Skip to comments.An American Deserter in Canada--Decision on review of asylum application may open floodgates.
Posted on 07/08/2008 5:41:53 AM PDT by SJackson
It was an Independence Day birthday present from Canada the United States could have done without.
In a potential setback for the American military and its war effort in Iraq, on July 4 a Canadian federal court ordered Canadas Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) to reconsider its decision to deny American deserter Joshua Key, 30, refugee status. A Canadian newspaper, The National Post, which covered the story, said it was the first time a Canadian court has sided with an American deserter.
Unlike many of the approximately 100 American military personnel who have fled to Canada seeking asylum since the 2003 Iraq invasion, Key had actually been to the Middle Eastern country, having served eight months there with an engineering unit. His job in Iraq sometimes involved military actions against private residences, where he would blow open doors with explosives in raids and assist in both securing the premises and detaining the adult male occupants. These raids also occurred at night.
The Canadian judge, Robert Barnes, based his decision to ask the IRB to review Keys claim on the grounds that these actions by the American military violate the Geneva Convention, which guarantees the humane treatment of civilians. Barnes said the American refugee applicant witnessed unjustified abuse, unwarranted detention, humiliation and looting by fellow soldiers. The Geneva Convention, he continued, outlaws outrages upon personal dignity and degrading treatment and unlawful confinement.
And it was Keys refusal to participate further in such systematic violations of human rights that resulted from the conduct of the United States army in Iraq that should form the basis of his claim review.
Officially condoned military misconduct falling well short of a war crime may support a claim to refugee protection, Barnes ruled.
In rejecting his initial claim, the IRB stated the US military had not sought his (Keys) complicity in war crimes or crimes against humanity.
Key, who had enlisted in 2002, deserted the army in 2005, arriving with his wife and children in Canada in March of that year. This ruling has bought him at least another couple of years in Canada.
Other American deserters have based their claims for Canadian refugee status on religious grounds or as conscientious objectors. They sometimes claim war crimes are being committed in Iraq or that the war is illegal in order to bolster their cases. However, such claims have been turned down. One deserter denied refugee status, Corey Glass, is scheduled to be deported back to the United States on July 10 to face American military justice.
In an editorial, The National Post pointed out this recent decision by the Canadian federal court may cause the trickle of American military deserters to Canada to turn into a flood. All a disgruntled American soldier may have to say in the future in order to stay in Canada is that he witnessed a violation of the Geneva Convention in Iraq (and possibly also now in Afghanistan).
But anyone who has served in the military in a war zone knows violations of the Geneva Convention occur regularly. Unfortunately, and sometimes tragically, it simply goes with the territory of both regular and insurgent warfare. Key, for example, was blowing the doors off of homes because it was believed those houses contained weapons caches. This, obviously, is not the kind of military operation, in which one would ring the doorbell first and ask whether everyone is suitably dressed before entering the premises. War, after all, is not like taking two maiden aunties for a stroll in the park.
The ruling in Keys case is a victory for the anti-American, pacifist and leftist organizations in Canada that have been helping American deserters from the Iraqi conflict. They have a long history of opposing American interests, dating back to the Vietnam War, and even include Americans who fled to Canada at that time to avoid serving in Southeast Asia. (By the way, these Americans no longer call themselves, and the current crop of AWOL military personnel for that matter, draft dodgers or deserters, but rather war resisters.)
For example, Keys lawyer, Jeremey House, was a Vietnam War draft dodger who wound up in Canada. House has represented several deserters from the current U. S. military, including Jeremey Hinzmann, who was the first American ever to apply for refugee status in Canada in 2003.
Overall, more than 100,000 Americans came to Canada because of the Vietnam War. Draft-aged males made up about half this figure, while a surprisingly high number, according to a Canadian university professor who wrote a book on the subject, were female. They were mostly middle class and educated, and thus were able to fit well into Canadian society, especially into local politics, academia and the media where their liberal, anti-American outlook helped shift Canadian institutions to the left.
While many of the men returned to the United States during the amnesty the Carter administration offered in 1977, about 25,000 remained in Canada. On the other hand, 20,000 Canadians voluntarily served with the American armed forces in Vietnam, prompting one American veteran of that conflict to say that Canada had sent America its best, while America had sent Canada its worst.
Reinforcing the generational connection of those committed to undermining the American war effort, some of the current deserters have also joined the American draft dodgers and deserters from the Vietnam era at their annual gathering in Nelson, British Columbia, where notorious defeatists from that time, such as George McGovern and Tom Hayden, have addressed the audiences.
Americans should be more like Canadians and Canadians should be less like Americans, Hayden said in his speech.
But perhaps the most ominous development regarding the leftist, anti-war movement in Canada is the alliance it is forming with Muslim organizations.
In 2006, for example, the Canadian Islamic Congress joined the Canadian Peace Alliance and the Canadian Labour Congress to protest Canadas involvement in Afghanistan. The CICs national president at that time, Mohamad Elmrasy, had once said on television that every adult Israeli is a legitimate target for a suicide bomber since he or she is eligible for Israeli military service.
And just last year, a controversial imam in Toronto, Zafar Bangash, addressed a Marxism conference at the University of Toronto. He has also spoken on behalf of the Toronto Stop the War Coalition, one of whose members said Canadian anti-war activists would work with Muslims in Canada to help defeat imperialism (re: the United States).
This recent Canadian legal decision regarding deserters may become the chink in the Americas military armour such anti-American groups have been looking for. If Key is granted refugee status, these organizations will make sure to spread the news and offer to help any American military personnel who wish to come to Canada.
This irresponsible court decision will also provide confused and weak-willed soldiers facing a fading memory of 9/11 and a war against militant Islam without any foreseeable end with an easy out. Such soldiers will now perhaps arrive in Canada with made-up battlefield stories of human rights violations they supposedly witnessed. And while their number may not reach the 50,000 of the Vietnam era, a professional army of expensively trained volunteers cannot afford a steady haemorrhage of personnel.
But in the end, it is a Canadian court that allows American soldiers to choose the wars they like that is mostly to blame. It is not only allowing these young men to disobey the oath they swore to their leader and betray their country but also to betray themselves. Which, in the end, as they age, they will discover is the worst consequence of all.
Ummmm . . . . . anyone remember Vietnam and Jimmuh Cahter?? Canada had no issues then about accepting and protecting American deserters and draft dodgers. The precedent was set long ago, this ain't new.
I apologize to the good people of Canada for having to put up with human waste from our country.
This is a crock. How many soldiers are actually involved in this cowardly act of desertion? In raw numbers, does anyone have any idea? My guess it is less then 50. to compare this with VN when we had the draft is simply ludicrous. These are all volunteer soldiers so they knew (most of them) what they were getting themselves into.
I would do better.Revoke their US citizenship.
You're right it's a non-event. Desertion happens all the time, wartime or not, and usually results in a bad discharge when caught. The article references a hundred in Canada. From wikipedia, in this case it seems accurate.
 Iraq War  United Kingdom
The UK military has reported over 1000 deserters since the beginning of the war in Iraq, with 566 deserting since 2005. 
 United States of America
According to the Pentagon, more than 5500 military personnel deserted in 20032004, following the Iraq invasion and occupation. . The number had reached about 8000 by the first quarter of 2006.  Another report stated that since 2000, about 40,000 troops from all branches of the military have deserted, also according to the Pentagon. More than half of these served in the US Army . Almost all of these soldiers deserted within the USA. There has only been one reported case of a desertion in Iraq. The Army, Navy and Air Force reported 7,978 desertions in 2001, compared with 3,456 in 2005. The Marine Corps showed 1,603 Marines in desertion status in 2001. That had declined by 148 in 2005.  To date, no service member from the Iraq war has received a sentence of more than 18 months for desertion or missing movement. 
In the cases of those fleeing the country, I'd be in favor of prosecution.
I'd have no problem with that, but it could complicate criminal prosecution in the future, should Canada change their amnesty policy. During the 60s, a revocation of citizenship would have essentially given draft dodgers, not deserters, in Canada a free ride. Many tried to give up their citizenship, which wasn't allowed.
Ford also offered a clean slate to draft evaders and deserters, requiring 2 years of public service and a pledge of allegiance. No criminal blot on their records. Jimmy made it easier.
Let them keep them, but I agree, no amensty. You cowards can just stay there. Nice example to set for your kids. You don’t deserve to live here.
Or visit, or travel comfortably, which amnesty would allow them to do.
Yes, I’m aware of Presdident Ford’s decision. I was in the service at the time. While I didn’t care for Ford’s option, Carter turned all of us Vietnam vets into suckers and set a precedent that forever places America’s future in danger.
Don’t like the war? Abandon your country by running away like a coward and then, when the dust has cleared and the threat has ended, saunter back across the border proclaiming yourself to be a true American patriot who stood up for “your values”.
Frankly, Canada can keep’em all.
And with no impediment to employment, unlike someone who may have committed an infraction and ended up with a less than honorable discharge. I’d disagree that Carter turned Viet vets into suckers, I think history will see Carter for what he was.
yeah, what you just said.
Disagree to your heart's content, I stand by my statement. Between Kerry/Fonda relegating us all to the level of murderers, dopers and baby rapists and Cahter pardoning the deserters and inviting them to "return home" with no conditions or requirements, trust me, he turned those of us who served into suckers. Cahter is the one former president whose grave I hope to have an opportunity to pee on.
Let me ask you this, with the Cahter Doctrine of pardoning deserters and draft-dodgers and the bedwetters taking patriotic men and women off the battlefield to stand trial for protecting themselves, their fellow soldiers and their countrymen by killing enemy terrorists who are trying to kill them first or making them wear panties on their heads, who will protect this country in the future?? We can ALL go to Canada and just wait it out - unless, of course, Canada gets pulled into it. We are destroying the capability of this nation to defend itself by threatening those very defenders with criminal proceedings for doing the job their country asked them to do. Do some people cross the line ala Hollywood war movies? Sure, just ask John F'n Kerry. But it's extremely rare and VERY isolated because their training and professionalism kicks in and keeps the vast majority from sinking to that level.
After Cahter did his thing to make us into suckers, it made me very cynical and distrustful. The way we were thrown under the bus by the media and the politicians was shameful. If you didn't experience it, you don't have a clue what you are talking about.
I served at the time, but not in the RVN.
I agree about Kerry, Fonda Carter and their pals. Maybe it’s a matter of perception, but I don’t think most people consider us suckers, in fact I think most people look on service in the era with respect.
Twenty years ago, no, but in the eyes of history, Kerry and Carter lost.
My opinion only, your experience might well be different.
The deserved contempt for those who aided the enemy, and for those who used illegal means to avoid service, no they haven’t received the derision they deserve. The fact that Kerry holds public office should be an embarassment to the b ation
I will agree with that statement only to the extent that 20/20 hindsight has kicked in for most people whose memory of that time has grown dusty and clouded with time. You will recall that the DBM in those days, as they do today, did their best to portray the military in the worst possible light. I recall that things got so bad that in the SF Bay area (where I was stationed) we were instructed to not wear our uniforms off base or even reveal that we were in the military.
From the Tet offensive into the mid-80s, the DBM continued to portray us as murderers, etc. It wasn't until the late 80s that we suddenly became these great patriots who rushed to our country's defense at her time of need.
In the meantime, as a Vietnam Era veteran trying to find work and resume life in the real world, I struggled (with an electronics background!!) to find employment that would lead to longtime career opportunities. I even had one interviewer (for Rocky Mountain Bell) basically try to humiliate and embarrass me for my experience in avionics and radio and wanting to work at the phone company!! I came to discover later that it wasn't uncommon for many Vietnam Era vets.
Despite the DBM's best efforts today, returning Iraq War veterans aren't treated the same way we were when we came back. Hopefully, the people responsible for that still are ashamed at what they did (although I know most aren't). Again, as far as respect goes, it's only 20/20 hindsight and historical revisionism.
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