battle of the letters, war resister edition

There's been a big run of anti- war resisters letters in some local Nanaimo newspapers, focusing on Cliff Cornell, who was recently released from military prison, and who wants to return to Canada. The letters were clearly orchestrated - they all used the same language, made the same fatuous points, and omitted the same relevant facts.

This week the same paper ran several letters in support of Cliff, including one of mine.
Letter writer Ken Bennett (Disgraced U.S. soldier a deserter, not 'resister', Letters, Jan. 21) calls Cliff Cornell a coward, but claims that the Americans who came to Canada to avoid serving in Vietnam "had principles and stood against going to war."

How can the same not be said of Cliff Cornell? Like Vietnam, the U.S. war in Iraq is a war of aggression against a civilian population. Cornell, Rodney Watson (currently living in sanctuary in Vancouver) and others like them said "no" to this. They knew the people of Iraq are no threat to Americans and refused to participate.

Perhaps Bennett does not realize that tens of thousands of Americans who came to Canada during the Vietnam era were also war deserters, including CBC radio host Andy Barrie, an outspoken supporter of Iraq War resisters. If the Vietnam deserters "had principles and stood against going to war", surely their current counterparts do as well.

Laura Kaminker
Mississauga, ON

Letter writer Ken Bennett (Disgraced U.S. soldier a deserter, not 'resister', Letters, Jan. 21) should get his facts straight before adding insult to the injury that Cliff Cornell has endured.

First, Cornell did not run away, he honoured his responsibilities - his duty to international law and the Nuremburg Principles to refuse to participate in an illegal war like that in Iraq.

Second, Canada welcomed both volunteers and conscripts from the U.S. military who refused to fight in Vietnam, so welcoming Iraq War resisters is consistent with our tradition.

Finally, Canada refused to send troops to Iraq and Parliament has twice voted to let U.S. Iraq War resisters stay.

If we had a government that respected the will of Parliament, Cornell would still be living and working on Gabriola Island with all his supporters.

It is an insult to Canadian tradition and democracy that Cornell was deported to U.S. jail for standing with Canadians against the illegal Iraq War.

We must welcome him back and pass Bill C-440, to let all U.S. Iraq War resisters apply for permanent residence.

Jesse McLaren

Letter writer Ken Bennett (Disgraced U.S. soldier a deserter, not 'resister', Letters, Jan. 21) must have forgotten that Canada would not send a single soldier into combat in Iraq in 2003 because George W. Bush's illegal war was not authorized by the United Nations.

Bennett also must have missed the news that Iraq had nothing to do with 9-11 and that no weapons of mass destruction were ever found.

Cliff Cornell and other war resisters came to the same conclusion that Canada and even Prime Minister Stephen Harper did - the Iraq war was "absolutely an error."

Cornell has faced eight years of poverty and harassment, a deportation and 11 hard months in jail for saying no to the war in Iraq.

He is one brave soldier standing up to a deceitful president and an immoral war not worthy of any soldier's blood. Cornell is the embodiment of principle and courage against all odds.

David Fox

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