Sunday, December 24, 2006

The story of 2006

US war resister Kyle Snyder. Continuing to speak out, even with a warrant out for his arrest.
Self-checked out a second time, at a Greyhound station, after being burned for the hundredth time.
What's going to end the illegal war?
People willing to lay it on the line like Kyle Snyder.
2006's story was the war resisters. They're always present, whether they go public or not. But in June of this year, things really seemed to go up a notch.
Ehren Watada went public in June and became the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. He'd spent January to June explaining to his superiors why he couldn't fight in the illegal war. He'd told them he was willing to go Afghanistan but the Iraq war was built on lies and for him to participate in it would be to engage in war crimes. For those new to Watada, he has not stated: "Those in Iraq are participating in war crimes." His stance is that the war is illegal, something he learned when he was encouraged by his superiors to learn about the war since he would be shipped over shortly. He did that. The point in his research was supposed to provide him with answers for any question those serving under him might have. Instead, the research convinced him the war was illegal. Knowing that, if he did deploy to Iraq, he would be participating in war crimes.
So with nearly six months to avoid the issue, the US military chose to ignore it and Ehren Watada went public. He faces a pre-trail hearing at the start of next month and a court-martial February 5th.
Speaking last Tuesday to a crowd of at least 350, Watada declared, "The issue is about the war and people need to educate themselves about everything that's going on about the war. They need to take a position one way or another. If people agree with me or disagree with me, I really don't care. . . . What people need to do is take a stance. And if they truly believe there is something wrong with this war -- that it's immoral and illegal -- they should ask themselves what are they willing to sacrifice in order to stop this war?'"
Yesterday, war resister Ricky Clousing was released from military prison. From the AP:
"It feels good, but it feels surreal because I don't have to deal with the military anymore," Clousing, who was released 15 days early for good conduct, said Saturday outside of Camp Lejeune, the Marine base where he was imprisoned. "I'm getting out just before Christmas, so it's really great."
There was also Darrell Anderson (who's continued to speak out), Agustin Aguayo, Mark Wilkerson and Ivan Brobeck. All making news (or should have, see The Full Brobeck) in the last months of this year.
Maybe "making an impact" is the better term since they rarely got the coverage their stands deserved. The military knows the power of each stand and, as Ann Wright pointed out on the December 14th broadcast of Town Square, the military fears it. How lucky for them that independent media has little to no interest in the matter. (Especially true when it comes to the print division of independent media.)
But with or without the media spotlight, they have made a difference and they are part of a growing movement of war resistance within the military. Other names include Joshua Key, Ivan Brobeck, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, and Kevin Benderman.
The story of 2006 and one independent media could have told you about, if they were willing to do their job. (Quick, name the two writers who took park in Watada's tele-conference in November and didn't write one word about it but tried to get in a piece as the year drew to a close where they tossed that factoid out?)
For information on war resistance within the military you could count on Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Appeal for Redress is collecting signatures of active duty service members calling on Congress to bring the troops home -- the petition will be delivered to Congress next month.
And information on past and present war resistance can also be found in David Zeiger's Sir! No Sir! which tells the story of war resistance during the Vietnam era and, in the new director's edition, also includes bonus material on Camilo Mejia's court-martial, interviews with Cindy Sheehan and Jane Fonda about today's war resistance, and more. The director's cut is availabe for $23.95 and the original version is currently available for $12.95.
Peace on earth? That'll take resistance to the war machine. Those taking a public stand against the illegal war are doing their part.
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