Saturday, September 24, 2005

Many people are trying to draw parallels between the current war in Iraq and the mess that was the Vietnam War. One definite similiarity between the two conflicts is that US military deserters have been making their way into Canada. 12 of them so far have made claims for refugee status, and one group supporting them claim that at least another 75 are also living in Canada at the moment. Kyle Snyder is one of them. Snyder ended up in Iraq in January, but what he saw there made him flee into Canada in April. Snyder joined the US Army in 2003 in an effort to get health care for his pregnant girlfriend, a move that ultimately failed. He claims that he was lied to because among other things the recruiter didn't mention the Iraq war.

Personally this strikes me as incredibly naive. How could anyone join the US military in 2003 and not reasonably expect they might end up in Iraq, no matter what position they were to be trained for? For that matter anyone who joins a military is living in dreamland if they don't go in with the expectation that they might end up in harm's way and be put in a situation where they may have to use violence.

As for claims about the higher ups lieing about conditions in Iraq ultimately I think naivete is also involved. Namely the impression I've long had is that many of the top officials in the Bush adminstration believed that all they had to was get rid of Saddam and the Iraqi people would throw flowers at the feet of American soldiers. Apparently they confused Baghdad with Paris in 1944, which is ironic given the frequent comparisons of Hussein to Adolf Hitler. Rather they should have been thinking of Berlin in 1945.

As for Snyder and the other deserters I doubt they have much chance of getting refugee status. The United States is a democracy that operates, however imperfectly, via the rule of law, and is home to a free press to which someone like Snyder has access to. The deserters voluntarily joined the US military, they were not forced to do so by a dictatorial government. And there is sure to be consideration by the refugee board at the potential problems granting them refugee status will have on US/Canada relations.

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