Over and over when people ask me what I'm working on and I tell them about the collected stories of opposition, about the profiles in Mission Rejected, I hear comments like, "There are soldiers against the war? But it's a volunteer army..."
Civilians sometimes ask why these men and women join the military.
Not really. Too often we forget about the insidious and quiet though steady draft by default that comes from the endless ranks of the poor in the United States who are beguiled by the lure of a better life. Then there's stop loss. The true volunteers are not necessarily in lock step regarding policy. And more and more we see the result of this contention among the ranks: Soldiers are mustering out. They are joining groups like Veterans for Peace and Iraq Veterans against the War. They are filing for conscientious objector status. They are going AWOL. They are deserting to Canada.
As the Democrats drift around searching for a viable policy vis-à-vis this disastrous war, they might want to start by supporting the men and women of our proud military who are standing up and saying, "No!" to orders they consider immoral and illegal. Democratic candidates have no right to wonder why they're not shoe-ins in the midterm elections, not so long as they meander around mumbling bland and evasive nothing statements engineered by committee to help them in the polls. Stand for something. Talk to many of these same lawmakers in private, and they sing a different tune--of course the war is wrong. Why the difference between public and private discourse? They're ruled by polls. The same cannot be said about our fighting men and women of the U.S. military. They are risking their freedom and their future careers by rejecting the mission--but they're doing it anyway because it's the right thing to do.
They deserve our immediate support. Right now Lt. Ehren Watada is atFt. Lewis, Washington. The lieutenant says he's ready to fight inAfghanistan, but that the Iraq War is illegal and he won't go. Army Specialist Suzanne Swift is another story all together, and one worth more discussion--however her situation is just as valid even if it speaks to a more specific problem in the military.
Here's something to do today: pick a handful of Democrats who are acting like they might be able to win a seat in the midterm elections and send them a barrage of email demanding that they support these two courageous soldiers, soldiers standing up to the monolith of the U.S. military and echoing their Vietnam-era elders acts of years ago: The echo is real. I was a Vietnam War resister. I've seen this before. We're heading in the same direction. It's time.