"New Great Depression in America"
The World from Point of View of a Soldier of Humanism: A War Resister
Kyle is a 21 year old veteran of the US occupation of Iraq. In the late spring of 2005he jumped ship from his station in Mosul, in Northern Iraq, and landed in Prince George, BC. He is now living in Vancouver and pursuing a refugee claim in order to avoid prosecution and up to five years jail time, or a penalty as high as execution for "desertion" in the US.
On Tuesday September 20th Kyle spoke at a forum in Capilano College organized by Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO) and the Capilano Students Union as part of MAWO's Student Week Against War and Occupation. The forum was titled, "Capilano Students Defend War Resisters" and was attended by more than a hundred students. His speech, which is printed here, received a standing ovation.
Fire This Time is proud to support Kyle in his refugee claim and in his struggle against the injustice of the occupation of Iraq. We encourage all our readers to get involved in the struggle in defense of war resisters, for the democratic rights of soldiers in the US army, against the generals and US government and against the occupation of Iraq. In the question period that followed this talk, Kyle responded to the question, "How many soldiers in Iraq feel the same way that you do?" by saying, "A hundred and fifty thousand of them."
Fire This Time is proud to print here the words and thoughts of the growing US soldiers' resistance to the occupation of Iraq.
De>pres>sion /di-'pre-shen, de-/ n (14c) 1 a: the angular distance of a celestial object below the horizon b: the size of an angle of depression 2 an act of depressing or a state of being depressed: as a: a pressing down: LOWERING b (1): a state of feeling sad: DEJECTION (2): a psychoneurotic or psychotic disorder marked esp. by sadness, inactivity, difficulty in thinking and concentration, a significant increase or decrease in appetite and time spent sleeping, feelings of dejection and hopelessness c (1) a reduction in activity, amount, quality, or force (2): a lowering of vitality or functional activity 3: a depressed place or part: HOLLOW 4: LOW 1b 5: a period of low general economic activity marked esp. by rising levels of unemployment
To understand the state of Americas depression today in economy, in religion, in povertized areas, in suburbs just outside of these areas, and all over the United States. We need to first understand America and how it came to be this way, as nations have long before America, lands and countries have been in one state of depression or another, with the help of US forces since Vietnam, and decades before.
I am only twenty-one and directly out of a povertized area of America, recruited directly out of completing a government program called "Job Corps". I do not know every single issue, as it was not taught to me properly in the United States, I always believed and grew up believing we were the good guys, we were the GI Joes of the world, we were the heroes who could bring light to a world that cannot see the way the world can be. I honestly believed that load of shit. Anyhow that is a completely different story.
I watched on September 11th, as two commercial airlines crashed into two towers in New York and one at the Pentagon. Thousands of people would die that day, three thousand to be exact according to Fox News, the only news channel I received where I lived at the time. I looked over at my friend as it was being replayed, over, and over, for almost two months straight, and now advertised like a super-bowl on aired television.
Joining the US Army
When my friend told me he was planning on joining the military I looked at him and laughed. I wonder where he is now. Who knows maybe he got caught up in it just like me, only it took two years after the fact for a recruiter to come to where I had just received my high school diploma in Clearfield, UT. "Join the military son we have work for you in any field you'd like" and I can quote those words, only because I had went with the man to the malls where he recruited at in UT. SSG Williamson, Or I called him J.T.
His first name was Joel. It had to have been his favorite phrase. Sad thing is it worked, people bought into his charismatic approach and elegant military uniform. A true professional right? I mean c'mon look at him he's in the military he has to be the best.
If I only would have known that no more than a year after meeting Joel Williamson, I would find myself in a desert doing the exact opposite of what I was told, with no one left in my life that I had cared for because I couldn't even keep in contact with her. I did join the military for a better future for my fiancé and our unborn child, I did want a future with her and we were happy, she had loving parents and all, we had it. I wanted to prove to her and her parents I could provide for my child. So it was no question that the military was right for me.
However through basic training a 20 week course of studies in war, studies in field training, basic combat procedures, fitness training, bio hazard warfare training, rifle and small arms, well you get the point, once your in you are truly a machine, you have no control of your life, you are a government tool, statistic, Mr. 8009658A, please step into my office.
The Militarisation of My Life
No phone calls could be made except a 5-minute telephone conversation I received at 9:00 in the morning in Fort Leonardwood Missouri. And she was not home. Here I am in Missouri wearing a camouflaged uniform thinking I am doing the right thing, yelling and singing about killing the Nazi troops in Germany, and the gooks in Vietnam, but I can't even check on my pregnant fiancé? This cant be right, I mean I am willing to die for this country right? Why can't I get a phone call, why can't I buy a beer at the bar? What is this about oil for the war? And why am I being trained with C4 now? This wasn't in the job description of Engineer…
I left Iraq on April 15th 2005, I knew when I got on the airplane that I would not be coming back to those who I fought with and cared for, would have given my life for. But how do you tell someone that you are not coming back to him or her? How do you tell someone that you are frightened with what the world is becoming, not indirectly changing but rather in front of your eyes. Like a child, who has just discovered the difference between a bouncing ball, and a flat excerpt of the same ball. How do you bring up normal conversation opening up with "I was 21 when I first went through Israel"?
I left Mosul with very mixed feelings and a constant question in myself if what I was doing in Iraq was right. I could no longer stay knowing that in my heart this was genocide. Knowing that children were dying and being put into statistics formed by the US government to later control what they call "prioritized casualties", just outside of where I rested my head.
I left with no idea how I was going to live if I stayed in British Columbia, all I knew was I wasn't going back, no matter the consequence. I met a woman over the Internet while stationed in Vilseck, Germany. I told her how I felt about the deployment orders to Iraq, more so as a release of feelings than anything at the time. She wrote to me handwritten letters while I was in Iraq, and I kept in contact with her via e-mail when I had access to Internet (about once to twice a week). The e-mails turned into something I poured my heart into, after all when you are in war and someone acts like they care you want to care as well. Sometimes all we have are the handwritten letters we keep in our helmets, or pictures of loved ones, children, family members, brothers, sisters, whomever or whatever gives you comfort for five minutes of the day. Her letters and pictures kept me moving forward.
I now face a government that views my actions as cowardly and denies me of the fact that I was even over in a combat zone, "Red Zone". Denies me the simple ability of human rights. Denies me the ability to become something more, and sits back in a comfortable lambskin sofa in a business suit laughing as the world moves slowly into chaos. They deny me now of simple human freedoms and condemn my actions and my feelings about the occupation of Iraq. (I will forever call it an occupation mind you.) I now find myself in a foreign country, not being shot at by bullets, but by regulations of the Republican Government in my birth country. I cannot help that I was born on American soil, and grown into a statistic for the US military programs.
I call this "Products of Environment"
Stationed in one of many hostile areas in Iraq (correct numbers in January 2005 would be 1 of 15) camp Merez, whose breach was slipped through in December 2004 killing 15 soldiers and destroying food supply to the supposed coalition, in a suicide bombing at the chow hall, whether direct or indirect, attached to a unit doing the killing in the city, or being the unit doing the killing in the city. I often felt ambushed by the everyday thought that my government isn't at all what I had grown up to believe it was. I saw the aftereffects and stress that the bombing had on the soldiers who had been there for almost a year already, and here I was coming fresh into the war. The random men in uniform, no older than I, sharing similar stories of question after a mission, but the question almost guaranteed to come forth in conversation in Iraq from a soldier was, "Why are we here?" "What has our President done?" not "We really made those children smile today building a school for them Huh?" or "My unit really went all out today fixing that road huh?"
As a supposed engineer, in the beginning of my active duty time, I was told I was going to help create a world, of hope and dignity, not destroy and raid, and kill, injure, all the things that walk, run, swim, crawl and fly. Corrupt civilizations that have grown since before Christ, with thoughts and influence of a westernized civilization founded in the 1700's.
Give Peace a Chance
I believe they are asking me to forget that the world's societies have a past, and I took it as a direct threat to my intelligence, and a direct threat, mocking America's intelligence and dignity of the world today. Americans first need to open their hearts and minds to the fact that there is a world outside of America.
The Poets of the world who reach others through spoken word, the Musicians who speak as a bard would in the Middle East, The Writers who touch our hearts, The Actors whom make us smile, and The thinkers of the world who care to look deeper. I am truly grateful for all of you who are here today to hear my story. You are all truly free, and I envy you.
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