Saturday, June 23, 2007

Iraq: U.S. soldier says no more

Once a war goes sour, the unthinkable starts to happen.

An U.S. active duty combat soldier has refused further duty while still stationed in Baghdad. According to the Courage to Resist website:

On June 19, Army Spc Eleon “Eli” Israel put himself at great personal risk by making the courageous decision to refuse further participation in the U.S. occupation of Iraq. The 26-year-old from Arlington, Virginia told his command that he will no longer be a combatant in this illegal, unjustified war. Eli believes that the U.S. government used the attacks of September 11, 2001 as a pretense to invade Iraq and that “we are now violating the people of this country (Iraq) in ways that we would never accept on our own soil.”

Israel is a a member of VB Bravo Company, 1-149 Infantry of the Kentucky Army National Guard. He urged supporters to contact Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell because he feared what the Army might do to him:

Please rally whoever you can, call whoever you can, bring as much attention to this as you can. I have no doubt that the military will bury me and hide the whole situation if they can. I'm in big trouble. I'm in the middle of Iraq, surrounded by people who are not on my side. Please help me. Please contact whoever you can, and tell them who I am, so I don't ‘disappear.’ ...

I have been in Iraq for over a year. I have served in combat. I have been awarded the Combat Infantry Badge, for my actions in Combat. I have been recommended for other medals, that I will now probably never see (nor do I want)....

It would have been a lot "easier" for me to simply keep doing combat missions for a couple more weeks, and be done with things. Moral convictions are not based on timing or convenience, and I thank all of you for your being here for me now.

Before making the decision to apply for immediate conscientious objector status, Israel wrote out his observations of the war on a MySpace blog. Sites like his are probably what moved the military to ban MySpace from their networks. Some of his thoughts:

I want you all to know, that most of us that are over here, came to Iraq, with the very best of intentions, and really thought that the Iraqi people wanted us here. Now that I'm here, I realize that they want to work it out themselves, and I know we should respect that.

One guy lies about the reason for sending me to Iraq, and then tries to keep me here even after he's caught. Another guy actually believes that we can make up reasons as we go, and still wants to believe the original lie. The third guy realizes it was a lie, but thinks it's the people who were told the lie—and who paid the greatest price for it (those wearing uniforms)—that should be blamed for not making the lie out to be "OK" in the end. This war is and was lost, but not by the military. ...

I'm attune[d] enough to know that even the kindest Iraqi families that manage a "wave" to me as I pass by (when not done in fear), do it because my smile lets them know that I'm only doing my job, and that I'll try my best not to let my weapons of war hit their children when I have to defend myself that day.

The Iraq Veterans Against the War Legal Defense Fund supports soldiers who refuse to participate in the war.

1 comment:

Bill Carroll said...

I represent the Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Peace Fellowship on the board of an organization that works with conscientious objectors, including those who have already joined the military.


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