Interview With A Soldier

Three weeks ago, my brother Nathan returned home from Kuwait after 15 months of service for the military. To see this young man formerly known as “my little brother” arrive home; it really opened my eyes.

Nathan grew up. He's mature. He has his own views on politics and the military that are separate from my views and those of our parents.

I asked my brother what he thought of the state of our government. I asked him how he learned about the happenings in the USA while he was so far away. I asked him what kinds of tasks he performed in that hot desert. I asked what he thought of the Rumsfeld resignation and the military remarks of John Kerry. I had a list of questions ready and
waiting, like an interview. Listening to him speak was beautiful. It still brings a tear to my eyes.

My brother explained he was responsible for searching vehicles for weapons, drugs, fraudulent identification papers, and illegal passports in Kuwait. It was imperative that no "shady" persons be admitted into secure places that they have no authority to enter. It was his job to make sure the base was secure, that all soldiers were safe and to provide assistance to those soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also searched Humvees to make sure they were safe and secure.

My brother participated in QRM's or Quick Response Missions. He told me these are like "fire drills for the military." These mock missions were practice in the event a base was bombed or attacked.

When I asked how he felt about former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, my brother said, "I had always heard rumors of his leadership, how horrible it was. My generals often would tell us the man is doing his job poorly. But no one ever complained about it. We just did our jobs. All of us. We do what we are told to do. I have respect for any man or woman who serves or leads this country. It's not an easy job. It's not easy at all."

Nathan went on to explain how each soldier may have their own opinion about Iraq, about government and about leadership, but they are all fighting for the common good. They are fighting for our country as well as for Iraq, and for Americans to believe everything they read or hear from the media, shows their own fear and ignorance about this war.

"War is not easy. You don't win over night. You can't just say it's a piece of cake and hope things work out. There are men and women from America, from Poland, from England, who are there. Fighting for the same cause. We are helping the Iraqi's to receive freedom. Freedom to have their own government, freedom for Iraqi women and children to receive an education. The list is large. If you can't even see past your own noses, and see the good that we are bringing, than you have no right to demand withdrawal from Iraq."

Nathan believes that withdrawal from Iraq at this early stage would undermine everything he and others worked so hard for. All the time away from family and friends. All the sacrifices they have made would be worthless.

"You can't spend 15 months away from home, working hard to fight a war, only to hear that America wants you out. It's one thing if the Iraqi people wanted the military removed from their country, quite another for your own country.

"We see the news, sometimes days late, but we see American politicians demanding our withdrawal. It angers me. Would any of those people do what I do? Let's switch places. Would they go to Kuwait? Afghanistan? Iraq? They'll see the horror, sure, but they'll also see progress."

His comment reminds me of weight loss. You don't lose the fat overnight. You have to work at it.

Nathan felt that the military could have done things differently, however. Instead of the game of cat and mouse they played trying to get into Baghdad, they should have pushed through with more force. He felt American disapproval may have prevented the military from really accomplishing this task early on.

"Yes, the military needs new strategy. We of all people understand this, but we need American support even more."

I asked my brother about John Kerry and his face turned sour.

"His remark about men and women who fail in school ending up there, is B.S. I've got a degree in computer engineering and he's calling me stupid? Claiming that I wasn't smart enough to do anything else? And then he has the nerve to pretend his remark was aimed at our President? It's infuriating. President Bush is my commander in chief. It is my job to follow his commands. If John Kerry were president, I'd be just as loyal to him as I am to President Bush. But Kerry isn't president and I think we all know there's a reason why, after his dimwitted comment.

"My only wish is that America will finally support us and not talk against us. Arriving home to find out the Democrats are in power, worries me somewhat. I don't know much about Nancy Pelosi, but I can only pray that she and the rest of the Dems will think of the soldiers in terms of the good work we do over there and not demand we redeploy. It will undermine everything we've worked for. Not just me, but the men and women who are in Iraq. They have to work much harder. They need our support."

My brother spoke with such emotion. I could see how much he believes in the good and not the evil. He believes in our country, our government, our freedoms. I could see how happy he was to be home. When asked if he was going to re-sign for another term he replied, "I don't know. My heart tells me it's the right thing to do. I just want to be home for awhile. I want to be with my family and my friends, the people we're fighting for. I know it's the right thing to do, but it's so very hard to decide. If it came down to it, if I was needed, I'd go back."

It reminds me of that television show on ABC, Brothers & Sisters, the character Justin was called for a second term in Iraq, but didn't want to go back to the war. He overdosed on drugs and his sister (played by Callista Flochart), a Republican in a family of Democrats, tried to get a pardon from a senator but Justin made the right decision to go back. However, characters on TV aren't real people and they aren't really going off to fight a war or serve their country. My brother did. I respect him so very much for the courage he had to complete his mission.

He's taught me that it's so easy to defend a war until you actually have to fight in a war. He defends the war in Iraq, but admits it took him a long time to believe it.

"In the beginning, I wasn't scared. I wasn't afraid. Then I missed my family. Then the doubt set in. Then I wondered what would happen. How would I survive? Finally I realized, if I don't believe in myself, my battery, my leaders, what good am I? It's a test of your beliefs. It really is."

Posted by Dana J. Tuszke at November 28, 2006 12:04 AM
Comments
Comment #196656

Dana,

Tell Nathan “THANK YOU!”

Posted by: tomd at November 28, 2006 3:20 AM
Comment #196665

As much as I appreciate the honor and courage your brother displayed in his service, it is exactly the arguments from the narrow view of a foot soldier that are used to blind the uninformed to the reality of the entire situation. Your reporting of statements about Kerry show he has no knowledge of what was really said or the circumstance. Your reporting about how his generals have said how poorly Rumsfield was “doing” sounds like BS you’d like us to believe. The list goes on.
Again, I appreciate the honor and service of our men and women. However, I have doubts about the convenience of the content of your article. It seems to me like you’re taking cues from the RushO’Reilly ilk.

Posted by: Dave1-20-2009 at November 28, 2006 9:17 AM
Comment #196671

Not suprisingly, there was a textbook anti-response so soon. I was wondering who would be first. Dave is the winner today.

Much thanks to your brother, Dana.

Posted by: Matt at November 28, 2006 9:47 AM
Comment #196673

Dana, tell your brother from one vet to another thank you.

However, I had two son’s over there at the beginning of this debacle that bush has gotten us into. I am a firm believer that you can support the troops and not the war, and I just seen where bush says Iraq is not in a civil war. So I guess the killing of 100’s of people a week over religious differences is not a civil war.

And Sadaam had WMD..RIGHT

Posted by: KT at November 28, 2006 9:59 AM
Comment #196677
Nathan believes that withdrawal from Iraq … would undermine everything he and others worked so hard for.

And that would be?

WMD?
Al Qaeda?
Democracy?

Posted by: bobo at November 28, 2006 10:17 AM
Comment #196679

Dana,

“We are helping the Iraqi’s to receive freedom. Freedom to have their own government, freedom for Iraqi women and children to receive an education. The list is large. If you can’t even see past your own noses, and see the good that we are bringing, than you have no right to demand withdrawal from Iraq.”

Did you ask your brother if he would support the Iraqi government even if it became a Theocracy?

If he had been in Baghdad, in the middle of where the sectarian death squads are now operating, instead of Kuwait, would he feel the same?

How would he feel about the American military being caught in the middle of an Iraqi civil war?

No offence meant, but the responses you got from your brother seem no different than what you could have gotten from the MSM.

Posted by: Rocky at November 28, 2006 10:24 AM
Comment #196680

Dana

My deepest respect goes out to your brother and all who have served in Iraq or any other conflict for that matter.

They are often placed in strange lands at the will of not so well intended superiors. I do not doubt the positives the soldiers must surely expereience each and every day. I served in the Vietnam conflict and know all too well the futilities of frustration thru the realization of participating in an unpopular conflict. All soldiers need justification for their acts in times of hostility. It is hard to find that justification knowing that all the sweat, fear, death and tears may go for naught. It is truly a shame, but unfortunately the reality of so recklessly entering into conflict.

I do not believe that any of us at this point in time can know the outcome of this conflict regardless of whether we stay or redeploy. It is now quite obvious to all, with the exception of our president, that Iraq is mired in a civil war. We can not determine that outcome. I do not have the anserws, but I can see no benefit in staying at this point. At least not in our current capacity.

Once again many thanks to your brother for his service. No matter the outcome he can justify his experience knowing that he did what he was required to do and did it to the best of his ability for his country. There is no dishonor in serving your country, no matter the outcome. The onus of responsibility will ultimately lie with those who so irresponsibly led us into this conflict.

Posted by: ILdem at November 28, 2006 10:24 AM
Comment #196685

Dave1-20-09
It seems that you are the only one who did not hear what JK said in relation to people ending up in Iraq. The scene has been repeated many times over and it still comes back the same. Confess, Kerry screwed up. And his apology was just like the screw-up. He apologized for me misunderstanding what he said. Forget it, Kerry, I understood what you said. So did millions of people, including your fellow dims.

Thanks Dana and Nathan. My words would not be sufficient to express my gratitude. God bless Nathan and God Bless the USA.

Posted by: tomh at November 28, 2006 11:37 AM
Comment #196686

Mat,

Another reason to doubt the article: “It was his job to … provide assistance to those soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Here’s a map of the region, it seems “inefficient” to have a support group in Kuwait for Afghanistan. But then again, Rummy is an idiot.

ILdem;”I do not believe that any of us … can know the outcome of this conflict” Perhaps.

Posted by: Dave1-20-2009 at November 28, 2006 11:38 AM
Comment #196687

Ooops,
that was supposed to link to:
http://www.gocomics.com/davidhorsey/2006/11/24/

tom,

That Kool-aid is really bad for you.

Posted by: Dave1-20-2009 at November 28, 2006 11:40 AM
Comment #196688

Kuwait is NOT Iraq nor Afghanistan. Put the poor kid in the real war zone and see what he says. I have a friend who’s brother is BACK in the war zone, this time Afghanistan and I’m sure he’ll give you an earfull. The poor kid needs some serious help for hwt he has seem over there!
Alcohol hasn’t managed to numb his brain enough when he is home!

Posted by: qitqat at November 28, 2006 11:48 AM
Comment #196690

It is a personal opinion of someone who is serving in the region. I do not assume that he has any better view of the big picture strategy, but he can - and does - speak to the attitudes of those in the conflict area. Certainly more credible on this subject than Cindy Sheehan. Liberals have no trouble believing her.

It is better to occasionally hear from the guys themselves instead of letting people like John Kerry and Charlie Rangel employ their 30 year old prejudices.

BTW – this is what Charlie Rangel said (and he did not even try to pretend it was a joke)

“If a young fellow has an option of having a decent career or joining the Army to fight in Iraq, you can bet your life that he would not be in Iraq.”

This is the attitude you are helping dispel and many of the hostile writers are confirming in themselves. Maybe Kerry, Rangel et al should read a little of it.

Posted by: Jack at November 28, 2006 11:59 AM
Comment #196694

Dana
Give you brother my heart felt thanks for his service to our country. And most of all for his service in Kuwait. And tell him welcome home for me.
Having served in Vietnam I understand first hand his last statement. I also understand trying to do your job while knowing that there are those back home that don’t support your efforts.
I hope you wrote him often while he was there. Knowing that those that love you are thinking of you goes a whole heap towards your morale. If he does go back remember this for his good.

Posted by: Ron Brown at November 28, 2006 12:56 PM
Comment #196695

Dana, I’m glad your brother made it back safely.

Jack, don’t assume all liberals blindly follow anyone’s views, even those of a mother whose son died in Iraq.

An enormous fallacy often seen in political debate is to characterize an entire’s groups based on the utterances of the few. Heck, people like Eric and SE regularly employ that tactic. It’s dishonest and unethical. Believe me, you would not want me to characterize all conservatives based on the views I sometimes hear expressed by a few conservatives at my weekly poker game. To the credit of other conservatives I play with, they often crank up the jazz and blues whenever some nutcase engages in a racist rant.

Posted by: Trent at November 28, 2006 1:00 PM
Comment #196700

Trent

That is your problem. You should be listening to country music.

Posted by: Jack at November 28, 2006 1:10 PM
Comment #196701

For all y’all that are saying that if Nathan was in Iraq he’d have a different view.
HOGWASH!
I have a nephew in Baghdad. And another one that was there and will be spending the rest of his life in a wheel chair after a roadside bomb went off. Both feel pretty much the same as Nathan. And both tell me that the rest of the troops have pretty much the same views.
Despite the liberal medias ranting the troops that are there and have been there feel they are doing some good over there.

Jack
This is the attitude you are helping dispel and many of the hostile writers are confirming in themselves. Maybe Kerry, Rangel et al should read a little of it.

100% agreed. But I doubt that Kerry and Company even care how our troops fell about the war. They just want to spout their own warped views of things.

Posted by: Ron Brown at November 28, 2006 1:10 PM
Comment #196705

Not being there, I can say I defend my brothers in arms by wanting them home, now. We withdraw now, Iraq collapses. We stay, we drown. I’m sorry for the Iraqis but I pick US first. We will fight them again but this battle is lost as it is now an Iraq (civil) war. It is not the liberals fault for calling this a fiasco, it is Bush’es fault for making it so. If Bush were a real leader he will take the blame and let our nation heal.
THANK YOU FOR THE RANT

DAVE - A LIBERAL

Posted by: Dave1-20-2009 at November 28, 2006 1:23 PM
Comment #196706

Jack,

Funny you should say that. I’m listening to Willie now. Hank Williams, Emmy Lou Harris, Lucinda Williams, and a few others are on my regular play list. As a genre, though, I’m not particularly fond of country music. Thankfully, there are country artists who rise above the mundane formula of most country songs.

Ron,

I have no doubt that most soldiers favor U.S. policy in Iraq. But many don’t. Has there ever been any military endeavor in which the majority of troops didn’t believe in the cause? I’d think that’d be a natural outcome of the environment. If I remember correctly, Kerry didn’t develop this anti-Vietnam War views until after he became a civilian. Regardless, I’ve had several Iraq vets in my classes and some of them disagree with the views expressed by Dana’s brother. I hope you wouldn’t label their views as warped. Ah, politics. The other side is always twisted.

Posted by: Trent at November 28, 2006 1:23 PM
Comment #196709

Dave1,

Believe it or not, Kuwait is a major staging area for both Iraq and Afghanistan. Its a major hub for air cargo into both theaters, and it also has a large number of other logistics, communications, and command and control facilities. And no, its not because Rumsfeld is an idiot, this was by design and it was like that since the end of the first Gulf War. Dana’s brother was supporting troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan by maintaining security on the bases that provide all of us with vital supplies and other essentials.

Jack,

I guess Rangel never heard of Pat Tillman. As someone serving in Iraq, there is much to what Dana’s brother says. It is genuinely depressing to hear the bitching and bellyaching from back home, from certain senators either comparing us to Nazis or questioning our intelligence, to seeing only the bad news of Iraq on TV. We’ve shed blood here, and leaving without accomplishing our mission means we have sacrificed in vain. The time is coming for the Iraqis to shoulder the burden of this war, but pulling out before they can is a sure way to guarantee we have to come back and would be a major victory for our enemies.

qitqat,

I guess you’re a veteran yourself who’s seen combat to know just how combat veterans feel? I’m in Baghdad right now and there are plenty of soldiers out here who’d say the same thing as Dana’s brother. There are plenty who wouldn’t either, but since you’d prefer to mock his service as well as his opinion, here’s a few questions for you. Have you ever served in combat? Have you ever left your family to go to some foreign country for 15 months? Last I checked, we have a right to freedom of expression, but Dana’s brother earned it, unlike certain pogue civilians who simply mooch off of the sacrifices made by those who do serve.

Posted by: 1LT B at November 28, 2006 1:35 PM
Comment #196710

qitqat,

After reading 1LT B’s last post, I scrolled up and found yours. And I agree with 1LT B; your post was uncalled for, no matter what your personal views on the war are.

As far as I’m concerned, any vet’s views are to be respected, even if you disagree with them. When I go back home to Texas, my dad takes me to VFW to drink a few beers and talk to vets. When he first asked if I wanted to go some years ago, he was surprised that I lept at the offer because he knows, of course, my liberal views. When you actually talk to people, you often find you don’t fundamentally disagree. And you often find that others will respect dissenting views if offered rationally and respectfully.

1LT B, I know we disagree on some basics, but I have no doubt I would enjoy sharing a beer with you.

Posted by: Trent at November 28, 2006 1:45 PM
Comment #196718

Trent,

Nice post. I’m still a few weeks from being out of here and able to drink a beer, but when I can, I’ll drink one for you. Come to think of it, it might turn into several….

I tend to think that many liberals and conservatives really do want the same things, they just have a radically different way of thinking as to how we get there. An informed and civilized debate is good as not only can ways forward be found, but respect for other views and people are formed.

Posted by: 1LT B at November 28, 2006 2:15 PM
Comment #196721

Sorry, but in order to support the troops, you must support the war.

God bless all of our troops. They are a breed apart. They have the strength and courage to fight our greatest threat ever. Thank you.

Posted by: stubborn conservative at November 28, 2006 2:45 PM
Comment #196729

Trent
Kerry spent only 3 months in Nam.
He don’t know nutin’
He learned how to get his 3 PH’s so he could go back home and do the dirty deeds he did and use it to promote his future in the Senate. He is a shameful excuse for anything good.

Posted by: tomh at November 28, 2006 3:01 PM
Comment #196732

Essentially, tomh, you are claiming that vets who support your views are good guys, and those who don’t are bad guys. I, however, respected Bob Dole when he ran against Clinton even though I didn’t vote for him.

I also don’t claim to know people’s motivations.

Stubborn Conservative,

That’s ridiculous. By your reasoning, any war we get into must be a good war, and if you don’t think so, you must hate the troops. Such an attitude has no place in a democracy.

Posted by: Trent at November 28, 2006 3:26 PM
Comment #196734

Dana,
Thank your brother for his service. I do not agree that you have to support the war to support the troops. Our service people are not granted the ability to debate the issues that they fight. They follow orders. I disagree also with Kerry to think of our military as ignorant. Ignorant people cannot get into the military. We have the best military in the world; too bad that we are loosing them over an insignificant war almost 3k and counting. We have North Korea developing nukes (not our friends), Iran playing with nukes (not our friends)and then there is China the new super power (definitely not our friends) and we are stuck in Iraq. Dumb war (Great Troops)

Posted by: Daniel at November 28, 2006 3:32 PM
Comment #196735

I find it so interesting how politicians, who are criticized for their policies in time of war, always seem to fall back on the ill-logic that criticism of them amounts to an attack on the troops in the field. It is such a consistent well-worn defense that it finds its way onto boards like this.
It all brings up an image to me of a dirty, beaten-down soldier standing in some godforsaken place with a neatly dressed “administration official” crouched down behind him (with his own children behind him!) hiding, not from any physical harm, because when it was their turn they “had better things to do” (Cheney) but from any examination of their actions.
P.s Kerry is a fine man who still carries a piece of the shrapnel in him that earned him one of his “PH’s”. Bush and Cheney are a couple of drunks, who, when they tell you they don’t exactly remember what they did during the Vietnam Era, are probably telling the truth!!!

Posted by: charles Ross at November 28, 2006 3:33 PM
Comment #196741

Trent,

John Kerry was an active duty U.S. Navy Lieutenant when he first started his rant against our military in Vietnam. He was, and is, an embarrassment to those who served, and who still serve. He took an oath to serve the orders of those appointed over him, and he disobeyed. What kind of a man does that? He should have waited till he was discharged to begin his anti-military ravings.

Posted by: Dennis 40 at November 28, 2006 4:19 PM
Comment #196742

Dennis,

When did Kerry “disobey”?

LT,

My argument is mostly against Dana spin of his brothers service and “interview”. I have serious doubts about the accuracy of translation (not saying he’s lying, but, I’d like to hear a first party review). It is unfortunate that Kuwait is our best base to support Afghanistan (a 1200km flight). Rummy is an incompetent a**wipe, irregardless of geography. Just look at todays situation.

Stub,

Wahtever.

Posted by: Dave1-20-2009 at November 28, 2006 4:55 PM
Comment #196744

Dennis,

I’m not an expert on Kerry nor do I want to be. I’m not sure how I’ve been cast as a defender; I guess it was because I said military vets should be respected regardless of political views.

At any rate, I think he often gets his foot stuck deep in his mouth. If he does run for nomination, which I hope he doesn’t, I doubt that I would support him.

Posted by: Trent at November 28, 2006 5:01 PM
Comment #196753

SC, get your head out of your a**, where do you get off saying you can’t support the troops without supporting the war.

I am retired Army, I had 2 son’s in Iraq from the beginning of Bush’s debacle. I supported my son’s and others that had no choice but I did not and still do not support the US being there.
If bush would have put the time and troops looking for Osama then maybe something good would have happened, but now we are stuck in a civil war.

Yes this is getting to be more and more like Nam as the days go on.

Posted by: KT at November 28, 2006 6:17 PM
Comment #196765

Critics:

We must support both if we are to win this war. Many people do not know what we are facing. The terrorists in Iraq are Iranian agents. Iran wants Iraq. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wants Iran to have an empire that “sweeps through ancient Babylon.” Babylon today is Iraq. He can control the oil to economically hurt us. He also wants us to go to war with Iran. Then he can say “See! It is an attack on Islam. Then we get swarmed on all sides by every Islamic nation.

Yes, this is starting to look like Vietnam. We are so powerful, we are defeated by ourselves. That is what happened in Vietnam. We are on that path and the rest of the world knows it and they are watching and waiting….

Posted by: stubborn conservative at November 28, 2006 7:03 PM
Comment #196773

Dana,

Your brother just sounds like a guy who doesn’t want to believe he’s been made to do a fool’s errand. I don’t blame him one bit, and like everyone else, I’m glad we have people like him in the military.

It doesn’t change the fact that we created an unmanagable situation on the ground that will take decades to fix regardless of who happens to be operating checkpoints (targets) in the cities. Can we do most things better than the Iraqi police? Most likely yes. Should we, after considering the costs v. rewards? Absolutely not.

What is best for that nation’s people may not be what is best for US interests. The fact that this was not foreseen by our military’s leadership pisses me and many others off to no end. Why? Because there are good people on the ground who want nothing more than to be doing work that is appreciated and will have a meaningful and lasting effect.

Instead they are told to fix a nation’s problems while the very people they are supposed to be helping keep undermining their efforts by informally promoting and engaging in sectarian violence. Trucks sit at the borders for months due to lack of adequate security, convoys have to avoid major cities, taking much longer to get places, and most of our re-building money is being wasted (I think it was almost 60% to security firms alone…and who knows who those people really are) as a result of these types of basic problems that arise when you are forced to work under these conditions.

After all, I thought creating entitlement systems was contrary to conservative/republican views. So why are we there? If creating timelines is supposed to help poor welfare recipients to get motivated to make their own living, then what is different in the corperate and governmental worlds? Why is it suddenly ok to give out welfare to a foreign government and its people? We deposed their dictator, so we owe them something in the way of support, but not everything. As we all know here in the real world, people will take you for everything you’ve got before they say it is enough. People need to do things for themselves, by their own motivations, or a black hole of “need” develops.

Tell Nathan he gets an “E” for the effort, but the cause is less than noble. Unfortunately, all the pissing and moaning in the world about a lack of popular support for the work in Iraq here at home, even when it seems completely appropriate and justified by actual experience, won’t change the reality that the cause, the goal, the essence of the war itself IS unpopular, and unpopular for good reason. And anyone with any sense of domestic responsibility can see we’ve got more important fish to fry than to throw our kids’ money into that shredder which only the most stubborn refuse to call a civil war in Iraq.

Posted by: Kevin23 at November 28, 2006 7:51 PM
Comment #196775

stub,

Why does Iran need Iraq to hurt us? As you said, we’re already screwing ourselves. The first thing we need to do is get a real leader, not some pretend good ol’ boy from Texas born with a silver spoon up his nose. We also need to remember dissent is a valuable tool to keep the elite in the white house from ramrodding their groupthink into a disastrous policy. That is what the world is seeing now.

Dissent is patriotic, denying the right of free speech and demonizing the opposition is fascism. Thank you for remembering that.

Posted by: Dave1-20-2009 at November 28, 2006 7:54 PM
Comment #196776

Stubborn,
First, Iran is Shia. There is no chance Sunni countries like Syria or Saudi Arabia will “fight for Islam” by supporting Iran. Saudi Arabia does have a large Shia minority in its eastern half; these are the main source of foreign jihadists, fundamentalist Wahabbis who attack the Shias. Both Saudi Arabia and Syria want to avoid regional instability and a more powerful Iran.

In Iraq, there are several forces in conflict. The fundamentalist followers of al-Sadr, the Mahdi Army, are nationalists. They view the Iranian-backed clerics as carpetbaggers. Unfortunately, the Iranian-backed factions, SCIRI & Dawa, won the elections and control the government. When the US trains & arms the Iraqi Army, our weapons go the Death Squads of the Iranian-backed faction. The Mahdi Army and SCIRI/Dawa are currently fighting in the south.

The insurgents are primarily Sunni & primarily ex-Baathists. Their attacks with IEDs are not acts of terrorism, since the attacks target our military personnel.

Attacks against civilians are terrorist acts, and these are launched by the foreign jihadists.

Finally, Iran has no chance of controlling the Kurds in the north or the Sunnis in central Iraq.

If Iran were funding the Shias on a large scale basis, they would be funding SCIRI & the Hakim faction, along with Dawa. Since that faction is already being armed by the US through the Iraqi government, it would not make any sense for Iran to make large scale investments in groups which would attack the US. If they did, we would know it, have no doubt.

Posted by: phx8 at November 28, 2006 7:57 PM
Comment #196777

Correction, the Wahabbis are Sunnis.

Posted by: phx8 at November 28, 2006 7:59 PM
Comment #196783

Kevin23,

While we cannot ask Dana’s brother this directly, I am curious why you would think “any” soldier is too close to the problem to analyze it.

“… , I’m glad we have people like him in the military. “

So Dana’s brother is following a fool on an errand and cannot create his own educated opinion so long as he is in the military doing his job?

I don’t think that is what you are saying, is it?

Posted by: Edge at November 28, 2006 8:52 PM
Comment #196803

General Kevin23
Are you reporting for duty? I am still amazed that the military minds on this post are so astounding.

In reality armchair generals can only do their leadership with 20/20 hindsight. That is the height of their military ability.

Posted by: tomh at November 28, 2006 11:29 PM
Comment #196808

I’m not going to go into a whole bunch of flowery language praising Dana’s brother, belaboring the obvious: he’s an admirable soldier. He wants to win, and he knows bad things will happen to Iraq if his people go.

Are we in a position to stop it, though, by staying? I know he would like to believe that’s true, and to a certain extent, it just might be. But at what cost?

Win or lose, we were always going to have to leave. That’s what galls me the most about Bush’s “cut and run” rhetoric. If we are ever to win this war, people like Dana’s brother must soon be able to start coming back.

The Iraqis right now are addicted to our support. We go right now, immediately, and of course, the whole things collapses. However, staying indefinitely is not a victory. It’s not even a strategy. We must leave at some point, with Iraq self-sufficient. The alternative can be fairly called defeat. If we can’t leave Iraq without destroying it in the process, then this war has failed at that last and only thing it was still expected to do.

What is our plan for getting out? We have to have one to win, if being able to withdraw without destroying Iraq is our definition of victory. This is what Bush has failed to give to the public, and what has made his “cut and run” rhetoric deeply unpopular with the American people. Bush can tell us how we won’t lose, at least not for now, but he can’t tell us how we win.

Americans do not want to continue this charade. We want a plan. We want withdrawal, but if you look at what we want, in terms of timetables and other measures, what we want is generally the same: gradual withdrawal with Iraq left more self-sufficient at each stage, until we can go home.

Do we have the military strength and the political werewithal within Iraq to do that? If not, we have to get as much of it there as a possible, regardless of what it looks like.

I don’t want to lose this war, but what gives this twenty-seven year old gray hairs worrying about is the way the mistakes that have come before, and the policies this president won’t abandon are continuing to cripple our ability to fight this war well.

I’m sick of all the emotional blackmail that Republicans have resorted to to blunt dissent, especially since much of the dissent has been about finding a way to triumph despite the initial mistakes. Winning a war takes more than cheerleading. We’re trying to defeat an insurgency, not bring tinkerbell back to life by clapping and saying we believe in fairies. The head game is important, but if you don’t take care of the rest of the playing field, its just self-indulgent navel-gazing. We went from Pearl Harbor to the nuking of Nagasaki within in the time we’ve spent fighting this war. America does not want another eight year losing battle draining our resources, destroying our armed forces, and weakening our will and ability to fight other threats to our interests in the world. What we want is for the people up in Washington to take a realistic look at what’s going on, and do what’s in this country’s best interest, hopefully something that allows us to leave Iraq in better shape than it is now, rather than worse.

Another thing, before I finish this: We should be careful about generalizing and interpreting the experiences of individual soldiers. General Zinni, in his book with Tom Clancy, Battle Ready Talked about the differences between the way the war was fought in different geographical regions of Vietnam, and how that affected the opinion of the soldiers who fought there.

People can be too close to the action in their neck of the woods to understand what a GI in another part of the country is running into. What might seem a winning war from one part of the country might seem to be a losing war from elsewhere. Both can be wrong about the general shape of the war.

I can only hope we win, but if we are to fail at this, lets at least fail in a way that protects America from the worst of the consequences. Let us not give our enemies the further victory of manhandling our exit plan, or not having one.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 28, 2006 11:46 PM
Comment #196812

Trent
Your right not every soldier is going to agree the policies of the war they’re fighting. It hasn’t happened in any war the US has ever been in. And Vietnam is a very good example. Most of us had no use for either Johnson’s or Nixon’s policies. And very few of us felt we were even doing any good over there.
But from what my relatives that are or where in Iraq tell me most of the troops feel that they are doing some good over there. They may or may not agree with policy but they feel they’re doing something good.

1LT B
Here’s hoping you return CONUS soon and safe. And I hope someday soon you’ll be able to change your name here to Capt B.
Thank you for your service.

Posted by: Ron Brown at November 29, 2006 12:09 AM
Comment #196822

tomh-
We Armchair generals are only repeating what the real generals told this president at the beginning. They told them that well over two-hundred thousand would be needed to secure the major cities. They told them that they needed to keep the Iraqi army, cutting out the highest ranking loyalists. Their dismissal is a mistake reflected now by the fact that we’re rehiring most of the soldiers we laid off. They were told they needed plans for reconstruction, plans for occupation. That mistake is reflected in the fact that Iraq has continually slid towards violence since we took Baghdad.

It isn’t hindsight if somebody tells you about the problem before it happens and you ignore them. The unfortunate fact, tomh, is that you’re so busy taking the headgame angle on this war that you haven’t stopped to read the documented fact on what went on before the war.

When you define the credibility of a source according to unbending support of the war, the Republicans, and this president, its only natural that all the things that are negative but true are going to end up getting ignored. Sometimes, though, people deserve to not look good, to be blamed for screwing up. If you fail to dissent at that point, you’re only stroking somebody’s ego at the expense of the interests of the country.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 29, 2006 2:13 AM
Comment #196823

Edge-

Whether or not soldiers on the ground are capable of understanding and performing any given task, they are not in charge. It is not their understanding that matters in the end. They simply make the best of the orders that come down from above.

Tomh-

For the last 5 years, I’ve been repeatedly complaining about the foolishness and short-sightedness of going into Iraq without an exit strategy under leadership which viewed the situation through religious eyes. It was always a no-win situation at best. I’m sorry if you were living in a political bubble at the time, but I certainly wasn’t alone in voicing my criticism. That’s what made it that much more bitter to swallow…the fact that so many saw this coming and were ignored and even ridiculed, yet continue to be proven right with the passage of time.

The proud and macho attitudes that produced ideas like preemptive war without a definitive threat being present, “you’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists”, the one percent doctrine, etc., they are responsible for producing an inevitably doomed situation. And as it continues to deteriorate, I find it ironic that anyone can claim that my comments are only being made with the benefit of hindsight. I think they sound like the very tail end of a 5 year broken record. Can you see how that can be frustrating?

Posted by: Kevin23 at November 29, 2006 2:34 AM
Comment #196826

Dave1,

Like I said, Kuwait was chosen by the military and is actually a good location for basing. Its centrally located (at least as far as we can make it without making a base in Iran, something I don’t think anyone wants to contemplate) has good port facilities, good road transport into Iraq, and the people there are generally friendly, at least for the standards of the region.

Ron Brown,

Thanks for the well wishes. CONUS is a bit off, I still have about 2 years in Deutschland, but I think I should be able to find ways to amuse myself. Besides, call me a heretic, but the beer’s better there anyway. CPT B should be coming soon and worry not, I have no doubt I’ll be informing everybody.

Posted by: 1LT B at November 29, 2006 6:14 AM
Comment #196933

1LT B
As I recall when I was stationed at Ramstein the German beer was stronger than the American. But not being much of a beer drinker, or a dinker for that matter, I can’t really say if tasted better.
But I’m sure that there’s plenty in Deutschland other than beer to keep you occupied for a couple of years.
Like some sweet little frauleins.

Posted by: Ron Brown at November 29, 2006 6:58 PM
Comment #196936

I feel it is my patriotic duty to mention that American beer has improved enormously in the last decade or so. Some microbrews near where I live make beer and ale that’s as good as any I’ve tasted overseas.

Btw, I give Carter a lot of credit for opening that door ;) Some of the beers I’ve made since it became legal to do so were very tasty.

Posted by: Trent at November 29, 2006 7:13 PM
Comment #196961

Trent,

As much as I enjoy local microbrews from around here (boston area) nothing beats those Belgian monks…(Chimay for those of you who don’t yet know…)

Posted by: Dave1-20-2009 at November 29, 2006 10:06 PM
Comment #196991

To those of you who commented about my brother’s safe return, my heartfelt thanks go out to all of you. My brother, my family and myself appreciate it greatly.

Those of you who commented negatively can be on the first flight to Kuwait/Iraq/Afghanistan whenever you’re ready. I’ll even foot the bill. Let’s see how well YOU do.

:)

Posted by: dana at November 30, 2006 1:30 AM
Comment #197064

No thanks dana. I don’t want to be the next man to kill or die for Bushes folly. Bring them home, now. We are causing more harm than good. Have bin Saud open the pumps, drop oil prices, and marginalize Iran. That will dampen the “insurgency” during our withdrawl.

I have a hypothetical question for you, posed out of simple curiosity resulting from an NPR interview this morning:
If this were declared a “civil war” by Bush, would you still support the use of our armed forces in Iraq? If so, for how long?

Posted by: Dave1-20-2009 at November 30, 2006 1:59 PM
Comment #211128

Should have his licence revoked; if this man is not happy with dispensing legal drugs because of his beliefs perhaps he should try other employment, or does his income come before his beliefs? WBR LeoP

Posted by: School of Pharmacy at March 8, 2007 9:10 PM
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