These American deserters from the Iraq war may finally get refuge in Canada


During the idle hours Joshua Key spent guarding a children’s hospital in the Iraqi city of Ramadi, where he’d been stationed as a soldier in the US Army, it was the daily visits from a little girl that kept him sane.

Oblivious to the turmoil around her, the girl of about 6 or 7, whom he called “little sister,” would run up to his post and say breathlessly the only English words she seemed to know: “Mister, food.”

Each time, he’d hand her his field ration, often sacrificing the one item he could stand to eat — the beef enchilada. Eventually she began bringing him homemade flatbread and water from the Euphrates River. The little sister’s smile reminded him of his own kids, and he looked forward to seeing it on those days when time seemed to stand still.

One of those visits changed the course of his life. Key remembers it vividly — he was perched on a rock, watching her run towards him, when suddenly, the sound of a gunshot pierced the air.


Hey everyone. I posted this because I thought it would make for interesting discussion about conscientious objectors and perhaps the morality of the Iraq War as a secondary subject. Anyway, I decided that I should include a few links about Catholic teaching on conscientious objectors for those who are not aware of Catholic teaching on the subject.


If we are talking the Iraqi war, we are really talking deserters and not conscientious objectors. I don’t have sympathy for them.


From a military point of view a true conscientious objector (CO) can apply to a CO review board and can be assigned non-combat duties. The criteria for CO status is strict - you must be opposed to all war on strong moral or religious grounds (i.e. you can’t pick and choose which military actions you object to). This article seems to dovetail into a similar story:,13190,Gomulka_Objectors,00.html

If they were not CO before they deployed and did not request a CO review while serving and be subsequently granted CO status, they are deserters plain and simple.

From a Catholic moral point of view if you are not a CO but determine you cannot fulfill your particular duties because it would violate your conscience then you respectfully refuse the lawful military order and take whatever comes from the subsequent court marshal (you would not be the first person imprisoned for your beliefs). What you don’t do is desert.


When one ENLISTS/VOLUNTEERS for service in the US Armed Forces, you are VOLUNTEERING to FIGHT FOR and SERVE your country. One doesn’t get to pick and choose which conflicts he fights in. If they were “conscientious objectors”, they should never have VOLUNTEERED in the first place.

Canada should return the deserters, and they should be given a fair trial under the UCMJ. If the ACCUSED (the military doesn’t use the word “defendant”) are found guilty, they should spend time in the stockade and subsequently be dishonorably discharged.

This doesn’t have to be any more complicated than it needs to be.


An objection I have to the Vice article is that it re-labels deserters from the military as war resisters. I think this is misleading. When a person joins the US military, they are volunteering to fight for our country. During the time of their service, they give up the option of refusing to fight simply because they feel some particular conflict is “unworthy.” This is made clear to all persons when they volunteer.

When a man becomes a father, he undertakes certain objections involving the support of his children. If he refuses to pay child support, he is not considered an alimony resister, regardless of his personal feelings. He is is a dead-beat dad, and subject to various penalties including time in jail.


He is resisting his responsibility to return and face the consequences of deserting the military during time of war, nothing noble about that. This guy is a disgrace to every Iraqi War veteran who served honorably, saw worse, were wounded in combat and ambush, and gave their lives serving their country and fighting for freedom for all Iraqis. Canada can keep him. :stuck_out_tongue:


This isn’t the compassionate response I would expect to see from a Catholic to someone suffering from trauma-induced mental illness.


The justice of Gulf War 2 is beside the point now that it is over, although some ideas therefrom may pertain to our nonending involvement in Afghanistan.

I am glad these men found a place, even if outside their nation, wherein to resume living life. Thank God we have progressed beyond the days when men who learned too late that they couldn’t soldier found only a blindfold and an unmarked grave.



I think this states everything quite clearly. :thumbsup:


If anyone still believes that lie in 2016 I have some prime swamp land to sell them. :rolleyes:

But good on them for fleeing an illegal war. Better to be called all sorts of names by war mongers than be a heartless murderer and war criminals. Blessed be the peacemakers.


Being a coward and a deserter does not make one a “peacemaker.”


Nor does taking an oath and then deciding one doesn’t like the responsibilities that come with it. It just makes them liars and cowards.

All they had to do was not enlist. It isn’t as though the possibility of engagements they didn’t like was a new thing in 2003.

No volunteer military in the world can function without some sense of duty. It’s volunteer. Go do something else before you swear and oath.


No, he’s not. He’s a wage-garnishment resister.


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