US soldier who opposes Afghan war sentenced

Published on WSWS, by Jack Cody, 8 August 2009.

A US Army Specialist and veteran of the war in Iraq will face jail time for refusing to deploy to Afghanistan. The non-commissioned officer objects to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan on principle, claiming the US military occupies both countries in violation of international law.

Spc. Victor Agosto, 24, from Miami, served a 13-month tour in Iraq with the Army’s 57th Battalion. Although his four-year enlistment should have ended August 4, Agosto received orders in May to report to an Army office to begin the paperwork for overseas deployment to Afghanistan. He was informed that his military service was to be involuntarily extended under the “stop-loss” program.  

When he received his reporting orders, Agosto wrote a letter refusing deployment. “There is no way I will deploy to Afghanistan,” wrote Agosto. “The occupation is immoral and unjust. It does not make the American people any safer. It has the opposite effect.”

Agosto has now been court-martialed. After a one-hour hearing August 5, a military court in Ft. Hood, Texas, demoted Agosto to the rank of private and sentenced him to 30 days in jail. When he heard the sentence, Agosto ripped from his uniform the patch displaying his specialist rank, symbolically embracing his demotion. After completing his jail sentence, Agosto will likely receive a less-than-honorable discharge …

… Asked by Goodman whether it surprised him that Obama had escalated the war in Afghanistan, Agosto replied, “No. No, it doesn’t, because he said he would do so during his campaign. Part of why I’m doing what I’m doing is because I don’t believe that any politician can end this war. I think that it has to be ended at the grassroots level. Soldiers, by refusing to fight, can bring about the end of the war.”

Agosto is quite correct to argue that both the US-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan violate international law. His advice to other soldiers? “I would say that you would never—you’ll never regret following your conscience and that adherence to an oath is not a valid excuse for betraying your conscience.”

Agosto told Courage to Resist that he has received support from fellow soldiers at Ft. Hood. “Some of the people in my unit will flash me peace signs when they walk by me,” he explains. “The other day when I was coming back from the shop, this soldier stopped me and said he wanted to shake my hand. He told me he looked up to me for not going to fight a war I don’t believe in.” (full text).

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