Friday, August 22, 2008

No Sanctuary

PFC Robin Long, the first 21st-century U.S. soldier to be deported from Canada, went on trial at 9 a.m. Aug. 22 at the Martinez Court House on Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, charged with desertion. It may not be much of a surprise that the Army is insisting on court-martialing him, but it is a grim reminder of the ruthlessness of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, to think that Long may be the first of many.

In order to rationalize Canada's expanded involvement in Afghanistan, Harper has made clear that U.S. conscientious objectors to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have no place in Canada. I found this particularly tragic after watching the Canadian film Breaking Ranks last week, in a benefit organized by Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission and Iraq Veterans Against the War. Dozens of war resisters still in Canada are viewing Long's deportation with trepidation. Granted, Parliament has taken a strong stance against Harper's new cold-heartedness, but the result may be a show of the prime minister's executive power.

Members of the Colorado Springs peace community filled up the courtroom on base with supporters, and will begin new counseling to war resisters. Since Long was expected to plead guilty, his sentencing was expected as early as Friday afternoon, and the Army may elect to go easy on potential sentences. But the current trajectory doesn't hold much hope for Canada being a place of sanctuary.

FLASH: At 12:45 p.m. Aug. 22, word came down that Long was sentenced to a 15-month stint at Fort Leavenworth after a guilty plea. Expect more bad news to come from Canada.


Sharon said...


The war in Vietnam and the war in Iraq were and are both illegal wars. The Vietnam War was a lie made up in the Gulf of Tonkin. The war in Iraq was a lie made up in the mind of an elected pyschopath. Having said that, the Vietnam War was a war of the draft. Young people had no choice. The Army said you are going and if you don't go we will shoot you (figuratively speaking). I supported those who went to Canada during the Vietnam War. The Iraq war was a volunteer war. The government asked you to volunteer and if you did and didn't go to Iraq than they would shoot you (figuratively speaking). It's a huge difference. It was Robin Long's responsibility to figure out whether the war was against his principles before he volunteered. I knew it was an illegal war and so did any one else with access to a computer and a small brain. To believe a recruiter during a time of war, who says that they are not going to send you to war borders on the unbelievable. Mr. Long should accept the judgment of the courts martial with dignity and the courage of his convictions. It is the only way to honor those who gave there lives voluntarily and their families. My 2 cents worth from a Vietnam vet

Loring Wirbel said...

Larry, I agree with the distinction you made. Both wars were illegal, but the volunteers went in to this one with both eyes open. The vets in Breaking Ranks gave reasons of why their minds were changed, some due to stop-loss, some due to recruiters' lies (I don't think there's a recruiter left in any of the services that even attempts or knows how to tell the truth), and some due to just waking up. I understand the notion of paying the consequences, but I also think that Canada started a reputation of providing refuge for actions by the U.S. that it knew to be illegal. I can understand why Canada chose to help in Afghanistan, as that is a legitimate effort to hunt down the Taliban (my best friend in high school was blown up by the Taliban a year ago). But I still think that the PM's decision to end sanctuary is a wrong call. As for Long, he made a pretty good statement on why he chose to plead guilty and take his lumps, I hope it's up on YouTube soon.

Ruth said...

Peter is a bit beyond draft age now, I think. But I was fully committed to helping him get to Canada if the draft was reinstated during draftable age. There was no way in hell I was going to watch my son go off to fight in this one. (If he had wanted to, that would be another thing.) It gives me a sick punch in the stomach to think that would not be an option. I know nothing of Harper's policies, so thanks for this piece.