Dohiyi Mir
    In Which NTodd Says His Peace

Thursday, April 08, 2004
Go to the new DM blog.

Left Foot, Peg Foot Traveling On

A reader brought this Village Voice article to my attention:

Canada has a long tradition of providing safe haven for dissenting Americans: Loyalists during the War of Independence, refugees from the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, so-called "skedaddlers" deserting from Civil War battalions, and, most famously, some 60,000 men and women resisting the Vietnam War.

Unless there's a draft, no one expects a flood at the northern border nowadays. But the trickle could certainly swell. According to a U.S. Army survey released last week, 72 percent of soldiers report that morale in their unit is low or very low. Meanwhile, the suicide rate among service members is at an all-time high. From April through December last year, 23 killed themselves while on duty in Iraq or Kuwait; at least seven more did so after their return home.

Thousands are seeking less dire means of escape. Calls to G.I. Rights Hotline, which answers questions from recruits trying to leave the armed forces, shot up to 28,822 in 2003, from 17,267 in 2001. Meanwhile, though the Pentagon will not confirm figures, military attorneys, activists, and the European press have estimated that 600 to 1,700 soldiers have fled to avoid service in Iraq. Most are likely living underground in the U.S.—going AWOL, even for long periods, is a far less serious offense than actually applying for refugee status in another country—which clearly demonstrates the intent to desert.

Unsurprisingly, Quakers are figuring prominently in efforts to help conscientious objectors seek asylum in our neighbor to the north. I guess we have a thing for underground railroads.

Something one the asylum seekers profiled in the article said really struck me:

I could not simply claim that I was merely a victim of the times or that I was just following orders. Had I taken part in the occupation of Iraq, I would have been making myself complicit in a criminal enterprise.

Until recently, I never thought of COs in the military--my dad was an objector and did alternate service instead of joining the armed forces. As I've said before, I respect the choices our soldiers have made to serve our country in an honorable way. However, it's never too late to refuse to participate in an illegal war. I know I have had a number of visitors from the military over the past several months, and if you are considering applying for CO status, the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors has some advice.


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A non-violent, counter-dominant, left-liberal, possibly charismatic, quasi anarcho-libertarian Quaker's take on politics, volleyball, and other esoterica.

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