Remember the name Pablo Paredes. He’s an enlisted
sailor who has protested the war in Iraq by refusing to board his ship for deployment to the
Persian Gulf. More than anyone so far, Paredes recalls the Vietnam war resisters.
He showed up four days ago on the naval pier in San Diego where the USS Bonhomme Richard, which
ferries Marines to Iraq as part of the Expeditionary Strike Group 5, was about to depart.
According to a local NBC report and others,
instead of his uniform, he wore a T-shirt that said Like A Cabinet Member (on the front)
I Resign (on the back) and waited to be arrested.
“I’d rather do a year in a prison in the military than do six months of dirty work for a war I
don’t believe in — and not many people believe in — and get Marines in harm’s way,” Paredes, 23,
told NBC’s local San Diego reporter. Paredes was berated by other sailors but was not detained.
He believes the Navy did not want to be seen arresting him on camera. Paredes had notified
reporters of his protest, and he is continuing to speak out as publicly as possible.
This morning he was interviewed from an
undisclosed location by Democracy Now! Contrary to its
description of him, however, Paredes said he is not a deserter or a fugitive in hiding — he said he
is categorized as “U.A.,” the military term for unauthorized absence — and expects to turn himself
In the interview, Paredes emphasized that his protest is “based on principle” and is “not a
decision based on personal fear” for his own safety. He explained that his job as an electronics
technician for the ship’s defensive missile system was not dangerous and would not be even if he’d
gone to the Persian Gulf.
Paredes said he simply did not want to be part of the military “muscle” serving an “ideology
that is not promoting peace.” He said he understood that the war in Afghanistan “made sense” as
a response to 9/11. But, he added, “I don’t understand why we are in Iraq.”
Earlier Paredes told NBC’s local reporter, “It’s sad to me that some people don’t understand
what I’m doing, don’t understand that this fight takes a lot more courage and that I’m fighting for
the very people that they’re putting in harm’s way.” He said he couldn’t sleep at night knowing that
he would be part of a mission to ferry thousands of Marines to Iraq and that hundreds would be
Have a look at this morning’s Paredes interview and see for
yourself how brave this guy is to take on the Navy. I have no doubt that he’ll be going to prison
for his principles — and I think neither does he. Paredes is made of sterner, finer stuff than most of