26 July 2009
The heroic act of resisting an order to serve in a war that is wrong
has shaped the political views of many people. I remember the
powerful impression draft resisters made on me as a young student
during the tail-end of Australia's military involvement in the war on Vietnam.
It was me to make a life-long commitment to the movement for radical
Today, other young people are taking similar brave stands from the
ranks of the US armed forces. Their resistance can help foster a new
generation of political rebels.
"There is no way I will deploy to Afghanistan. The occupation is
immoral and unjust," US army specialist Victor Agosto scribbled on a
disciplinary warning issued by his military superiors in Fort Hood,
Texas. "It does not make the American people any safer. It has the
Agosto wrote this on May 1, a July 16 column on TomDispatch.com said.
Ten days later, Agosto refused to obey a direct order from his
company commander to prepare to deploy and was issued a second
"counselling statement". On this he wrote: "I will not obey any
orders I deem to be immoral or illegal."
Agosto had already served in Iraq for 13 months. "It was in Iraq that
I turned against the occupations. I started to feel very guilty. I
watched contractors making obscene amounts of money. I found no
evidence that the occupation was in any way helping the people of
Iraq. I know I contributed to death and human suffering. It's hard to
quantify how much I caused, but I know I contributed to it."
This young soldier faces a Special Court Martial, and the prospect of
a prison sentence and a bad conduct discharge. But he's willing to
take the consequences of his act of resistance. A growing number of
soldier resisters agree with him.
"Yes, I'm fully prepared for this. I have concluded that the wars [in
Iraq and Afghanistan] are not going to be ended by politicians or
people at the top. They're not responsive to people, they're
responsive to corporate America.
"The only way to make them responsive to the needs of the people is
for soldiers to not fight their wars. If soldiers won't fight their
wars, the wars won't happen. I hope I'm setting an example for other
When I heard that the 11th Australian soldier was killed in the
latest war on Afghanistan just last week, I wondered how long it
would be until the first Australian soldier deployed in Afghanistan
follows the example of Agosto and becomes a war resister.
Green Left Weekly supports and helps build the anti-war movement. We
know a powerful anti-war movement can not only mobilise public
protest but also encourage the breakdown of even the most powerful
imperialist armies. We saw this in the Vietnam War and we'll see it
again in Afghanistan War.
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