The elders are numerous with support to the young soldiers of the wars of Iraq and Afghanistan. Most of them belonging to the Conservative party.
Phil Smith, who joined Canada in October not to return to Iraq, is lodged with his wife in Toronto by the son of a former deserter from Vietnam. This is not an isolated case. In the networks that support deserters and IMs, the group of Vietnamese, veterans or former deserters, occupies a special place. The intervention in Iraq reopens the wounds of some, and returns the others to the reasons for which they had – refused to fight, explains the general
Sent to Vietnam at the age of eighteen, he is now a volunteer for Iraq’s Vets Against the War (IVAW) in Boston, USA. “I could not literally get up in the morning if I did not participate in this movement,” explains the former teacher. “The Vietnam War, we’re constantly seeing it again. This work allows me to accept the idea that it starts again. Every day, I hear stories of veterans who are having a bad time because this war brings back their memories. For me, it started in 1991, the first time they bombed Iraq.
Jeffry Jones crossed the Canadian border in 1970 to avoid conscription, like 50,000 young people at the time. Thirty-seven years later, a respected lawyer in Toronto, he defends young deserters who have applied for asylum. “My sympathy for them comes from their story resonating with mine. I agree with them, and I know that in the United States they have no right to say that the American president is wrong. It was also in 1970 that Lee Zed deserted to Canada.
Today, he is coordinating in Toronto the campaign to support the War Resisters, the name given to deserters from the Iraq war. “Thirty-seven years ago, I followed the same path as them, taking the bus from New York when I was called for Vietnam,” he says. I was opposed to the war. My father, an aviator during the Second World War, was opposed to it before me. In 1975, he became a Canadian citizen “and proud to be,” and invested himself in the Canadian political and union life.
In 2004, when the campaign is launched, he feels useful and volunteers. “We have a lot to share with these young people, even though they are much less politicized than we were at the time. They are more motivated by moral issues, which they have witnessed, their disappointment at having been betrayed, than by a global critique of imperialism. We see them as a new generation of who we are. It is a great privilege to know them.