Naked City

Jail, Exile, or Iraq

Carl Webb
Carl Webb (Photo By John Anderson)

In a situation fraught with terrible irony, a local peace activist faces a call to Iraq – as a member of the U.S. military. Carl Webb, 38, joined the Texas Army National Guard in August 2001, despite also having been active in the peace movement since at least a year earlier. He signed up for a three-year enlistment that would have been up on Aug. 22. But as part of the Pentagon's "stop-loss" program – the same program that John Kerry derided in his Democratic presidential nomination acceptance speech as a "back-door draft" – Webb's commitment is being involuntarily extended; he must report to Fort Hood on Aug. 15 and was told to expect mobilization to Iraq in November.

Being highly opposed to the war in Iraq, Webb says he's leaning toward resisting the order. "I've been counseled that my only options are to just go; refuse and go to jail; or permanent exile," Webb says. "I'm not considering exile. I've traveled, I lived in Mexico for like five months and I like it, and I've traveled to Europe and Asia. But all my family and friends are in the States, and I like this country. I'm thinking about exploring the second option, the jail time." Webb said that although execution is on the books for desertion in times of war, it hasn't been used since World War II, and five years in prison is the standard penalty.

"Prison is something that I never thought would be easy," Webb says with obvious nervousness, noting that his brother is in Louisiana's infamous Angola prison for armed robbery. "It never sounded nice." Webb emphasized that he was not admitting guilt, but only recognizing the futility of the legal fight ahead of him. "I most likely will lose."

Conscientious-objector status is not really an option, Webb says, noting the high standard that must be met – basically, opposition to all acts of violence, period. "I'm not a pacifist. ... But I've always been politically opposed to U.S. militarism."

So how did someone of Webb's political leanings end up in the National Guard? "I was broke," he admits. "I fell behind on some bills. And I was also a veteran before that. I first joined the Army in '82, and I'd been out, back and forth since. I had like six years on active duty in the regular army. ... After this seven-year breach in the service I was a pretty solid civilian, but I had some financial problems that came up, and I said, 'Well, we've invaded everybody we could possibly invade, it's relatively peaceful, what could possibly happen?' That was August 2001, and three weeks later, 9/11 happened and we were all on alert."

  • More of the Story

  • Naked City

    Naked City

    Legal action seeks to undo 1996 settlement on erstwhile Wal-Mart tract

    Naked City

    Walgreens calls a time-out on its South Lamar zoning deal
  • Naked City

    The city tries to combine historic protection, urban redevelopment

    Naked City

    The feds want their public documents to become un-public

    Naked City

    The GOP candidate for Congress hits the Eastside streets

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Iraq
The Next Chapter
The Next Chapter
Three Austin-based national-security experts offer their views on how America can rebuild its reputation in Iraq and beyond

Richard Whittaker, Dec. 19, 2008

Letters @ 3AM
Letters @ 3AM
Baghdad Alamo

Michael Ventura, Feb. 2, 2007

More by Lee Nichols
Game Changer
Game Changer
A new football culture for Austin bars

Oct. 23, 2015

Beer Flights
Beer Flights
Celis: welcome home

Aug. 17, 2012

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Carl Webb, Texas Army National Guard, Iraq, stop-loss

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle