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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

1, 2, 3, 4, what the hell are we fighting for?


 BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- When Army Sgt. Patrick Hart decided a decade ago that he would not serve in the war in Iraq, he expected to follow the same path as thousands of American war resisters during the Vietnam era and take refuge across the border.

But after five years of wrangling with the Canadian immigration system, he came back to the U.S. - and ended up in a military prison.

The country that once welcomed war resisters has developed a much different reputation during the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan: Supporters say no U.S. soldier who has sought legal residence in Canada, either as a refugee or on humanitarian grounds, has been successful.

As the story later notes, Canadian immigration laws have been tightened since the Vietnam War (say, maybe we ought to try that here) and there isn't still the same burning desire to be "A refuge from militarism." And there is a big difference between then and now, which even peaceful, loving Canadians can recognize. In the Vietnam era, refuge was given to draft dodgers, men about to be made soldiers against their will, and today deserters, those who have already made the military commitment voluntarily, are the ones trying to flee across the border.

And there is this:

Some deserters face court-martial but the majority are discharged on less-than-honorable terms. Army officials said more than 20,000 soldiers have deserted since 2006.

That seems high to me. I thought better of us.