following 16 months living underground in the United States after he decided not to return to Iraq. He served as a combat engineer in Iraq for eight months in 2003. His book, "The Deserter's Tale," has been an international best seller. He said he and his family have felt support from "about 95 percent of the Canadian people."

Key's lawyer, Jeffry House, said there are about 200 U.S. war resisters in Canada now. While that is "no comparison to the later period of the Vietnam War," he said, it does compare with the early Vietnam War period. "Early on during Vietnam there were only a small number, but later the doors opened more widely," he said. "By November 1969 [Canadian Prime Minister] Trudeau declared Canada 'should be a refuge from militarism,' and the doors opened and people flooded in." More than 50,000 U.S. war resisters found refuge--or a new home--in Canada during the Vietnam War.
According to Gerry Condon of Project Safe Haven, making it possible for war resisters to stay in Canada is an integral part of building the GI resistance.
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I'm dictating this around links I put in earlier. And really want to be done with it. But it needs to be noted that Workers World has been one of the few outlets to get it right throughout. That's because they have a historical basis and background. And no need or desire for political closets. In a nation that treats Communism like a dirty word (now more than ever), Workers World has demonstrated the power in that political party and the knowledge in the party as well. It's that knowledge base -- and the efforts to share it -- that help explain why Workers World does not make the same repeated mistakes that so many other outlets do.

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