Coming from 4 generations of combatants, Dennis spent 15 years in the army. "My obligations since I have returned from the battlefield, even as a soldier, even though I stayed in after I got back, was to reach down one generation and talk to the young people."
" I was in Desert Storm in 1991; Darrel was in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, there's your 12 year generation gap. I'm 12 years older than him and our battles are 12 years apart. However, it's the same war..............the book, the Federal Administration Handbook of Federal Benefits, which I get because I'm a 20% disabled veterans, states specifically that the Gulf War started on 2 August 1990 and will end on a date to be determined by Congress. It ain't over yet; Darrel and I were in the same war."
Though Dennis was in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm and the overall conflict in which Darrell served was called Operation Desert Fox, Operation Desert Watch etc., " what you can see here is that in the old days you'd have one war and a bunch of battles,...... battle of the bulge, battles, battles battles. They don't do that to us anymore, one war, a bunch of operations. Wordsmithing, Depleted Uranium used to be called Depleted Uranium Low Level Radioactive Material. After 1991 it was referred to as DU. The Department of Defense is professional at word smithing, that's how they dupe guys like Darrel and I into thinking that we're defending something when we're actually aggressors."
Dennis states that the armed services uses people up. He quotes from a book, "On Killing," that we are using Pavlovian and R.E Skinner techniques to train soldiers. Whereas during World War ll, only "the statistics were that 15% of the troops would engage downrange and kill somebody," today "96% of the soldiers will go downrange and kill. It's not brainwashing, it's just reprogramming."
After a few more comments Dennis then introduces Darrell Anderson.
Dennis Kyne, RealPlayer
Dennis Kyne, MP3
Darrell speaks for 30 minutes about how he came to join the service, his experiences in Iraq and what led him to refuse redeployment and oppose the Occupation. "In January '03 I decided to join the military because, I was broke. I was tired of dealing drugs on the streets and I was tired of living with my grandparents and I was tired of not going to school and I was tired of being an American without healthcare." In his own words, he figured he could get "join the military. They'll give me 50 G's for college; they'll straighten me out."
Though his mom freaked out, telling him that he'll go to war, Darrel responded, "I want to go to war, I've been waiting my whole life to go to combat, to do something crazy like that. I don't have much to live for, what's me being dead going to matter? I'll be remembered as a great person, instead of that dude who worked at the grocery store. So I signed up, shipped off, took a year of training."
Eventually ending up in Iraq, Darrell found out that what was expected of him was much less than honorable, at least not honorable according to his own personal ethics. In the ranks around him he discovered a deep racism against the Iraqis. When I first got there I realized the racism that the soldiers had. It was obvious to me when they called them towel heads and every other name they could think of, and it really took me back. And I thought, wow, my whole life I've been taught that this is wrong, we can't be treating people like this."
" But it was obvious that it came from higher up than that....they were brainwashed into believing that the Iraqis were less than them., and they're all terrorists, and if you kill an Iraq it's okay, because another dead Iraq is a good Iraqi.. I didn't agree with this."
Soon after his arrival Darrel began witnessing the many war crimes by American soldiers inflicted upon innocent Iraqi civilians. And too, the pressure to join in these everyday, commonplace occurrences. With every US soldier lost in combat the temptation to kill anyone, anywhere in retaliation became stronger, especially since it was not only commonplace, but that it was expected of him by other soldiers and by his commanding officers.
"The more guys we lost the more drastic our procedures became. And we had some procedures that went like this: if we're in this crowd and one of you, just one of you, you could all be peaceful protestors in downtown Baghdad, and if one of you shoots at me, my superiors told me, if you get shot at, shoot everybody that is there. Now this wasn't our procedure in January, February and March, but once we were scraping our buddies off the concrete, we started to act out, just like they did in Viet Nam."
Darrell then took the audience through two days of combat in Baghdad, days when he had to choose whether or not to shoot an unarmed young teenager, days when he did take part in a mortar attack which left 100 Iraqis dead, most of them innocent civilians. He says that the army trains these young men to kill and sends them to where that is what they must do to survive. Who is to blame, the soldier, society. Weighty questions to struggle with here in the safety of the U.S., but much weightier questions, questions of immediate life and death to those in active combat.
Leaving Iraq Darrell struggles with his conscience and the question of redeployment to Iraq. He decides to go to Canada and remains there for a year and a half, returning to stand beside those who have spoken out against the war, like Lt Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer to refuse deployment to Iraq. He mentions Watada by name, as well as many others who have stood up, risking ridicule, court martial and prison for their acts of conscience.
Concluding his talk, Darrell speaks a little about what the soldiers are doing to resist this Occupation and emphasizes how crucial it is to that the anti war movement work to support these actions. Both he and Dennis stress how important it is to go to Fort Lewis on February 5 to support the actions of Lt. Watada during his court martial, where he is facing up to six years in prison for his courageous stand.
During his talk he mentions another IVAW website, Iraq Veterans Against the War Deployed,
Darrel Anderson, RealPlayer
Darrel Anderson, MP3
After Darrell spoke he fielded questions from the audience. I've included about 20 minutes of the interchange between the speakers and the audience. Many of the questions are more statements than questions, but the audience has a good grasp of the issues involved, and the interchange betweem them is enlightening and educational.
Here are a few websites about soldiers in resistance to the Iraqi Occupation.
Military Families Speak Out
Gold Star Families for Peace
Bring Then Home Now
US Labor Against the War
Iraq Pledge of Resistance, founded in September of 2002, is a nationwide network of activists and organizations committed to ending the war in Iraq through nonviolent, Gandhian and Kingian resistance.
This event was taped by Jim Wrathal, Public Access producer, who produces and hosts an every other Saturday program from Portland Community Media. This program, the "TVSet," has been airing since 1991, and features guests, video of local events, and a good selection of relevant material from the internet, including a segment of foreign cartoons.
For those with cable, this is worth checking out!