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U.S. War in Afghanistan Causes Surge in Conscientious Objectors

StoryOctober 17, 2001
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The US bombed Afghanistan for the tenth day today, destroying a Red Cross building and further inflaming anti-US sentiment in much of the Muslim world. US officials like Secretary of War Donald Rumsfeld have said in recent days that the so-called war on terrorism may last months or even years, leading to increased anxiety and even resistance among men and women in the armed forces.

Although there hasn’t been a draft since 1973, there are still people in the all-volunteer military who consider themselves conscientious objectors. An estimated 1,000 soldiers inquired about objector status during the Gulf War, and tens of thousands applied during Vietnam. Many have also surfaced since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 and the American bombing of Afghanistan. Although their reasons vary, most conscientious objectors would disagree with the notion that "our job is to break stuff and bomb people," as one air force instructor told a recruit now applying for CO status.

One of the first places that doubting GIs call is the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors.


  • Mario Hardy, The Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors
  • Jeff Paterson, first Gulf War resister

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