Sunday, July 01, 2007

Editorial: War Resistance Is All Around

War resistance is all around . . . if not in the pages of The Nation.

Friday, Iraq Veterans Against the War's Nate Lewis, Mike Blake, Sholom Keller and Steve Mortillo and Adam Kokesh went to Fort Jackson to meet a friend and found themselves arrested. Their 'crime'? Giving speeches on a military base? No. Passing out literature? No. Their crime was wearing t-shirts.

This was actually the second time the US military played Fashion Police and went gunning for Kokesh. You know he has to be thinking, "Damn, they bust me for wearing fatigues, they bust me for wearing a t-shirt!" Who knew the US military brass was composed of a group of wanna be Mr. Blackwells? If Blackwell had that kind of power, Cher would be splitting rocks in Levonworth, serving a lifetime sentence.

Cher's not and neither are Iraq Veterans Against the War. But IVAW is in the midst of a summer base tour which finds them at Fort Benning in Columbus, GA on today 1st at 7:00 pm; then a fundraiser in Philadelphia on June 3rd at 6:00 pm; a fundraiser in NYC on July 5th at 7:00 pm; the Naval Sub Marine Base in Groton, CT on July 6th at 7:00 pm; and concluding at Fort Drum in NY on July 8th at 4:00 pm.

Liam Madden is taking part in the tour (and wrote about it here). Friday, he got the news that the US military was dropping charges against him. When offered a deal, Madden countered that if the military would admit, in writing, that he had made no disloyal statements, he'd be happy to follow their Fashion Dictates. Madden noted on Friday:

"I planned to argue that my comments were accurate and therefore not disloyal. In fact, it is the duty of veterans and active duty members of the military to stand up and tell their leaders when war crimes are being committed," said Madden. "Now that the military has chickened out and dropped these charges I hope others will join me in speaking out against this illegal war."

When resistance goes public, officials get nervous. Fortunately for them, they have Estes Thompson of the Associated Press who wrote an article on Thursday that should have had the Journalism Police out in droves. C.I. noted that it was an example of how much lower the already low standards of journalism had fallen with he-said/she-said being replaced with he-said & then he-said. For all but 12 of the 114 line article, Thompson was happy to parrot the army's figures and their spokesperson while he assured you that resistance while serving just wasn't common. He neglected to tell readers that as late of March of this year, the army got caught under counting figures, that their current 2006 figure is still 2,000 short of the number of self-checkouts. 2,000 short, so they added 200 and Thompson runs with it, apparently unaware that NPR's Nancy Mullane reported back in March: "Instead of 3100 deserters [for 2006], the real number may be closer to 5,000. That's according to analysts within the Army's personnel division at the Pentagon and at the Fort Knox desertion information center. Both reached that 5,000 figure by adding on soldiers who deserted and then were discharged from the Army throughout the year."

But there was Thompson laughable article which would be run everywhere and treated as 'truth.' Self-checkouts aren't a problem for the military, said Estes and that was supposed to be that, end of story.

Of course reality proves that to be false and reality took it up another notch last week when James Burmeister not only went to Canada in the hopes of refugee status, but went public.

Burmeister is a 22-year old Iraq vet who hails from Eugene, Oregon and enlisted under the belief that he'd be doing reconstruction work. The CBC reports:

Instead, he said he became part of a team that set up traps for Iraqis using an object such as a fake camera as a lure.
"If the Iraqis would go and touch it they [the soldiers] could shoot 'em because if anyone messes with the U.S. government property, they're allowed to fire at 'em," he said.

Burmeister, currently in Canada with his wife and their daughter, joins an ever growing list of war resisters who have gone public. For every one that goes public, many more do not. (Nor should they, it's an individual decision and an individual choice whether to go public with the decision.)

By small media, one of 2006's most underreported stories was the ever growing war resistance. The AP, in fact, has done more to cover it than any other outlet. That was true in 2006 and it remains true in 2007. If the pattern holds, not only will it be true in 2008 but The Nation will continue to dummy up on the entire issue. For the record, though Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive), CBS, CounterPunch, the AP, The Kansas City-Star, Democracy Now! and others could report on Adam Kokesh, The Nation appears bound and determined to get through 2007 without ever mentioning his name. Two weeks ago, Anna Quindlen addressed the growing war resistance within the US military. She did so in big media.
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