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THE VETERAN

Page 40
Download PDF of this full issue: v39n1.pdf (18.1 MB)

<< 39. Obituary for Zak Wachtendonk41. "Just Crazed" War Vets? (poem) >>

The Contract

By Robin Long

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In 2004, when military resister Jeremy Hinzman applied for refugee status in Canada, the Conservative government interfered at his hearing challenging evidence disputing the legality of the War in Iraq. The UN Handbook for Refugee's and the Nuremberg Principles state: a soldier of an Army that is involved in an illegal war of aggression has a higher international duty to refuse service and the right to seek refugee protection in member countries. This sets a precedent which could close the door on that legal avenue for refugee protection.

The US invasion of Iraq was clearly an illegal war of aggression. The US was not under attack, or the eminent threat of attack from the nation of Iraq, nor was the war approved by the UN Security Council. By taking this stance, the Canadian Government implicitly condones the invasion and continuing occupation of Iraq. Is that what Canadians want? A majority of Americans want it to end and have come to realize it is a mistake, at best. Canadians have long known it to be wrong. Why is the minority Conservative government still holding on to the idea and still deporting war resisters? Why are they separating families and aiding in the imprisonment of morally strong men and women?

In June 2007, Canada's Parliament voted on a non- binding resolution to allow war resisters and their families permanent resident status. That vote passed, and in agreement with that vote, a poll of Canadian opinion showed overwhelming support for the resolution. In defiance of parliaments intent and the will of the people, the Conservative minority government, led by Prime Minister Steven Harper and Immigration Minister Diane Finley ignored the bill. The Government stated: All refugee claimants are given a fair chance to plead their case before the Refugee Board, and special treatment to these Iraq resisters were unfair to other claimants. Further, they stated that we are not legitimate claimants because we are from the US, and that the US has a fair and transparent justice system, and that we wouldn't be singled out for being political.

On July 14th, 2008, in my final attempt to stay in Canada, where my son and community is, Federal Judge Ann Mactavish stated that I didn't prove I would be treated harshly by the US military for being a politically outspoken opponent to the War in Iraq and Bush Administration policy. She predicted my punishment would be a minimal 30 days in the brig and cleared the way for my deportation/extradition. Only 10% of these cases go to Court Martial. A month later, I was tried in a Court Martial presided over by a judge, a Colonel in the US Army, who has President Bush in her chain-of-command. She was later appointed by Bush to oversee trials at Guantanamo Bay, no doubt because of her political credentials.

The only aggravating evidence the Prosecution presented was a 6 minute video of me stating, among other things, that I believed my President lied to me. A political statement. The fact that this was found admissible in court for the charge of Desertion is beyond me. No character witnesses were brought against me. The only factors the Prosecution wanted shown in determining my sentence was the fact I was political and exercising my freedom of speech in criticizing my Commander-in-Chief.

It is a conflict of interest to have a judge determine my fate who must ultimately answer to the President, while I was claiming that same President was a domestic enemy, who used any reason, and manufactured reasons, to invade and wreak havoc in Iraq. The judge gave me 30 months, 2 1/2 years, for not showing up for work I believed to be morally objectionable and criminal. By far the harshest sentence given to a resister/deserter of the Iraq War.

I plea bargained to 15 months. I still get a Dishonorable Discharge (DD). A DD will keep me from many fields of employment, from any Government position in the civilian world. It will make getting home loans all the harder. This is a FELONY CONVICTION- which will make it very hard, perhaps impossible to return to Canada to be with my young family. It is the worst grade of discharge there is.

People that committed far worse crimes have gotten lighter sentences than me. 1st Infantry Division soldier Spec. Belmor Ramos convicted of conspiracy to commit murder of 4 Iraqi men received only 7 months. I refused to participate in killings; he stood guard while others executed four unidentified Iraqi men then dumped their bodies in a Baghdad canal. During his court martial Ramos admitted his guilt, stating: "I wanted them dead. I had no legal justification to do this."

This is justice? The system is neither fair nor impartial. Can it really be transparent when you don't know who in the chain of command is influencing the judge? Do you see how the military justice system works? Condone killings with light sentences, but God forbid someone should call President Bush a liar and a warmonger. A persons words and political opinion must be far more damaging to the good order of the military if they are anti-war and critical of the President, than soldiers criminal actions in an occupied foreign nation.

People have argued that I signed a contract. I'd like to quote from a letter one of the Founders of our United States wrote to General Washington concerning his thoughts on contracts in April, 1793: "When performance, for instance, becomes impossible, non performance is not immoral. So if performance becomes destructive to the Party, the law of self-preservation overrules the laws of obligations to others. For the reality of these principals I appeal to the true fountains of evidence: the head and heart of every rational honest man." - Thomas Jefferson.

For me to continue in my military contract would have been destructive to me as a person with my views, morals and ideals. Let alone the Iraqi's, who have died in the hundreds of thousands. The unit I was serving with was NOT called up. When I enlisted, I expressed moral concerns about the invasion of Iraq. I was given orders to a non-deployable TRADOC post. There, I learned a lot about the atrocities that are going on in Iraq from soldiers filtering in from Germany, Fort Carson, Fort Hood, etc. I talked about how wrong this invasion was with my brothers in arms and was met with mixed responses. In April of 2005, I was given high priority/short term notice to support occupational requirements of the 2-2ID in Iraq. I alone in my unit got these orders. I was to catch up with a unit already in the thick of the occupation, fighting. This AFTER failing to get CO status. Coincidence? I think not.

The contract I signed was to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, from all enemies, foreign and domestic, and to obey the LAWFUL orders of the President and those officers over me. I did not sign on to be a strong arm for corporate interests or oil. The so called Liberation of Iraq has turned into nothing more than a constant and protracted struggle by the people of Iraq, against forces, seen and unseen, that are trying to impose their will on them in a public war for private power and profit. True freedom is the ultimate expression and condition of a people to control their own destiny, not the manufactured variety being offered here. True democracy is not found at the point of a gun. It rises up from within the mass of the people.

It wasn't about WMD's, or we would have found some. It wasn't about "regime change" or we would have been in Darfur, Indonesia or a dozen other countries. It wasn't about 9/11 because they were from Saudi Arabia. It doesn't say anywhere in my contract that I would be going to foreign soil, half way around the world, to invade a country that was of no threat to the United States. To risk my life, not in defending the people or Constitution of the United States but creating more enemies for them by being in an occupying force. Iraq, however unhappy under our former ally/client Hussein, was never a real threat. The destabilized nation of Iraq has become a breeding ground and awesome recruiting tool for Al Qaeda. It has cost the American people an enormous price. I'm not talking just the trillion dollar financial burden, but the human cost of the war. The deaths of so many of our brave youth, the missing limbs, the PTSD and the suicides. The invasion has made far more enemies for the United States and made the world a far more dangerous place.

The order to go to Iraq was not a lawful one. It violates our Constitution. Article IV states that ANY treaty the US is signatory to shall be the supreme law of the land. Last time I checked, the US is signatory to the Geneva Conventions. There are certain laws in that treaty for declaring war, last time I checked, "regime change" wasn't one of them. A country must be under attack or imminent threat of attack. Neither was true in the case of Iraq. President Bush had no right to interpret the Constitution as he saw fit, on the grounds it was a new world after 9/11, and the 107th Congress had no right to pass HJ Res. 114, which "allowed" the President to invade Iraq. The Constitution was being ignored by the whole lot of them and they were derelict in their duty to uphold it.

The position that the Conservative government of Canada has taken has separated a family, an act totally un-Canadian. I have a young son, a Canadian citizen, and a Canadian partner with MS, left to raise our son while I'm locked in a brig for refusing to participate in a war Canada, in 2003, under a different Government, wouldn't send troops to. They saw the holes in Bush's "intelligence." By deporting me, and not giving me a chance to leave willingly, I have been barred from entering Canada for at least 10 years. My flesh and blood is there!

The Conservatives are destroying Canada's tradition of being a refuge from militarism and an asylum from injustice that goes back to the times of slavery. Are they truly representing the people? Who are they working for, really?

Bush is gone. Obama's administration has a different view and a different policy. Its time for Mr. Harper to change his view. He should listen to Parliament and the solid majority of his citizens! Let me return to Canada to be with my partner and son. I want only to live in peace and be in his life.

Please support the movement to allow War Resisters to stay in Canada and pardon the ones in the US.

STOP THE WAR. Peace, love, light.

Robin Long,
Prisoner L4830R35
PO BOX 452136
San Diego, CA, 92145

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