BY ANITA JOSHUA
“I will never apologise for deserting the American army. I deserted an injustice and leaving was the right thing to do. I owe one apology and one apology only, and that is to the people of Iraq.”
Joshua Key (AWOL —
Absent Without Official Leave). For, according to him, every second night of his seven-month stay in Iraq, he participated in raids on homes “harbouring terrorists” but always returned empty-handed with not even a trace of any subversive activity.
Though Key insists that he has not killed a soul in Iraq, he admits to having beaten up several people, ransacked homes, stolen belongings… From Day One, he realised something was amiss and found himself questioning U.S. President George Bush’s reasons for beginning the Iraq War.
At first glance, The Deserter’s Tale: The Story of an Ordinary American Soldier might seem like a kiss-and-tell case; one that would bring in some fast bucks. Be that as it may, there can be no denying the fact that it was a tough call for Key to make when he chose to leave the U.S. Army after seven months in Iraq.
While his experience in Iraq is all-too-familiar — only, he provides the bare details about the operations of his company of 120 men — what makes Key’s story believable is the absence of any high-drama encounters with the authorities in the U.S. after he decided to desert the army.
For over a year, he lived in the U. S. in constant fear of being caught before he fled with his family to Canada in search of asylum. But, he makes no attempt to exaggerate his travails to sell his story, and it is this honesty that reflects through all the detail.
The Deserter’s Tale: The Story of an Ordinary Soldier, Joshua Key as told to Lawrence Hill, Lotus, Rs. 395.