For the last year I've been traveling across the U.S. and making trips to Canada and Germany to meet with the growing number of soldiers who come to the difficult moral decision that they must disobey their commanding officers' orders to fight in Iraq. It's been inspirational to hear of their epiphanies and to witness their resolve. There are more and more soldiers who refuse to go in the first place, citing what they learned in basic training: It's their duty to disobey an illegal or immoral order. Soldiers and would-be soldiers are resisting this war, Bush's war--not the military. It's a growing phenomenon.
So here's the question that's been building these past months and weeks: Why hasn't the public embraced the growing number of U.S. soldiers who refuse duty in Iraq or those who come back from active duty in Iraq opposed to the war?
There should be ticker tape parades for these heroes, we should be honoring them and thanking them for their courage. They risk their lives in combat, receive medals for valor, and come back to do battle on the home front for nothing less than America's soul. But it's not happening.
News coverage of these heroes is sporadic at best. Especially with the swelling numbers of American civilians registering discontent with the war, where is the popular support for these brave soldiers? Why are even left-leaning media outlets maintaining a distance from this critical story? Salesmanship. The media's buying what Bush is selling. There's midterm fear on the Hill. Then there's the GOP big box fear courtesy of the Bush Administration, which has generated a panic about the Iraq War quagmire that manifests itself as a worry that even "liberals" will appear to be so-called cut-and-run appeasers if they come out without hesitation against the war.
Here's what needs to happen: We need to welcome these soldiers who are opposing the war with enthusiasm and open arms. We need to encourage those in the military to defy illegal orders. We need to lobby hard against recruiters seducing school children with the promises of money and adventure when they are leading them into death and destruction. We need to get real and make this war a regrettable thing of the past.