LiveBlog with Aidan Delgado

OK – so here we go. 

I don’t have a lot prepared to say up top here.  I just want to welcome Aidan Delgado and give a brief intro. He will be posting here as TheObjector. 

Aidan Delgado joined the Army Reserve in 2001 and was sent to Iraq in March 2003. He was assigned to the 320th Military Police Company where he worked as a mechanic and also as a radio operator.  He spent 1 year in Iraq – 6 months at Tallil Airbase outside Nasiriyah and 6 months at Abu Ghraib.  As a Buddhist he soon found that being in the Army and witnessing the inhumanity of war and its effects on his fellow soldiers, and of course the Iraqis, violated all his beliefs and principles.  He decided he could not be a willing participant any longer so he turned in his weapon and filed for Conscientious Objector status.  His book tells about everything he saw and felt and how difficult it was to go on living and working with most of the soldiers in his unit once he made the decision to become an Objector.  It is a really amazing story of courage and compassion.  Highly recommended.

You can read more about the book here: Review

Click the book cover to purchase from the publisher, Beacon Press.

Here is Aidan’s website with a lot more information and links. 

Without further ado, I’ll open the floor, I mean blog, to questions.  Post your comments at any time and Aidan can work his way down the page to reply. 

151 comments

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  1. Hello!

    Here’s my question.  I was wondering about your friends in the motor pool – Sergeant Wallace, Sergeant Toro, Shoe, Stevens, et. al. They were very supportive of your CO status.  Did they end up going back to Iraq? How are they doing now?  I hope everyone is OK. 

  2. What his soldier opinion of Tommy Franks is?

  3. Aidan, was there a time after you had put down your weapon that you ever considered picking it up again for the time being in the middle of the Iraq war zone?

  4. Thanks for coming here to speak with us.

    My question is — which Buddhist books did you read that made you realize this was the way you wanted to live?

    • plf515 on October 29, 2007 at 2:08 am

    I thought there would be a crowd.

    I’ve not read the book, although now I want to. 

    • on October 29, 2007 at 2:10 am

    as they related to the military seeming to become more political. I am an Air Force brat. My father was a pretty senior level person. Although he voted I never heard him say a signal think about his political views. He felt it was wrong.

    In light of what we’ve seen lately it seems senior level people in the DoD are being pretty darn political. I was wondering if that was your experience.

    BTW: And thanks for taking the time to chat with us. Heck I saw John Dean speak on Second Life the other day. The world is a changing.

  5. How sympathetic were your peers, as opposed to your commanders, to you decision?

    • Twank on October 29, 2007 at 2:11 am

    A scientific paper (which your book obviously isn’t) takes a certain form in which it begins with a section called an “abstract”, a very brief summary of conclusions which the author wants the reader to know if he reads no further.  The reader can then decide if that article deserves further attention.

      Would you please give me an “abstract” of your experiences so that I

      1- have the kernel of the knowledge you wish to impart to me,  and/or

      2- tell ME what you think I should/could do on a daily basis to “make things better” .

  6. I was struck by the number of ‘coincidences’ that run through your story….from  enlisting on 9/11 to ending up at Abu Ghraib as a witness to what happened there. I was curious as to whether you felt you had been somehow ‘guided’ into these situations, so you could come back and spread what you have learned.

  7. thanks so much for showing up and I’ll do my best to answer all your questions. please feel free to respond to my answers and really kick this thing off! so without further ado…

  8. My question is also about your Buddhist beliefs. How instrumental is that belief sytem in keeping you centered in this incredible journey? I have not read your book, but I intend to. I think you are a shining example to us all.

    • Will2b on October 29, 2007 at 2:16 am

    What are your plans for the future?  Has anyone been interested in making a film based on your book? 

    • Alma on October 29, 2007 at 2:16 am

    your life was threatened because of this?  Either from the gov’t., or troops who didn’t agree with you?

    • TOG on October 29, 2007 at 2:17 am

    I’m only ordering your book this evening, so all I know about your experience is what On The Bus posted here yesterday; but I was wondering how you “practiced” your belief in Buddhism, apart from refusing to kill, while you were in Iraq.
    Thanks for sharing. I’m looking forward to reading your book.

    • plf515 on October 29, 2007 at 2:20 am

    I’m not religious at all, myself, but I found Taoism quite appealing

  9. I haven’t read your book yet but in the review you were obviously able to be very open and honest with your girlfriend.  The review indicates that when you came home there were tensions.  When my husband came home there were tensions for us as well but in time many things resolved.  Were you two able to resolve most of the tensions or did you lose your intimate relationship?  So many returning soldiers have lost their intimate relationships and the single roof family ;(

  10. Who or what was instrumental in introducing you to this religion?

    When I was in the Vietnam war I had lots of “down time” which gave me lots of opportunity to read. It was during that time that I found support for my deepest beliefs that I hold till this day.

    • nocatz on October 29, 2007 at 2:30 am

    I have something of a follow-up about your peers.  Was there something of a culture shock for you with your background, then joining the Reserves? I’m guessing your resume was not typical. Were you able to fit in easily in the first place?

    • Robyn on October 29, 2007 at 2:33 am

    I was rather a draft dodger who was caught and ended up serving as a correctional specialist at Ft. Leavenworth (the Army does irony well).

    I haven’t really got any questions for you, but want to wish you much peace.

    Robyn

    • snud on October 29, 2007 at 2:34 am

    Just wanted to say glad you’re back – and I think it took a lot of courage to do what you did. I’m glad you did it.

  11. several years ago, which said a court ruled that more pictures from Abu Ghraib had to be released to the public. IIRC, Seymour Hersch had seen them and called them much more horrifying than anything the public had seen yet.

    These pictures haven’t appeared. Do you know anything about them? Did you witness abuse first hand?

    • pfiore8 on October 29, 2007 at 2:40 am

    i was wondering about some of the discussions you’ve had with your family about your decisions… and their initial reactions

    btw, thanks for your service to our country. but it’s the putting down your weapon that blows me away… and the strength of one person’s act for peace. that is in service of a world full of people.

    • on October 29, 2007 at 2:50 am

    sparked my interest to come here. You said:

    “For ‘fun’ some of the MPs would chase down and shoot the starving wild dogs from their trucks.  This bothered Delgado and some of his friends, but military bravado dictated that no one say anything lest they appear soft and wimpy.  This gratuitous violence escalated into throwing bottles at civilians they passed on the roads, to striking children, and pointing weapons at unarmed men for the slightest provocation.”

    In your opinion was his something that was done, maybe even in an unconscious manner, just to cope? To dehumanize the population so they were able to do what they were being told to do?

  12. Thank you for live blogging here.

    Do you have a sense of what the future holds for the Iraqi people?

    • Twank on October 29, 2007 at 2:55 am

    goes unanswered, so let’s try

    Twank Question No. 2

    This is a really crappy question.  You may wish to abstain.

    WHEN, not IF, WHEN the time comes, in your opinion, will the military “point their guns” AT … AT … the US civilian population/Constitution or will they point their guns AT the current regime?

    Take a deep breath before answering.

    • Will2b on October 29, 2007 at 3:01 am

    to do a book tour?  I think that your story might interest many interviewers.

  13. people should not feel pressured to leave at 10:00 PM Eastern… I had some difficulty getting my internet up and logging in, so I will be staying till at least 10:15 to answer the last few questions. I really appreciate people’s engagement and I would welcome anyone who would like more in-depth responses to shoot me an e-mail at mail@aidandelgado.com anytime.

  14. Thank you so much for coming here tonight.

    Here is my question: why do you think there is more apathy than outrage about what is happening in Burma? I feel so much for these people and yet I find that few want to really talk about it,

  15. I actually don’t have any questions, but I’ll be sure to take a look at your book.

  16. I would like to thank Docudharma and all of you for making this discussion so wonderful and welcoming for me. I appreciate all the insight and close engagement with the book. Please visit my website for photos and more information about the book and I look forward to participating as a Docudharma contributor in the future.

    Good night everyone and may all beings be happy.

  17. for such thoughtful dialogue and for your courage.

    And thanks to On The Bus and other admins for arranging this. Hope there are other interesting authors who might be interested in something like this.

    • fatdave on October 29, 2007 at 4:14 am

    And I had set my alarm too.

    Thanks to Aidan for coming and all who have contributed. I shall get this book – my daughter wanted to know what to do for my birthday.

    Aidan, I was a Brit regular 25 odd years ago, before I fell out with firearms. That is the reference I have. I am full of admiration for your courage.

    Go well. 

    • pico on October 29, 2007 at 7:17 am

    a great read.  Thank you for coming to interact with us, and I hope to see you around.

  18. I was out all day and missed the announcement, then sat watching the Red Sox and nodding off . . .

    I am very interested in reading this book now.  Thank you for bringing the discussion to this forum.  I’m glad the “transcript” is here to read though.

    • Slugbug on October 29, 2007 at 3:38 pm

    http://www.democracy
    & I’m headed there.
    Cross-posted at http://www.silencedm
    I write at DCP on Mondays and have SMP w/Kayakbiker who posts here & NYC from Nyc who has http://www.apenwarme

    We love DocuDharma.  Now I’m going to read all of this, as I didn’t get to it last night.

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