Sunday, June 26, 2005

Can you sleep at night?

The question I ask of you.
Where where they?
Those weapons of horrible death and destruction?

Are they smiling at you?
Do they still love you?
Can you sleep at night?
Do you even know a single one of their faces?

I hope your nightmares are as bad as mine.
The food is nicer,
but the blood is just as red.
I wonder if you know how to remove that stain?

You can tell me.
When you find a way.
We can both wash our hands.
Too bad the scars will still remain.


Anonymous said...

sargeant zachary,

are you're doin a good job for anyone???? certainly not for your wife and kids; you're gone, they're scared you're never comin back. the locals want revenge. can you blame them? your "bosses" and the VA and the politicians (us, iraqi, etc) don't care a hoot what happens to you, today, tomorrow or ever.

the iraqis want you out of their country. can you blame them a bit? when you were in high school, butchco started the sanctions. could you volunteer to work at an iraqi diarrhea clinic? you've helped devastate their water supply, poisoned their earth, and now you personally are helping kill their families. they want you away from them immediately. can you blame them a bit?

i don't understand, not at all, what are your objectives in writing. how much more blood do you want on your hands?

are you wrestling with moral dilemnas? we know you miss your family; so what? is any value coming from your actions?

if it's enjoyable to you, this killing of innocents and pandering to "lifers" and butchco thugs, full steam ahead.

if you prefer peace, do something concrete. turn yourself in at the international red cross, or some neutral organization. make sure to let your "keepers" know beforehand you'll be refusing to cooperate with them in the future. tell everyone in blogsphere so the thugs will have less of an opportunity to silence you. don't desert, don't go awol. be careful and stay healthy. tell your story.

if you refuse to help them with their murderous agenda, others will follow you. it's what they most fear.

what will they do to silence you? ostracize you further. send you on dangerous missions. maybe put you in prison for a few months or a few years. "thats what i did in the war, son".

stay safe sargeant. and remember, you're right now in the box you've made for yourself.

Snag said...

Everyone who has enjoyed the benifits of automobiles, who has taken a diesel train, flown a plane, enjoyed the profit from oil revenue, used plastic, etc., has a hand in our current involvement in Iraq. It has taken the mechanism 100 years to bring us to this point, but it was inevitable becuase of the world's (not just the U.S.) dependence on oil.
If we were not out protesting and sacrificing for a higher ideal from the moment we functioned indipendently; if we were not doing what we could to promote sustainable resources and renewable energies; we have a hand in the making of the Iraq conflict. What have we done to avoid this in the first place?
Did we even make the little sacrifices? Did we even take the time to see if our money went to those that would sponsor war?
Did we even take the time to not waste?
It's quite easy for some to criticise those that are directly engaged in this, but what of our role? There isn't a single one of us, regardless of country, that hasn't profited from the policies that led to this. And everyone has justified away their own role and responsibility to one degree or another(e.g. "I'm just one poor person who needs my inefficient, old car to get to work"). Did you even bother to think that that packaging on you little candy was made of a petroleum product? Maybe it was that one time that you bought gasoline that paid for that one little bullet that killed from an American soldiers weapon. Or maybe it was that time you let your government take American dollars for the oil beneath your country that provided the fuel for that M113 to roll just one block closer to your house. Or maybe it was that one joke that your coworker made about "ragheads" that allowed him to think it was justifilable to vote to send troops to Iraq.
One doesn't have to pull a trigger to be involved in the Iraq conflict. All one has to do is feed the monster that created it.
With that, I suggest everyone get of their high horse about these soldiers who are in a terrible place, and get off your ass to start making the world better. What we do now can make a difference for the future. If you come to discussions to point fingers, you just feed the monster.
The only way we're going to start making changes is by being mindful of our own actions and by being compassionate and not devisive with our brothers and sisters.
We're only divided because we've bought the illusion of weakness from those that would wield power over us.

Anonymous said...

zack remember to ignore the idiot. i love people who tell other people "what they should be doing" "whats right" yeh easy for that guy to say. your post was painfully beautiful....the nightmares should be for the people who sent you there.

Anonymous said...


Rufus said...

Snag, I agree with what you're saying. But, I'd say "step 2" would be getting rid of the bastards that would wield power over us.
As far as oil goes, the world's supply is due to run out in about thirty-five years. With the current automobile craze in India and Hummers in the states, it might be even sooner. After that, we're done with the stuff.
As for the soldiers, I can't possibly understand the situation they're in, but I sort of hope I would do otherwise.

Anonymous said...

stop being such assholes to him guys. he has no choice to be there, away from his family, its his job. maybe the reasons we're over there are wrong but he is just obeying orders from his commander in cheif, which in my opinion needs to be impeached, but thats another story. i'm sure none of our soldiers WANT to kill others but if they or anyone in their convoy is in danger they will protect themselves and their brothers in arms. nobody else has any idea what our soldiers are going through so they shouldn't be telling them what to do or how to do it. we should be supporting our troops not critizing them, even if you dont support the war. stay safe zach

Kate said...

Snag, keep preaching it, brother. You are right on. It's a shame something so simple -- being mindful of others and truly compassionate -- is so hard for people to do. We'll keep working on it, won't we?

Take care, Zach -- you are in my thoughts.

goldberry said...

Zach, right now the Extreme-Right and the Extreme-Left are busy flaming each other across the internet (and other media) and most of us are caught in the middle - in the crossfire. The Neo-Right claims that you are unpatriotic and a traitor if you question anything that the present Administration says or does, they think that they are better Christians or better morally than the rest of us; The Extreme-Left thinks that anyone in the military is a murderer, all the prisoners in US custody (like GITMO) are poor innocent civilians being tortured, and all the problems in the world can be resolved openly and “diplomatically”. Of course, you being a soldier are especially vulnerable, because you are living it. The rest of us can sit back and turn the channel.

Talk is always easy for all these “keyboard” people (Chairborne soldiers!); These Right-wing Pro-War people need to go down to the recruiting station and enlist in the Army to help out, and the Lefties need to give up their cars and conveniences (since they are preaching oil-shortage and global-warming to the rest of us). Hypocrisy in rampant, and I really admire you for trying to make sense of it in here in an open forum – with your guts out there for everyone to see.

You know, if this country is to ever heal from the current idiocy, people on both sides (and the ones in the middle particularly), need to get off their high-horses, stop ranting at each other, and start looking at hard truth and reality. From what I’ve seen, the Left has an edge in the truth area right now (they do need to stop shrieking), but I've also heard some genuine conservatives, making some statements away from the Extreme-Right “spin-zone”. Of course, our politicians are still arguing over stupid stuff, but the polls are telling them that they better start doing something, or else they will be out of power in their next election. I hope it will be in time to salvage the country.
Here I go, preaching again… Take care of yourself,

Hurria said...

"he has no choice to be there, away from his family"

The only ones who have absolutely no choice in this matter are the Iraqi people whose home was invaded by Zach and his comrades, and whose country, lives are turned upside down, and whose country and future are being destroyed because too many Americans are too willing to participate.

"its his job."

Which he has every right to refuse if he sees it as wrong. Are the consequences of refusing worse than the consequences of obeying?

"he is just obeying orders from his commander in cheif"

"Just obeying orders" is not a defense.

Anonymous said...

Hurria, you are wrong. I'm just going to leave it at that.

From reading your posts I can tell we have different political views, but I respect what you do and what you're saying. Stay strong and you'll be with your family soon.

Kristen said...

Hurria, I'll just direct you to the comment I just made on a different post. And if you don't like what Zach writes, then don't read his blog anymore. Its your right to just walk away from it. You are doing NOTHING more than aggrivating the other people who read this. You've made your point, whatelse do YOU hope to accomplish? Do you think that Zach will just "suddenly come around", lay down his weapon and accept jail time because you made him feel worse than he already does? Well I've got news for you. As awful as he feels for being forced into this war and doing the terrible things he's done, the mere thought of seeing his family again is more than enough to keep him following orders. If you'd like to get us out of your country faster though, you could always go tell Muhammed not to blow himself up in downtown Baghdad, or are you too afraid? Because even though we've ultimately caused this, we aren't the only enemies there anymore. We aren't blowing up Police chiefs, or assassinating aides to top government or religious leaders. Why don't you go pledge your cause and help get us out quicker. The damage is already done on our end and we can't change the past. So instead of yelling at a soldier who can't change anything, why don't you go rally someone who can. If you think 1 person can change a country, then why don't you be the 1 person to change yours. What do YOU hope to accomplish by responding to his blog. Instead of questioning him, question yourself.
Thanks Snag for telling it like it is. It is far too easy for these "chairborne soldiers" as goldberry put it, to critisize what you do and how you do it. When in fact they are probably sitting in their mom's basement writing about something they know nothing about outside of CNN. Instead of giving their 2 cents about what they think WE should do, why don't they just go do it themselves. Until you've walked in the shoes of someone from either side of this war, or until you give up gas, stop heating or cooling your house, or quit driving, then don't think for 1 second that your opinion matters.

Anonymous said...

Kristen, you go girl! I couldn't have said it better myself! Ditto on EVERYTHING!

Prayers, love and support Zach to both you and your family.

Hurria said...

Kristen, I have shared my perspective here in a completely civil manner, and contrary to your suggestion I have not tried in any way to tell Zach or anyone else what to do. I have no ill will toward Zach, and I hope he will soon be home safe and whole to enjoy the company of his family. At least he will, at some point, be able to leave the living hell that is now Iraq and return home to a normal life - an option not open to Iraqis, who ARE home. Thanks to your government's war and those who participate in it there will be nothing normal for Iraqis for many, many years to come.

Kristen, as far as I know this is a public forum which is open to everyone to express their views, and I will continue to add my persective here as long as it pleases me to do so, and as long as Zach, who owns this site, permits me to. If you do not find what I have to say worth reading, then I encourage you strongly to simply not read it.

Anonymous said...


I disagree with you on many fronts, but myself and I think others (though not the ones who have condemned you) appreciate your perspective. I thank you for frequenting this place and making your opinion known. Most of us DON'T know what things are like over there--please keep helping us understand (but also be careful not to aggrevate people, if you hope to convey understanding, you can't do so in such a way that causes people to dismiss you outright).

To Anon who mentioned joining the Red-Cross...that organization cleans up the world's messes. It doesn't keep them from happening. They pack in your guts and give you a sedative, but they don't hold a shield in front of your guts to begin with. Organizations like the red cross are not at all solutions to this world-wide (and millenia-long) humanitarian issue.


Anonymous said...

Also, Kristen, many people don't heat their homes with the type of energy obtained in Iraq. Nuclear and Coal power plants don't run off of oil (though, to be fair, people need oil to get to and from work at these locations). Also it is obviously a bad idea to leave the discussion purely up to those involved in combat--they are trained for war, not diplomacy, politics, history and many other subjects that should be part of this discussion. Not to say, of course, that many soliders aren't perfectly capable of diplomacy and history and such, they just aren't usually professionals.

And people, please remember that in Iraq (to all accounts) disobeying orders could have gotten your family tortured and killed (before this war). An American mearly has to face the possibility of a prison sentance. To some Iraqi's that might seem like a cakewalk (especially since our prisons are fairly tame in comparison to some countries)--I don't really know, but maybe Hurria thinks along those lines (Hurria please comment). What may seem horrible to us might be the daily news for others. There is going to be some sort of culture gap between all the different countries involved both in this war and in this discussion.


Snag said...

Is the dabte about comparative suffering or just the fact that people suffer? I mean, we can talk until we are blue in the face about who has it worse, but that does nothing for anyone. I think fundamentally we need to understand that everyone has it tough and that what we really need is not to divide regarding human toil, but begin to think about how we can start helping each other.

Kristen said...

Hurria, you are exactly right. This is a public forum. I spoke out of anger earlier and I am sorry. My only qualm with your responses is that they always seem so accusatory of Zach. Like you blame him soley for the destruction of your country. I can't fathom what it is like for you over there, expecially at a time like this. I DO feel much compassion for you and your family. I never would have wished this for anyone and I am truly and deeply sorry for the pain and suffering our government has caused. My only criticism I have for your responses is that they seem so pointed and directed at Zach in such a harsh tone. While this is most certainly your right, my temper, my friendship with Zach, and the fact that I served along side of him(in the Army, not the war) puts me on the defensive anytime I read something negative about our troops. It is mostly directed at those anonymous comments that come from people who obviously have no idea what they are talking about. I know this is not the case with you since you are living the tradgedy that is Iraq everyday. I find your input very worthwhile, when you aren't repeating yourself. So I am encouraging your feedback, but at the same time, now you know why I shoot you some negative responses. :)
Scotty, my parents use oil to heat their home. I use electricity, but I wasn't sure how many others do the same. :) And just some insight as to how educated I am, while I am no expert like Hurria, who lives it, I do speak the language and have extensively studied the area and the culture. So I am well aware of the differences between the US and the Middle East in regards to the way they handle "traitors". At least as far as the Hussein government was concerned. It is slightly different now, but the same principles do apply as far as the "you serve or your family dies" rule. But again, I am no expert, as Hurria is. Just trying to make a statement. And my comment about "leaving the comments up to those in combat" wasn't really meant the way it sounded. It wasn't really Hurria who got the ball rolling, it was all the other commenters who had nothing more to say than "I don't sympathize with you Zach, you're a stupid war mongerer. If you don't like the way things are being run, then change them yourself." Basically people who have no idea what they are talking about. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but it benefits no one if that is all they have to say. Others say it and back it up with supporting opinions other than "This war is stupid and you're all stupid for participating in it" That's all.
Sorry again for my temper Hurria.

Rufus said...

Okay, well I hate to be pedantic about this, but the oil argument doesn't make any sense anyway. For the record, I fuel my car when I'm in Canada and not the states. But, to suggest that gas consumption is driving the war is to argue that there was a point at which Bush and company said to themselves: "Jeez, since Americans consume gas, we have no option other than to invade Iraq" which just makes no sense. If that was the case, India and China would have invaded Iraq. No, there are very specific people in command of the United States who are directly responsible for this war.

As for having no sympathy for Zach, I think most of us do have tremendous sympathy for Zach. We say again and again that we condemn the government and not the troops. Again, I couldn't imagine having to be in that position. But, if you post here every day how terrible the job is, and how morally reprehensible the things they're ordering you to do are, and make it sound, essentially, like being in Hell, then don't get indignant if some people say: "Well, jeez, maybe jail would be better. I think your family would understand, and at least, you wouldn't have to kill anyone, or be killed by anyone." That's not condemning Zach. It's just common sense. I understand that it would be the ultimate sacrifice, and I have no way of knowing if I could ever do it. But, don't ask us to say "Gosh Zach, it sounds like you're in Hell. Guess you'd better stay there and suffer." Because, that's not sympathy.

Snag said... speak ill informed. I would have Zach on my team anytime. I always expected the truth from my troops. I expected troops to help think as a unit from all angles. We are no longer in an age of mindless grunts.
There's a story about the formation of SOFA (Special Forces). They lined up the candidates and put them in a barn one by one. In complete darkness, the soldiers would hang from a bar and on command they would let go. Some did, some didn't. Those that did were admitted to SF. Those that didn't were made SF NCO's for their ability to think for themselves.

Carlton, a couple of points. Isn't canadian fuel British Petroleum by and large? And the fuel that's not, don't you think the Canadian economy is intertwined with what the U.S. does? I think maybe you're having a hard time projecting out beyond a degree or two of the interconnectedness of our world.
Oil is but one motivation, the are other corporate factors at play. There are a few that are primarily resonsible, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, etc., but we all have a hand in promoting their power base. I was opposed to these folks as far back as I can remember (a young, anarchic Punk during the Reagan administration), but I accept that I did not do enough to keep Bush from being elected in 2000. I admit I consumed too much in my life, feeding the corporate monster. I admit I did not educate as many as I could on the history of the West's involvement in foreign affairs. I accept my role, I learn, and I want to keep trying to do better for my part.
I guess my opinion about those pontificating here is that this is one man's view (Zach's) of the world. Wouldn't political efforts be better spent countering those that promote the continuation of the policies that got us here?
With Zach, they're preaching to the choir by and large, but often there are those that express it in such a way that turns one against another. Wouldn't it behoove us to support a man that is at least questioning issues? A man who is looking through rhetoric?
Unless we fundamentally change, there will be more of the self-righteous and the vanquished. There will be more ernest young soldiers defending the lies of another generation. I hope to God when we fail again to stop war before it starts, we have more soldiers in the future with the character of Zach.
There are few in power, yet there are many victims.

Hurria said...

"we condemn the government and not the troops."

Responsibility for this criminal war and its consequences sits on the heads of every single person who takes part in it. May it weigh heavy on them for the rest of their lives.

Snag said...

Ok Hurria, let's talk about responsibility. Many of us are willing to accept ours, but I don't think it's getting through to you that you also have blood on your hands through inaction.
I had a young Iraqi friend in High School back in the 80's. His family had immigrated to the U.S. At the age of 12 he was a soldier fighting a protracted war with Iran. A war that had used chemical weapons. There many that are still suffering from those effects. Did you protest?
Hussein invaded Kuwait. Did you protest?
Hussein did viciously supress and killed Kurds (The Anfal campaign), Shiites, and the Marsh Arabs. Did you protest?
Hussein took lots of money when doing business with the U.S. Did you protest?
And what of the Hawassim?
What of the public beheadings of women accused of prostitution (who were never fairly tried)?
What of the vicious and bloody purges of the communists?
What of the torture centers?
Because we were lied to and have allowed the U.S. to invade Iraq on false pretenses, we are guilty. But that doesn't make you innocent. Why did you sit on your hands while all of this was happening?
The difference between us Hurria, is that I am sorry for my people and yours and I want to help both. You are only worried about yours.

Anonymous said...

Snag vs. Hurria:

Er... with respect to both of you, there is a difference between Iraqis who didn't protest against Saddam, and Americans who continue to play a part in the war in Iraq. If Zach resists, he can get lots of help which may enable him to get home and out of the military relatively painlessly. At the very worst, he might do some time in jail - not something any of us would want to experience or indeed wish for him, but better than making his wife a widow through his own pointless death in Iraq.

Iraqis who resisted their government's wars got jailed, tortured, their families beaten, threatened, killed in places like Abu Ghraib, where Bush now continues the long tradition. When Iraqi Shias did rise up against Saddam after the last Gulf War, they were slaughtered by Saddam's troops while Western governments let them die.

And why should Iraqis like Hurria spare much thought for their occupiers? The entire Arab and Muslim world knows exactly what to expect from Western allies - from Britain's betrayal of Palestine, Israel's continuing US-funded ethnic cleansing, Iran's years of suffering under the US-supported Shah, to the long years of Western support for Saddam and ongoing support for butchers and dictators in places like Uzbekistan. We have no right to expect them to feel sorry for us after more than a century of butchery and betrayal by our leaders and their local puppets. How many of us (Americans or Brits) would feel sorry for our occupiers and betrayers under similar circumstances?

So urge sympathy for soldiers like Zach by all means, and preach your sincere and laudable message of goodwill and compassion to all, but please don't compare Zach's dilemma with that faced by Iraqis, either under Rummy's old pal Saddam or under US occupation.

Peace to all of you.


Rufus said...

"I think maybe you're having a hard time projecting out beyond a degree or two of the interconnectedness of our world."

First off, I shouldn't have even mentioned the Canadian gas thing. My point, again, was that I don't believe that people who drive cars are complicit in this war, nor do I share your belief that they should be shamed into silence on this board. Nobody can seem to explain why, were the war about oil, it wouldn't have been easier and a hell of a lot cheaper for Bush and Co. to have made friends with Saddam than go to war with him. They did it before. Your answer "well, there are a lot of corporate interests" doesn't really answer anything because war is still far less profitable than negotiation would have been. I hate these people too, but you could at least know your enemy.

Secondly, I'll take your point that it doesn't help anything to post here. Preaching to the choir and all of that. But, you know, sometimes it's nice to know that there is a choir out there. Also, I think you've posted at least three times what the rest of us have! As far as "expressing it in a way that turns one against another" you know very well that I did nothing of the sort. Nor will I dignify that bullshit with a response.

As far as supporting Zach, I've done nothing but support Zach and you, again, know that. It's wonderful that you're willing to "accept responsibility", but you're at least equally willing to tell the rest of us over and over again about how you've accepted responsibility. That's fine. Go on a star-trip. But, your argument that we're all complicit and so shouldn't express our opinions here would be a lot more convincing if you'd heed it yourself.

Snag said...

Taff, you make some excelent points here. I don't mean to compare the situations, but we are all responsible for the violence in this world. History doesn't stop at 1991. When we believe we suffer more than our fellow man, we allow our hearts to fill with contempt, envy, resentment.
You ask how many of us could forgive occupiers? Good question. Again, I do sympathise with Hurria, but on a lesser scale I have been learning to forgive. In my profession I deal with criminals every day. A few times I have ended up in the hospital from altercations. I have had guns, knives, and needles pulled on me in fights. I've learned not to take it personally. I am a strong advocate of economic and judicial reform, as I think these are the most powerful factors contributing to the misery I see in those that would attack me.
As for the puppets, you are absolutely right, but again those pupets are supported by local power. It was Iraqi's manning Ab Ghraib before us. As with us, who allowed a society to permit a belief that this was ok?
While I agree that Hurria's anger and resentment is understandable, right or wrong, up or down, black or white, Zach is in a position to lose his life (as is Hurria). While there are resources at home for CO's, it's not so easy to walk off a battlefield once you're there. Maybe if there were resources there, in Iraq, to help soldiers who are finished with it, that'd be another thing.
And if Iraqi's could tone down their anger and not feed the cycle of violence (just as it would be wonderful if our troops just stopped), it would be harder for the Bush Cabal to justify a military presence. I know this doesn't solve the issue of our continued distorted foreign policy toward places like Iraq, but it would be a step to at least ending the violence.
The Iraqi's (or anyone for that matter) should be concerned with everyone else's life. If the agrieved avenge injustice through violence, then the agrieved will avenge injustice with violence. Fear is the precourser to anger, anger the precourser to violence. Until we learn this, we will perpetuate 50 thousand years of oraganized violence against each other in this "civilization." Being a victim doesn't make one free from resonsibility to our fellow human.
I say to Hurria and everyone, work for peace among all of us and stop feeding the mechanizations of war.
The old saying "What if they had a war and nobody came?"

Rufus said...

You know what, Snag? That was pretty harsh of me and I apologize.
I felt attacked and I did not feel that it was fair. I still don't. But, there was no need to attack you. So, I'm sorry.

Snag said...

Carlton, I apologize for the tenor or tone of my argument.
I still believe we are all complicit to varying degrees by mearly feeding the beast. If I buy at company X, and I remain ignorant that comany X gives lots of money to the powers that began this war, is not my lack of research feeding the power that began this war? (Dunkin' Donuts is a good example...almost 100% donations to the GOP.)

I don't mean to suggest anyone should not express their opinion. What I'm trying to say is that we need to start cooperating, pool our energy, and try and put an end to violence once and for all. If we continue to see ourselves seperate from each other, we will only pass that along to the next generation.

The argument that "expressing it in a way that turns one against another" was prefaced with "they're" not "you". Sorry for the misunderstanding, but again I was redirecting my comments to Hurria trying to show that we are supportive as best we can be right now and are learning to do more, but devisive language often can alienate those that are or would be sympathetic.

marcia said...

(sorry if this posts twice -- I'm new at the blogging thing)

I discovered this site a month or so ago and have been following it ever since. I want to applaud all of you (except perhaps the more vitriolic contributors) for your willingness to engage in this discussion rather than hiding in the black and white thinking that is so pervasive nowadays.

A line from a Stephen Dunn poem came to me as I was mulling this over: For months I had the clarity/
the cynical survive with,/ their world so safely small.

When we realize how huge and complicated the world is, clarity goes away and so does the illusion of safety. All of us, I think, are living in the current atmosphere of fear and distrust, which makes it tempting to slip into the easier black and white thinking, the demonizing of people who don’t have the same “certainty” we do, and relieves us of having to deal with ambiguity. Those who take the courageous step out there into the void of not-knowing and wrestle with it together are the real heroes to me.

So to Zack, who is willing to be a lightning rod for all this, to put his fear and confusion out there for the world to see, to report on what it is to actually be there in the middle of the nightmare, I say, “Well done, thank you, keep it up.” To the rest of you who continue to engage in such a thoughtful way, I’m also immensely thankful because it makes me think, and question, and wrestle with my own frustration and confusion.

To Hurria, I thank you especially for being the solitary (as far as I know) voice of the Iraqi people. I’ve found all of your posts compelling and remarkably even-handed, and I want to believe you when you say that you bear no one ill will. But the statement “May it weigh heavy on them for the rest of their lives,” seems to contradict your previous generous sentiments.

Not that I would blame you: it SHOULD weigh heavy on all of us, and hopefully does. Those of us who feel so helpless here in the USA but nevertheless have full bellies and running water and the option to drive our cars or not, who most of all have the blessing of safety, can’t begin to imagine what it is like for you.

It seems the tide of support for this war is shifting. Every day we read about how many Americans think we should “bring our troops home.” Of course I agree, I can see how what we’re doing now just continues to make things worse, but my worry is that most of the concern is for “our troops” and very little thought is being given to what, if anything, would help the Iraqi people get back to some sort of stability.

So Hurria, I would like to know what you think would happen if all foreign troops just pulled out. Would it be better right away, would the insurgency die down once its main target was removed? So far I haven’t heard, from anyone, anywhere, what ordinary Iraqis believe the result would be, and what if any assistance from a truly
well-meaning international community (presuming there is such a thing) would be helpful.

In the end it matters less whether the reasons for “bringing our troops home” are selfish (no more American lives lost ) or more altruistic (what’s the best thing for Iraq) and matters more that it gets done, and soon. Many of us are just afraid that the mess we leave behind will be impossible to clean up, and wonder what, if anything, would help.

Also (for everyone else who is reading these posts) what can we do at this end (besides, presumably: keeping up, spreading information, wrestling with our consciences, signing petitions, calling our representatives, demonstrating) to hasten the end of this horrible thing we’re doing?

Hurria said...

"'May it weigh heavy on them for the rest of their lives,' seems to contradict your previous generous sentiments."

I say that not out of ill will, but out of a wish that they should never be allowed to forget the enormity of what they have done, and what they have been involved in. That goes for every single one of them, as everyone who takes part in any way has blood on his hands. Is there a punative component to this wish? Perhaps, but at the same time generations of Iraqis are going to suffer unspeakably for generations, and millions of lives will be destroyed as a result of the participation of this massive and uspeakable crime of aggression. I will never live to see Iraq whole and healthy again. I will never live to see even a semblance of normalcy come to Iraq.

I do not wish on the troops anything remotely like what Iraqis are suffering, or their suffering that is to come, I only wish that a long as they live they will never be able to forget or to rest from the sense what they have been part of.

My wishes for the politicians and criminals and opportunists who got us all into this horror are not so kind. I am not a vengeful person, but I would take great joy in watching each of them burn forever in the hottest fires of hell for what they have done.

marcia said...


Thank you for your consistent honesty. It is hard to hear but we need to hear it, and I'm fairly sure I would feel the way you do in your position. I have even had similar fantasies about our "leaders."

It breaks my heart to hear you talk about the future you see for Iraq, with or without us. I still want to know if and how you see the country at least starting to heal after we have left.

I'm reminded of something a friend of mine told me about visiting Vietnam maybe five years ago: She reported that the Vietnamese have a saying about memories of what they call the American War: "We will turn the page but we will not tear it out."

This is what I hope for, not that we will lose the memory of this travesty, because this is the only thing that helps us learn (please God) to not keep doing the same stupid, violent things again and again.

But I also hope that the men and women who return from this war with those horrible memories will be able to turn them into some kind of positive work for change rather than turning them inward so that they manifest in more violence to themselves, their families, and the world at large. This is what happened to/for so many Vietnam vets.

And then there were some who began to work for peace specifically because of those memories. They have had an impact, but obviously not enough.

I think that people like Zach, are our best chance for this, if we are willing to listen.

Hurria said...

"Hurria, you are wrong."

What part am I wrong about? That people like Zach have a choice? The clear evidence that they do have a choice is that thousands of them have made the choice to say no in one way or another to participation in this filthy, ugly war.

Is it that Zach has a right to refuse orders he believes are wrong? The evidence for that fact is that many have exercised this right both before and after going to Iraq.

Or is it that "just following orders" is no defense? There, of course I am unquestionably not wrong. That was established clearly in the Nuremberg trials following WW II.

Desultory Girl said...

Hurria you may have been honest in your thoughts, but you're definitely hypocritical, not to mention sadistic.

This is a contradiction:

"I am not a vengeful person, but I would take great joy in watching each of them burn forever in the hottest fires of hell for what they have done."

I just want to say that I hope you find God and forgiveness.

Zach, I hope you find peace in heart and mind and pray you home to your family as quickly as possible.

Snag said...

To be honest, Hurria, the Weremacht (German regular Army) wasn't accused of the crimes committed by the Nazi party. The leadership of the SS, senior party members, and camp guards were held accountable for the atrocities.

Hurria said...

Dear Desultory Girl,

There is nothing in the least hypocritical about what I said. It is quite possible for a person who is not vengeful by nature to want to see vengeance in a certain, particularly heinous case.

Whether I have found God or not or will find God or not is none of your business.

As for forgiveness, I have done nothing whatsoever in this situation that warrants forgiveness.

Hurria said...


Whoever was accused of the crimes, the fact that "I was just following orders" is not a valid defense was established at the Nuremberg trials.

And by the way, since you seem interested in arguing technical details, the Nazi party did not commit war crimes. Only individuals can commit war crimes, not parties or states.

Snag said...

True, not the state or party, but it was members of the Nazi party that had issued orders and oversaw genocide that were tried and convicted.
While the invasions of foreign lands was considerd criminal, regular Army soldiers were responsible only for their individual conduct.

Hurria said...

"regular Army soldiers were responsible only for their individual conduct."

No one has said anything different than that.

Snag said...

I guess I was trying to point out that generally the world doesn't hold individual soldiers responsible for the overall political action of it's government. They have only been held accountable if they commit one on one crimes.
With that said, to expand waht I've really wanted to say is that the real crime is that for centuries lies from those at the top have done nothing but pit poor people against poor people.
They continue to rule us because we believe we are divided.
When do we stop?
I don't want us in Iraq, but even more I don't want anymore Iraqs, or Vietnams, or WWII's...
Since I feel like my country and its ideals have been stolen from me, I try to write from a more international citizen perspective. I'm still learning.
Fight War, not wars.

Hurria said...

"generally the world doesn't hold individual soldiers responsible for the overall political action of it's government."

No one has suggested it does. However, anyone who participates in a venture they know is wrong is part of the problem, and therefore morally responsible whether they themselves commit a crime or not.

Snag said...

I agree. And I can say from personal experience that any war, just or not, causes soldiers to carry those spiritual wounds with them.
When we pull out, and we will, and this countries majority begins to accept resonsibility for electing those that would lie to us and lead us wrongly, what can we do to help heal wounds from an Iraqi stand point?

Mike Crichton said...

A quick comment on the Iraqis who didn't protest Saddam's rule: One of our interpreters did just that, and ended up shot in the back and buried alive for his troubles. Luckily for him, he was on the top layer of corpses, and the dirt was packed loosely enough that he could breath for an hour before digging himself out. Some of his family members weren't so lucky.

One of the locally employed cleaners at our FOB has a truly magnificent set of prison tattoos from his time in Saddam's jails. He also has a vast assortment of whip, burn, and cut scars. One of the worst is on his arm. A guard handed him a knife, held a gun to his head, and told him to start cutting. All of his scars and tattoos were acquired before he was 17 years old. As a child, he spent 12 years in prison because his parents were accused of plotting against the ruling regime.

It's easy for us comfortable first-worlders to blame third-world civilians for the crimes of their governments. We've never had to face the sorts of choices that they've had to. In their position, most of you reading this would have done the same.

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