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War on Truth  From Warriors to Resisters
Books of the Month

The War on Truth

From Warriors to Resisters

Army of None

Iraq: the Logic of Withdrawal


Three U.S. Soldiers Refusing to Fight Speak Out Against the Iraq War
Tuesday, March 15th, 2005 on Democracy Now with Amy Goodman


[As a courtesy to Democracy Now, we are not reprinting Amy Goodman's entire interview. We have excerpted Kevin Benderman's comments, and provide the link to the entire interivew - with Carl Webb, an Anonymous AWOL soldier, and Kevin Benderman - below.]


We speak with three U.S. soldiers who are refusing deployment to Iraq: Carl Webb, who is AWOL after refusing to report for duty when his term was extended under the military's "stop-loss" policy, Kevin Benderman who has been charged with desertion and is facing a court martial after refusing to return to Iraq and another soldier who served in Iraq and is now AWOL after refusing to return when he has called up for a second tour off duty. [includes rush transcript]

As we continue to discuss American troops who are resisting deployment to Iraq, we wanted to take a look at some of the stories of soldiers who are speaking out against war. We are joined in the studio by Carl Webb. He enlisted in the Texas Army National Guard in 2001. His three-year term of service was due to expire last August - but just two months before that, he was informed his term had been extended under the military's stop-loss policy and he was to be deployed to Iraq in November. Carl Webb refused to report for duty and has been AWOL since then. He joins us in our firehouse studio today.

We are also joined on the line by another soldier who is AWOL. He was deployed to Iraq for a year. After returning home he refused to return to Iraq when he was called up for a second tour of duty. He has asked to remain anonymous.

And on the line from Georgia we are joined by Kevin Benderman, a sergeant in the 3rd Infantry Division. He is seeking conscientious objector status and has just been charged with desertion. His court martial trial is set to begin on May 11.

Carl Webb
Anonymous AWOL soldier
Kevin Benderman


AMY GOODMAN: We're also joined by Sergeant Kevin Benderman. Can you talk about your refusal to return to Iraq?

KEVIN BENDERMAN: Well, my refusal to return to Iraq was not based on anything other than conscientious objection to war, period. I've gone through some of the process that I just heard the other soldier talking about, and the application you put in, D.A. Form 4187, to your immediate commander which, in turn, he is supposed to take that and have a chaplain interview and a mental health evaluation appointment set up for you. And the case that I had, my immediate commander, he just automatically refused to send it forward, and he had no knowledge of the army regulation which covered conscientious objector, and thatís AR600-43, conscientious objection.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about what you experienced in Iraq?

KEVIN BENDERMAN: Well, the things that I saw in Iraq was, that stick out in my mind the most, was number one, the young girl I saw on the side of the road as our convoy was passing on Highway 1. Her arm was burned, third degree burn all way up to her shoulder. She was standing there begging us for help, anyone to help her, and I was not allowed to do that. And then the other thing that I saw while I was there was mass grave sites full of just remains of old women, old men, you know, children, and it was just a gruesome site there in Iraq.

AMY GOODMAN: You say you are a conscientious objector. Were you before you first went to Iraq?

KEVIN BENDERMAN: Well, that's -- war is -- it's hard to explain in a few short sentences what war is. And when you see it firsthand, it's a whole lot different than talking about it in your living room without everyone experiencing it, if you understand what I'm trying to say. And no one in their right mind, I believe, wants to go to war. That's the last thing any sane person really wants to do, but you cannot have a full understanding of what it is until you've been there and you've experienced it for yourself. And so, I mean, I have over nine years in the service right now. And my family has a history, dating back to the American revolution, of military service. So, you see all those things, and you know what your family has done, and you have all those things pushing on you, and you say, ok, military service is an honorable thing. But once you get right down to it, and you experience war firsthand, you realize that we should not be doing this in this day and age with all the knowledge -- advancements in knowledge that we have and technological advances that we have. We should be able to figure out how to live in this world with everyone without war. Because we can provide enough stuff for everyone on this planet with the knowledge that we have. We don't need war. It is just an outdated, obsolete institution. We need to leave it behind us.

AMY GOODMAN: We're coming up on the second anniversary of the invasion. Will you be speaking out? There are protests all over the country.

KEVIN BENDERMAN: Well, I don't plan on speaking out against just this Iraqi war. What I plan to talk about to people is war in general. We need to leave it behind us. We don't need to be participating in this war or any other wars ever again. Because it robs -- it robs a people that are fighting the wars of their humanity, it robs the noncombatants of their humanity, and it just destroys everyone's soul in the entire process because it is the most brutal thing that any human being can be involved in. It's kill or be killed, period. That's all that war is for.

Sgt. Benderman is facing court marital for his refusal to redeploy to Iraq.

You can help.

Please go to the Kevin Benderman C.O. Defense Fund

You may hear Amy Goodman's entire interview at


March 15, 2005 - page created by Charlie Jenks