‘We have robbed Iraq of self-respect’

A constant mantra from President George W. Bush is that we must listen to the soldiers “on the ground” in Iraq to get the real story on what is happening in his failed war.

A number of soldiers who just finished a 15-month deployment in that war-torn country have told their stories in an Op Ed published Sunday in The New York Times and what they saw and experienced shows just what Bush fails to admit: that his war is a monumental failure.

Viewed from Iraq at the tail end of a 15-month deployment, the political debate in Washington is indeed surreal. Counterinsurgency is, by definition, a competition between insurgents and counterinsurgents for the control and support of a population. To believe that Americans, with an occupying force that long ago outlived its reluctant welcome, can win over a recalcitrant local population and win this counterinsurgency is far-fetched. As responsible infantrymen and noncommissioned officers with the 82nd Airborne Division soon heading back home, we are skeptical of recent press coverage portraying the conflict as increasingly manageable and feel it has neglected the mounting civil, political and social unrest we see every day.

This “on the ground assessment” comes from seven U.S. soldiers: Buddhika Jaymaha, Wesley D. Smith, Jeremy Roebuck, Omar Mora, Edward Sandmier, Yance T. Gray and Jeremy A. Murphy in a story headlined: The War as We Saw It.

Like Bush, the seven soldiers believe the press is not telling the real story of Iraq. Unlike the President, they feel the situation there is much worse than reported.

The claim that we are increasingly in control of the battlefields in Iraq is an assessment arrived at through a flawed, American-centered framework. Yes, we are militarily superior, but our successes are offset by failures elsewhere. What soldiers call the “battle space” remains the same, with changes only at the margins. It is crowded with actors who do not fit neatly into boxes: Sunni extremists, Al Qaeda terrorists, Shiite militiamen, criminals and armed tribes. This situation is made more complex by the questionable loyalties and Janus-faced role of the Iraqi police and Iraqi Army, which have been trained and armed at United States taxpayers’ expense.

The soldiers describe a failed mission that could never be accomplished through flawed goals, complicated by a bureaucratic misunderstanding of the complexities of the country.

In a lawless environment where men with guns rule the streets, engaging in the banalities of life has become a death-defying act. Four years into our occupation, we have failed on every promise, while we have substituted Baath Party tyranny with a tyranny of Islamist, militia and criminal violence. When the primary preoccupation of average Iraqis is when and how they are likely to be killed, we can hardly feel smug as we hand out care packages. As an Iraqi man told us a few days ago with deep resignation, “We need security, not free food.”

In the end, we need to recognize that our presence may have released Iraqis from the grip of a tyrant, but that it has also robbed them of their self-respect. They will soon realize that the best way to regain dignity is to call us what we are — an army of occupation — and force our withdrawal.

Bush is correct when he says we need to listen to the soldiers on the ground. He should take his own advice.

15 Responses to "‘We have robbed Iraq of self-respect’"

  1. SEAL  August 21, 2007 at 3:47 am

    Today’s reality is that:

    4 times the number of Iraqi citizens have died under Bush than under Saddam.

    2 million have fled the country, most never to return because of the length of time involved. That’s a loss of about 4 million Iraqi countrymen and women. That’s a pretty high percentage for such a small country. (I forget the population)

    Thousands are interred in concentration camps, some since the beginning with no hope of release – ever.

    The entire country is an armed camp. Death around every corner. Everyone is trying to kill someone or keep from being killed by someone.

    No government. Ergo, No infastructure.

    No electric.

    No drinklable water if and when there is water.

    Food is scarce and poor, even dangerous quality.

    Less oil production and revenue than before the war.

    The cost of living has skyrocketed across the board.

    Health care is almost nonexistant. Pathology is necessarily the primary medicine practiced.

    No employment is available that will not place you on a target list.

    No one, anywhere is the country, is safe.

    No end in sight.

    No impeachment.

  2. bryan mcclellan  August 21, 2007 at 5:20 am

    Seal : your pen has power,plus poetry,and double reality.I genuflect SIR….

  3. Klaus Hergeschimmer  August 21, 2007 at 3:43 am

    Impeachment is what we need, but Nancette Pelosi is just the consumate professional Jelly Fish.

    I will definitely send some contributions to Cindy Sheehan’s campaign to run for Nancette’s seat.
    If Cindy running against Nancette even has the slightest chance of getting Pelosi to change her ways and go with impeachment proceedings, that would be great. Better yet, Nancette bumped off of her Perch and out of office. I really despise Nancette so much.

    I get frustrated by a lot of democratic friends of mine who just have this Candy Ass Myopia about the Democratic party, they just can’t bring themselves to admit the Democratic party has totally betrayed us and the troops.

    If the Dems let BushCo get away with making out Iraq to
    be as sweet and peacefull as the land of Oz, then the Dems are truly worthless nuggets of fecal matter.

    I hope these group of soldiers speaking their minds are
    heard by the public. It is not over the top to say that BushCo is attacking truth itself, and it never knows No, for an answer.

  4. VietnamVet  August 21, 2007 at 4:34 am

    RE: new Submitted by bryan mcclellan on August 21, 2007 – 3:30am

    Bryan,

    The Spanish are totally against the war in Iraq; they are more tolerant of Afganistan. I do not believe they have any hard feelings towards the American people, it is Bush and his ilk. Take care.

  5. Helen Rainier  August 21, 2007 at 5:41 am

    Vietnam Vet,

    Initially I supported going into Afghanistan also to locate, apprehend, and bring OBL to justice.

    However, I started having serious reservations about that when Bush initially demanded the Taliban turn OBL over — contingent on HIS demands for the conditions under which it was done.

    The Taliban, rightly, I believe, countered with the demand that they be SHOWN the evidence that Bush had connecting OBL to 9-11-01. Bush, of course, refused to “negotiate” with terrorists, and thus refused to SHARE the evidence.

    That, of course, triggered the following thoughts in my mind: #1) It seemed like that was a reasonable request (it’s certainly one we would have demanded had the situation been reversed); #2) I’m sure it was a “face-saving” device on the part of the Taliban. Let’s face it they would have needed to “save face” if they agreed to turn over a fellow Arab to America. I came to the conclusion that there must not BE any legitimate evidence linking OBL to 9-11. If there was, surely Bush would have been more than willing to share it, perhaps through the UN, if there was a legitimate case to be made.

    Sure enough, to this date, while OBL is on the FBI’s “10 Most Wanted Terrorist” List, it is not however, in conjunction with 9-11. The reason? According to the FBI, it is because they do not have the evidence that would stand up in a court of law.

    Think back also to the fact that Bush never had the sites that were a part of 9-11 investigated as crime scenes, and he stonewalled any and all investigations into it. He had to be shamed into approving a 9-11 Commission. Oh, oh s*it is getting weaker.

    IMHO, Bush’s s*it has been weak on everything since before he was “selected” by the USSC — think back to the sneaky trick Cheney pulled to be able to run on the ticket with Bush — although Cheney had claimed Texas as his legal homestead for IRS purposes, he had to fly out to Wyoming to register there as a voter. If he hadn’t, he wouldn’t have been able to be on the ticket.

    Slime begets slime — and that’s what we have.

  6. bryan mcclellan  August 21, 2007 at 3:30 am

    Hey Viet Vet:Without pidgin holing any one group,what are the overall feelings of the Spaniard peoples about the conflicts we are engaging in? Sorry I’m off message but I am curious. Back to the point ,those numbers are startling. I had no idea it was that big of a differential,We see why the push, now ,for the North American Union. I wonder if smirk has enough brains to go Walleye fishing while he’s in Canada , whilst attempting to sell us further down the river to Mexico….

  7. CheckerboardStrangler  August 20, 2007 at 10:51 am

    Nobody listened, nobody cared.
    It’s apparent that this was the mantra of the latter third of the twentieth century and there’s every reason to believe it’s been carried over into this century as well.
    The reason is simple. The welfare of the Iraqi people isn’t even in the top one hundred on the totem pole of priorities for this administration or for any future American administration.

    You might not like to hear this again but repeating for all needing:

    It’s all about the oil.

    After all that’s the reason we didn’t listen to begin with, as far back as the late fifties when Rickover warned of the dangers of foreign oil dependency and Eisenhower cautioned against an military-industrial complex.

    It was all about the oil then and it’s all about the oil now. The Iraqi people’s lot is pretty much the same as the lot of the Chinese laborers during the days of the California Gold Rush and it is therefore fitting that the atmosphere is much like The Wild West.
    Of course it is, we’ve got Judge Roy Bean for a Secretary of Defense and Frank and Jesse James for a President and Vice President.

  8. JerZGirl  August 20, 2007 at 12:10 pm

    Bush will say that these soldiers are an anomaly, that the majority can see the progress being made. Don’t be surprised if the military attempts to discharge these seven men in an other than honorable way.

    ————————————————–
    Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit.

    Wisdom is knowing not to put it in fruit salad.

  9. adb8917  August 20, 2007 at 12:54 pm

    And 25 or 30 years from now they’ll likely be “Swift Boated” for having the integrity to challenge the Administration’s wrongheaded and dishonest policies.

    This is/was the same message many of us brought back from Vietnam and with the same results. LBJ got us into the problem, Nixon promised he’d get us out, and lo and behold, FIVE years later after doubling our troops’ body count and inflicting increased harm to the Vietnamese people, he did.

    It’s right to remind us that this conflict is about oil; but it’s also important that we remember that “hearts and minds” campaigns fail when those we are purportedly liberating are lying dead in the streets.

    This is a dishonest “war,” and the perpetrators need to be held accountable. If we do not take steps to repudiate the Bush-Cheney Doctrine before they leave office, it will be that much more difficult for any future administration to undo the harm already done.

    There is nothing in the Constitution that says that both the Prexy and the Veep can’t be impeached at the same time! It needs to happen now!

    ADB

  10. gene  August 20, 2007 at 3:56 pm

    “And 25 or 30 years from now”…(ADB)..mabe you want agree with this but I just can’t see how this nation can last another 25 to 30 years. Hell, I’m having trouble with 2 or 3 more years. Financially this nation is (bankrupt) a thousand times over. Our dollar is or soon will be worth almost nothing and (using the word nothing again) we (this nation) produces almost “nothing” to export, ie. our industrial base is almost completely gone. Our trade deficit is approaching the planet Mars.

    “We the people” are now living on borrowed time. Take a look at the subprime housing mess. Almost every financial institution (to include banks) are loosing investments and many have closed creating tens of thousands of unemployed individuals. The numbers this phony government puts out is a joke.

    I could list another dozen reasons why this nation is currently “toast” and its citizens are zombies unaware of the imploding circumstances that cannot be stopped.

    See you on the other side of hell.

  11. nachthund  August 20, 2007 at 3:05 pm

    I have an old Iraqi friend who lives in Mosul, north of Bagdad by the Syrian border, who tells the real story. In a recent letter, two months old, he tells of another 50% increase on gas needed for heat, and cooking. No electricity, thus no air conditioning in the sweltering heat of summer. American troops are seen as occupiers and not to be trusted. Factions control the streets and it is dangerous to leave the house even to buy food. Many of his friends have been killed as innocent bystanders. Travel to Bagdad is taking your life in your hands, you have little chance of making it. Everywhere there is corruption. A former friend of his is now a millionaire by taking U.S. contracts for reconstruction, a job he has no qualifications for. Soon he must move out of his Father’s home where he, and his family live, but he fears that he cannot afford the extra $200 a month rent since he cannot find a job, yet fears to work for the Americans because his family might be kidnapped, and held for ransom. His only income is to sell Iraqi coins & stamps to dealers in the west, but must travel to Syria to mail them. Anything mailed in Iraq is subject to search, and seizure by those who handle the mail. Regardless of this he is fond of Americans. It is only the Army he dispises, and complains about their constant use of curse words which are forbidden by Islam, and their lack of understanding of customs, and culture, and is insulted by the remarks soldier’s make to his wife and daughter as they pass by. He understands why the military is there, but thinks of them as only more gangsters, and no better then the Al Queda which he also hates for what they are doing to his country.
    The Nachthund

  12. JudyB  August 20, 2007 at 3:09 pm

    This is what I constantly refer to as a “Failed Oil War..a war based on lies and greed” Thank you for a great post ABD. There may not be time before Bush/Cheney term runs out to complete an impeachment but its not too late to start the procedings and I feel strongly that it should happen and happen SOON!

  13. SEAL  August 20, 2007 at 4:38 pm

    Initiating impeachment against Bush and Cheny would send a message to the world that the American people do not support their war and policies. That would help to restore some of the faith the other nations had in the American people.

    Lets not forget that this war is not just about the oil. It is just as much about the profiteering of the military industrial complex. That is the main reason why they will do nothing to change the status quo. They want this to continue just as it is for as long as possible. The MIC is reaping huge fortunes from this conflit. And note that the Bush/Cheney families are part of the MIC.

    This war is all about money.

  14. bryan mcclellan  August 20, 2007 at 5:30 pm

    The war as we saw it.Who better to give an honest summation of the conditions and direction of this war but those sent to fight it,and those whose country has been turned upside down by this cabal in the W.H. Given the atmosphere at the pentagon these individuals have shown what patriots do.That is, stand up and be counted on to be truthful and honorable regardless of the personal cost that surely will be extracted by their superiors.The beebee that rattles around in the little cowboys head and passes for a brain cannot conceptualize the integrity involved in laying it on the line and the true nature of one who will take that leap of faith knowing the dangers involved.A parade of enlisted men as well as minor officers should be the ones to explain to Congress what they have witnessed and be given the opportunity to opine without threat or repercussion.A cross section of the Iraqi population should also be included at these hearings to present the real everyday obstacles they encounter and how this war has affected their lives.This debacle is far to fragmented to count on the word of the pentagon or this administration alone and Congress needs to recognize this.I am very proud of these men and intend to contact my Senators and Representatives to let them know I’ll be very interested in how they are treated for speaking their minds.Pray Mightily for our Troops….

  15. VietnamVet  August 21, 2007 at 9:19 am

    RE: new Submitted by gene on August 20, 2007 – 3:56pm.

    I just want to comment on Gene’s point about the US dollar soon not worth anything, though it is somewhat off the subject. He is absolutely right! Let me give you some personal experience: I live in Spain, where most of you probably know, the currency is now the European Euro. When I moved over here this time in 2002 (I have lived here off and on for some 40 years now!) the US dollar would buy a Euro for 88 cents. It now costs $l.38 to put one Euro in your pocket! A loss of around 45-50% just over five years. It has lost a similar amount against the British pound, and other currencies where the Euro is not used. And, those nations holding US dollars, that used to be a rock solid holding, are fleeing from the dollar due to its decreasing value. Then, several oil producers are either already pricing their oil in Euros, or are seriously considering doing so. When the US has to start paying for oil in Euros, by converting those now greatly devalued dollars, gasoline at $5 a gallon or over will probably be considered a bargain!

    Then, we are not hearing much at all on the ever increasing national debt, which has sky rocketed under this President. He has increased it by an amount equal to almost all his predecessors combined. Most of the current national debt is attributal to Reagan, Bush 1 and this Bush. It is now approaching 9 trillion, with a T, with no end in sight. And, nations which are far from our friends OWN a significant part of that debt, China for example, that could start calling in that debt, causing financial ruin for this great nation.

    I could go on, but, maybe this will at least cause some to think about where we are headed!

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