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October 13th, 2009

In The News: "American Soldier Seeks German Asylum" @ 07:48 am

breakingthrunow:

"André Shepherd has been denounced as a traitor in the United States for going absent without leave in Germany. Shepherd says he deserted because he disagreed with the war in Iraq. He now lives in a refugee facility, and has applied to the German authorities for asylum."



I found this interesting and am torn on the subject. What do you think?
 
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From:writewrongs
Date:October 13th, 2009 02:57 pm (UTC)
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I hope he gets to stay in Germany.
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From:superigel
Date:October 13th, 2009 03:06 pm (UTC)
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I was against the Iraq war from the start, so I hope this guy gets asylum. I'd even like to see him pardoned in the U.S. There are a couple of concientious objecter cases going on in the U.S. right now, and I see his case as being very similar.

I'd also like to see Deutschland do the right thing. I don't think other countries pressured the U.S. enough over the war, especially a lot of European countries.
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From:andiemoon
Date:October 13th, 2009 03:53 pm (UTC)
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I have almost no respect for him. My boyfriend served in the Army and was deployed for 15 months, so I understand that he felt like the people there are scared and that everything is messed up over there but, I think this man should not have enlisted in the first place. Besides that, there are things he could do to get out of the Army without going AWOL. Granted those things would probably get him a BCD, but I think that is still more admirable than going AWOL.

Honestly, I think it just sounds stupid for him to be essentially saying, "Oh well I signed up but I thought that war would be different and nice, so now I am going to take off and desert my unit."

Not only does that decision effect him but it also effects unit cohesion and morale. War sucks, but he enlisted in 2004, everybody knew what the situation was at that point, he should have served until his ETS and then he could have talked about the war and did some kind of activism.
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From:uberreiniger
Date:October 13th, 2009 05:51 pm (UTC)
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This. He had options. Furthermore, negative press about the war was at a fever pitch in 2004. It's not like he couldn't have made an informed decision then about what he was getting into.
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From:obisotray
Date:October 13th, 2009 08:22 pm (UTC)
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agreed!
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From:lilhowlet
Date:October 13th, 2009 08:42 pm (UTC)
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This!
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From:patoadam
Date:October 13th, 2009 03:56 pm (UTC)
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This is the first time I've heard about André Shepherd. I see you are a native of Germany living in California. Did you hear about this case via a German news source or an American one?

The reason I ask is that I've noticed that newsworthy events that put the war in Iraq in a bad light receive very little coverage in the U.S. I often hear about things like this from foreign sources. For example, the case of Ibn Al-Shaykh Al-Libi, whose false claims under torture were the primary source of faulty pre-war intelligence linking Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaeda, is not well-known in the U.S.
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From:lied_ohne_worte
Date:October 13th, 2009 07:13 pm (UTC)
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Not the OP, but I first read about this case many months ago in the newspaper. Media here has always been very critical on the Iraq war.
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From:antares93
Date:October 13th, 2009 04:04 pm (UTC)
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I also don't agree with the war but no one made him join the military. After all, there is no draft. We spent tons of taxpayer money training him and now he's left a hole in his company. I have to say, I think he is a traitor. I believe Germany treats deserters really well...so he will probably have a comfortable life there if they let him stay. I would have more sympathy for him if he was Gay or being discriminated against or endangered in some unfair way.
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From:gemfinder
Date:October 13th, 2009 10:10 pm (UTC)
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You could imagine Germany does so after learning a lesson about the cumulative effect of blind obedience to authority.
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From:lordhellebore
Date:October 13th, 2009 04:34 pm (UTC)
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I've always found the treatment of "deserters" in the US ridiculously harsh and stupid, so I hope he'll be granted asylum.
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From:uberreiniger
Date:October 13th, 2009 05:49 pm (UTC)
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I would not want him to get asylum simply to "punish" the U.S. government for how it punishes deserters. The fact is that by deserting his comrades in the middle of war he is punishing the ordinary men and women he served with. Abandoning them made their jobs harder and more dangerous. Harsh penalties exist for deserting during war because it is *not* a victimless crime.
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From:innocentwater
Date:October 13th, 2009 07:06 pm (UTC)
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Hope he gets asylum. Not everyone enlists in the army because they want to be there. Who knows what his story is?
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From:andiemoon
Date:October 13th, 2009 08:55 pm (UTC)
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Even if he only enlisted because it was the best option he had, he still signed the paperwork and knew what he was getting in to. I don't understand why he ran to Germany, when if he really wanted to get out he could have just gotten himself kicked out. If you mess up badly enough, the army will throw you out, you just get a bad conduct discharge. While that isn't ideal, it involves no legal trouble, just having difficulty getting jobs and not getting any of your military benefits. That is what happened from his decision to go AWOL except this way he seriously broke the law and can't even go home if he wanted to.
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From:obisotray
Date:October 13th, 2009 08:29 pm (UTC)

boo to him

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he doesn't deserve asylum. he regrets his decision to join the army, so now he's trying to go back on a commitment by blaming the government, the war, anyone but himself. i hope he is denied asylum and punished by the US system. he should have known that joining the army is a big decision and it means doing what you're told. thousands of men and women in uniform stick to their legally binding oaths and serve their time, what makes him so special? who does he think he is that he should be exempt from the sacrifices that his brothers make?

for context: I am an american not from a military background. I now live in germany.
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From:gemfinder
Date:October 13th, 2009 09:47 pm (UTC)
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Regardless of his reasons for enlisting and for not using those other options at the time (probably not as easy as it sounds on paper and I would imagine he'd have faced difficulties trying to use them), the punishment for deserting in the US is primitive and excessive. I'm also hoping he's granted asylum.

He wasn't opposed to all war and he wasn't doing a job where he was directly shooting at random people (which does violate international, national, state, and most local laws). Maybe there were no better options. Even if technology that could let you 'see' unarmed civilians with different ideas existed, that type of shooting would still be illegal.
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From:rikae311
Date:October 13th, 2009 10:41 pm (UTC)
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He's a brave man who is acting in accordance with his conscience at great risk to himself, and I hope he's granted asylum.
He signed up thinking he was doing the right thing. Come on, that's how it's promoted over here - "soldiers are heroes" and all that stuff - and learned differently after the fact. I would hope all of us, if we become aware we're participating in something unethical, would stop. When you know better, you do better.
I have NO respect for someone who realizes they are doing something wrong, but continues anyway.
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From:pink_crayon16
Date:October 13th, 2009 11:14 pm (UTC)
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Seconded.
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From:pink_crayon16
Date:October 14th, 2009 05:20 am (UTC)
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It's an interesting issue. Though I personally disagree with the Iraq war and I respect Shepherd for his decision, I don't think there should be zero penalty for breaking his contract, his word to his fellow soldiers and his country. Realistically it's highly unlikely that he will be executed, but I still think he should face some consequence, if only to prove that joining the army and going to war for any reason are not decisions that you should ever take lightly, or without properly informing yourself.

That being said, I am on this man's side. I'm not sure he deserves political asylum, but he certainly doesn't deserve the heated persecution he's certain to get in the US. I think deserters are generally treated far worse than they should be in the US, not just by the legal system but by the general public. I can't quote personal experience on that, but in a country where feelings about the Iraq war are at fever pitch, the treatment he's bound to get (which I think is largely undeserved) is as good a reason to want to stay in Germany as any.

More than anything I respect him for listening to his conscience and acting on it. A war is not somewhere you want to be if you have even the slightest doubt that what you're doing is for the best, and as far as I can see, every soldier doing what goes against his strongest convictions is a victim of the conflict as much as anyone.

From:crow_bait
Date:October 14th, 2009 10:09 am (UTC)
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Well if enlisting and then deserting is all I have to do to get the right to live in the EU...!
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From:alex_ex
Date:October 14th, 2009 10:12 am (UTC)
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Don't join any army if you are against any war. That's what I think.
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From:2natraps
Date:October 14th, 2009 03:51 pm (UTC)
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Having nearly every family member in some branch of the military, and dating a corpsman myself, I am appalled by his actions.

He didn't just 'leave' the war. He left people who were counting on him. Whose life could possibly depend on him. Not only them, but he turned his back on his duty to protect the citizens on the United States.

I don't think people really understand what they're signing up for when they go to meps and pledge. When they sign that line, they're thinking about money, how tired they are, everything BUT the fact that not only could they die themselves, but kill.

If he didn't want blood on his hands, he should have chose a different occupation.

Like someone said before, if you find something completely horrendous- put up with your deployment and then speak out.

I'm not going to take a DESERTER seriously.

Sucks he has to deal with this situation, on the same hand, he put himself there.
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From:obisotray
Date:October 15th, 2009 05:54 am (UTC)
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"he put himself there" well said. what kind of armed forces would we have if every servicemember had the kind of resilience and responsibility of this man?
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From:shortbutfast
Date:October 17th, 2009 02:47 pm (UTC)
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nobody forced him to sign up. so i don't think germany should protect him from at least standing trial.

military service is not mandatory in the united states. he obviously is intelligent. the war was already on. he knew what he was getting into.

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