Canada Denies Asylum to U.S. Deserters

Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey fled to Canada to avoid being shipped to Iraq. The Canadian Supreme Court yesterday denied their appeal for asylum.

Desertions are at their highest since 2001 and growing steadily.

More disturbingly, the pace of Army desertions appears to have increased even during fiscal 2007: 63.6 percent of the year’s 4,698 desertions were recorded from April through September, according to Army data.

The desertion rate is up 80% since the Iraq war began in 2003.

A CBS investigation has found a suicide epidemic among veterans. The suicide rate is 120 per week.

At least 6,256 US veterans committed suicide in 2005 -- an average of 17 a day -- the network reported, with veterans overall more than twice as likely to take their own lives as the rest of the general population.

As to why Canada shut the door:

Canadian immigration officials ruled, however, that "as mere footsoldiers," US war resisters "could not be held responsible for the breach of international law committed by United States in going to Iraq." Immigration authorities also ruled that "ordinary footsoldiers are not expected to make own personal assessments as to the legality of any conflict they may be called upon to fight." They also said there is no internationally recognized right to object to a particular war.

And Congress went home without cutting off the funding for the War. The Democrats just don't seem to be able to bring the troops home.

Here's Phil Ochs in I Ain't Marching Anymore:

It's always the old to lead us to the war
It's always the young to fall
Now look at all we've won with the sabre and the gun
Tell me is it worth it all?
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  • Display: Sort:
    I don't believe it. (1.00 / 1) (#9)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Nov 17, 2007 at 06:09:07 PM EST
    I flat out don't believe that 120 veterans are committing suicide every week.

    I say that CBS is wrong.

    I challenge CBS to provide a list of names.

    I don't think they can.

    This looks like another Rathergate from anti-war people.

    I flat don't believe it. (1.00 / 1) (#11)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Nov 17, 2007 at 10:36:48 PM EST
    It absolutely doesn't pass the BS filter.

    There is dispute on the suicide numbers (none / 0) (#1)
    by lilybart on Sat Nov 17, 2007 at 07:51:07 AM EST
    One blog had an article about this number. They said that because men commit suicide in much higher numbers than women, it is not fair to compare rates in the general male/female population to the rates of military suicide.

    They also say that cops have a high rate of suicide also. Guess the nature of human beings is to be peaceful and loving, since using violence makes people suicidal.

    i read the canadian court's opinion. (none / 0) (#2)
    by cpinva on Sat Nov 17, 2007 at 10:40:28 AM EST
    it seems they totally ignored the UCMJ, which specifically gives any member of the military the right to refuse to obey an unlawful order. it doesn't appear to place a limit on what types of unlawful are included, so it's pretty broadly applicable.

    of course, that's neither canadian or international law, so they may have felt it didn't apply in this case.

    that said, it must also be pointed out that all current members of the US military are volunteers. anyone who enlists in either the army or marine corps would have to reasonably assume that at some point, they will be shipped off to either afghanistan or iraq. to do otherwise exhibits a woeful ignorance of current reality.

    In many ways (none / 0) (#3)
    by Edger on Sat Nov 17, 2007 at 11:13:27 AM EST
    Prime Minister Stephen (mini bush) Harper, and Canada's Supreme Court, are examples of extreme versions of right wing ideology... further right and more extreme than US counterparts.

    Right-Wing Conservative Patronage Appointments Fill Judicial Vacancies

    October 18, 2007
    OTTAWA - The recent appointment of a former Conservative Member of Parliament to Nova Scotia's Supreme Court is another example of the Harper government forcing its right-wing ideology onto Canada's justice system, Liberal Justice Critic Marlene Jennings said today.

    "This appointee has a well documented history of vocally supporting laws that would restrict a woman's right to choose what she can and cannot do with her own body," said Ms. Jennings. "This Prime Minister has obviously decided that the next step in furthering his socially conservative agenda is to pack the judiciary with card-carrying members of his own party who share his political views."

    Did they just call (none / 0) (#4)
    by Jen M on Sat Nov 17, 2007 at 11:14:58 AM EST
    enlisted men and women of the US military stupid?

    It looks that way, doesn't it? (none / 0) (#5)
    by Edger on Sat Nov 17, 2007 at 11:26:08 AM EST
    They at least said they weren't allowed to think.

    Another Opinion (none / 0) (#8)
    by reedsanchez on Sat Nov 17, 2007 at 12:46:31 PM EST
    I think that the Canadian Supreme Court is right to rule against providing asylum to deserting American soldiers.  Although I almost certainly would have dodged the draft by traveling to Canada if I had been of age at the time, there has been no draft for the Iraq conflict/occupation.  
    There hasn't been a draft since 1973.

    I realize that socioeconomic factors prevent the United States armed forces from being totally voluntary.  I realize that because of this, underprivileged minority groups make up more of our armed forces than their proportion of the population would suggest.

    That having been said, the thousands of soldiers that are deserting to Canada at one point made the decision to become soldiers.  They may have made that decision long before any of the current miring conflicts in the Middle East had even been considered, but they still made it.  In many cases, through ROTC scholarships and other imbursement programs, these soldiers have been provided tens of thousands of dollars for tuition in exchange for their service.

    Even discounting the advance payment of soldiers in the form of scholarships and tuition reimbursement, soldiers are paid for their service.

    Although warfare certainly a more serious instance, it can be likened to any other professional refusing to do their job.  Although I've never enlisted or undergone basic training, I would imagine that it is made explicitly clear that as American soldiers, they will be expected to deploy wherever the commander in chief chooses.

    The third of the three primary areas of responsibility as outlined in 10 U.S.C. § 5063, originally introduced under the National Security Act of 1947 is that the marine corps is responsible for "Such other duties as the President may direct."

    Furthermore, the oath of enlistment sworn by soldiers in all branches of the armed forces is:

    "I, (state your name), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. (So help me God)."
    (Note that the last sentence is not required to be said if the speaker has a personal or moral objection, as is true of all oaths administered by the United States government)

    At least 1st Lt. Ehren Watada remained at his post and refused to be deployed rather than deserting.  

    Lt. Watada made the argument that it was his duty to oppose the war.

    "It usurps international treaties and conventions that by virtue of the Constitution become American law. The wholesale slaughter and mistreatment of the Iraqi people with only limited accountability is not only a terrible moral injustice, but a contradiction to the Army's own Law of Land Warfare. My participation would make me party to war crimes."  
    Whether or not you agree with his reasoning, he is fulfilling what he sees as his duty as a soldier.

    The soldiers who desert can make no such claim.