(Guest post by frequent CC commenter Matt Bin who, unlike so many of Canada's whiny Blogging Tories, can comment on topics military while actually knowing something about them. Enjoy.)
This week, the Refugee Board ruled that American war resister and Iraq veteran Corey Glass was not eligible for refugee status. He was ordered to leave Canada within 14 days, or face deportment.
Corey signed up with the National Guard in 2002 as a 20-year-old, hoping to do humanitarian work. In his own words:
When I joined the National Guard, they told me the only way I would be in combat was if there were troops occupying the United States. I signed up to defend people and do humanitarian work filling sandbags if there was a hurricane. ... I should have been in New Orleans, not Iraq.
Yet he was deployed to Iraq in 2005, and when on leave later that year, he attempted to quit the military; when that was unsuccessful, he fled to Canada and applied for refugee status. Since then, the Canadian War Resisters Support Campaign has been working to keep him, and about 100 other known resisters, here in Canada.
His application was denied because the board considering his case did not think he would face severe consequences if he returned to the US. Yet those consequences are -- almost certainly -- time in a military prison and a dishonorable discharge, which is essentially a criminal record. They will rob him of his freedom, and of his livelihood for the rest of his life.
But there is hope for Glass -- and for Canada. The Parliamentary Citizenship and Immigration Committee recently passed a motion to allow American war resisters to stay in Canada. However, that motion has not yet been debated in parliament. At this point, the NDP and Bloc are fully in support of the motion, and the CPC is, surprise, against it. The Liberals... well, again to no one's surprise, they haven't yet decided whether to support the motion or not.
So here's a clear-cut chance to demand that Dion and his party show some backbone, stand up to the CPC, and support the motion to make Canada again a safe haven from militarism.
I was a soldier myself. I have friends who are veterans of virtually every foreign mission our military has participated in since 1990. I think that one of the crowning achievements of the Chretien government was to keep us out of the Iraq quagmire -- when there was plenty of pressure on him to send us there (not least of which from Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, who, at the time, actually went around opposing the government, if you can believe). If we refused to send our own men and women there, how can we not protect other countries' men and women from the same fate?
It's time to help ensure that Canada remains not only a refuge from militarism, but a bastion against militarism. We can regain the moral standing we held throughout the Vietnam War by refusing to send Glass and all the other resisters back to the USA to punishment and, even worse, a forced redeployment to Iraq. We can show that Canada is strong enough to refuse to hold the bully's coat, strong enough to decide our national agenda for ourselves, strong enough to take in these victims of the US empire-building scheme.
We desperately need the Liberals to take a stand for us, and for all Canadians. A majority of Canadians (64% of Ontarians, in a recent poll) want Canada to keep the resisters safe. The Liberals are the swing party, and their support for the resisters will ensure that these brave men and women will not be forced to return to the US military, and possibly to Iraq. To get the Liberals' support, we need to make sure they know that it's politically safe for them to do so.
How can we, a few private citizens, do this?
It's simple, and will take less than two minutes of your time (literally -- I timed it myself).
Call the office Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion (613.996.6740 or 613.996.5789). You'll get to talk to a staffer. Tell them you want Mr Dion:
- to support the motion to allow Iraq War resisters to remain in Canada,
- to oppose the deportation of people of conscience who have resisted an illegal war, and
- to support the will of the Canadian people, not the U.S.'s war agenda.
That's it. They will note your comments and thank you, and you can hang up.
While you're at it, why not give Stephen Harper's office a call (at 613.992.4211) as well? He should know that he is acting against the will of his citizens.
Please, call them and let them know where you stand on this immensely important issue.
Thank you Matt! And thank you CC!!
Seems I screwed up one of the links -- the Canadian War Resisters Support Campaign is at:
Thanks all for your support.
Ummm, contract... Only an idiot does not look at the fine print... Good riddance to bad rubbish. Don't let the door hit ya on the way out desserter. Jail and dishonouable discharge are just when it comes to dessertion.
There are many reasons for this to be so, not the least of which is the power one soldier on the ground has to make chanes for the good. Abandonning means nothing, changes nothing, and if jail is all he gets, so be it. Send them all back.
How about you go the US in his stead?
Put your money where your mouth is, oh brave warrior.
Funny thing, AM -- I have yet to see a contract, even in the fine print, that requires someone to commit war crimes and atrocities.
But in your mind, they signed a contract that didn't say they wouldn't have to commit atrocities, so they're just sunk, are they?
You can start by acquainting yourself with the facts of these cases. Until then, you big, tough man, you might want to avoid proclaiming your ignorance quite so readily.
(Funny thing, by the way -- whenever a commenter starts with "ummm", I know I'm about to read the stupidest thing I've read all day. Never fails.)
I think you can safely assume that any dick-swinging comment from someone named Alpha Male is going to be severly lacking in logic, M@.
I'm just sayin' ...
Well, joining the army. Gee, who would have thunk it, your country declares war, and now you have to go... It's a contract, and there is fine print. Trust this old soldier and former recruiter when I say I know.
Nice to see how everyone just glazes over my second paragraph. Read much? Let me help you out here.
All soldiers have ethical responsibilities (responsibilities these "war resistors" are shirking). These responsibilities include ensure we all abide by the Laws of Armed Conflict and the Geneva Conventions. These responsibilities mean that when we see something wrong we have to act to stop it.
Instead, these "resistors" ran away, to a place where no Ameican actually listens, and hence can do nothing to stop what they claim is happening. No one listens to a coward, and that is what these creatures are. You want to shield them from jail for their criminal offences in the States. You inadvertantly are shielding them from the very responsibility most of you would claim soldiers have.
I do not expect anyone who has not spent time in uniform to understand such moral and ethical responsibilities, as frankly, none of you have the parts to even imagine it. That responsibility is heavy, and these "resistors" are running from it.
But he didn't join the "army," you lameibrained halfwit -- he joined the National Guard, which is another thing entirely.
The rest of your pathetic bleating can be dismissed as similarly ignorant and off-point.
P.S. And it's "resister," not "resistor." Stupid and illiterate -- what a painful combination.
So cc... I take it you disagree with me, that soldiers have a responsibility to protect, and responsibility to stop war crimes
Ahhh poor cc, reduced to spelling flames. Clearly, you did no read my whole posts, and choose to ignore the facts on the table. I will refer to them as cowards instead of "resisters" then, sound good?
What would have happened with the Somalia Affair, if instead of reporting the incident, and taking his licks the soldier that released the photos instead just shut up, and moved south? Would anyone up here have cared about rumours of a disfunctional infantry regiment?
Apparently, according to you half wits, that is the case. And such behaviour would be the norm, not the exception.
War ain't pretty. Nor are soldiers... But when people like you choose to ignore the people, and instead, choose to wave a fucking cause above the human cause... Well, excuse my bleeding heart when I say these cowards all need to be sent back ASAP!
Oh, and last point for themoron cc. The ARMY NATIONAL GUARD IS THE ARMY!!!
Do try to keep up.
Nice to see how everyone just glazes over my second paragraph.
Myself, I glazed over right from "Ummm..."
These responsibilities include ensure [sic] we all abide by the Laws of Armed Conflict and the Geneva Conventions.
Again, you're putting the responsibility on a private to do something that the executive administration, both political and military, refuse to do in policy.
One of the resisters was a guard for a team whose job was to set up a pole with a fake camera on top of it, go into hiding, and shoot anyone who touched the pole as they were "insurgents". What did you expect this guy to do? Report this? To whom, the sergeant who ordered them to go do this? To Dubya? To Fox News? Was he supposed to shoot the other soldiers? Tell me, Alpha Male, what would a big, strong hero like you do in that situation?
The ARMY NATIONAL GUARD IS THE ARMY!!!
Since you know so much about the National Guard, perhaps you'd care to refresh us on how the National Guard's mandate extends to invading and occupying foreign countries.
War ain't pretty. Nor are soldiers...
Let me say, as someone who's been a soldier, and known many other soldiers, that you know less about war and less about soldiers than anyone I've ever met. Go back to playing with your little green army men.
But when people like you choose to ignore the people
These soldiers are people. You're putting some responsibility -- which exists only in your imagination, by the way -- to stop others from committing war crimes above the only things they actually have control over: their refusal to participate in war crimes.
Anyhow, you're so interested in stopping war crimes, so you ought to agree that the guys who give the orders share some responsibility too, right? Since the president, chiefs of staff, and generals in Iraq are responsible for the conduct of the war and the actions of the soldiers in their command, do you agree that they should be prosecuted for war crimes for the systematic atrocities committed by the occupying force in Iraq?
Hopefully, you actually read my last before reading this. Hopefully it is sinking in (I doubt it... Too easy, to jump to conclusions and make assumptions).
Shrub is a fucking moron. A truly detestable man, who should be tried as a criminal. I sincerely doubt the next guy or gal in his seat will be any better despite party.
The war in Iraq is pure idiocy. Started on lies, and perpetuated on bullshit. Now they have no choice but to finish what they started, because if they do not, we will have a worse situation then what we had under Saddam, or what we have now (arguably, the situation is much worse now then under Saddam).
The point I am trying to make, and all here choose to ignore, is that individual soldiers do have responsibilities that supersede their own hopes, dreams and aspirations. One of those responsibilities is upholding the Laws of Armed Conflict. Running away from the problem does NOT solve the problem. Never has, never will.
m@ I sincerely doubt your service was with the CF. Myself on the other hand got back from Afghanistan last May, and will be back sometime late next year.
15 years and still counting.
I suppose we do take a higher level of respionsibility as the CF then most other nations... We only have our own Air Borne Regiment and Somalia to look at to know where we decided to up our level of ethical responsibility.
That responsibility does lie at the lowest level, as it is the lowest leel that enables the highest. Oh, and do not bother to try to lecture me on the Conventions or LOAC, as I teach these, and know these in depth. The responsibilities therein do extend right down to the enlisted Pte's level.
For those interested, I put my credentials up on my page... Anyone else want to call me on my service?
I don't question your credentials, I question your complete and utter dismissal of these resisters as, in your words, cowards. That's a pretty serious fucking word to throw out when you obviously know nothing about each individual case. And, more importantly, have no intention of acquainting yourself with the details.
Are some of them simply trying to just get out of doing their so-called “duty”? Probably. But the majority signed up in the wake of Sept. 11 with idealistic intentions only to be sent into an illegal war based on fraudulent evidence by a tinpot would-be dictator/president with Daddy issues whose entire Armed Forces career consisted of that same Daddy getting him into a champagne guard unit during the Vietnam War.
So pardon me if I think they should be allowed to stay in a country that was smart enough not to engage in the quagmire that is Iraq.
How do you propose things would change back home in the US then? They can not change anything there from here. Nothing at all.
Therein lies the problem. We sign up, we take an Oath. Running away does not change things, and only enables the problems.
How would you feel about me, if I was to witness war crimes, and instead of moving to stop them, I simply ran away? Would you treat me as a hero?
If one signs up for duty in any army or reserve (National Guard et al) they accept the duties and responsibilities that comes with unlimited liability… And there are a lot of them.
The duties of a soldier are very serious, and not meant to be taken lightly. Part of those duties include personal sacrifice.
You would ask me to weep for someone who faces dishonorable discharge (they met those terms on all grounds) and possible jail time? I am sorry, but I can not.
I do feel sympathy for those victims of war crimes, but not for those that enable them.
One last point before I bow out for now... I do expect you folks here to hold us members of the CF to the high standard of conduct I am trying to explain here.
You have a very important part in keeping the ethical compass of the Canadian Government and the Canadian Forces straight and within the expectations of us all.
Part of this means critical thought, and an understanding of the implications of our collective actions. Part of this is understanding that some do have to make personal sacrifices to effect change.
halpa male, what do you make of the fact that Corey says that when he signed up, he was told that the only circumatance under which he would end up in combat would be if (presumably foreign) troops were occupying the US?
Should he have ignored that statement (or do you suspect that he's lying about that)?
Only an idiot does not read the fine print.
Most folks would thing you a fool for getting into fine print without a lawyer along, at least where stakes are high. Would this qualify?
As much as I enjoy merciless ridicule as much as the next person, I'm starting to think we can have a productive conversation with Alpha Male.
I don't have time at the moment to jump into the conversation, but it would be interesting to know what AM thinks of how numerous members of the American military feel they were conned, having their tours extended via "stop loss" programs (in some cases, more than once), or even being dragged back into service after they'd been in civilian life after several years.
Regardless of what one might think of this particular protestor, it's already clear that he did not sign up for regular Army duty; he signed up as a member of the National Guard and, as such, he had a wholly different set of expectations.
One can argue the fine print legalistically, but one can't dispute that he was at least somewhat misled as to what his National Guard duty would involve. Can we at least start with that?
I put up a more detailed post on my own site... Might answer some of your questions there crabgrass.
The morals and ethical compass of American recruiters have been justly questioned in the past, and continue to be questioned today.
As to the fine print, I do know most Canadians joining the CF spend a fair bit of time researching what they want to be before coming into a recruiting office... I suppose I am holding the same standard to Americans, which could be termed a mistake.
cc, I take your last as high compliments. Thanks. I, believe it or not, do want to engage in intelligent conversation, and debate.
See above... I do believe that American recruiters are systemically morally wrong. And the "stop loss" program is criminal at best.
Their collective policy down there (WRT the forces), do nothing to strengthen their Armed Forces, and does everything to weaken them. They are one step away from conscription, at which point in time, I would take draft dodgers into my home.
A volunteer force has to be made up of exactly that… Volunteers.
That said, my stance does not change. Once in, we have a collective duty to uphold the LOAC and the conventions. I do feel very strongly about that.
AM -- you're right that I grossly underestimated your military experience.
On the one hand, we can agree absolutely on how important it is for soldiers at any level to observe and enforce the LOAC and Conventions. It is partly because I have a lot of faith in the CF's ability to do that that I am in full support of the Canadian soldier, wherever and whenever he or she is deployed. I have a lot of faith in the Canadian military to do the right thing wherever they're deployed.
However, I still take issue with you characterizing the resisters as cowards -- especially if we can agree that the Iraq war is an unmitigated disaster, due primarily to American mistakes and conduct as occupying forces.
I also take issue with the idea that soldiers should be forced to serve overseas in a war they consider immoral or illegal, just in case they can do something to make things better. As I was trying to point out, the responsibility for the war crimes in Iraq starts way, way up the chain; it's to me quite clearly unfair to force a soldier to serve under that regime. Their hands cannot help becoming dirty.
In any case, I think it's clear there is a lot of common ground here. To be honest, you came riding pretty hard out of the gate, there, but it's clear that there's plenty of room for debate on this topic with you.
Finally -- Christ, AM, I wish we'd had this conversation a year ago, when I was looking for subjects for my book of Canadian peacekeepers' experiences! I get the feeling you'd have been a very interesting interviewee, if you wanted to participate. (And contact me offline any time if you're interested in contributing something to my book's website.)
It's the nature of the environment here at cc... The meek are ignored, and or ridiculed.
My aim was to get folks to look deeper into the subject at hand... Get below the surface, and I think we have done that collectively.
I apologize for the "bull in china shop" approach I took, but I feel it was necessary.
You're being very fair, and there's no apology necessary. You've made it clear that you're someone worth hearing from on this kind of issue.
And you're right -- shrinking violets need not apply, around here. Your approach is perfectly understandable, and I'm actually really happy to learn more about your background as it puts your comments in a whole new context.
That said -- I'm sure we'll argue again. In fact, I look forward to it.
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