a reader survey: should canada let them stay?

I've been blogging about the War Resisters Support Campaign for a while now, and even longer about war resisters in general. You all know I feel strongly that Canada should allow these brave men and women to make a new life in this country. Most Canadians I've spoken to agree.

Of course I have received some negative comments, as will happen about nearly any issue. The negative views are based on ignorance and false assumptions: the argument says the soldiers volunteered for duty, and so have an obligation to continue. This is not actually true.

The negative opinions are probably also based on some bigotry. Some Canadians believe too many people are allowed to live in Canada, that immigration is "out of control", and they react negatively to almost anyone's desire to stay in Canada.

In addition, some people love all authority and hate all defiance of it. A soldier breaking ranks to leave the military is offensive to many people, and they look no further.

In this post, I'd like to hear your thoughts. I'm soliciting all opinions, and none will be deleted, unless they violate the comment policy of this blog. I ask, however, that you read this entire post before commenting.

The background:

  • Many people joined the US military after the attacks of September 11th, because they wanted to help protect their country and the world from terrorism. Others joined - and this is one of the most common reasons for joining the military in the United States - because they could not find employment with a living wage, lacked the education to find anything but minimum-wage employment (now a whopping $5.85 per hour!), and lacked health insurance.

  • Military recruiters work on a quota and commission or bonus system; their livelihood depends on signing people up. They are notorious for telling recruits whatever it takes to get them to sign.

    Joshua Key, for example, was promised dozens of time that, because he had a family, he would not see active combat. He was promised this up until the minute he signed, then promptly shipped to a combat-training unit and off to Iraq. [Source: The Deserter's Tale, by Joshua Key and Lawrence Hill, and Key's sworn testimony to the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board.]

  • The contract that recruits sign contains a clause giving the military the right to change the contract at any time, forbidding the recruit the right to change anything, and requiring the recruit to adhere to the terms of the contract forever, no matter what they become or how they are changed.

  • Soldiers who have served out the full terms of their contracts in Iraq are then "stop-lossed": their contracts are involuntarily extended and they are ordered to return to combat. They have no legal recourse; noncompliance constitutes desertion of the military during wartime, a capital offense. Is this service voluntary?

    Many links about stop-loss can be found in my comments here. As I say there, calling the US military "voluntary" is like calling breathing optional.

  • Even those soldiers who consider themselves volunteers did not volunteer for what they are experiencing. They are not protecting their country. US troops in Iraq are, on a daily and routine basis, terrorizing the civilian population, attacking and killing civilians, torturing civilian prisoners, and committing war crimes as defined by the Geneva Conventions, the Nuremberg Principles and all other applicable international law.

    The Nuremberg Principles state:
    Principle I: Any person who commits an act which constitutes a crime under international law is responsible therefore and liable to punishment.

    Principle II: The fact that internal law does not impose a penalty for an act which constitutes a crime under international law does not relieve the person who committed the act from responsibility under international law.

    Principle III: The fact that a person who committed an act which constitutes a crime under international law acted as Head of State or responsible government official does not relieve him from responsibility under international law.

    Principle IV: The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.

    Principle V: Any person charged with a crime under international law has the right to a fair trial on the facts and law.

    Principle VII: Complicity in the commission of a crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity as set forth in Principle VI is a crime under international law.

    In other words, AWOL US soldiers are not only following their consciences and their humanity, they are complying with international law. The United States is in violation of international law. The AWOL vets are only in violation of US law.

  • If they are forced to return to the US, AWOL soldiers face criminal prosecution, imprisonment and a possible death sentence. They face a dishonourable discharge, which effectively ends one's prospects for jobs, education loans, mortgages, and the like.

  • The war resisters are asking only for the chance to start again in Canada - to live here legally, to work, to pay taxes, to become part of Canadian society.

    * * * *

    That's the background. Everything is verifiable, although I will not get caught up in demands for proof.

    My questions are:

    Do you think Canada should allow former US troops who are absent-without-leave to remain legally in Canada? Why or why not?


    1. Please read this entire post before you comment.

    2. If you challenge any of my information, be prepared to back up your claims.

    3. Please refrain from personal attacks. Bigoted statements of any kind will be deleted, and you will be banned from further discussion.

    Obviously this is not meant to be a scientific survey. I just want to hear what you all have to say. Thanks.
  • No comments: