Starting with war resistance. As Dusti Fansler (Wellington Daily News) explains, "Soldiers strained by six years at war are deserting their posts at the highest rate since 1980, with the number of Army deserters this year showing an 80 percent increase since the United States invaded Iraq in 2003. While the totals are still far lower than they were during the Vietnam War, when the draft was in effect, they show a steady increase over the past four years and a 42 percent jump since last year." Sunday Matthis Chiroux is order to deploy to Iraq. This despite the fact that he was discharged and is in the IRR.
Good afternoon. My name is Sgt. Matthis Chiroux, and I served in the Army as a Photojournalist until being honorable discharged last summer after over four years of service in Afghanistan, Japan, Europe and the Phillipines. As an Army journalist whose job it was to collect and filter servicemember's stories, I heard many stomach-churning testimonies of the horrors and crimes taking place in Iraq. For fear of retaliation from the military, I failed to report these crimes, but never again will I allow fear to silence me. Never again will I fail to stand. In February, I received a letter from the Army ordering my return to active duty, for the purpose of mobilization for Operation Iraqi Freedom. Thanks in great part to the truths of war being fearlessly spoken by my fellow IVAW members, I stand before you today with the strength, clarity and resolve to declare to the military and the world that this Soldier will not be deploying to Iraq. This occupation is unconstitutional and illegal and I hereby lawfully refuse to participate as I will surely be a party to war crimes. Furthermore, deployment in support of illegal war violates all of my core values as a human being, but in keeping with those values, I choose to remain in the United States to defend myself from charges brought by the Army if they so wish to pursue them. I refuse to participate in the occupation of Iraq.
Courage to Resist has posted an interview with him (audio only). At the end of last month, California's New University weighed in on the issue, "Whether you have signed up for the military, are currently enlisted, are open to the idea or are violently opposed to serving, what remains clear is that if you are tapped to serve in Iraq, just don't go. First, the conflict has proven to be aimless, as little has gone smoothly since the toppling of Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003. Second, because so many individuals are already unwilling to serve in Iraq, the U.S. army is ready to send just about anyone, whether they are prepared or not. Lastly, make no mistake that Iraq is a war zone. Despite the invasion being invalid, this illegal war can have the same effect on its soldiers as any credible conflict. . . . Over the years, the objectives of the war in Iraq have changed from toppling a dictator to finding harmful weapons to flat-out nation-building. As such, the Baush administration or its successor may attempt to shift the aim of the conflict again, to something that is anybody's guess. Still, know that the war in Iraq is an illegal and aimless conflicts and that soldiers such as Chioux should be applauded for their refusal to support it." May 23rd, he explained to Leia Petty (US Socialist Worker), "I didn't like the war from the start. I always thought it smelled fishy, but I knew at the time, the Army owned my ass for at least the next four-and-a-half years. So I got in line like most soldiers, and prayed night and day that I could trust American civilians to end the war. I was so disappointed when my prayers went unaswered. . . . I do want to be clear though that I did not make this decision to benefit any movement or serve anyone's agenda. I made this decision for myself, based on an intense personal conviction that what I am doing is not only right, but the only decision possible for me as a person and a veteran."
Two years ago this month, Ehren Watada became the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. He cited the illegality of the Iraq War. In August 2006, an Article 32 hearing was held. In February 2007, a kangaroo court-martial took place. Over defense objection, Judge Toilet (John Head) ruled a mistrial. Toilet insisted that a new court-martial would take place immediately (March 2007 was when Head said it would take place). It has never
taken place. The Constitution forbids double jeopardy and the US military has been trying
Watada, 30, is an unlikely icon of war resistance. At 5 feet 7 inches, he is unimposing and even shy, dressed in a Hawaiian shirt and sandals, with his dark hair cut Army-short and his ears sticking out. He was raised in Honolulu, where his father, Bob, worked for decades in campaign-finance reform, and his mother, Carolyn Ho, was a high school guidance counselor. Watada, an Eagle Scout,
joined the Army in March 2003, his senior year at Hawaii Pacific University and,
like everyone who enlists, pledged an oath that members of the U.S. military have taken since 1789. "It doesn't say, 'I, Ehren Watada, will do as I'm told.' It says I will protect the Constitution," Watada says. He supports war in principle and is not a conscientious objector--in fact, he offered to go to Afghanistan (his commanders turned him down). "I'm against the Iraq War," he says. "By law, the war is
Pacific Citizen Staff reminds: "It was seven months ago that a federal judge blocked the U.S. Army from conducting a second court-martial of Watada for refusing to deploy to Iraq with his unit in June of 2006. U.S. District Judge Benjamin H. Settle ruled that a second
trial would violate Watada's constitutional rights, essentially agreeing with the officer's attorneys who argued double jeopardy -- that a person could not be tried twice for the
same crime." And Gregg K. Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) spoke with one of Watada's two civilian attorneys, Ken Kagan, and reports that Kagan believes "federal judge Benjamin Settle in Tacoma will probably take up the matter early this fall. . . . Kagan said he expects the case to eventually go before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals where it may take up to three years before a decision is rendered."
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Megan Bean, Chris Bean, Matthis Chiroux, Richard Droste, Michael Barnes, Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Jose Vasquez, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Logan Laituri, Jason Marek, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Turning to the US political race for president, will sexism ever be seriously examined? Let's not even consult Magic 8ball, it's too depressing. But Katharine Q. Seelye and Julie Bowman offer "Critics and News Executives Split Over Sexism in Clinton Coverage" today on the primary season. Women's Media Center -- not mentioned in the article -- is holding a panel on this topic Tuesday in NYC, free and open to the public. From nine in the morning until noon at The Paley Center for Media (25 West 52nd Street, NYC) and participants will include Juan Gonzalez, Christiane Amanpour, Sue Carroll, Courtney Martin, Celinda Lake, Mika Brzezinski, Catalina Camia, Geneva Overholser, Ron Wlaters, Dr. Kathy and Patricia Williams. "Sponsored by The White House Project, The Women's Media Center and the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, the forum is free of charge and open to the press and the public." Click here for the announcement and for information on registering.
2008 Presidential Candidate Ralph Nader discusses a remark made to him by a fellow alumnus at a recent Princeton reunion. Watch the video here, read the transcript below.
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I was at my Princeton reunion the other day, and a young alumnus came up to me - he was very kind - and he said "You know, I really like what you're doing - I like what you did - but please don't run."
I said "Do you realize what you are saying?"
And he said "Yes, I said please don't run."
I said "You're telling me not to use my First Amendment rights of speech, assembly, and petition inside the electoral arena. You're telling me to shut up. Are you aware of what you're saying?"
He said "I understand, I understand, I like what you're doing, but please don't run."
So I went through and I said "Well, would you tell those voters instead of trying to determine which one was worse between the Democrats and the Whigs, the two major parties in the 19th century, and instead cut out and voted for the Liberty Party, which was the anti-slavery party - would you say to those candidates, 'Don't run'?"
And he sort of paused.
And I said "How about the people who refused to go least-worst between the Republicans and Democrats on women's suffrage? Would you tell those candidates 'don't run'? What do you say to that?"
And he paused.
And I took it up to date and I said "Would you tell Buchanan not to run?"
And he said "I understand what you are saying, but please don't run."
And I said "You know, unwittingly, you are engaging in a politically bigoted statement. Because you can oppose, and you can support, any candidates you want. But when you are saying to someone 'don't run' you are saying to someone 'do not speak, do not petition, do not assemble inside the electoral arena.'"
Now I'm saying this because I'm sure you've had these conversations with people. Look at the word spoiler. Spoiler is a contemptuous word of political bigotry. They do not accuse George W. Bush of being the spoiler in 2000, and last I heard he got more votes than I did, vis-a-vis Al Gore. It's only the independent and third parties that are called spoilers.
And think of the hubris here - these two parties have spoiled our elections, they've spoiled our government, they've spoiled our politics - and to have the temerity to say to someone who wants to reform the process that they are spoilers - they have no sense of humor - I mean, how do you satire satire?