Several weeks ago, David Cortright wrote about a petition being circulated by active duty and Guard and Reserve service members who are opposed to the war in Iraq. Now, the Appeal for Redress is gaining mainstream news coverage.
Americans in the military have been asked to make extraordinary sacrifices in recent years, particularly in Iraq, where the casualties are mounting, the tours are being extended, and some of them have had enough.
One of those who initiated the Appeal, Marine Sgt. Liam Madden, explained their motivation:
“Just because we volunteered for the military, doesn’t mean we volunteered to put our lives in unnecessary harm, and to carry out missions that are illogical and immoral.”
This morning’s New York Times ran a piece on the Appeal, calling it “a small but growing sign of dissent.” The story noted that since Sunday’s 60 Minutes report, 300 more have signed, bringing the total to 1,600. The Times also quoted a soldier:
“There is a sense of betrayal,” said Specialist Linsay Burnett, 26, who recently returned from Iraq with the First Brigade combat team of the 101st Airborne Division, based at Fort Campbell, on the border of Kentucky and Tennessee. The division is readying for its third deployment. “These soldiers stand up to fight, to protect their country, but we are now on the fifth reason as to why it is we are in Iraq,” added Specialist Burnett, who has served as a public affairs specialist and as a military journalist focusing primarily on the infantry. “How many reasons are we going to come up with for keeping us over there?”
As the debate over the war and how to end U.S. involvement grows, let’s remember those who are on the front lines (the 3,158 U.S. soldiers who have died, as well as hundreds of thousands of Iraqis). The best way to support them, as the Appeal says, is to “respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to support the prompt withdrawal of all American military forces and bases from Iraq.”
Duane Shank is Senior Policy Adviser for Sojourners/Call to Renewal.