Gulf: Hell No - We Won't Go!

Article in The Broken Rifle No 17, September 1990

US and Australian military personnel are refusign to go to the Gulf. US Marine Jeff Paterson is now on hunger strike in Hawaii. He declares:

I cannot and will not be a pawn in the US's power play for profits and oil in the Middle East. I will resist my scheduled departure by immediately filing for conscientious objector status, and physically refusing to board the plane. And if I am dragged out into the Saudi dessert, I will refuse to fight.

Beginning his hunger strike on 24 August, Jeff said he would continue to refuse food until the military reconsiders its plans for him. He has since been refused CO status.

Committee to Defend Jeff Peterson, c/o Eric Steiz, Attorney, 820 Mililani, Ste 714 Honolulu, HI 96813. Fax +1-808 545 3608

Erik Larsen, a Lance Corporal in the Marine reserves, declares:

I will refuse orders to activate me into the regular Marines. I will refuse orders to ship me to Saudi Arabia to defend our polluting, exploitative lifestyle. I will refuse to face another human being with a gas mask covering my face and my M-16 drawn. I declare myself a conscientious objector. Here is my sea bag full of personal gear. Here my gas mask. I will return them to the government, I no longer need them; I am no longer a Marine.

Refuse and Resis! PO Box 347193, San Francisco, CA 94134. Tel: +1-415 995 4613.

Counselling agencies in the US have been inundated with requests for advice - many from friends and relatives of military personnel being sent to the Gulf.

In Australia, Leading Seaman Terry Jones is in detention at HMAS Penguin after going AWOL from HMAS Adelaide, one of the warships destined for the Gulf. he returned to Sydney to see his wife and three-month-old baby son and then handed himself in.

I am prepared to die to defend my country but not to protect US oil lines. I had no intention of jumping ship [until I saw] one of the parties responsible for it all on holidays playing golf while committing thousands of lives - including those of Australians. It was enough for me to decide not to be part of the killing, knowing that I might have killed innocent people for nothing.

Terry Jones is one of several Australian sailors who have refused to turn up or gone AWOL.

Office of Senator Jo Vallentine, Parliament House, Canberra, ACT 2600. Tel: +61-6 2773790 or Jonny Harris +61-9 481 1244. Fax: +61-6 277 3779.

No Iraqui have publicly refused the draft. During the Gulf War, Iraq conscripted 12-year-old boys and fixed the death penalty for deserters or draft resisters. During that war there were reports of  mass executions of deserters and draft resisters or of relatives of these men or boys being taken hostage, but no firm proof could be obtained. It is estimated that almost every family in Iraq lost at least one male relative during the war.

Extracts from the (US) WRL statement on the Gulf:

Bush fans fires in the Middle East

The US decision to send thousands of troop, planes and ships to the Persian Gulf in response to the Iraqui invasion is a grave mistake. The War Resisters League condemns both the Iraqui invasion of Kuwait and the US responses to the invasion. 

In placing US troops in the region, the US has done nothing to end the crisis... the deployment risks the lives of young Americans, heightens anti-American sentiments in the Arab world, and creates new obstacles to peace and compromise the region. US attempts to dominate the Middle East must end.

WRL calls for:

withdrawal of all foreign troops from the region and an end to all arms shipments to the Middle East

withdrawal of all Iraqui troops from Kuwait and all US troops from the Persian Gulf

settlement of conflicts consistent with the principles of non-intervention, self-determination and nonviolence

UN imposition of strong multilateral economic sanctions against countries that ignore these principles

policies which diminsh US dependence on oil, through reduced and more efficient use, and the development of non-nuclear alternative energy sources

opposition to any attempt by the military-industrial complex to use this crisis to forestall major cuts needed in the military.

War Resisters League, 339 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012. Tel: +1-212 228 0450