Nov 16 2007

AWOL US soldiers in Canada not refugees. Canadian army recruiters, here is your opportunity

Published by at 6:23 am under military,politics,USA

They signed up for the US army voluntarily during wartime – and then decided they’d rather live out the rest of the Iraq war in Canada. Now we’re sending them back – along with up to 300 other soldiers.

There’s no question that Iraq is a debacle. The country is a shambles and likely a terrorist breeding ground for years to come. And while the US-led multinational force in Iraq operates under a (little-publicized) UN mandate, the whole mission is under fire from the vast majority of pundits of the left and right from around the globe.

But soldiers who volunteer for the army don’t get to choose which wars they get to fight.

I do have sympathy for deserters like US Army Private Brad McCall, currently staying in Vancouver. He’ll surely be affected by the Canadian Supreme Court’s decision.

During a recent conversation with me, McCall told me of how his entire family wished he were fighting in Iraq right now instead of living up north. They won’t even talk to the guy. He is cut off from everyone he ever loved or cared about.

That’s harsh. But he must have had some inkling of what to expect. And if he does face prison time, then that will be another fairly predictable consequence of his actions.

But perhaps there is another way out: clearly, the UN-mandated and US-led NATO mission in Afghanistan has much wider support from the international community and far more support from ordinary Afghans than the Iraq mission has from Iraqis.

Could these soldiers who refuse to serve in Iraq be given the choice of volunteering for the NATO mission in Afghanistan as Canadian assets in return for full Canadian citizenship?

These soldiers don’t want to be called on to commit war crimes in Iraq. Fair enough. Would they be willing to use their war-fighting skills to help their adopted nation bear its own heavy military burden?

These soldiers need a new place to call home. Perhaps they have a way to earn it.

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2 responses so far

2 Responses to “AWOL US soldiers in Canada not refugees. Canadian army recruiters, here is your opportunity”

  1. on 18 Nov 2007 at 1:08 am

    I don’t see a place for them in our forces. There are enough Canadians willing to enlist; they should be the priority — and what benefit is there to recruiting known deserters into our forces?

    McCall and the other American deserters made a rash judgment in joining and then going AWOL, and they should face the consequences. Absent any credible evidence that they were press-ganged into serving against their will or that they’d face torture, it’s time to send ’em back.

  2. on 18 Nov 2007 at 3:28 am

    I’m not convinced that the American deserters’ decision to come to Canada was entirely rash.

    The deserters are adamant that they wanted to avoid taking part in a conflict where they honestly believed they faced a high likelihood of committing war crimes in Iraq. Here’s their chance to prove they are men of conscience – and not merely cowards.

    I agree that there are absolutely enough Canadians willing to enlist in our military, but only because of the unrealistic ceiling that the feds have put on the total size of our forces.

    The NATO mission in Afghanistan is clearly starved of enough boots on the ground to hold territory. Here is a potential regiment-sized group of people with military skills who may require only four to six months training to get them up to speed to send over – plus they would have the motivation of Canadian (or some other NATO country’s) citizenship – as opposed to years in US military prison.

    If the deserters don’t go for it, by all means, send them back to the US. But perhaps this is one way everyone can win.

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