Third Party & Independents Archives

Allegiance to Serve Unless I Change my Mind

During the Vietnam War, many Americans left for the Canadian border to avoid the draft into military service. For many at the time and certainly years later, we found compassion for these men because the war was never very popular and the men were being forced to serve in the ideology war against their choice. Two former American soldiers; Brandon Hughey and Jeremy Hinzman recently deserted their units and sought asylum in Canada. Many are drawing parallel lines between the justifications but it all comes down really to personal choice and accepting responsibility.

Today America has found itself in another widely viewed unpopular war. It seems the opinions again vary on our position and direction and many argue compassionately for and against America's strategy to win the war on terror. As of now, our military today is an all volunteer force comprised of men and women who chose to wear the uniform, defend the country, and obey the commands of their leaders and the President of the United States. That is the training they receive in basic training, that is what they are told signing up, and that is the structure of command in the services.

During the Vietnam War, Americans who sought refuge from the draft in Canada had more of an argument in that they were fleeing from forcible inclusion into the military to fight an offensive war. The difference today, is that Hughey and Hinzman both volunteered to serve in the miltary. They received all the training and time the military had invested into them and they received the benefits that come with serving in the military. They made a conscious choice to serve the military and they took an oath to obey orders of their commanders.

It will be years before their cases are heard in Canada on whether they can accept political asylum in their adopted home. Many are wondering with the wave of anti-Americanism in Canada as of late, if they will win their cases to remain as refugees and thereby circumvent justice in America. Most likely they will receive 5 years in prison but during time of war, desertion has a possibility of a death sentence. However that punishment has not been given since the Second World War.

The irony is left on the fact that George H Bush ended the Gulf war prematurely back in 1991 because he wanted to avoid another Vietnam scenario where America was divided in a long painful war.

I served in the military during that time and we (soldiers) were treated like rock stars wherever we went in uniform. Perhaps it was the guilty conscious of a country from the years before that still felt bad for the returning soldiers that came home from Vietnam who were called baby killers and treated like criminals back home by some. That war in 1991 had the same justification as the one we are currently engaged in, yet no one was really calling it unjust or illegal at the time.

Posted by Beau Wade at July 6, 2004 9:13 PM