Saturday, 17 June 2006

Mission Rejected

Since my previous post about Lt Watada's refusal to deploy to Iraq, Amy Goodman on Democracy Now has been featuring soldiers' stories and the resistance to serve by those in the military who oppose this war.
She interviewed Peter Laufer, whose new book, Mission Rejected: U.S. Soldiers Who Say No to Iraq covers the subject broadly.

I've long intended to do a bit of research on the topic of military war resisters, but found that information hard to find. Peter Laufer explained in the interview that hard numbers are really hard to come by, since most soldiers who refuse deployment or redeployment are keeping a low profile, and the military is not interested in highlighting the issue.

Those cases we do hear about, many of which are listed here, are really subjecting themselves to harsh scrutiny for the cause which they believe in. Many others simply go AWOL, but whether their reasons constitute a resistance to the Iraq war for cause is not clear.
One early resister was staff sergeant Camilo Mejia, who served in Iraq, and then applied for conscientious objector status after discovering first hand what the war was really about. Those who casually dismiss such examples as simply cowardly are unlikely to have read the words of some of these heroes or to have thought through the issues very thoroughly.

Camilo Mejia, from his statement upon receiving the "Courageous Resister Award", August 2004:
I am only a regular person that got tired of being afraid to follow his own conscience. For far too long I allowed others to direct my actions even when I knew that they were wrong....To those who have called me a coward I say that they are wrong, and that without knowing it, they are also right. They are wrong when they think that I left the war for fear of being killed. I admit that fear was there, but there was also the fear of killing innocent people, the fear of putting myself in a position where to survive means to kill, there was the fear of losing my soul in the process of saving my body, the fear of losing myself to my daughter, to the people who love me, to the man I used to be, the man I wanted to be. I was afraid of waking up one morning to realize my humanity had abandoned me.

Other resources:

Kevin Benderman defense committee

Psychoanalysts against the war

Sir, No Sir
a film


Poechewe said...

I wonder how many soldiers from the National Guard have said no? I get the impression that the National Guard in recent years was only meant for short deployments during emergencies and that many of those who went to Iraq never expected the long deployments.

JillK. said...

Thank you for posting "Sir! No Sir!". I saw it last weekend and was blown away.

Another book to read is "The Last True Story I'll Ever Tell", which is written by a Nat. Guard soldier who did not resist and seems to have lost everything as a result. Although hard to read, it is a great illustration of the losing of one's humanity during war.