Thursday, February 16, 2006

Send Jeremy Hinzman back

Jeremy Hinzman is one of a number of American military personnel who have come to Canada since the so-called "war on terror" began. At present he is appealing an Immigration Tribunal decision that he does not merit refugee status since he would not receive cruel or unusual punishment for his desertion. Judgement has been reserved by the Federal Court judge hearing the case.

He voluntarily enlisted in the 82nd Airborne Division in 2001 (he is now 26 so he was fully adult at the time) and served one tour in Afghanistan in a non-combat role but his request for "conscientious objector" status being refused (since he wanted to pick and choose which conflicts he would fight in rather than be non-combat in all circumstances) he was reassigned to his previous combat role as an armoured mechanic. He had attended meetings of the Society of Friends but this made his application for selective objection rather than a more understandable objection based on religious pacifism even harder to understand.

The left-wing media in Toronto love Hinzman, especially touting his similarity to Vietnam draftees that Canada sheltered decades ago. The difference is of course that these people did not volunteer and did not want to join the army at all. Is the war in Iraq illegal or immoral? He has the right to think so, he has to right to refuse to fight and refuse illegal orders but only when those orders are refused and soldiers are courtmartialled in the US will some traction build up against the US occupation - hiding out in Toronto for the rest of his life might work for him but it is not a principled stand as he claims it to be.

If Hinzman is truly a principled person, he will return to the United States and face the consequences of his actions. It will not be a pleasant experience, but standing on principle rarely is. His case may also deter people from signing up for the military who don't realise what they're getting into, and will throw ever more light on the fiasco the Bush Administration has created since the fall of Baghdad.
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