Afghanistan Top Ten

Afghanistan: Ten reasons to resist By Courage to Resist.

  1. Like Iraq, it is also illegal
  2. No military solution to terrorism
  3. Funds used for war are needed at home
  4. Civilian casualties are not acceptable
  5. War is not good for women in Afghanistan
  6. Support the troops: Bring them home now
  7. Torture and human rights abuses
  8. Climate change and resource wars
  9. War destabilizes Afghanistan and the region
  10. Respect Afghani self-determination; No to global military intervention

1- Like Iraq, it is also illegal

According to international law experts, the invasion and ongoing occupation of Afghanistan is as illegal as the US presence in Iraq. The United Nations Charter mandates that military force against another country is only justified when used in self-defense or authorized by the UN Security Council. Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, President George W Bush sought an authorization from the UN Security Council to use military force in Afghanistan. The UN resolutions that were passed in response—resolutions 1368 and 1373—never actually authorized military force, but rather, authorized the criminalization and prevention of terrorist activities. Contrary to popular perception, the Bush Administration unfolded an open-ended military operation in Afghanistan with no legal justification for doing so. The administration of Barack Obama is building on this flawed foundation in its continuance and escalation of the war.

“The invasion of Afghanistan was not legitimate self-defense under article 51 of the UN charter because the attacks on September 11, 2001 were criminal attacks, not “armed attacks” by another country. Afghanistan did not attack the United States. In fact, 15 of the 19 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia.”
—Marjorie Cohn, president of the National Lawyers Guild

2- No military solution to terrorism

There can be no military solution to terrorism. This is because “terrorism” is a tactic that is not tied to any specific place. By pursuing the ever-elusive “terrorist” enemy, the US has waged an open-ended war of attrition in Afghanistan. This occupation breeds the discontent that gives rise to “terrorism” in the first place and has had the effect of bringing forward local opposition to the occupation.

Read the rest of this entry »

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RAWA Thanks War Resisters

Solidarity statement to U.S. war resisters and Afghanistan occupation veterans from Zoya, Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA). October 10, 2009

Our message to all the soldiers who are fighting and veterans who were fighting in Afghanistan:

We thank you because we think that you believe that you are struggling and fighting in Afghanistan for bringing democracy and peace for our people. But unfortunately we think that you are also the victims of the wrong policy of your government. And that’s that reason that we think you should condemn this war, which is just bringing more sorrow and pain and blood for the majority of the population and the civilians of Afghanistan. And it’s not helping to bring democracy and security in the country.

And we also want to thank those soldiers who resisted and refused to go to Afghanistan and fight for this so-called “War on Terror”, which is more painful and which is more costly for our people than terrorists. We want to thank you and we think that you should come forward and give your solidarity with the people of Afghanistan, all the democratic organizations, and you should make aware your own people about the reality, about the real nature of this war.

And we think that all people of American and the West should condemn this war and pressurize your governments to stop this very failed and very unsuccessful war, which only our poor people and especially the women have to pay the price for, this war so-called “war on terrorism, and not the real terrorists.

Please also read this, war resistors in the US are being subjected to a horribly familiar regime-

…soldiers have been strip-searched while possibly being filmed. Bishop and Church have also been watched by female guards during strip-searches, while using the restroom as well as while in the showers. Both soldiers have been denied one in-person visit by their attorneys and all phone calls with their attorneys have been illegally monitored by guards.

Seth Manzel, a Fort Lewis Stryker Brigade veteran and executive director of the veteran support group G.I. Voice, said of the matter, “These techniques of sexual humiliation are far too similar to those practiced on foreign prisoners at Abu Ghraib in Iraq and Bagram in Afghanistan. Is the Army at Fort Lewis using enhanced interrogation techniques to break down American soldiers here at home?”

Church was imprisoned for having gone AWOL, which he did in order to prevent his wife and children from becoming homeless. He tried to get help from his unit, but was denied, and received eight months prison time. Church was eventually forced by this ordeal to give his newborn son up for adoption. According to Church, “With everything that was going on, from me leaving, even though it was to care for my family, because I could find no support from the Army, Amanda and I had to place our son, Austin in a loving home through adoption. We did not want him enduring the strife that we had endured and for him to end up being fatherless, because I would be living in prison.”

Andrew VanDenBergh, a Marine veteran of the Iraq war and a G.I. Voice staff member, said of Leo Church in a press release, “He joined the Army, found out his family was homeless, wasn’t allowed to keep his children from living on the streets, went to take care of his family, had to give a child up for adoption and is now locked in prison and being abused. Being abused for what? For taking care of his children?”

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US Army Drops Prosecution Of War Resistor Ehren Watada

Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada will be discharged by the end of the week, concluding the fight over his refusal to deploy to Iraq, an Army spokesman said Monday. After a court-martial proceeding that ended in a mistrial, the Army has elected not to attempt further prosecution and instead will discharge the first lieutenant, who argued he would be participating in war crimes if he fought in Iraq.

“What was approved was basically his request to resign in lieu of a general court-martial for the good of the service,” said spokesman Joseph Piek at Ft. Lewis, Wash., where Watada has been working at a desk job. The separation is classified as an administrative discharge. Watada’s lawyers said it was granted under “other than honorable conditions.” The Army previously had refused Watada’s offer to resign.

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Courage To Resist- Victor Agosto

victor-hood-250

Dahr Jamail, Inter Press Service, (excerpts)-Having served three years and nine months in the U.S. Army, Agosto was to complete his contract and be discharged on Aug. 3. But due to his excellent record of service and accrued leave, he was to be released the end of June. Nevertheless, due to the stop-loss programme, the Army decided to deploy him to Afghanistan anyway.

 Stop-loss is a programme the military uses to keep soldiers enlisted beyond the terms of their contracts. Since Sep. 11, 2001, more than 140,000 troops have had tours extended by stop-loss.

 When IPS asked Agosto if he is willing to take whatever consequences the Army is prepared to mete out, he replied, “Yes. I’m fully prepared for this. I have concluded that the wars [in Iraq and Afghanistan] are not going to be ended by politicians or people at the top. They are not responsive to the people, they are responsive to corporate America.”

 Agosto added, “The only way to make them responsive to the needs of the people is if soldiers won’t fight their wars, and if soldiers won’t fight their wars, the wars won’t happen. I hope I’m setting an example for other soldiers.”

 IPS spoke with Adam Szyper-Seibert, an office manager and counselor with Courage to Resist. “Currently we are actively supporting over 50 military resisters like Victor Agosto,” Szyper-Seibert told IPS, “They are all over the world, including André Shepherd in Germany, and several people in Canada. We are getting five to six calls a week just about the IRR [Individual Ready Reserve] recall alone.”

 The IRR is composed of former military personnel who still have time remaining on their enlistment agreements but have returned to civilian life. They are eligible to be called up in “states of emergency.” The Army is currently undertaking the largest IRR recall since 2004, despite the recent inauguration of a so-called anti-war president.

Support Courage to Resist

Feeding The War Machine

At the strip mall in Hot Springs where Daren Stewart worked, however, most of the recruiters were on antidepressants or antianxiety medication. They worked 12- to 14-hour shifts, six or seven days a week, Stewart said. Commanders cursed, humiliated and screamed at soldiers who fell short of monthly quotas, threatening to ruin their careers or withhold time off with loved ones, he said. Stewart turned to alcohol to cope with stress so severe it destroyed his marriage and made his hair fall out.

Sgt. 1st Class Henry Patrick said fellow recruiters in the Hot Springs station were told to shift conversations with potential recruits away from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. That didn’t sit right with him. “I’d tell them they had a 50-50 chance,” said Patrick, 43. “For the few people I did put in, they liked the fact that I was honest with them.”

Staff Sgt. Wade Bozeman, another Hot Springs recruiter, said he also hated the tacit expectation that he should compromise his ethics to meet recruiting goals, whether it meant falsifying records or lying to recruits. Deeply depressed, the 37-year-old gained 50 pounds and started suffering from insomnia, blackouts and panic attacks. His wife, Jill Bozeman, asked his commanders for help, to no avail.

The Courage to Resist National Week of Letter Writing to Show Support for War Resisters is March 16-23, 2009

We are asking allies of the G.I. resistance movement to gather together to write:

  • Letters of support to war resisters in prison, awaiting court martial, or seeking refuge in Canada
  • Letters to the Canadian government asking that war resisters be allowed to stay
  • Letters to our own government demanding amnesty for war resisters

[More @ Courage to Resist]

Courage To Resist & The Israeli Shministim

We are U.S. military service members and veterans who have refused or are currently refusing to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan.

We stand in solidarity with the Israeli Shministim (Hebrew for “12th graders”) who are also resisting military service. About 100 Israeli high school students have signed an open letter declaring their refusal to serve in the Israeli army and their opposition to “Israeli occupation and oppression policy in the occupied territories and the territories of Israel.” In Israel, military service is mandatory for all graduating high school seniors, and resisters face the possibility of years in prison.

We have also refused to participate in unjust acts of military aggression, and many of us have gone to prison or currently live with that possibility as a result. We believe that resistance to unjust war is a bold assertion of humanity in the face of overwhelming violence.

The Global War on Terror, like the Israeli occupation, is propped up by racism and dehumanization and sets the stage for never-ending war and occupation. We are inspired by the brave refusal of our brothers and sisters in Israel to take part in these destructive policies, and we want to let them know today, December 18th—the day of international solidarity with the Shministim—that they have our deepest respect and support.

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Courage To Resist: Robin Long

Prisoner of conscience Robin Long’s letter to Obama By Robin Long, prisoner of conscience. November 6, 2008

Dear President-elect Obama,

My name is Robin Long. I am currently serving a 15-month sentence at a Naval brig in California. I am locked up for refusing to participate in the invasion of the sovereign nation of Iraq, a military action I felt was wrong and an action condemned by most of the international community.

It was illegal and immoral.

My sentence also includes dishonorable discharge. I was no doubt made an example, because not only did I refuse to deploy by going AWOL but I spoke out. I spoke out about the atrocities that are going on over there and also the extensive web of lies the Bush administration told us and Congress, to go over there. I did all of this very openly while AWOL in Canada, where I was making a life for myself.

When I joined the Army in 2003 I felt honored to be serving my country. I was behind the President. I thought it was an honorable venture to be in Iraq. I was convinced by the lies of the Bush administration just like Congress and a majority of Americans. But just because I joined the Army doesn’t mean I abdicated my ability to evolve intellectually and morally. When I realized the war in Iraq was a mistake, I saw refusing to fight as my only option. My conscience was screaming at me not to participate.

I feel, like many others, that a government that punishes its citizens for taking a moral stand for humanity and against injustices will lose the faith of its people. The war in Iraq was a Bush administration mistake and my punishment is a product of that mistake and failed policy. Please see that I am being punished for my ideals and morals and for standing up to a giant so my voice could be heard. People can’t be afraid to stand up and say “This is wrong, we need change.”

You may say I signed a contract. I’d like to quote from a letter that Thomas Jefferson wrote to George Washington in April of 1793 on his thoughts of contracts and the French Treaties. And I quote “When performance, for instance, becomes impossible, non-performance is not immoral. So if performance becomes self destructive for the party, the law of self preservation overrules the laws of obligations to others. For the reality of these principals I appeal to the true fountains of evidence, the heart and head of every rational honest man.”

For me to continue to participate in my military contract would have been self-destructive to me at my deepest levels of self. It goes against everything I believe in, my ideals and morals. In the case of the invasion of Iraq, international law was broken, as well as violating our own Constitution. Article VI of the Constitution states that any treaty the US is signatory shall be the supreme law of the land. The invasion broke the rules set out for declaring war in the Geneva Convention. And according to the Nuremburg Principles laid out at the Nuremburg Tribunals, I had a higher international duty supported by our Constitution to refuse service in Iraq.

While I was in Canada I had a child. This sentence will have a lasting impact not only on my life but also on the life of my son. My son and his mother are Canadian (not duel citizenship). With a felony conviction (a year plus a day), it will be very difficult for me to re-enter Canada. I would like to live there so I can be in my son’s life. Every child needs a father. I want to return to my responsibilities as a father.

This sentence is a great hardship because it has an impact on my life that could last well into the future. This would successfully separate a family. My family needs me, to be a father figure and a financial supporter. My son was born after the fact of me deserting. Please don’t punish him more than I already have by being gone now. I love and miss him and the thought of being reunited with him is helping me get through my time here. I feel I made the right decision by refusing and am more than willing to sit in the brig for my ideals. But I worry about the effect this has on my family.

I ask you to please consider granting me presidential clemency or a pardon. I have given this to many different organizations and people to ensure that you receive a copy. I am so happy that you were elected President. I feel real change coming. You are the light after the storm, “Hurricane Bush” if you will.

If you would like more information on me you can listen to an audio interview on couragetoresist.org (below) or read more at freerobin.org, ivaw.org, resisters.ca

-Robin Long

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What You Won’t See On TeeVee

“The war is the atrocity”

[Jon Michael] Turner explained one reason why establishment media reporting about the occupation in the U.S. has been largely sanitised. “Anytime we had embedded reporters, our actions changed drastically,” he explained. “We did everything by the books, and were very low key.”

The name “Winter Soldier” is derived from the “summer soldier” described by American Revolutionary War writer Thomas Paine in “The Crisis:” “These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman,” Paine wrote in the 18th century work.

Testimony from Winter Soldier-

“Apr. 18, 2006 was the date of my first confirmed kill,” he said sombrely. “He was innocent, I called him the fat man. He was walking back to his house and I killed him in front of his father and friend. My first shot made him scream and look into my eyes, so I looked at my friend and said, ‘Well, I can’t let that happen’, and shot him again. After my first kill I was congratulated.”

“After that the ROE changed, and carrying a shovel, or standing on a rooftop talking on a cell phone, or being out after curfew [meant the people] were to be killed. I can’t tell you how many people died because of this. By my third tour, we were told to just shoot people, and the officers would take care of us.”

He said his first experience in Iraq was being on a patrol that killed two Iraqi farmers as they worked in their field at night. “I was told they were out in the fields farming because their pumps only operated with electricity, which meant they had to go out in the dark when there was electricity,” he explained, “I asked the sergeant, if he knew this, why did he fire on the men. He told me because the men were out after curfew. I was never given another ROE during my time in Iraq.”

“We were encouraged to bring ‘drop weapons’ or shovels, in case we accidentally shot a civilian, we could drop the weapon on the body and pretend they were an insurgent,” he said, “By the third tour, if they were carrying a shovel or bag, we could shoot them. So we carried these tools and weapons in our vehicles, so we could toss them on civilians when we shot them. This was commonly encouraged.”

Emmanuel spoke of abusing prisoners who he knew were innocent, adding, “We took it upon ourselves to harass them, and took them to the desert to throw them out of our Humvees, while kicking and punching them when we threw them out.”

To conclude, an emotional Turner said, “I want to say I’m sorry for the hate and destruction that I and others have inflicted on innocent people. It is not okay, and this is happening, and until people hear what is going on this is going to continue. I am no longer the monster that I once was.”

Jeffery Smith recalled how his Army unit beat and humiliated Iraqi prisoners. Former Marine Bryan Casler recounted how fellow Marines urinated and defecated into food and gave it to Iraqi children. Former Marine Matthew Childers talked about how he used to humiliate Iraqi civilians during predawn raids on their homes. When he described turning away an Iraqi father who was asking American troops to help the badly burned baby he carried in his arms, Jackson began to weep silently.

He ended up stationed in Fallujah, and then Baghdad. “We were the only authority and took full advantage of that,” he told an audience of roughly 300 people here gathered for three days of testimony by veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan about abuses of civilians. “Everything was haji…haji house, haji smokes, haji burger.”

“We never went on the right raid where we got the right house, much less the right person — not once,” he said.

Adam Kokesh served in Fallujah beginning in February 2004 for roughly one year. Speaking on a panel about the Rules of Engagement (ROE), he held up the ROE card soldiers are issued in Iraq and said, “This card says, ‘Nothing on this card prevents you from using deadly force to defend yourself’.”

Kokesh pointed out that “reasonable certainty” was the condition for using deadly force under the ROE, and this led to rampant civilian deaths. He discussed taking part in the April 2004 siege of Fallujah. During that attack, doctors at Fallujah General Hospital told IPS there were 736 deaths, over 60 percent of which were civilians.

“We changed the ROE more often than we changed our underwear,” Kokesh said. “At one point, we imposed a curfew on the city, and were told to fire at anything that moved in the dark. I don’t think soldiers should be put in the position to choose between their morals and their instinct for survival.”

Kokesh also testified that during two cease-fires in the midst of the siege, the military decided to let out as many women and children from the embattled city as possible, but this did not include most men.

“For males, they had to be under 14 years of age,” he said. “So I had to go over there and turn men back, who had just been separated from their women and children. We thought we were being gracious.”

Hurd said the situation deteriorated rapidly while he was in Iraq. “Over time, as the absurdity of war set in, individuals from my unit indiscriminately opened fire at vehicles driving down the wrong side of the road. People in my unit would later brag about it. I remember thinking how appalled I was that we were laughing at this, but that was the reality.”

“We’re disrupting the lives of our veterans with this occupation, not only the lives of Iraqis. If a foreign occupying force came here to the U.S., do you not think that every person that has a shotgun would not come out of the hills and fight for their right for self-determination?”

To rousing applause, Hurd ended his testimony with, “Ladies and gentlemen, that country is suffering from our occupation, and ending that suffering begins with the total and immediate withdrawal of all of our troops.”

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Winter Soldier

Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan will feature testimony from U.S. veterans who served in those occupations, giving an accurate account of what is really happening day in and day out, on the ground.

The four-day event will bring together veterans from across the country to testify about their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan – and present video and photographic evidence. In addition, there will be panels of scholars, veterans, journalists, and other specialists to give context to the testimony. These panels will cover everything from the history of the GI resistance movement to the fight for veterans’ health benefits and support.

To bring the testimonies to the general public and GIs all over the world we have made it possible to watch the live broadcasts online and on television, and to listen online and the radio. You can find out more about how to watch or listen here. To find a local Winter Soldier screening event or to submit a screening event go to our events map.

The event will be covered by various media outlets. To find out more about how registering as a journalist go to our media page or email media [at] ivaw [dot] org.

Gitmo- Torturer’s Blues

The guards at the Guantánamo Bay prison camp are the “overlooked victims” of America’s controversial detention facility in Cuba, according to a psychiatrist who has treated some of them.Professor John Smith, a retired US Air Force captain, treated a patient who was a guard at the camp. “I think the guards of Guantánamo are an overlooked group of victims,” Smith told the American Academy of Forensic Sciences annual meeting in Washington DC on Saturday. “They do not complain a lot. You do not hear about them.”

The patient (‘Mr H’) is a national guardsman in his early 40s who was sent to Guantánamo in the first months of its operation, when prisoners captured in Afghanistan were beginning to flood into the camp. Mr H reported that he found conditions at the camp extremely disturbing. For example, in the first month two detainees and two prison guards committed suicide.

The taunts of prisoners and the things his superiors required him to do to them had a severe psychological impact on Mr H. “He was called upon to bring detainees, enemy combatants, to certain places and to see that they were handcuffed in particularly painful and difficult positions, usually naked, in anticipation of their interrogation,” said Smith.

On occasion he was told to make prisoners kneel, naked and handcuffed, on sharp stones. To avoid interrogation the prisoners would often rub their wounds afterwards to make them worse so that they would be taken to hospital. Some of the techniques used by interrogators resulted in detainees defecating, urinating, vomiting and screaming.

Mr H told Smith he felt profoundly guilty about his participation. “It was wrong what we did,” he said.

Well it’s good he now realises that and it is good he is getting treatment, but he did as he was told and followed orders, such is the effectiveness of military psychological conditioning, such was the lack of character and independent moral activism of the people they selected to staff the camp. It also is a function of the worship of militarism found in all empires, it is a cultural phenomenon, it is not good to make people into order following objects. Sometimes that might be necessary in self defence (cf. suicide bombers perhaps) but that certainly is not the case with any western state, blind obedience and authoritarianism are not desirable in a person or a culture. The correct and admirable and honourable action is to refuse such orders and to support organisations that help legal and moral personnel think critically and resist a corrupt military & political establishment.

www.couragetoresist.org

Iraq Veterans Against the War

War Resistors UK

The IVAW are have organised new winter soldier hearings in March as the 5th anniversary of the Iraq invasion arrives, GodlessLiberal Homo went to a fund raiser and reported-

– The US has 731 military bases throughout the world.

– In the attacks on Fallujah in 2004, over 12,000 Iraqis were killed and ID’d as “insurgents.”

– Although we usually hear the term “enemy combatant” in the context of the Gulag at Guantanamo, the phrase is commonly used by the military in Iraq to describe insurgents and people who get killed who may not be insurgents.

– Returning veterans from the Iraq War reported seeing no rebuilding of the country and that construction by contractors was limited to US military installations.

– National Guard members at Fort Dix in New Jersey have been trained to run over little children in the middle of the road on the grounds that they may have explosives strapped to their bodies.

– Soldiers in Vietnam were given no training regarding the treatments of civilians and prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions.

– Throwing Vietnamese people out of helicopters was so common that soldiers were ordered to do prisoner counts after the helicopters had landed, not before.

Over 150 people attended the event in Manhattan and saw a truly disturbing video from the Winter Soldier project. It started with horrific house and business destruction in Iraq by the US military, and then went on to the horribly mutilated bodies of people killed in bombing attacks ordered by the Bush regime. The video footage was shot by veterans when they were in Iraq.

One of the speakers at the event said, “We went easy with the video.” Yet, the images in the video were so repulsive and frightening that I had to keep forcing my eyes open. Psychological services were offered for veterans who might be traumatized by reliving what they saw in Iraq. I just don’t know how our troops cope with the terrible things they see and are ordered to do in Iraq.

There was a group of chickenhawks protesting outside, misappropriating American flags for their pandering to Big Oil, corrupt mercenary companies, and defense contractors. They attempted to look intimidating, but they didn’t harass me as I went in. (Being male and over 6 feet tall does have its advantages.) However, they did harass and try to intimidate an Iraqi woman who went in anyway. The vets running the fundraiser pointed out that none of the people outside were veterans.

Join the March 19 Blogswarm Against the Iraq War

Also Dave @ Complex System of Pipes has an in depth review of Nick Broomfield’s The Battle For Haditha-

Watching the Haditha massacre after a feature-length introduction to the victims and perpetrators made me feel so rotten inside that I wanted to vomit and, in that sense, this was far and away the worst film I’ve ever seen. But then that’s the only correct reaction to war. It’s been said that it’s impossible to make a truly antiwar movie, because any cinematic depiction of war is fundamentally pretty exciting. TBFH tears that conceit to shreds like so much Iraqi flesh; it captures horror and confusion and serves them up on a cold, documentarian plate.

Occupied Haditha is no more exciting a place than occupied Warsaw, and if we’d all seen this in school it would have taken a bit more than implausible hyperbole to sell the invasion. In that sense, it’s among the best and most important films I’ve ever seen; little golden statues or no, everyone should go and see this.

War Resisters In Canada

During his tour in Iraq, Espinal was classified as a combat engineer with the First Cavalry Division. One of his primary duties, he says, was to set explosives to demolish buildings and to blow in doors during house raids by American troops. He says he was involved in a major assault on Fallujah, a mid-sized city about 70 kilometres west of Baghdad that was devastated by American bombing raids and ground force attacks that reportedly killed hundreds of civilians and left much of the city in rubble.“Our job was to knock down buildings, blow up buildings,” Espinal says.“We got orders to knock down this one building … and we found out the next day we had the wrong building. We had the wrong intel. People were sleeping in that house. It was a three-storey building. We were just told to bring it down.” Read the rest of this entry »

The Resistance, The Invaders

Our opponents in the main are Iraqi nationalists and are most concerned with their own needs- Jobs, money, security, hope. And the majority therefore, I would suggest, are not bad people.

Of course this part of his speech was ignored and instead we got the media harping on about garrison fascist imperial state bollocks about if only we worshipped the military like the good ol’ USA. Except that’s kind of a problem isn’t it? If the people we are killing are just defending their own country then supporting that is Good German-ism all over. So don’t be an invader, resist-

Justin Hugheston-Roberts was the solicitor for Flight Lieutenant Malcolm Kendall-Smith who was sentenced to eight months in prison for refusing to follow orders in connection with a deployment to Iraq.

He said: “I am approached regularly by people who are seeking to absent themselves from service. There has been an increase, a definite upturn.”

Military law expert Gilbert Blades, who represents soldiers at courts martial, said the numbers leaving because of Iraq were often obscured as they were not counted as conscientious objectors.

“One can’t help thinking that what’s behind every absence is the problem in Iraq and I would think that if the real truth was told, then the Iraq problem has contributed to a huge number of people going absent,” he told BBC Radio Five Live.

Former SAS member Ben Griffin was allowed to leave the military after telling his commanding officer he was not prepared to return to Iraq because of what he believed were illegal acts being carried out by US forces.

Mr Griffin would never have considered deserting but says his views are shared by many others in the British military.

He told the BBC: “There’s a lot of dissent in the Army about the legality of war and concerns that they’re spending too much time there.”

(h/t Lenin)

Update: Dave at Complex Series of Pipes also covers this in glorious Technicolor detail, worth reading. 

Courage To Resist

Some highlights from the Courage To Resist newsletter, I support these troops-

…The same set of soldiers that in 2005 said they couldn’t wait to kill “ragheads” were now bragging about times they scared Iraqis, bent the rules of engagement, and generally enjoyed playing bully for a year. I like these guys a lot, but I don’t know why I was surprised. I had thought that maybe being there for a year would eventually change them and open their eyes to how their actions were inhumane, but I was wrong.

Someone who had not deployed before asked if we would go again. “In a heartbeat!” one soldier replied. Others assured him that they would have no problem going back. Now, the eyes were on me.

“No, I am not going back to participate in that war.”

The look of shock and awe on their faces quickly gave way to a flurry of questions about how I would get out, what I would do, how I could do that to my comrades, why I felt the way I did, what I thought I was proving, and why I thought I could make a difference. The question that got me on a roll, however, was none of the above.

“What are you going to do . . . become a conscientious objector?” one soldier and friend said with a smirk and a chuckle.

“In fact, I just may do that. That’s what I am, essentially, isn’t it?”

You could have heard a pin drop as the smirks fell from their faces; this appeared to be the worst thing I could have said. It amazes me how they had just gotten done talking about taking pleasure in bullying Iraqis and I was somehow demonized for stating that I had a moral objection to the occupation and subjugation of a third world nation. I have a conscience, and that upset them more than anything else I could have said for some reason.

He’s fought he’s been in the shit, now he is showing even more courage and standing up to massive peer pressure and following his conscience. You can debate his position all you like but you can not call him a coward.

Nearly fifty of the resisters have asked Canadian authorities to allow them to remain in Canada as political refugees. They strongly believe they are doing the right thing by refusing to fight in an illegal war. They look to UN refugee law, which states that soldiers should be considered as refugees if they face persecution for refusing to fight in wars that are “widely condemned by the international community as contrary to standards of human conduct.”

These absentee GI’s are upholding the Nuremberg Principles, which were adopted as U.S. law after World War II. By refusing to fight in illegal wars or to commit war crimes, they are exercising their rights and responsibilities as soldiers.

So far, the war resisters’ refugee claims have been rejected by the political appointees on Canada’s refugee boards, who say that war resisters had legal avenues in the U.S. they could have pursued. They say that prosecution for being AWOL does not amount to “persecution.” They are reluctant to call the U.S. war “illegal.”

That’s what you get with a Tory govt. you naughty Cannucks! Sort it out!

“By refusing to fight this war, I believe I upheld the US constitution by refusing to participate in actions that could possibly open me up to a court martial for war crimes. And I believe it is my choice as a human being to deny my participation in the slaughter of innocent human beings.”

Derek says, “Supporting the troops does not mean supporting the war. It means actually listening to what we have to say, instead of discrediting us. It means ending this illegal war, and letting us go home, because that is really just all we want. My plans now include being active to bringing my brothers and sisters home—those that were not as lucky as I was. I want to be part of the anti-war movement, and I hope others will have the courage to resist and say NO to Iraq.” 

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Courage To Resist, Spc. Eleonai “Eli” Israel

I reasoned that my actions during these missions were justified in the name of “self-defense.” However, I came to realize my perception was wrong. I was in a country that I had no right to be in, violating the lives of people, and doing so without regard to the same standards of dignity and respect that we as Americans hold our own homes and our own lives to.

I have taken and/or destroyed the lives of people who were defending their families from being the “collateral damage” of the day. Iraqi boys are joining groups like “Al Qaeda” for the same reason street kids in the U.S. join the “Cribs” and the “Bloods”. It’s about self protection, a sense of dignity, and making a stand.

The young man whose father and cousin we “accidentally” killed, and whose mother and siblings cry every time the tank rolls through the neighborhood, doesn’t care who Osama Bin Laden is. The “militants” we attacked were usually no different than an armed neighborhood watch group who didn’t trust their government. We didn’t trust the government either, and we put them in power!

Our own sacrifices, as tragic as they are (and they are tragic), are dwarfed in comparison to the carnage that has been brought on the Iraqi people.

Whether you chose not to join the military in the first place, or you realized after joining that it fell short of the requisite levels of integrity, the moment you realize the truth is the moment to take a stand. My moment came with only three weeks of combat missions remaining during my one year in Iraq. Moral conviction has no timing.