Friday, March 20, 2009


In the U.S soldiers are regarded as heroes, at least in public where it is politically convenient, in private Henry Kissinger refereed to them as "stupid animals". Placing a yellow "support the troops" ribbon on your car is an easy way of expressing barely concealed support for Operation Iraqi Liberation (O.I.L). That such adulation should be paid to America's armed services while millions of civilians are dead and displaced thanks to their heroism might surprise those outside the U.S, but that anyone would search for logic in the rhetoric of American politics would certainly surprise those inside the U.S. On the rare occasion that criticism of the war is mentioned in connection with the conduct of the troops it is quickly pointed out that they were only following orders. That defense was rejected at the trial of Nazi war criminals in Nuremberg, but things are always different when your country is concerned.

Nonetheless, there are thousands of heroes in the U.S military who have risked their lives so that another people may be free, and the support they have received is pathetic. Sometimes loyalty to humanity requires treason to country. Since the beginning of the occupation of Iraq as many 25,000 members of the American armed services have deserted the military. Iraq war veteran Andre Shepherd is one of them. In 2007 he walked off his base in Germany because he "could no longer support this illegal war in Iraq with a clear conscience." He's applied for asylum in Germany, but his application like those of deported U.S refugees to Canada is likely to be denied. If returned to the military he faces prison time, hate crimes, and potentially even execution.

Members of the American military are risking their career, their freedom, their reputation, and their life to avoid participating in an illegal war and the rest of the world that so vigorously denounced the occupation of Iraq when there was nothing they could do to forestall its implementation is silent. During World War II Venezuela offered refuge to German soldiers deserting from Hitler's armies. Today Venezuela has followed in that tradition by offering asylum to American service members wanting to avoid participation in an illegal war, but this is not enough. While those of us in countries that participate in the occupation of Iraq work to change those policies, those who live in countries that oppose the war must work to ensure their governments support their words with action. Every nation that considers the American role in Iraq illegal must support those who refuse to become the instruments of war criminals. Support the troops.

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