Apr. 21, 2005

US soldiers need Canada's help

Date: Thu, 21 Apr 2005 07:11:42 -0700 (PDT)
From: TomHayden@ceasefire.ca
Subject: [ceasefire] US soldiers need Canada's help

Thursday, April 21th, 2005

By Tom Hayden, 60s icon and 18-year member of the California Assembly and Senate

Thousands of U.S. troops are refusing to fight Bush's war in Iraq. These are young people who volunteered to defend their country thinking it was under attack, but now they realize this war is not about defending America -- it is about fulfilling the unbridled ambition of the Bush administration.

Many people are supporting the soldiers who refuse to fight. This week I joined hundreds of people at an event in Los Angeles supporting Navy Petty Officer Pablo Paredes, who refused to board his warship for Iraq.

And today I am travelling with Celeste Zappala to Canada. It was almost a year ago this week that Celeste's son, Sherwood Baker, was killed in action in Baghdad. Sherwood is one of more than 1,500 soldiers who have died fighting in the Bush administration's illegal invasion of Iraq and defending its illegal occupation. Together, Celeste and I are going to ask for Canadians' help in ending this madness in Iraq.

During America's darkest moments, Canada has provided a sanctuary for young men and women who refuse to fight Washington's wars. It is becoming clear that Canada is once again needed to play that role.

I think the Bush administration cares very little about these soldiers' lives. Ill-prepared and under-equipped, soldiers in Iraq are left to scavenge through garbage for scraps of bullet-proof armour plating to protect their trucks from attacks. When they have finished their tour, the military can arbitrarily extend it for a second and even third tour of duty. This places untold hardship on soldiers, their spouses and their families.

As a result, 6,000 soldiers have deserted the U.S. military.

Desperate for more soldiers, the U.S. government scrambles every day to recruit more young men and women to replace the dead and the maimed. The recruiters are thickest in poor and visible-minority communities, where they promise citizenship, education, glamour or wealth.

The Bush administration is forcing public schools to hand over their lists of students' names and phone numbers to military recruiters. In some cases, high school students have been offered $5,000 to quite literally sign their lives away to military recruiters. Perhaps because of the pressure, or a guilty conscience, 37 recruiters have deserted the military too.

George W. Bush has said he won't bring back the draft. But as some experts have noted, America can either continue with its all-volunteer military or it can bring back the draft and remain a superpower -- but it can't do both. The hawks are calling on Bush to retract his promise.

That's why I and many of my colleagues have issued the appeal that appears below. We hope that you will answer the appeal by visiting ceasefire.ca and sending your letter directly to Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, urging him to allow U.S. soldiers to enter Canada if they request permission to do so.

In solidarity,
Tom Hayden

P.S. If you are in Toronto, I would be pleased to have you come and hear me speakon Thursday, April 21, at 7:30 p.m. at Innis Town Hall, 2 Sussex Avenue at St. George Street, 1 block south of St. George Subway. The event is sponsored by the War Resisters Support Campaign. For more information call 416 598-1222 -- Tom.

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