Sunday, November 27, 2011

Peter Laufer's Mission Rejected


The Iraq and Afghanistan Wars have gone on so long that there are books on the two you can consider "old." Peter Laufer's book Mission Rejected, for example, came out five years ago.


Laufer is a journalist of many years and an author of many books. In Mission Rejected, he documented the emerging resistance to the Iraq War. There would be other books, including moving accounts written by Joshua Key and Camilo Mejia, but this was the first for the current wars and, by focusing on individuals and not an individual, it provided a cross-section of resistance and resisters. Here's Laufer writing about Iraq War veteran Joshua Key and his wife Brandi Key's decision to go to Canada instead of have Joshua go back to Iraq:

Joshua and Brandi talked it through and decided to opt for a new life as Canadians. It was a difficult choice. "I know that I'm not going to be able to go back there," he tells me in his Toronto backyard. "I hated leaving my country." He misses his family and he blames the Bush administration. "I blame them because they made me do it," he says flatly. "You can lie to the world; you can't lie to a person who's seen it. They made me have to do things that a man should never have to do, for the purpose of their gain. Not the people's -- their financial gain."
And when Joshua's story is alongside that of Clara Gomez, Clifton Hicks, Darrell Anderson, Aidan Delgado, Robert Zabala and others, it's no longer just his story, the personal story becomes part of a multi-layered movement of resistance.

The stories are often unique but the decision to resist is the common factor:
Camilo Mejia spent six months fighting in Iraq, an experience that convinced him the war was illegal and immoral. During home leave in 2004, he told the Army he refused to return to duty in Iraq and instead filed as a conscientious objector -- the first Iraq War veteran to do so. The sergeant surrendered to the military. He was denied CO status, sentenced to a year in prison for desertion, and given a bad-conduct discharge. "I had to come forward to speak for soldiers who were opposed to the war -- soldiers who are fighting a corporate war," he said over and over during speeches around the country following his release from prison.

Were it only a primer, Mission Rejected would have an important place in the Iraq literature of the last years; however, the book also manages to tie in the current wave of resistance in with the largest most recent wave during the Vietnam era.

We discussed the book in March of 2007 and Kat summed Mission Rejected up this way, "You've got people sharing stories of Iraq, you've got tales of resistance within the military and outside, you've got people working for peace. We've talked about the power of the counter-recruiting chapter, how it assembles various things we mainly already knew in terms of horror stories but it does so in such a way that it grabs you and gives you this sense of perspective that you're not going to get if you hear one day about one and then a week or a month later about another. That's true of that chapter and it's really true of the whole book. I think we all enjoyed this one."

In this series of ten important books of the last ten years. This it the ninth pick. We've also selected "Chris Hedges'Death of the Liberal Class," "Shirley MacLaine's I'm Over All That," "CCR's Articles of Impeachment Against Bush," "Manal M. Omar's Barefoot in Baghdad," "Susan Faludi's The Terror Dream," "Joyce Murdoch and Deb Price's Courting Justice," "Anthony Arnove's Iraq: The Logic Of Withdrawal" and "Tori's Piece by Piece." Due to the Great Recession, your local libraries are both overtaxed (seeing more patrons than ever before) and underfunded. Make a point to check out your local library or local branch of your library and consider letting your local representatives know that you support increasing the budget for the library.
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