Friday, July 18, 2008

Robin Long and James Burmeister

Michael Crawford, the NDP candidate for the riding, said it was unfortunate Immigration Canada and Canadian Border Services Agency decided to deport Long.
He said the refusal by the Conservative government to step in and stop the deportation goes against the will of Parliament.
In June, the House of Commons passed a non-binding motion to allow such individuals to become permanent residents in Canada and stop the deportation cases of those already in the country.
All three opposition parties supported the motion; the Tories did not.
Crawford said it's another example of how Prime Minister Stephen Harper cannot be trusted.
"We have a government in Canada hell-bent on pleasing the American administration," he said.
Crawford called on the ministers of public safety and immigration to order immigration and border services to stop exercising deportation orders.
He said war resisters like Long don't believe their county should be involved in Iraq, noting Canada also believes the war is illegal.
"If we believe it’s an illegal war, why should we not give some form of sanctuary to people who are refusing to go and fight that war?" Crawford asked.

The above is from Jeremy Deutsch "Hinton, Crawford spar on deserter" (Kamloops This Week) and Hinton is Betty Hinton, Conservative MP, defender of attacks of humanity. Robin Long was deported from Canada Tuesday, becoming the first war resister deported from Canada during this war and being deported despite being the father of a Canadian child. Explain that Judge Anne Mctavish, because you will have to. Mctavish's decision to ignore Canadian law puts her into the history books for people to be appalled over for centuries and centuries to come. How proud she must be.

US war resister James Burmeister, who once went to Canada, was court-martialed Wednesday. AP's "Ore. soldier given 6 months, dishonorably discharged" is an improvement on their earlier filing:

He said he was disturbed by a military tactic of planting equipment to lure Iraqis that American snipers could then kill.
Burmeister said he complained to superior officers that the snipers couldn't know for sure whether the people they shot were actually insurgents, or presented any threat to U.S. forces.
Burmeister was later injured by a roadside bomb and sent to Germany to recuperate.

The Oregonian files "Oregon soldier who went AWOL given 6 Months" which includes:

Burmeister said he complained to superior officers that the snipers couldn't know for sure whether the people they shot were actually insurgents or presented any threat to U.S. forces.
Eventually, the soldier from Cheshire, near Eugene, was injured by a roadside bomb and sent to Germany to recuperate. While there, he left his unit and went to Canada, where he campaigned against the use of the small kill teams.

The Oregonian broke the news of the kill teams domestically back on July 16, 2007. Mark Larabee's "Soldiers still go over the hill even in an all-volunteer Army" has been reposted at the paper's blog (in full). Any attempting to use the link yesterday and having no luck should click here. From the article:

Burmeister said he started having doubts about going to Iraq when his training focused on combat tactics, how to kill and how to raid buildings. By August 2006, he was a gunner atop a Humvee in Baghdad, about 15 miles south of the fortified Green Zone.
When the team wasn't setting traps, it patrolled areas hoping to draw out the enemy. Burmeister says he hated when they would set out the fake camera.
"As soon as anyone would mess with it, you were supposed to lay waste to them," he said. "I completely disagreed with that tactic. I can't see how that's helping anyone whatsoever."
On Feb. 15, his Humvee hit a bomb, knocking Burmeister unconscious. He lost hearing in his right ear; shrapnel embedded in his face. He was sent to Germany to recover. On May 4, on the eve of being sent back to Iraq, he and his family boarded a plane for Canada.
"I kind of felt stuck," he said. "I thought people needed to be free there. But when I went there it was all about captures and kills and it felt like we messed things up over there.
"This felt like my last option."

Keith Jones' "Canada hands US Iraq war resister over to Pentagon for punishment" (WSWS) explores motives within the Canadian government:

During the Vietnam War more than 50,000 US draft-dodgers and “deserters” found refuge in Canada. Today, however, the Canadian judiciary, immigration board, and government are determined to ensure that the country not become a safe haven for those in the US military who refuse to be party to the US’s wars of aggression in Iraq and Afghanistan.
This is not just because Canada’s elite does not want to rile the Bush administration and US military. The Canadian ruling class is determined to jettison the myth of Canada as a peace-keeping nation—a myth closely bound up with Pearson and Trudeau Liberal governments’ attitude toward the Vietnam War and decision to allow Vietnam war resisters to apply for landed immigrant status in Canada--because they see it as cutting across their efforts to revive Canadian militarism and use the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) as a means to assert their predatory interests on the world stage.
Popular feeling in Canada, however, is strongly against the Bush administration and the Iraq war and supportive of the war resisters. An Angus Reid poll, conducted at the beginning of last month, found that two thirds of Canadians favor granting permanent residence status to US Iraq war resisters. In the case of the Afghan War, in which the CAF is a major participant with 2,500 troops stationed in Kandahar, public opinion is more divided. Despite the strong support accorded the war by Canada’s principal political parties and the media, polls have, nevertheless, consistently shown that a majority of Canadians favor the withdrawal of Canadian troops.
In an attempt to curry favor with the public, the opposition parties combined at the end of May to pass a non-binding resolution urging the minority Conservative government, one of Washington's most fervent allies, to allow Iraq war resisters to remain in Canada. The resolution, which was co-sponsored by Bob Rae, the erstwhile social-democrat and Liberal foreign affairs critic, and by Olivia Chow, the wife of NDP leader Jack Layton, was adopted by 137 to 100. It read: "That the government immediately implement a program to allow conscientious objectors and their immediate family members (partners and dependents), who have refused or left military service related to a war not sanctioned by the United Nations and do not have a criminal record, to apply for permanent resident status and remain in Canada; and that the government should immediately cease any removal or deportation actions that may have already commenced against such individuals."
The reference to a "war not sanctioned by the United Nations" served a double purpose. It avoided the politically explosive question of the patently illegal character of the US's invasion of Iraq and denied legitimacy to, and support for asylum for, Afghan War resisters, whether in the US or Canada.
The Liberals' support for the motion was very much a means for it to try to put some distance between itself and the Conservatives, after it had combined forces with the government to extend the CAF’s leading role in the counter-insurgency war in Afghanistan until at least the end of 2011. Nor should it be forgotten that it was under the Liberal government of Paul Martin that the Canadian state initiated the drive to expel the war resisters and that the Liberal government intervened at the very first refugee hearing to make clear its support for their being returned for punishment in the US, when it successfully argued for the exclusion of all arguments relating to the war's illegality.
See Also:
Iraq war commander named head of Canada's military[9 June 2008]
"Big Boy" Canada demands changes in Afghan government[18 April 2008]
Canada's Liberals support war and social reaction [22 March 2008]

Meanwhile Stefanie Fisher offers "Canada deports U.S. war resister" (Party for Socialism and Liberation):

In brief
On July 15, Robin Long became the first Iraq war resister to be deported from Canada back to the United States.
In 2005, Long went to Canada because he would not fight in an "illegal war of aggression." Like thousands of young recruits, Long discovered that the Iraq war was based on lies only after he had joined the military.
The court denied Long sanctuary based on a so-called "lack of evidence" that he would face harsh treatment if he were sent back to the United States. The court was fully aware that Long would be unjustly tried as a deserter, could face prison time and be deployed to Iraq against his will.
As an example to others, on July 16, James Burmeister, a resister who turned himself over to the U.S. government was sentenced to 9 months in jail and dishonorably discharged.
Protests in the U.S. and Canada have demanded sanctuary for Iraq war resisters. Two-thirds of Canadians believe that war resisters should be allowed to stay in Canada.
--Articles can be reprinted with credit to the Party for Socialism and Liberation--

A confused Ralph Moore writes into the Orilla Packet & Times:

It is my understanding that Resolution 1511 adopted by the United Nations Security Council on Oct. 16, 2003, makes the Iraq war legal since that resolution authorizes a multinational force under unified command to take all necessary measures to contribute to the maintenance of security and stability in Iraq.
In addition, on Dec. 28, 2007, the Security Council extended the mandate of those foreign forces until Dec. 31, 2008.
Therefore, that being the case, war objectors or deserters can't use the excuse that this war is illegal after Oct. 16, 2003.

Does Ralph think the illegal war started on or after October 16, 2003? The UN resolution was not about the war, it was about the occupation. Know your facts, Ralph, or just keep inviting the world to laugh and laugh freely.

Turning to another Ralph, Ralph Nader who is running for president of the United States. Megan notes this from Team Nader:

Nader on Obama/Israel

Nader on Obama/Israel .

Last week, we set a fundraising goal of $60,000 by Sunday July 20 midnight - to put Nader/Gonzalez on the ballot in a total of 15 states.

In one week, we have raised $44,000.

Now, we need your help to raise the remaining $16,000 over the next three days - by Sunday midnight.

Donate - See your name in lights.If only 8,000 of you, our loyal supporters, donate $2 now, we will meet this goal.

Why is it important to have Ralph Nader on the ballot in November?

Without him, the plight of the Palestinian people will not be an issue in this year's election.

How do we know?

Because Obama/McCain stand with the militaristic right wing AIPAC lobby in the United States.

Nader/Gonzalez stand with the Israeli/Palestinian peace movements.

You will be hearing a lot this weekend about Obama's upcoming trip to the Middle East.

Nader on Obama/IsraelTo keep Obama's trip in perspective, check out our new video - Nader on Obama/Israel - here.

Pass it around to friends and family this weekend.

It is also important to keep in mind that Obama is to the right of some Mossad Israeli hawks. (See recent Mother Jones article here.)

Even these Mossad Israeli hawks - along with the majority of the Israeli people - would open talks with Hamas.

Obama/McCain would not.

Nader/Gonzalez would reverse U.S. policy in the Middle East.

Obama/McCain would not.

We stand with the courageous Israeli and Palestinian peace movements.

We stand against the AIPAC militarists.

So, if you care about peace in the Middle East.

Please help us out today.

To meet our goal by Sunday night.

Together, we are making a difference.


The Nader Team

PS: We invite your comments to the blog.

Your contribution could be doubled. Public campaign financing may match your contribution total up to $250.


And Amanda notes this from Lance Selfa's "Obama's entrance exam" (US Socialist Worker):

Obama is already a member of one of the world's most exclusive clubs, the U.S. Senate. He has already collected hundreds of millions of dollars from Silicon Valley and Wall Street--despite his campaign's pretensions of being a grassroots effort. With the exception of his open somersault on the telecomm immunity bill, his other "moves to the center" aren't really that far from the already very cautious and "bipartisan" positions that have been central to his campaign's message.
By way of defending Obama from Republican charges of "flip-flopping" on his pledge to withdraw troops from Iraq, Countdown with Keith Olbermann guest host Rachel Maddow on July 7 showed multiple video clips of Obama making the same hedges about assessing the "situation on the ground" during the primary campaign.
Although Maddow was trying to show Obama in a positive light--that Obama's recent statements on Iraq were just a restatement of his longstanding position--anyone paying attention could have concluded that Obama's "antiwar" position isn't so antiwar at all. But it is the "responsible" position that most of the Washington elite outside of the discredited Bush/neocon cabal endorses and is counting on Obama to implement.

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