It has been almost six years since the beginning of the Iraq War. Over 4,500 American, British, and other coalition troops have been killed and over one million Iraqis have lost their lives as a result of the war and the sectarian violence.
It was 2003 when the Iraq War began. The initial campaign was quick and swift, and George W. Bush was one of the most popular Presidents of the United States. Then came the sectarian violence and the insurgency. American lives were being lost. And in just a few years, President Bush dropped from a high approval rating of 92% to approval ratings as low as 19%.
From the beginning, many Canadians were against the War in Iraq. The former Liberal Government under Prime Minister Jean Chrétien had decided that Canada was not taking part in the United States combat operations against Saddam Hussein’s regime. This was met with much approval from the Canadian public. As Iraq quickly descended into a volatile war zone, even Canadian opponents of Chrétien’s move to stay out of the War realized that the Iraq conflict was a mistake.
As the War continued and American soldiers were ordered to redeploy to the combat zone, some in the US military began to desert. A popular destination for these deserters is Canada. The general reasoning for coming to Canada is because Canada had allowed Vietnam War draft dodgers to enter and stay in the country.
While both the Vietnam War and the Iraq War are highly unpopular, along with the fact that a high number of civilians and American soldiers had died in these conflicts, there is a major distinction between these two wars. The Vietnam War was known for many things, but one stood out: the conscription of the American public into the war. What people need to realize is that today’s United States Military is a completely enlisted volunteer fighting force. This means that not a single person in the United States was forced into the Armed Forces by the US Government to serve in its current military operations (i.e. Iraq, Afghanistan, etc).
While it is popular to treat the American deserters as draft dodgers, it is inaccurate and misleading to do so. These American men and women who deserted the US Military are enlisted soldiers, which means that they volunteered to join the military and willingly signed a contract/binding and legal agreement with the United States Government. As such, they are bounded by the agreement, and by the clauses and oaths in that contract.
In the world outside the military, contracts and legal agreements have clauses which parties must abide by. Violations of the document result in consequences for the party that is at fault. If this is the case, does it not apply to the military and its personnel as well?
While the War in Iraq is not only unpopular, but extremely dangerous (this blogger does disagree with the Iraq War), one cannot disregard the commitment that was made when they signed a binding and legal document. If they disagree with military and combat operations, which might include killing people, then they shouldn’t have enlisted in the US Military. Unfortunately, the deserters did enlist. And by enlisting, they are bound by a contract with the United States Military. If they violated that contract, then they should face the consequences and not hide behind the Canadian Legal system and the anti-war groups that are supporting them.