Gerard Kennedy’s “Criminals”

I’m unconvinced that Citizenship and Immigration Canada is up to anything devious with the announced of new centralization of military deserter cases, as described in the Globe and Mail yesterday. Nevertheless, I think that MP Gerard Kennedy’s response to the changes gets to the heart of the matter. The G&M quotes Mr. Kennedy as saying the changes are “part of a propaganda campaign … to cast war resisters as criminals.”

To cast war resisters as criminals requires a propaganda campaign?

I think not. It’s no stretch to consider them criminals.

These are United States citizens, military volunteers, who are justly wanted by authorities in that country to face a variety of charges stemming from their desertion. No, they are not “criminals” yet, since they have yet to be convicted due to the fact that they are in hiding in another country. But once they do return, they will face the charges. Most of those who have already returned have been found guilty and served time.

I’m unclear as to Kennedy’s motivation here. Is he suggesting that such desertion charges are somehow wrong or immoral? Is he advocating the repeal of similar Canadian laws that our own soldiers face? I don’t believe he has considered the full implications on Canadian military discipline of his proposals.

2 thoughts on “Gerard Kennedy’s “Criminals”

  1. When a person volunteers to uphold the country’s constitution, or rather to defend someone who has sworn that, and then that person goes rogue, I have little problem with the volunteer then getting out of the country. People have fled nearly every other country on earth to come to Canada for just that sort of reason. Do we send war resisters back to Iran if they refuse military service there?


  2. You raise serious questions, but we can’t really compare a deserter from Iran with one from the United States. They are in completely different situations (volunteer military vs. mandatory service; democracy vs. theocratic totalitarianism; rule of law vs. rule of ayatollahs). Regardless, the specific cases at hand are about US service personnel, and not Iranians.

    It is easy for us to rattle off accusations about the illegality of wars initiated under President Bush. And I sympathize with the arguments. But I know of no reputable court that has rendered a guilty verdict on those accusations.

    Soldiers in a democracy must be subservient to civilian authority (ie, the Executive). This principle has been upheld by our own Supreme Court.

    And the fact is that these deserters do not face unreasonable punishment in the United States. Their potential sentences are shorter than the overseas deployments which they sought to avoid. Some merely been discharged and served no time in jail.

    If a deserter *truly* believed that the US government was acting illegally, don’t they have a moral obligation to stay in their country and fight for justice? By running away don’t they merely act to further condemn their colleagues to ongoing moral and legal censure?

    But they chose to run away from their sworn obligations. Worse: they ran away to Canada.

    We should be using our tax dollars to address legitimate refugee claims – like from people fleeing Iran – not this bunch.



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