‘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.

Comments

  1. Helen Rainier

    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.

  2. VietnamVet

    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.

  3. Klaus Hergeschimmer

    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. SEAL

    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.