Jeff Paterson, Courage to Resist Project Director. November 14, 2008

I’m proud to report that we doubled the number of military objectors advised or directly supported since last year. To do this, our organizing collective has stepped up to the challenge in major ways, and we increased our staffing as well.

We’re now attempting to do this work in the context of an unprecedented economic meltdown that financially affects every one of us in some way. Even prior to that, we were competing with a historic presidential election campaign for your donation. With the election of Barack Obama, I know many hold out hope for a new foreign policy not based on brutal occupations, and while I count myself among the hopeful, I’m not holding my breath.

I suspect you have also listened with dismay to Obama’s pledges to escalate the war in Afghanistan, and expand U.S. attacks in Pakistan. Twenty-three children and ten women died in the latest U.S. air strike in Afghanistan. I’m confident that as this endless occupation continues, we’ll remain busy supporting courageous resisters to this failed and brutal occupation.

While Obama’s promise to “responsibly end the war in Iraq” certainly sounds like a massive improvement in U.S. policy, we don’t actually know what that means. We’re told that all combat troops will be withdrawn by June 2010—to that I would say not a day too soon! However, we’re also told that a “residual force” will need to remain to hunt evildoers, protect the massive U.S. embassy, and train Iraqi forces. It’s being suggested that this “residual force” could number up to 50,000 troops, indefinitely.

In addition to the 144,000 U.S. troops currently deployed in Iraq, more than 190,000 contractors are working on U.S.-funded contracts. About 38,000 of these contractors are U.S. citizens working as armed mercenaries or in logistical services for firms such as Blackwater and KBR.

If the change we are working for does happen, it will take time for any new foreign policy to trickle down to the courageous men and women who are refusing to fight today, and tomorrow.

It’s a crucial time to grow the G.I. resistance movement. We’ll need to hold Obama accountable to his promises and much more. We’ll need to force him to implement a more just, peaceful foreign policy. This will not happen—actually, it probably cannot happen—without a vibrant and uncompromising grassroots movement for peace and justice.

Since election night, we’ve had little time to celebrate even if we wanted to. Army Private Tony Anderson is scheduled to be court martialed on Monday, November 17—possibly as you read this—for refusing to deploy to Iraq. We worked closely with former Marine “Benji” Lewis and former Army M.P. Brandon Neely to help them publish a public Veterans Day letter publicly refusing IRR recall. We’ve published our new “Five simple things you can do to organize war resister support in your community” in order to expand our national network of allies. And we’re continuing to field calls and email messages for help from resisters and their families without let up.

Recently, we brought on board Sarah Lazare as Project Coordinator who has hit the ground running working with resisters, publishing articles, and collaborating with our allies in the justice and peace movement. Sarah is a former union organizer, Democracy Now! intern, and volunteer at a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon.

Also new to our staff is our Office Manager Adam Seibert, who like me is a former Marine. Adam served in Somalia prior to going UA / AWOL under threat of another combat deployment.

Quick facts about our budget:

  • 86% of our entire budget has come directly from folks like you.
  • We currently rely on approximately 2,000 contributors across the United States.
  • The average donation we receive is just over $40.
  • About half of our budget goes directly to supporting individual war resisters.
  • The remaining 14% of our budget comes from small grants made by progressive foundations.

I’ve never felt better about our staff and organizing collective. We’re undertaking urgent and unique work that directly contributes to ending war. However, we are currently running a monthly deficit. Whether we can move forward with our work to support the troops who refuse to fight is in large part based on your shared commitment to this project.

Today I’m asking that you consider a contribution of $100 or more, or become a sustainer at $20 or more a month. Regardless of the amount, it’s your tax deductible gift of whatever you can afford that is critical to our efforts through this winter in support of the troops who are refusing to fight.

With your direct assistance, I’m confident we’ll be able to move forward together in challenging our government’s policies of empire. Together we have the power to end the war.

Jeff Paterson, Courage to Resist Project Director
First U.S. military serviceperson to refuse to fight in Iraq

Photo by Mathieu Grandjean