I wrote an essay recently over Andre L. Shepherd, the US Army deserter sitting in a German refugee center.....waiting out a request for asylum as a war protester. There's been an update to the episode.
To introduce you to the Shepherd case.....it takes a pretty simple explanation. Shepherd is convinced to join the US Army for a short-tour (something like a 15-month to 18-month sign-up deal). He signs up, goes to boot-camp and some school.....then gets a one-year tour in Iraq. It's safe to say that he's not happy with 'war' but fulfills that obligation. For some reason, yet to ever be fully understood.....he signs up for another period (some say three years but it's not clear). What Shepherd says is that someone in the Army promised him that he'd never have to go off to war, and that's the only way that he reenlisted.
To this date, he's never identified this person who messed him up.....that the Army would never take him to a war front. It would be an amazing deal.....spent twenty years in the Army and know that you never have to go off to war. I know.....if you aren't going to be a participant in a war-situation....why would the Army even need you?
So, Shepherd is sitting at a Army post in Germany.....assigned to the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade. He walks out the gate, and deserts when the unit is given a deployment order. He asks Germany for asylum. They send him to an asylum center and paperwork starts.
There's some issues though for the German government of modern times compared to the German government of 1969. Today, they ask stupid questions.
Shepherd was a volunteer for contract number one and contract number two. Shepherd has already served one tour in a war-zone. The logic doesn't really fit.....so they prolong this process. Eventually around 2011.....they turn down the request but Shepherd refiles the case.
This year....Shepherd will start year seven of the refugee center.
This past week, the EU Court sat down and handed out this decision. IF Shepherd can show that he was going into a situation where war crimes were going to occur, then the application should be approved.
The problem here, which few journalists are willing to discuss over the episode.....the 12th Aviation Brigade and every member of the unit.....as far as I can see.....during this particular deployment 2007-2008....were never accused of war crimes. The EU Court is kinda hinting.....you need this war crimes angle to fit the current asylum arrangement. Shepherd lacks the angle.
I sat and watched the state-run TV news of last night and there was a brief 100-second piece over it. His lawyer was pretty positive over the EU Court ruling and how this would all work out. Frankly, it just lays the whole mess back at the feet of Shepherd and his former unit. Without any war crimes angle, he's screwed.
How long can he play this out? In a good poker game.....even if you bluff a bit, there's some point where a good bluff won't help much. Then the game ends. I imagine that Shepherd and his lawyer can bluff a bit through the rest of 2015, and maybe delay this into spring of 2016. Maybe they can find someone who will vouch for war crimes and stir the pot a bit with a bluff that war crimes might have been committed. The Germans might be curious though and ask why war crimes didn't get mentioned in 2009 or 2010? Why suddenly now?
Here's the sad part of this story. If Shepherd had gone to the US....he'd done two years max in some brig. So far, it's going to seven years in some German asylum center, and there's no end to this story.