Despite the Threat of Harsh Punishment, Soldier Says “No” to Deployment in Afghanistan
By Sarah Lazare, AlterNet, October 23, 2008
“I believe war is the crime of our times,” Blake Ivey, a specialist in the U.S. Army, said over the phone in a slow, deliberate voice.
Ivey, currently stationed in Fort Gordon, Ga., is publicly refusing to deploy to Afghanistan. The 21-year-old soldier filed for conscientious objector status in July but was ordered to deploy while his application was being processed. He is determined not to go, and as of our last phone call, was still actively serving on his base, weighing his options for refusal.
Ivey joins what appears to be a growing number of troops refusing to fight in the so-called Global War on Terror. While there is no way to tell the exact number of resisters, military statistics indicate that resistance is on the rise. Since 2002, the Army has court-martialed twice as many soldiers for desertion and other unauthorized absences per year than for each year between 1997 and 2001. The Associated Press reports AWOL rates in the Army at its highest since 1980, with the desertion rate (defined as 30 or more days of unauthorized absence) having jumped 80 percent since the start of the Iraq War. More than 150 soldiers have publicly refused to fight in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and an estimated 200 war resisters are living in Canada.