They just don’t get it
They don’t get a couple of things.
When Army Sgt. Patrick Hart decided a decade ago that he would not serve in the war in Iraq, he expected to follow the same path as thousands of American war resisters during the Vietnam era and take refuge across the border.
But after five years of wrangling with the Canadian immigration system, he came back to the U.S. — and ended up in a military prison.
Of course, Hart swore this oath at his enlistment and any re-enlistment he did:
I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”
When your service is contingent upon that voluntary agreement, via oath, to fight all enemies “both foreign and domestic” and “to obey the orders” of those placed above you in your chain of command, you don’t get to decide who the enemies are or what orders you’ll obey. And if you do make a decision not to fight a particular enemy or obey a particular order, then you must also be willing to stand up and suffer the consequences of your principled stand. Not run and hide.
Yes, there are illegal orders and it is your duty to disobey them – and then stand your ground and ride out the aftermath. Same with refusing to fight. Do so and stand there and take the consequences.
But when you voluntarily take an oath such as the armed forces requires, you better think seriously about what those words mean before you utter them and then sign your name to them. As mentioned, this is a volunteer military. No one makes you go in, no one makes you swear the oath, etc. And nowhere does the oath allow caveats on who or what you may or may not fight.
So, knowing that, I have little to no sympathy for prisoner Hart. He got what he deserved and I’m quite happy to see that Canada gets the difference. Apparently some other folks don’t:
Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau has not committed to letting the resisters stay, but many are buoyed by his family history. It was his father, Pierre Trudeau, who while prime minister during the Vietnam War said Canada should be “a refuge from militarism.”
“Why not do it again? It’s only a couple of dozen people,” said Michelle Robidoux, spokeswoman for the War Resisters Support Campaign in Toronto, which has been lobbying members of Parliament.
The difference between the military of the Vietnam era and the military of today is summed up quickly: draft army vs. volunteer army. You can actually have some sympathy for those who fled to Canada during that era instead of doing something they were “press ganged” into doing or didn’t believe in. For most, no oath was involved and they hadn’t volunteered for anything.
“Why not do it again?” Because these people deserting now are deserting a voluntary commitment that suddenly became inconvenient for them. They voluntarily swore an oath and now, instead of fulfilling it, they’re cutting and running. That’s why you don’t do it “again”?