Hawkins: Peace Movement - Provide Finan. and Moral Support to Military Resisters
Hawkins Calls on Peace Movement to Provide Financial and Moral Support to Military Resisters
Green Party of New York State
Howie Hawkins for US Senate
August 18, 2006
Released August 17
For more information:
Howie Hawkins, (315) 425-1019
Meghan Keegan, (518) 225-0134
SYRACUSE, NY -- Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for US Senate from New York, today called upon the peace movement to provide financial support to soldiers who are punished for refusing to participate in the war.
Hawkins was responding to recent comments made by Lt. Ehren Watada, the first commissioned U.S. Army officer to publicly refuse orders to Iraq, to the national convention of Veterans for Peace. Hawkins himself was a Marine who was placed in inactive reserves after basic training for the duration of his six-year enlistment due to his anti Vietnam War activism.
"The resistance by men and women in the armed services to the Vietnam War was a central element in ending that war. And the support of the antiwar movement, through the GI coffee houses, the underground newspapers, and the antiwar activists in the ranks of the armed services, made that resistance possible,” Hawkins said.
"To stop this war, for the soldiers to stop fighting it, they must have the support of the people. Convince them that no matter how long they sit in prison, no matter how long this country takes to right itself, their families will have a roof over their heads, food in their stomachs, opportunities and education," stated Watada at the Veterans for Peace convention.
"The refusal of individual soldiers to fight unjust wars has often been critical in stopping such wars. But such refusal often comes with a steep price – the threat of arrest, economic deprivation, and social ostracism. Many individuals join the armed forces due to a lack of alternatives to provide economic support for themselves and their loved ones. The peace movement must be willing to stand up for those who put their personal freedom and future on the line by refusing to fight a wars of aggression like Iraq and Afghanistan," noted Hawkins.
Hawkins said that soldiers who refused to fight in an illegal war and occupation "were the true American patriots, the real defenders of democracy. I applaud those individuals who have the courage to refuse to blindly follow our leaders when they lie to the American public about why they invaded Iraq and have sanctioned widespread human rights violations and torture in violation of international law."
Hawkins noted that “under the Uniform Code of Military Justice service men and women have a legal and moral obligation to resist illegal orders. They swear when they are inducted ‘to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.’ I believe the military resisters to this war stand on a higher moral and legal ground than the members of Congress. Congress has violated the war powers clause of Article I of the US Constitution, which gives Congress the sole power to declare war. Congress had no right to violate the Constitution when it gave the Bush administration unilateral war powers. Service men and women resisting illegal wars are defending the Constitution.”
“Aggressive wars to overthrow other governments and occupy other countries has nothing to do with defending the Constitution. I think that Smedley Butler, the only two-time Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, had it right after he retired and reflected in the 1930s on his thirty-year career in the Marines. War is a racket, Butler said. He said US military interventions abroad were about advancing corporate interests, not defending the American people. That kind of imperialism continues today,” Hawkins said.
A February 2006 poll by Zogby International and LeMoyne College found that an overwhelming 72 percent majority of American troops serving in Iraq think the U.S. should exit the country within the next year. 29 percent said the U.S. should leave Iraq "immediately," while another 22 percent said they should leave in the next six months. 21 percent said troops should be out between six and 12 months.
"Our political leaders, both Democratic and Republican, are unwilling to end this illegal occupation and bring our troops home. We in the peace movement must tell our troops that if they individually decide to follow their conscience and come home, we will support them," said Hawkins.