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books - true stories

The Deserter’s Tale

The Story of an Ordinary Soldier Who Walked Away from the War In Iraq

by Joshua Key as told to Lawrence Hill

The title sums it up – an eye-opening read into the American Military and the war in Iraq.

I had only a few flags:

pg 173 As far as I knew, I had not killed any person in Iraq. I had not fired my M-249 since it had stopped working a month or two earlier. I had taken part in about two hundred house raids but had months earlier lost an belief in the cause. Most of my buddies felt the same way. The house raids were nothing but an excuse to insult, intimidate, and arrest Iraqis. They gave us a convenient target to vent our frustrations, never having any real enemies to kill in battle. For a time, the raids gave us an opportunity to beat people, steal their belongings, and destroy the things we didn’t care to take. But I wasn’t the only one who had let up on the beatings and the stealing as my conscience returned. For most of us, setting off C-4 explosives, ransacking houses, and zipcuffing teenagers and men provided a boost of adrenaline and excitement for a month of two at the most. As time went on, we found no weapons of mass destruction. We found no signs of terrorism. We found nothing but people whose lives would deteriorate, or end, simply for having met us face to face in their cars and their houses. Some of us had not even respected them in death.

(sidebar – at one point in the book he commented that while America had begun the war in Iraq against terrorism, it was really the Americans in Iraq who were the terrorists.)

pg 228 Although I would love to sit down with the president, I would like even more to have half an hour with every young American who is thinking of signing up for the poverty draft. As poor and desperate as my young family was when I drove to the armed forces recruiting centre in Oklahoma in March 2002, I never would have signed up if I’d known I would be blasting into Iraqis’ houses, terrorizing women and children, and detaining every man we could find – and all that for $1,200 a month as a private first class. Somehow, somewhere, I would have found a job and a way to survive. I never would have gone to war for my country if I had known what my country was going to do at war in Iraq.



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