Socialist Worker

US soldier says he won’t fight for Bush

by Matthew Cookson
Issue No. 2039

The feeling against the Iraq war is growing even within the US army.

Ehren Watada, a US army lieutenant, refused to fight in Iraq and was court martialled. Earlier this month this was declared a mistrial and he will face another trial.

His and other US war resisters’ refusal to fight in Iraq is giving courage to other soldiers to stand up against George Bush’s war.

A number of serving US soldiers have crossed the border into Canada rather than fight in Iraq.

Active duty

Patrick Hart arrived in Canada in August 2005 after serving in the US military for nine and a half years. He was a sergeant in the 101st Airborne Division.

Patrick told Socialist Worker, “I had already been deployed in Iraq for a year and saw a lot of good friends come back shot up, or not in their right mind.

“I also am a father and a lot of younger soldiers were coming up to me asking me what I thought about the war in Iraq.

“One introduced me to a website showing George Galloway MP addressing the US senate. All the questions I was hearing at the time Mr Galloway was directing at our US senate and they didn’t have any answers.

“I won’t put myself or anybody else in harm’s way for something needless, especially when the government you fight for is being dishonest about its intentions in Iraq.

“I lost faith in the cause. As in most jobs, if you’re just going around faking it you won’t be at your best. If I am not at my best in Iraq someone will die. I couldn’t live with myself if I had been responsible for someone’s needless death.”

When asked about the mood among soldiers Patrick said, “I think that I might have run across a few crazies who actually wanted to be there and bought into it all and were still brainwashed.

“However most of them didn’t want to be there. I think as the war effort steps up in Iraq we’ll see more coming to Canada.

“Most people in Canada are sick of Bush and the rest of his goons.

“Canadian people have opened their arms to us. But the government of Canada has not come around to the idea of letting us stay as of yet.

“However, they are not handing us over to the US either.

“My message to those marching in London this weekend is that if you want to support the troops, then why not listen to them and their families.

“I think you will find that most of them do not want to be involved in this senseless war of aggression.

“If your government is going to put troops in harm’s way, you better have a damn good reason. We have already lost too many British and American youth, as well as the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, which our government calls ‘collateral damage’.

“Don’t be a part of it.”

Carolyn Egan is a member of the War Resisters Support Campaign in Canada. She was also active in a similar movement against the Vietnam War.

Carolyn told Socialist Worker, “The War Resisters Support Campaign has worked directly with 46 US soldiers who have crossed the border into Canada.

“But it is estimated that there may be up to 200 more who are awol (absent without official leave) but haven’t formally applied for status.

“At the moment they have to apply as refugees. But the campaign is putting pressure on the Canadian government to give them status in the same way that 60,000 Americans who resisted the draft, or deserted the US military during the Vietnam War, were allowed to stay.

“The support from the Canadian people has been very strong. Trade unions, church groups, students and others have been very active in the campaign.

Public opinion

“People have opened their homes to the resisters and have been very generous. Public opinion is with them.

“Those who came up during Vietnam were often involved in the student and anti-war movements in the US.

“For the most part, the current resisters have not been politically active before going into the military. They often make individual decisions based on their experiences in Iraq and the disillusionment they are experiencing with the role of the US military.

“Since the US troop ‘surge’ in Iraq was announced by Bush, the numbers coming up have grown from approximately one a month to one or more a week.

“We are expecting this to continue. The strong opposition to the war among the American people is giving more soldiers the confidence to say no.”

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Article information

Sat 24 Feb 2007, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 2039
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