EXCLUSIVE: "I'm Scared Out of My Mind" - Live from Iraq, Active Duty Army Sgt. Speaks Out Against War Escalation

January 11, 2007



Sgt. Ronn Cantu

serving his second tour of duty in Iraq.

In an Democracy Now! exclusive, we go to Iraq to speak with Army Sergeant Ronn Cantu, who is serving his second tour in Iraq. Cantu recently signed a petition to Congress, known as an appeal for redress, calling for the withdrawal of U.S. troops. He says, "Everything we do here is on the defense. Any troops increase over here, they will just be more sitting ducks, more targets." [includes rush transcript]


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We go first to Iraq. My next guest, Sergeant Ronn Cantu, is an Army sergeant serving his second tour of duty in Iraq right now. He recently signed a petition to Congress, known as an appeal for redress, calling for the withdrawal of U.S. troops. The appeal will be delivered to Capitol Hill next week. Sergeant Cantu is a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War. He started the website forum, soldiervoices.net, to give soldiers a forum to speak about the Iraq War, now joining us on the line from Iraq. It is very brave of you to join us, Sergeant Cantu.

SGT. RONN CANTU: Yeah, but I’m scared out of my mind right now. [inaudible] over here.

AMY GOODMAN: Why are you scared?

SGT. RONN CANTU: I don’t really want to go into that. All I really want to say, because I shouldn’t be doing this — all I want to say is, right now American soldiers are dying in a Sunni-Shiite civil war, a sectarian civil war. That’s a fact, based on my personal observations. Soldiers’ hands are tied to defend themselves. Every time a soldier fires his weapon, he has to sign paperwork making sure it was justified. I want to stress that soldiers want to go on the offensive, but everything we’re doing here is on the defense. And it’s a belief of the soldiers I’ve talked to that any troop increase over here, it’s just going to be more sitting ducks, more targets.

Everything we’re doing is reactive. People go out on patrols, and they’re sitting ducks until somebody strikes first. There was a story relayed to me by somebody I know —- I don’t want to give his name. A soldier was shot in the face, and nobody fired back, because they couldn’t see where it was coming from. That’s what this has come down to, and that’s just plain fact. I’m sorry, [inaudible] -—

AMY GOODMAN: Sergeant Cantu, can you explain the appeal for redress that you’ve signed?

SGT. RONN CANTU: All it is is a — it’s just that one of the rights that soldiers have is the right to communicate unfettered with their elected member of Congress, and it’s just about a troop withdrawal. I mean, the appeal for redress website is pretty straightforward. If anybody’s in there, very straightforward.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you have support in Iraq, where you are, among your cavalry division?

SGT. RONN CANTU: I’m sorry?

AMY GOODMAN: Do you have support in the First Cavalry Division for your call for the troops to come home?

SGT. RONN CANTU: A lot of people still aren’t even aware of it, the appeal.

AMY GOODMAN: Sergeant Cantu, are you there?

SGT. RONN CANTU: I’m here.

AMY GOODMAN: And what are you demanding of the president, of the Congress right now? Sergeant Cantu? Sergeant Cantu, are you there?

You’re listening to an exclusive live broadcast with Sergeant Ronn Cantu. He is one of over 1,000 soldiers who have signed what is called an appeal to redress, which will be delivered on Capitol Hill on Martin Luther King’s birthday, calling for the troops to be called home. All of the uniformed endorsers are calling on Congress to bring the troops home.