Ivan Brobeck needs a beer. The baby-faced young man - the latest AWOL U.S. soldier to make his way to T.O., fought for seven months in Iraq with the U.S. marines. On his return to the USA, he deserted, went into hiding and, with the help of his mother, snuck across the border. Now he's applying for refugee status.
Brobeck is relieved and happy to be here. For one thing, he can finally have a legal beer, which he does sitting in the Fox and Fiddle on Bloor. A Blue.
At 19, as he points out, he was old enough to be flown to Iraq, to raid homes, to handcuff people and put bags on their heads, and to shoot an M-16, but he wasn't legally entitled to order a brew in an American bar.
"You can enlist when you're 17," he says. "You can actually go into the military and they'll hand you a rifle, but you can't drink a beer to ease your sorrows."
Somewhere between the three-hour firefights in Fallujah and the missions to hand out candies to Iraqi children, the native of Arlington, Virginia, realized he had to get out. "A lot of marines feel that way,' he says. "A majority know this war is pointless. But orders are orders.'
Brobeck has had a whirlwind first week in Canada. He found a place to sleep, joined the burgeoning war resisters movement and met legendary peace activist Tom Hayden.
Hayden even told Brobeck that as an AWOL soldier he could someday run for pope, given that the newly ordained Ratzinger was himself an army deserter. Brobeck declined.
He says he left the marines when he realized that the state of the conflict and the large number of suicide bombers would probably lead him to shoot civilians. "You never know when you're going to be put in a situation where you're going to kill an innocent person," he says, savouring his freedom beer.
Let them stay
• Funder for the War Resisters Support Campaign, Thursday, May 12, 9 pm, De Grassi House (780 Queen East).
• Vigil at the refugee hearing of resister David Sanders, Friday, May 20 (time tba). 74 Victoria.
• Sign the petition at www.resisters. ca.