On June 15, soldier Matthis Chiroux will not report for duty to be deployed to Iraq. At a press conference yesterday, the 24-year-old, who comes from a poor family and has served since he graduated high school, explained that he refuses to be part of the problem in Iraq.
Not one to shrink from service, Matthis has served in Afghanistan, Germany, Japan, and the Philippines. An emotional Matthis told a room full of veterans:
I stand before you today with the strength and clarity and resolve to declare to the military, my government and the world that this soldier will not be deploying to Iraq. My decision is based on my desire to no longer continue violating my core values to support an illegal and unconstitutional occupation . . . I refuse to participate in the Iraq occupation.
This week veterans who dissent from the Bush Administration's version of Iraq have been testifying before Congress. They have described systematic abuses and unreported occurrences of civilian deaths.
Unlike many of the thousands of deserters who have fled to Canada since 2003 to escape prosecution, Matthis has vowed to remain in America and fight the charges.
Are you proud of Matthis for his disobedience and protest of what he considers an illegal war? Or should a soldier be prepared to disagree with objectives, and a President's politics, when he or she joins up? What will happen if more soldiers follow Matthis' lead?