Sunday, March 19, 2006

The ones who go missing, missing from the coverage

The number of soldiers absconding from the British Army has trebled since the invasion of Iraq, raising fears that the military is facing a crisis in morale.
The Independent on Sunday can reveal that last year more than 380 soldiers went absent without leave and have since failed to return to duty - marking a dramatic increase since the invasion of Iraq three years ago.
Military lawyers and campaigners said that these figures suggested significant levels of disaffection in the ranks over the legality of the occupation, and growing discontent about the coalition's failure to defeat the Iraqi insurgency.
An RAF doctor was last week taken to a court martial for refusing to serve in Iraq, claiming the occupation is illegal, and a former SAS trooper, Ben Griffin, revealed he had quit the army in protest at the war.

So begins Severin Carrell's "Soldiers going Awol have trebled since the invasion of Iraq" (The Independent of London).

What's the deal with the coverage of this in the alternative media? We don't mean Democracy Now! or RadioNation with Laura Flanders (both of whom have provided regular coverage and, in fact, Flanders just had Camilo Mejia on yesterday). But we are wondering about our print magazines. It seems as though it's a one time story, at worst, a once a year story, at best. And often it's part of a moasic, as opposed to being the focus of the story itself. We don't understand why that is.

Kevin Benderman is imprisoned. Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey are but two seeking asylum in Canada. Katherine Jashinski, has anyone written a story on her?

It's been noted that:

Resistance is going on all over the world. In the United States, we know the names of (or should) people like Camilo Mejia, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Kevin Benderman and Katherine Jashinski.

So why aren't we reading more about it?

We can read about Iraq vets running for office. But we can read about that in the mainstream media.

With the administration actively pursuing war resisters from the Vietnam era, why aren't reading more about the resisters of today?

The monthly magazines, such as Harper's and The Progressive, may feel that with twelve issues a year, their opportunities are more limited and that might be a fair call. (Matthew Rothschild interviewed war resister Carl Webb for Progressive Radio a few months back, it should be noted.) So maybe this question really goes to a biweekly like The Nation?

We just know that this is part of the story of the war and we don't feel that it's getting enough attention. Until Friday, we were unaware that a major union in Canada was supporting the efforts of Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey. (See James Clancy's "Mr Haper goes to war.")
Also Friday, we learned that "France Attracts More US 'Refuseniks'."

Cindy Sheehan put a face on the war for many. She brought home the actual costs of the illegal war. We think there are other faces out there, people with stories to share. The war has many costs. Elaine has noted repeatedly that her patients who are vets returning from Iraq don't feel their stories are told. This is even more true when it comes to covering the war resisters.

The war has many costs and that could be brought home with beefed up coverage. Patrick and Jill Hart have a story to tell. Others do as well.

The 'vet as politician' angle honestly doesn't interest us. John McCain's a vet and we haven't seen anything to indicate he learned a thing from his experience (or he wouldn't have gone along with the Graham-Levin amendment). John Kerry? It seems like he learned something in Vietnam . . . and then forgot two decades later when he ran for president.

We are interested in the human costs of the illegal war, in the choices that are made and the battles that are fought.

We think James Clancy said it well in "Mr Haper goes to war:"

In the past, Canada has provided a refuge for U.S. citizens who decide not to support their nation's military follies overseas. Another Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau, took a clear stand in support of a generation of U.S. war resisters during the Vietnam era.
The statement Trudeau made at the time remains just as valid today: "Those who make the conscientious judgment that they must not participate in this war ... have my complete sympathy, and indeed our political approach has been to give them access to Canada. Canada should be a refuge from militarism."
The National Union absolutely agrees and joins the demand for the federal government to take whatever steps are necessary to allow US war resisters to stay in Canada.
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