August 16, 2009

A new wave of war resistance

by Joel Kilgour

On August 14 in Fort Hood, Texas, Sgt Travis Bishop (making a peace sign in the photo) was sentenced to 12 months in prison for refusing deployment to Afghanistan. Bishop said his resistance was influenced by both a previous combat tour in Iraq and his awakening religious pacifism.

On August 5, another Ft Hood soldier and Iraq veteran, Spc Victor Agosto, was sentenced to 30 days in prison for publicly refusing to take part in what he called an "immoral and unjust" occupation.

There is no way I will deploy to Afghanistan. The occupation is immoral and unjust. It does not make the American people any safer. It has the opposite effect.
Army Spc Victor Agosto, from a statement to his commander at Ft Hood

Last year, the Army admitted to an 80% jump in desertions from 2003-2007. Hundreds of Iraq war resisters have fled to Canada, where they have been welcomed with open arms by Parliament and the majority of the public. Army Sgt Chris Vassey, an Afghanistan veteran who was facing redeployment in support of the occupation, has recently joined their ranks. Unfortunately, the once Bush-allied Conservative minority government continues to block asylum claims, and war resisters Robin Long and Cliff Cornell have both been forcibly returned to the US, where they faced courts-martial and lengthy prison sentences.

Other resisters are underground, in prison, or facing legal limbo in special military units. In their article "Echo Platoon: Warehousing Soldiers in the Homeland," Dahr Jamal and Sarah Lazare expose the inhumane living conditions faced by more than 50 such AWOL soldiers, many suffering PTSD, at Ft Bragg.

Resisters like Agosto, Bishop and Vassey have dealt a blow to the myth of public consensus on Afghanistan. Still, they and other military personnel who resist illegal wars and occupations do so at a great price to themselves and their families. They need encouragement as well as financial and political support. To learn more about what you can do to support war resisters, visit Courage to Resist or the War Resisters Support Campaign in Canada.

1 comment:

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