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Blame Canada!

Thanks to James Joyner, I discovered this article about US military deserters seeking asylum in Canada. It's Viet Nam all over again, the attitude seems to be.

Except it's not. In Viet Nam, it was some deserters, but also draft dodgers -- young men who had no desire to serve in the military and were facing involuntary conscription. But the draft ended about 25 years ago, and we have no "draft dodgers" any more -- these are all deserters, men (the ones listed here are all male) all voluntarily enlisted in the Armed Forces, and now wish to be released from their pledges.

Both governments are playing this issue pretty low-key -- the US isn't making a stink about getting them back, and Canada isn't rushing to either grant or reject their appeals for sanctuary.

I find myself with truly mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, these men made a commitment to the military -- and, by extension, their nation -- to serve, and now they are having second thoughts. My first instinct is to schedule a hearing to strip them of their citizenship, and let them decide if they want to come back and fight it.

But I think the governments involved have the right idea. Simply don't give them any more attention than absolutely necessary. The US should simply post their pictures at border crossings and keep them on the list of "wanted fugitives," but not press for extradition. Canada shouldn't make a fuss over them, just let them go through the normal immigration process and decide whether or not they want to keep them -- or kick them out. (The Canadian judge who ruled that one of them faces "prosecution, not persecution" had it dead on.)

These guys don't want to serve in Iraq? Fine. They've made that abundantly clear, and as far as I'm concerned they don't have to. Just let them come back and face military courts on charges of desertion, serve their sentences, then get dishonorable discharges. Then let them live the rest of their lives with that black mark on their record.

Every single one of them willingly signed their enlistment papers, making a binding contract with our nation. Now they want out. There is a price to be paid for going back on your word in such matters; they just don't want to pay it. They'd rather run away to Canada and try to claim the moral high ground.

Let them stay there -- as long as Canada is willing to tolerate their stench.


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Comments (21)

Among the rest, I often sus... (Below threshold)

Among the rest, I often suspect a few actually joined to run away and become anti-war poster children.

Those should have the book thrown at them, hard. They are working to demoralize the troops.

This is a volunteer militar... (Below threshold)

This is a volunteer military. Who needs 'em?

In the failed Soviet war in... (Below threshold)

In the failed Soviet war in Afghanistan, the number of deserters really picked up steam as well. If anything an increasing number of military deserters indicates that when many military members begin to leave in this illegal fashion, then dispair about a war is really setting in. Increased military deserters is a lagging indicator of a nation weary of a war.

Jay, I agree with ... (Below threshold)

I agree with you that they gave their word. Shows how some people, from all walks of life, refuse to take responsibility for their actions. One thing to think about, how many of them are veterans with PTSS? That could be a problem?

I'd say it is a leading ind... (Below threshold)

I'd say it is a leading indicator, Paul. And increased ain't happening.

Unless it's an increase in ... (Below threshold)

Unless it's an increase in the form of

5 deserted last year,
5 deserted this year,

so it's a 100% increase (as in, it now adds up to 10). I wouldn't put it past some on the left or in the media to perform shady math like that.

I wouldn't put it past them... (Below threshold)

I wouldn't put it past them to truly believe they'd made a telling point. BDS is insidious and can be debilitating.

It's a voluntary military a... (Below threshold)

It's a voluntary military and voluntary citizenship too. Take away their citizenship and bar them from re-entering the country. Canada wouldn't be nearly as willing to accept our garbage if they knew they were going to be have to keep it.

If the deserters have reape... (Below threshold)

If the deserters have reaped any of the benefits of serving overseas...we the people should be reimbursed. And why should they be allowed to scamper off without fear of retribution? Aren't we sending a really scary message to all the troops? "If it gets too hot, just jump over the border."

I have a relative who is serving overseas, and I'm very glad that his family gets benefits - but his kids are now getting free music lessons on top of it all, because he is "active duty". This is not in Iraq, and it's not in a combat zone. His wife is just really good at finding out her due.

Meanwhile, we hear groans and moans from his mother, who is beside herself because her "baby", who is well over 40 and chose to join The Guard at age 18, has been placed overseas. They were able to purchase a home with a VA loan after he served in Kuwait. They get super-cheap vacations. Basically, they have a LOT of benefits that they rest of us do not have.

If people make a choice to join the service, and thank God they do, it is reasonable to assume that they might be asked to serve away from home, or possibly in a place that's not safe.

Fire and police personnel do it every day, all day.

Hooson, the strongest indic... (Below threshold)

Hooson, the strongest indicator of high desertion rates is conscription. If we want to put this in perspective, in 1971 alone we had 33,000 deserters from the Army. That was 3.5% of the Army. That doesn't include Air Force, Marines or Navy.

Another indicator is not so much "despair about a war" as you put it or "a nation weary of a war". Common sense tells me it's an indicator of the fatigue of long deployments. I really get weary of some people using terms like "weary" exclusively for war opponents. We're all weary of the war, but a number of us, including the vast majority of the military, know it must be finished.

In 2005 desertions for all branches came to .24%. Yes, the numbers have gone up for 2006 (roughly 3000 I think) but that's still close to 1999 and less than 2000, peace years. We don't know the numbers for 2007 yet.

To claim certain reasons for that to the exclusion of the obvious is disingenuous.

The Army has the highest rate of desertion. Interestingly, if this war is so bad, why did the desertion rates, particularly in the Army, jump when the war in Afghanistan started (the "legal war") and then go back down when the war in Iraq (the "illegal war") started?

And let us not forget those people who willingly joined during a time of war.

What war has not had its de... (Below threshold)

What war has not had its deserters? It appears from the article at the link that the level of desertion is no way near what it was for Vietnam. It also says that Canada has rejected a portion of the asylum requests. I think if one is against the war this is a nice little item to talk about as long as you don't get too much into the details of numbers and find they are quite small. Most if not all of the men quoted in this article seem very strong in their conviction against serving in the Iraq war so I wonder why their convictions don't remain strong enough to carry over to facing directly and expediently the judgement associated with their decision. I am conflicted on the citizenship issue. If you stay and face sentencing and a dishonorable discharge you are still certainly a US citizen despite the mark on your history. If you desert and flee to a foreign country is it fair to consider it as renouncing one's citizenship? I don't know.

Just like everything else, ... (Below threshold)
Jeff Blogworthy:

Just like everything else, the liberal looks at the military as an entitlement program. They expect to get room, board, travel and education without holding up their end. Characterless scum.

Deserters are traitors and ... (Below threshold)

Deserters are traitors and cowards. Who would want them around? The are worthless and will be a problem for someone the rest of their cowardly lives. I wouldn't hire one as a busboy at McDonalds, they couldn't handle the job. If the military had a background check before accepting them they would find out they were worthless/trouble makers/momma's babies before trying to join the military.

Does somebody have figures ... (Below threshold)

Does somebody have figures for the desertion rate of the Soviet Army during the Afghan war? Reports of how the Soviet Army dealt with deserters? The failed Soviet war in Afghanistan was fought by the Soviet Army, predominantly a conscript Army that didn't take care of their personnel very well.

I'd suggest that with an all volunteer army such as ours the better indicator would be enlistment and reenlistment rates. You might also factor in how many Guard and Reservists are applying to stay active after a rotation or two.

The best way for the Army to handle deserters is to ignore them until they show up for some kind of government hand-out and then prosecute for desertion. The most fun, might be if the Army offered a bounty on the deserters.

How is it so easy for thes... (Below threshold)

How is it so easy for these "illegals" to go to Canada and stay there but if the guys want to go fishing up there they catch all kinds of hell at the border?????. Canadians...hmmph!!!!.

Paul, you may be a good ent... (Below threshold)
civildisobedience Author Profile Page:

Paul, you may be a good entertainer, but you are not a scientist. You have to do some research, gather data, show strong correlation, and then challenge your own hypothesis before you have a working theory. When you short cut this process it takes just a few minutes of work to disprove your statement of wishful thinking, as someone above has already done.

Your projections of increasing emotional despair on others regarding the war likely belie the feelings of those on the left, not the military.

markm sounds like another A... (Below threshold)

markm sounds like another American who enjoys Canadian fishing as I did.

Two years ago a close friend of mine was denied entry because a Canadian border imigration background check revealed he pleaded guilty in the US to a misdemeanor DUI three years prior. He must appeal to the Canadian government and in five years they may allow him entry.

Canuckistan? We stopped going there. The walleye fishing in Minnesota is just as good, and less expensive.

5 last year; 5 this year?</... (Below threshold)

5 last year; 5 this year?

That's not an increase. Look at it this way. If I earned $50,000 last year and earned $50,000 this year, how much of a raise did I get?

If my elementary school math serves me well, I got a 0% raise over last year.

But then maybe they teach math differently in journalism school.

I am prejudiced against des... (Below threshold)

I am prejudiced against deserters, and have been since I had to prosecute some of them 40 years ago.

Nonetheless, simply as a matter of resource allocation, it is probably not worth pursuing anyone who leaves not only his/her unit, but also his/her country.

I am not in favor of amnesty for them; they should be required to live with the consequences of their actions. They are still deserters.

"Two years ago a close frie... (Below threshold)

"Two years ago a close friend of mine was denied entry because a Canadian border imigration background check revealed he pleaded guilty in the US to a misdemeanor DUI three years prior. He must appeal to the Canadian government and in five years they may allow him entry."

Not likely to be true. In Canada the border guards have a 'discretion' to allow you in even with a criminal conviction. Perhaps either the border guard or your friend were having an obnoxious moment. Maybe he called the border guard a name. I have watched Canadian border guards let in Americans with all kinds of minor records.

For serious crimes the wait period of 5 years is always enforced, but it's from the date you completed your sentence. The idea is you need 5 years to rehabilitate your self. So if you got convicted and got fined and never paid the fine, or got paroled but parole conditions were never satisfied, toughers on your friend, he is unrehabilitated. Maybe your friend needs to pay a fine or call his parole officer and get a final report filed.

Also, your friend may be telling you fairy tales. He may have something ugly in his past that he hasn't told you about.

All of which takes me to the USA entry system. You guys are the best in the world at nearly everything you do, including the construction of an insane Kafkaesque bureaucratic nightmare. For true lunacy, follow the path of a 50 year old Canadian who wants to take his kids to Disneyland but smoked dope in the late 60s. On a bad day Canadian border guards are rude dipshits. On a bad day American border guards are overbearing, hostile, pistol packing Stalinists. At least to old Canadian dope smokers, even if they are now rich and wear suits.

I know it's true because I drove him to the local American immigration office and listened while the jerk at the wicket ruined the reputation of America to all in earshot. Calgary Airport and I wish I could remember his name because I'd post it.

Why should our citizens fig... (Below threshold)

Why should our citizens fight for someone else? For Bush I mean. He wants oil. So why should our citizens get killed there? America is now a global police and Dracula Bush is its head!!!






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