going home to Canada soon ... to his house 100 meters from the border
Wow. Color me very surprised.
I think he should get a new nickname: Lucky.
The visit from the Canadian consul suggests that Canada is actively acknowledging his Canadian citizenship, and might even be going to bat for him a bit.
For the Marines and the Navy (the Marines are a branch of the Navy), it seems they don't want to go to the wall to throw the book at this guy. They have enough on their plate right now with Marine deserters who fled to avoid serving in Iraq.
If they process Allen Abney quickly, without a lengthy and nationally noisy court martial, he'll be back in Canada very quickly, and cease to be a headache for the Marine Corps. The Marines might even buy him his one-way plane ticket back to B.C.
A very sensible and orderly resolution.
It's just spectacularly not the way the military traditionally deals with wartime desertion.
Maybe the disasters of Vietnam and Iraq are making the American public think more generously about America's Refuseniks. And even in wartime, the military realizes it has nothing to gain by directly challenging this evolving perception of military Refuseniks.
Nobody at the Pentagon has to say he's a hero, and he's not going to get a medal.
But we've come a long way since the days of the Civil War, when the military shot deserters. (The U.S. Army shot one, a 25-year-old private named Eddy Slovik, in Europe during World War II.)
Not a lot of Forgive here, but a lot of Forgetting. Private Allen Abney deserted the Marines in 1968.
Here's the big question.
Why did every American man want to serve in the military during World War Two? Why were draft dodgers universally looked on as lepers and pariahs? Why did rich kids rush to join up and volunteer for combat assignments?
Why did thousands flee to Canada during the Vietnam war, giving up their American citizenship, knowing they could never set foot on American soil again? Why did so many Americans already in uniform desert and flee to Sweden, which gave them sanctuary?
The draft ended around 1973. But soldiers and Marines -- who "volunteered" -- are starting to desert to Canada again, and some are outright refusing orders to Iraq.
Have young American men changed?
Or have American wars changed?
What was at stake during World War Two? Did 19-year-olds understand enough of the issues to think the war was worth fighting and risking for?
What was at stake during Vietnam?
What's at stake in Iraq?
The Los Angeles Times (California USA)
Monday 13 March 2006
Court Martial Unlikely
for Marine Deserter, 56
by Tony Perry, Times Staff Writer
CAMP PENDLETON, California -- A 56-year-old deserter being held in the brig probably will be released within a week without a court martial, the Marine Corps said Monday.
Unless more information surfaces, the case of Allen Abney, who deserted in 1968 to avoid being sent to Vietnam, will be handled administratively, a Marine spokesman said.
By law, the Marine Corps cannot divulge what kind of discharge Abney will receive. But other deserters from that era have been given discharges labeled as "other than honorable."
Abney, a private when he deserted, was arrested last week when he tried to enter the U.S. from his home in British Columbia.
On Monday, Abney met with a military lawyer, a colonel and a representative of the Canadian Consulate.
In the brig, he has a private room with a window and access to television, said Lt. Lawton King, a Marine Corps spokesman. Medical personnel have also spoken to him.
King said that despite several recent cases of Vietnam deserters being arrested, the Marine Corps has not launched any effort to catch such deserters.
Abney was arrested when a random computer check showed a 1968 federal arrest warrant. He was arrested by civil authorities who regulate the border, then transferred to Camp Pendleton.
Desertion can bring a one year jail sentence, or five years for desertion to avoid hazardous duty.
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