I have a number of comments to make about this story, but first here are a couple of sections that are noteworthy:
“TORONTO (AP) — The Canadian government has denied refugee status to former U.S. Army paratrooper Jeremy Hinzman, a major blow to a handful of U.S. military deserters who have fled to Canada rather than fight in a war they claim commits atrocities against civilians.”
Is there an example of a war in which civilians are not hurt, injured or maimed. Is there any time in which civilians are not placed at risk. This is not to say that it is right or good for them to be hurt. Civilians should be protected, but there is a difference between protection and intentional targeting of civilians.
“Pvt. 1st Class Joshua Key, 26, of Oklahoma City is the latest war resister to flee to Toronto, arriving two weeks ago with his wife and four children. He told the Toronto Star that he served in Iraq with the 43rd Combat Engineering Company, which was deployed in April 2003.
Key said he served eight months in Iraq before he left the military when he was on leave back at the 43rd’s base in Fort Carson, Colorado in December 2003.
“I was in combat the entire time I was there,” said Key. “I left for Iraq with a purpose, thinking this was another Hitler deal. But there were no weapons of mass destruction. They had no military whatsoever. And I started to wonder.”
Ok, so this soldier was over there and is familiar with the situation, but I don’t see anything here that suggests that there was intentional targeting of civilians. Combat is not nice, it is not supposed to be.
“The ruling, written by Immigration and Refugee Board member Brian Goodman, said Hinzman had not made a convincing argument that he would face persecution or cruel and unusual punishment if sent back to the United States.
Goodman said that while Hinzman may face some employment and social discrimination, “The treatment does not amount to a violation of a fundamental human right, and the harm is not serious.”
Hinzman’s attorney, Jeffry House, said his client would appeal the ruling and still believed that he would be granted refugee status in Canada.
“He is disappointed,” House told CBC TV. “We don’t believe that people should be imprisoned for doing what they believe is illegal.”
A couple more comments, working backwards. The attorney’s comments about not being imprsioned for doing something that you believe is illegal is just specious. I could make the same case about not paying income taxes.
But what irks me more than anything else is that these men enlisted voluntarily. They were not drafted, they signed up. And they should have understood the risks involved in signing up to be a part of the armed forces.
If they come out and say that our troops are engaging in intentional harm and destruction of civilians and civilian property I might have more sympathy, but that is not what I hear and even if they said it I would need more evidence to prove it.
War is not nice. It is not a good thing, it is not something that I welcome or think that we should routinely engage in. But sometimes it is necessary and we all have our roles to play. And when you choose to insert yourself by enlisting you need to take responsibility.
I wish our troops well and hope that they come home soon. I hope that they are safe and I hope that the innocents on all sides are kept safe too. But there is going to be a certain amount of tragedy and loss here and we just need to accept that, even though it may be distasteful.