The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

AWOL soldier speaks out

Oct 16, 2006

Sergeant Ricky Clousing pled guilty on October 12 to going AWOL from the Army and will serve three months confinement at Fort Bragg.

Clousing had gone into hiding for 14 months after serving for 5 months in Iraq from December 2004 to April 2005. He said, “My experiences in Iraq forced me to re-evaluate my beliefs and my ethics. I ultimately felt I could not serve.”

Clousing said he saw American soldiers kill an unarmed Iraqi teenager. He also said he saw soldiers sideswipe Iraqi cars in a Humvee and shoot an Iraqi man’s sheep.

In Iraq, Clousing served as an interrogator for an infantry unit. He says he was stunned at how many of those he interrogated were innocent or simply resentful of the American occupation. He told his commanding officer, “Your soldiers and the way they’re behaving are creating the insurgency you’re trying to fight. It’s a cycle. You don’t see it, but I’m talking to the people you’re bringing to me.”

A soldier like Clousing knows he’s taking a risk to come forward as he did. The words of the Army’s trial lawyer, Captain Jessica Alexander, show it. She said, “A message must be sent. There are thousands of soldiers who may disagree with this particular war, but who stay and fight.”

The lawyer’s words reflect the fear of the government and the military. They’re afraid that the example of people like Clousing, who openly defy the war – even at a cost to themselves – will spread to other soldiers, who already hate the war. The spreading of such open defiance would make the U.S. military less reliable.

And this defiance offers the best possibility to force this government to end its vile war in Iraq and Afghanistan.