Q&A

Vermont Cynic: From your first-hand knowledge, is Iraq in a Civil War?Drew Cameron: Most definitely. It is one that is fueled by the U.S. occupation. The military forces and the police forces are divided on sectarian lines, creating a situation of militia against militia. It’s a classic example of imperialism.VC: Between soldiers and the Iraqi people what was the general atmosphere like?DC: Before we went there, we had received no cultural training, no language training, no tribal or ancestral training, no history training or anything like that. So basically we were catapulted into this idea that that’s the enemy, that’s the other. For the most part, the people that we met with or worked with were just peaceful, caught up in this war just like we were. I didn’t speak very much Arabic, they didn’t speak very much English but we could still communicate on some level.VC: What do you think the US government should do instead of increasing troops in Iraq?DC: I completely and fully believe in the sentiment, along with Iraq Veterans Against the War, that the only resolution for the war right now is complete and utter and permanent withdrawal of all military in Iraq. The second would be to pay reparations to the Iraqi people.VC: Is there anything that you miss about Iraq? DC: No one has ever asked me that question. The friends that we had and the group that we had was really great. We had a tight, tight, tight platoon.VC: Is there anything that you learned in Iraq that Vermont students could benefit from?DC: I celebrated my 21st year over there. I think the biggest thing to realize is that students have a very strong connection with people who are fighting in Iraq right now. It’s our demographic. It’s your friends from high school- it’s the people you’d be sitting next to in class. It’s your sister, it’s your brother, fighting over there right now.VC: How did the transition from soldier to student feel?DC: I felt really old. I just felt like I didn’t fit in. The transition between soldier to student is really weird and it’s really hard. Most people don’t even make that jump. I guess I’m more apprehensive about accepting things, whether it be through policy or through education.VC: Was there a single event in Iraq that has deeply affected you or changed the way you thought?DC: We went out into a rural community with mud hut houses, subsistence farmers. We show up in the village and unloaded school desks. Afterward, we see a white SUV convoy coming down the road. Low and behold, top brass and a bunch of news reporters and military P.R. folks jump out of the vehicle. The whole spread was touting how the U.S. military was really bringing prosperous things such as school desks to schools. All of us, myself included, had this really bitter taste in our mouth, because of this contrived bullshit. It wasn’t done for some feeling that all these kids needed desks. It was done for some P.R. bullshit campaign. It definitely gave me some insight of how the politics worked. VC: Any message you’d like to give to the UVM community?DC: My message would be to persevere. It’s going to take we, the people, to do something. It’s not something like you go to a protest for a day, and nothing’s happened, right? Persevere. The situation is urgent and dire. There’s not going to be any peace or democracy at home unless you end that aggression.