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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The History Books

Some days begin with regret, some with happiness, others just begin. My uniform top has a hole worn in it where my rifle rubs on it, and my pants have the same. I feel like it is in my bones, the weariness and the purgatory of this deployment. I don't have it as hard as some, and yet I have it harder than others. Compared to last time I was here I have to admit it has been much better (living conditions that is).

I see a shooting star almost every night (remember, I work nights) and every time my wish is the same, you might be surprised what it is, but if I were to tell it wouldn't come true would it? Limbo, that is forward operations base Speicher. Nothing changes here except the beat of the mortar rounds as they hit at different times, often daily.

It is amazing what I have taken from my time in the Army. You might be surprised that when I joined I was a staunch republican. I had the utmost faith in the system that is our government and I was young. I can't say that I am much older now (only 5 and a half years have passed) but I am wiser about many things. I have lost my innocence and I am not so naive. I have met some wonderful people, and I have also met some people that I would rather not know.

It is a lot different when you can communicate with the Iraqis you know. When you can ask them how they feel about things instead of just telling them to get back with arm signals. They are people, and they are like you and I. Time may tell things differently just as the victors write the history books, but it seems that such a great injustice has been done, and we are getting farther and farther from the things we promised the Iraqis when we invaded. I will not attempt to predict the future however I can't help but let it be known that I fear we have gone too far and that our eyes were so much larger than our stomach.

47 comments:

Monique said...

This post was really touching. Stay safe Zach.

Kate said...

Beautiful post, Zach. Super fine prose.

Take care --

Anonymous said...

I really likes the times when you say things about the war s and stuff. You real good man and I want be friends with you when after i make wish on start with mom and dem. Thanks man you are a real hero not like most of the superheros who cause they aren't even them you know so I have questionen? what is the moon like there on that world? does it have more teefs or eyes or mens or something. I like cheese. I will mail you some cheese.

Steve Sminson said...

Good post- keep writing. Don't let the fact that you may be leaving soon affect how often you write. I know you are excited about going home but I think so many of us enjoy hearing you speak the truth about what is going on over there. In Iraq, in the Army, in your life. A question- will you continue to write when you return to the states? If no, will we hear from you again in another means? Thanks again.

Lily's Home said...

Zach,
Your posts move me beyond words. My husband just returned from a deployment to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait and its so comforting to know that other soldiers out there feel the same way that we do. It seems like no one here is talking about what is really going on. Most everyone is too self-absorbed to see that the soldiers are real people, not just numbers. Thank you for putting a face and a heart to this unjustified war. In my heart I know you are a hero. During my husbands deployment I would shutter to hear the word "hero", describing my husband, as people often used it to describe the promotion of the Iraqi invasion, and to justify the thousands of soliders who are ripped away from their families (as if telling me that my husband is a hero will bring him home, or provide solice in my heart). Instead I think of you as an amazing man who has the will and the nerve to stand up against all odds and tell the truth of what is happening.

THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

I am thinking of all of you over there, and wish for your safe return.

jarvenpa said...

Sometimes we see shooting stars here beyond the forests. I make my own wishes when I do. Your words are strong, and honest, and reverberate farther perhaps than you realize.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Zach. History is being written and revised all around us right now.

For example, here is another view on the real consequences of the invasion in Iraq: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4400376.stm

The BBC's security correspondent Frank Gardner spent several years working and living in Arab countries and was crippled by a terrorist attack in Saudi Arabia in 2004. He is no knee-jerk peacenik, but has some fairly harsh things to say about the situation in Iraq and the "War On Terror" when giving personal evidence to the Foreign Affairs Committe of the UK House of Commons, reported in this article.

Anyway, hope you make it home safe and soon, and that your country makes better use of your talents at home than it does in Iraq.

Peace to all in Iraq

taff

Kim S. said...

"I can't help but let it be known that I fear we have gone too far and that our eyes were so much larger than our stomach."

I have heard this sentiment stated many different ways, but this is by far the best. This whole entry is excellent.

ladydaria said...

I came across your blog via JoyStory links. My son and his fiance' (ooops WIFE as they married just yesterday) are both with the Army and are scheduled for deployment just before Thanksgiving.

I have found great strength and comfort in reading your blog and plan to add a link in my blogroll. Thank you for all you do and I salute you and your bravery!

Anonymous said...

i shudder when i think how many staunch republicans here at home thinks all Iraqis/arabs/muslims are terrorists.

mary s said...

I have been reading your blog since I found it due to the artical in Time magazine. My thoughts and prayers are with you and hope you make it home safely

Lance said...

I read this, and while I can never say I know how you feel (being a squid my world is certainly different from yours), I certainly know where you’re coming from. I too was a staunch republican… I stumbled across yours and Daniel’s blogs just a few weeks ago. I only wish I would have found them sooner. I will definitely place a link (as soon as learn how) on my blog. Very well written!

Anonymous said...

I have heard it said that most combat veterans go into the military Rethuglicans and come out Democrats. I would believe it. What we have set in motion in Iraq will eventually spill over into Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Syria and Iran. This is only the beginning...

-roamer in mich

Matt said...

Great post, Zach. Keep up the inspiring work.

And may your wishes come true.

Anonymous said...

My son is in the Army, my daughter in the Marines and her husband is in the Marines. They all come up with the same question - would the people of Iraq be better off with Sadam back in power as the liberals would indicate? 28 million people that are free from horrible tyranny of Sadam's regime. Remeber how he and his brothers could take whoever they wanted off the street and do whatever they wanted to them. We know an 18 year old girl from Iraq (she lives here in Phoenix now)whose father spent 5 years in prison there (and not a decent prison like we have in the US) for teaching soccer to the kids. We don't hear much about the horrors of their previous existence because it doesn't fit with the liberal media's bias.

Anonymous said...

I happen to be a staunch Republican who personally knows some very beautiful Iraquis who are now enjoying a taste of what freedom is for the first time, freedoms that we take for granted in the US. The freedom to vehimently disagree with fellow countrymen (and women) that we enjoy is now like food to these "starving" people. Women are now also experiencing their own release from centuries of oppression as well. The liberals give us the impression that we should get out of Iraq and return these people to the control of Saddam's regime and return the women to their oppressed status. Now that they have tasted freedom, do you think that they would want to return those dark days? Would you?

banana said...

when i was a teenager i was a republican, too. voted for bush I in our mock school elections.

ha ha.

i think it's the indoctrination we get in schools.

once i got out, traveled a bit, i quickly wised up.

and am farther left than the democratic party now!

banana said...

another thing. when the war first started i met a young iraqi man at a protest. we became friends and one day we were having lunch in a place owned by an egyptian man who made the most awesome falafel!

in this restaurant, hisham told me all these stories about how and why he left iraq, fleeing for his life to jordan to get away from saddam.

this guy has such great spirits. i remember sitting across the table from him, and i could feel in my soul his life experiences of growing up under saddam, living in baghdad during gulf war I, worried sick to death about his family (his sister and brothers and father) and then coming to america only to be harassed by the federal government after marching with us during shock and awe.

hisham is an artist and he wrote a play about the first gulf war, i guess to maintain his sanity; it was his way of dealing with the pain of it all.

i'm glad i met him. he put a human face on it all for me.

and all these people in america who tout "freedom" "democracy" for iraqis, are just brainwashed.

there's a difference in saying those words, and living those words.

i know how these "democracy and freedom for iraqis" really feel deep down inside; i see it on their faces when i sit down to lunch with hisham, surrounded by their hate-filled faces.

hisham manages to have a sense of humor about it, but not me.

jae said...

Zach
Your bravery to be where you are, doing the job you are doing, is most appreciated.
Your honesty is a treasure.
Ever since All The Kings Horses was pulled offline, I worry about you suffering the same fate.
Be Well, get home safe soon.

till_in_the_clear said...

This post gave me hope for Humanity...

I am the girlfriend to a soldier who served in Iraq for a year.

I am proud of him, but not the war.

I am proud of you - for daring to be intelligent about this issue.

Humans are humans.

Thank you for rocking so hard for humanity,
amanda

Anonymous said...

Do the liberals really want to return the Iraqi people to the horrors of Saddam's dictatorship? So much for speaking up for oppressed peoples. I hope somone would fight for me if I lived under such conditions.

Maricel said...

People like you help me be the soldier that I could only hope to be. Thank you,

Maricel Romero
http://charmedzeta.blogspot.com/

Jenn said...

I came across your blog and wanted to tell you how much we appreciate your strength and willingness to serve. My hubby was in Desert Storm and i know how hard it can be. I also understand that our political views and beliefs can shift after "War". Be safe and again THANK YOU.

Anonymous said...

Hey anonymous,

No the "liberals" do not want to return Iraq to Rumsfeld's old pal Saddam. But maybe we could return it to the Iraqis? And then start looking at how to help other oppressed peoples, in Palestine for example? Just a thought.

Peace to all in Iraq
Taff

Anonymous said...

Hey anonymous,
So what changed about Saddam with you twits? You folks liked him in the past so much that Rumsfailed used to hang out with him. There is a picture of it. Stop projecting you're love of Saddam onto liberals.

roamer in mich

Chuck said...

I agree with you about the war but I believe that being against the war does not mean you don't support the troops over there. I was over there the first go round and I think we should have finished what we started back then. Hang in there, our prayers are with you.

Anonymous said...

Robert Fisk (of the UK "Independent" newspaper) on the growing infantilism of our leaders.

"...For as someone who has to look at the eviscerated corpses of Palestine and Israel, the murdered bodies in the garbage heaps of Iraq, the young women shot through the head in the Baghdad morgue, I can only shake my head in disbelief at the sheer, unadulterated, lazy bullshit - let’s call a spade a spade - which is currently emerging from our great leaders."

Peace and safe home-coming to all in Iraq

taff

Anonymous said...

SGT Singley,

I am sorry to read about the pain you are going through. Life in Iraq is not pretty, and at times it is not honorable; but keep: your head up emotionally, keep your head down physically, and keep your heart grounded on those things that are still pure, righteous, and innocent. For me it was my faith in God. Though I had "battle buddies" who had cared about me, I felt that only God and my mother had not abandoned me and loved me unconditionally. The "Groundhog Day" concept of what life is like in Iraq is something that is easy to describe, but it is so freaking hard for people back here in the states to understand. How many more days and a wake-up are there left for you?

Note to the SGT's family and friends. Help him by communicating and grounding to who he was, who he is, and who is to become. He needs your love and your support to get him through, and it sounds, as he will need a lot of it. BE THERE FOR HIM.

Kifaru said...

A note to all these folks talking about how Iraq is full of "Freedom". First, as to women being "freed from oppression", go and read Riverbend, at Baghdad Burning. As for the fact that we freed them from Saddam's tyranny..That happens everywhere...Where I grew up, it was treason to say bad things about the president, and everyone knew where the (torture) Room was. Are you advocating going out and spreading your brand of "Freedom"? I thought only Liberals wanted to help other people across the globe? (Of course, we would prefer to do it peacefully, if possible!)
And, yes, I am a military spouse, who supports my husband and the Marines 100%...just not the idiot who got us into this mess. By the way, where is Bin Laden????

Josh Johnson said...

You were a Republican? AND you trusted the government??? Isn't that a contradiction? The whole point of the Republican party is supposed to be that they DON'T trust the government, they want to dismantle the government as much as possible, shrink it, shrink its power over our day to day lives, including its tax burden. Those who trust the government to regulate our lives, to support us and protect us and make sure we have enough are Democrats.

This doesn't seem to be true today, but that's mostly because the Neo-Con movement has hijacked the party. Neo-Cons and religious zealots work together to create a dominating government which tells us what to think, what to believe, and how to run our businesses. It's the Neo-Cons that want to raise taxes on the middle and lower classes in order to give that money to corporations (to spur growth...an investment is what they see it as).

Stay safe Zach, keep your mind open and your head down.

Josh

David Baker said...

Mr. Singley, I thank you again for your writing. You've a knack for prose and an excellent eye for detail; if only more of my students had your ability. I do hope you've an agent lined up for your return. Plenty of literary gasbags (among whom I number myself) have sounded off on issues of war, peace, politics, &c, &c though few with such honesty and raw experience. You're doing good work, both professionally and otherwise. My only literary suggestion might be to include more recipes.

Kindest regards,

BT

CJ said...

The problem with our government is the two-party system. There is no room for other points of view that actually speak for more Americans. Instead, we have to deal with Repugnantans and Damnocrats, neither of which gives a hoot about you or me. That's why I remain independent.

yong said...

Zach, you seem like a decent guy, so I find it odd and conflicting, having heard some horrifying first-hand accounts from Iraqis in London about their experiences with you guys (US infantry soldiers).

I searched through other blogs by US soldiers, and they all seem remarkably sane and decent. I can only conclude that those (US soldiers) whom I have heard about either do not have internet access, or are (more likely) posting somewhere else on the web where their views and crimes are appreciated.

I met an Iraqi student last Summer (2004) who had been back to Baghdad shortly after the invasion. No, he was not an insurgent, he was just desperately worried about his family. Through him, I met others who had escaped the chaos created by the invasion and heard some of their stories.

According to them, Iraq under Saddam was not great, but before the 1st Gulf war, one of the most free, wealthy and liberal countries in the Middle East (As long as you didn't cross Saddam!). Women were much more free than in Saudi, Kuwait, or Iran. They had wealth, and they had a great education system. - They just had to put up with a nutter in government, but don't we all? My friend's parents had nothing to do with the previous regime, but were quite well-off, living in a middle class area of Baghdad. He told me, on his first night there, that his neighbours and everyone in his household slept with their clothes on with all of their valuables either buried in the garden or on their person. The reason was the night raids by groups of US infantry soldiers who went around the homes of the wealthy to steal cash and jewellery from them. Any complaints and they were either arrested or disappeared.

He couldn't get over the fact that there was shooting and bombs going off everywhere while people went about their daily lives.

He and others saw US soldiers swearing and spitting at elderly Iraqi women queuing at the shops, shooting randomly in crowded places (Injuring quite a few people, including children), crushing cars and mowing people down in their armoured vehicles.

I am told that traffic 'accidents' are a very common sight there. Some have seen APCs climbing onto the pavement to run people over. One thought it was perhaps because soldiers now had to report when they discharged their weapons, whereas killing someone with a car can be dismissed as an accident?

When he left, he had to drive to the Jordanian border, and on the way he was stopped 3 times by what he thought were insurgents or militia. Outside the cities, there was no control at all. He is quite light-skinned, and on one occasion had to beg for his life and convince them he was not a foreigner.

You may have seen some of this (or worse) yourself, but decided not to write it in detail. You may even have participated, willingly or unwillingly. All I know is that this is one very bad gig, and anyone involved in this sort of action should have his/her head examined. All you have to do is look at some of the press during the past 2 years to know that there are some very sick people in the US army.

It pains me to write some of their accounts because you are obviously a decent person. But there's something very wrong with people who start using words like "hero" and "proud" in their comments on your blog. I think wars, all wars, damage people in one way or another, and participants should not be thanked, praised, nor glorified as an example to make war more attractive to others.

Take care & be safe.

Anonymous said...

Italian TV has apparently just shown a film claiming US used chemical weapons - white phosphorus and variations of napalm - in last year's Fallujah campaign: see BBC report here.

History is changing before our eyes, as people are determined to create new truths from the lies that led us to war: Out of non-existent WMDs in Iraq and non-existent links between Iraq and terrorism, we now have US chemical weapons and the establishment of Al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Safe home and peace to all in Iraq

taff

Snag said...

The first casualty of war is the truth.
The fact is that in all wars there are acts committed that would be considered an atrocity on either side of the conflict.
It is also a fact depending on ones stance regarding a war, one will accept the "truth" of one set of atrocities more than the other.
I have no doubt we have used white phosphorous and possibly napalm. However, I wouldn't nescessarily classify them as chemical weapons. Horrible weapons, yes but I don't feel they rise to the level of phosegene, chlorine, and the like.
I'm not a supporter of our invasion of Iraq and generally don't support war. I've found that many of them are based on profiteering and simplistic politics. However, to be shocked that bad things happen in war I think is a bit naive at least, disingenuous at worst. I don't mean to excuse criminal behavior by some soldiers (or contractors or civilians for that matter), but the argument seems to imply that it doesn't happen in some "good" war by some "good" forces.
I guess the point I'm trying to make is that war is never good and only rarely necessary.
Now a bit cliche, but we need to "fight war, not wars." The mechanisms of war begin well before the first round is fired. What did we do before the invasion of Iraq; to prevent the implementation of bad foreign policy over the decades; that was justified by our dependence on oil; that lead to the resentment and backlash from some people in the middle east; that continued to the distortion of intelligence; to suit a hidden agenda; that profited a corporation; that justified an invasion of a country.
I personally feel I didn't do enough.
For my part, I ask myself: "Should I have been more green?" "Should I have driven less?" "Should I have been more vocal in my opposition to Bush?" "Should I have pointed out to more people around me that after the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan that we were no longer engaged there and allowed a power vacuum that was filled by CIA trained thugs and that led to the rise of poverty driven extremism?" and so on.
I'll even accept some personal responsibility for my initial belief that the intel regarding WMD's wasn't manipulated and that maybe we were going to invade with some justification (that lasted about 24 hours after our forces crossed the Kuwaiti/Iraqi border.
Rhetoric led us into this invasion and rhetoric threatens to lead us into more (Iran and Syria). Let's not participate in the game of rhetoric.

Zach, as always, I hope you are doing as well as can be expected. Try to stay safe friend. My brother, my gal, and my thoughts are with you.

Hurria said...

"would the people of Iraq be better off with Sadam back in power"

Come off it! This is a dishonest question. Saddam is history and everyone knows it. No one has suggested putting him back in power. The correct, and honest, question is would the people of Iraq be better off had the U.S. not come in with its shock and awe, bombs, bullets, napalm, cluster bombs, mines, tanks, bulldozers, attack helicopters, and torture techniques. To anyone who is at all aware of the horrific state to which the U.S. has reduced the country, the answer is yes, Iraqis WOULD be better off had the U.S. stayed the hell out.

"28 million people that are free from horrible tyranny of Sadam's regime."

yes indeed! 28 million people who are now living under the hell on earth of a brutal, deadly, oppressive and incompetent occupation that destroyes mahor cities using romantic sounding "operation" names - an occupation that has resulted in more death, destruction and misery in less than 3 years than Saddam Hussein accomplished in decades.

Is it any wonder that more and more Iraqis are looking back on the days of Saddam as "the good old days"?

"Remeber how he and his brothers could take whoever they wanted off the street and do whatever they wanted to them."

Yes, and now the Americans and their Iraqi proxies are doing it, and on a far larger scale. And so are the various militias, and the criminals who are making big money in the murder and kidnapping for hire business now rampant in the country thanks to our "liberators". Why, Saddam's prisons and torture chambers are proving insufficient to hold all the Iraqis our "liberators" are grabbing off the streets, and you are finding it necessary to take our money to build more prisons to hold all your prisoners. A yes - and all this in a country to which you claim to have returned "sovereignty"!

"We know an 18 year old girl from Iraq (she lives here in Phoenix now)whose father spent 5 years in prison there (and not a decent prison like we have in the US) for teaching soccer to the kids."

Nice story. And exactly what evidence do you have that this, and not some other reaon, is why the man was arrested?

And of course, you haven't mentioned the thousands upon thousands of Iraqis who have been picked up, detained, kept incommunicado, and abused or tortured by the U.S. - and not in a decent prison like you have in the U.S., but in worse conditions than they experienced during Saddam's time - for simply being asleep in their homes at 3 AM, or walking or driving down the street at the wrong time, or trying to run a small NGO to obtain medical equipment for hospitals and clinics, or being overheard criticizing the occupiers, or the so-called "government", or being the relative of a "suspected terrorist" who has eluded capture.

"We don't hear much about the horrors of their previous existence because it doesn't fit with the liberal media's bias."

You don't hear much about the horrors of their previous existence because 1) that is in the past and over with, 2) those horrors have been completely eclipsed by the far greater horrors of today's existence under the great white liberators.

Hurria said...

"I was over there the first go round and I think we should have finished what we started back then."

You DID finish what you started. The purpose of the first so-called "Gulf" war was to force Iraq out of Kuwait, and you did it.

Mel said...

Ok, I have to interject something here. All of the excuses for the war - WMD, oil, money - to great extent, are not necessarily the only issues. Hold on now - read a good, factual history book and not someone's interpretation of history. Go back to roughly the Middle Ages to the Crudades. I am not going to go into detail, just generalize, ok? There were Crusades between the Christians and Mohammedans. In short, the Mohammedans goal was to become a world power and create a universal religion. They were a fierce group. There were numerous Jihads. Jihad was a sacred duty whenever there was a chance to succeed against the infidels - anyone not a Mohammedan. No one was to oppose any Jihad, only suport it. Who are the Mohammedans? Islam. What do they call this war today? Jihad -a holy war. Who are we? Infadels. What does Islam promote today? All of these terrorist attacks etc. Read about the foiled attack in Austraila. Abu Bakar, who was charged with being a member of the terrorist group, said it would violate his faith if he warned his students not to join the jihad. He leads a fundamentalist Islamic group. (As a side note, I read that there was a Abu Bakar way back when. He was Mohammed's father in law!) So, as they say, history repeats itself. We are still trying to keep Islam at bay, what 1000 years later?. What ever the excuses for this war are, if a result is to keep Islam at bay and supress them, then kick some Haji ass Zach - for your children's sake, so that they don't have to fear an Islam dominated world. They are a violent group. It is either kill or be killed when it comes to their attacks and 'holy wars'. Crappy chioces. In their world, there is no room for Christianity etc. - only Islam. I suspect they will not stop trying to take control until they either succeed or are crushed. They have been working at it for nearly 1000 years. Which do you prefer?

Does that mean the end justifies the means? Not necessarily. My feelings on the war? I don't think the U.S. should be the enforcers of the world. But, here we are. What is done is done. Get radical Islam under control, free the people of dictatorship, set them on the path to govern themselves and get out. In Iraq, those who had it good under Saddam hate us, and those who were tortured by him want us, that according to soldiers who talk to them.

I am a staunch Republican - but I am NOT a "party man". I disagree with some of what the Republicans do - but that does not mean I will change my philosophy or become a Democrat or vote for one. There is so much grey matter in this world - it is difficult to be 100% on either side all of the time. Often there is 'on the other hand'

Once again, this is it IN A NUTSHELL. I am sure folks will pick this to pieces. This is my one and only post on the subject. I won't argue about this, not because of who is right or wrong, it just isn't something I feel like doing, especially on Zach's site. This is just food for thought.

Take care Zach - soon enough you will go home and start your transition from being a soldier to being Zach again. They are, in fact, two different people. When you take off your uniform for good, leave the soldier and all he did in it. Put it all in a box and leave it in the garage or where ever. Don't carry it around with you for the rest of your life. It is too heavy and unnecessary. It will break you if you try. You are a good man Zach. Best wishes, my friend.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mel,

Are you sure about this "clash of civilisations" approach to the Iraq war?

Yes, there are Islamic fundamentalists who claim they want to establish a new Caliphate, and some of them have succeeded in attacking Western civilians in New York, Madrid or London. But they are a tiny minority among Muslims globally, and most of the people they kill are fellow Muslims. Equally there are "Christians" who believe in converting by the sword or by starvation (ever read about the activities of "missionaries" in S. America or S.E. Asia?). There are also Jewish fundamentalists who bomb schools, attack children and innocent civilians, kill Israeli Prime Ministers and believe in endless race war because their God supposedly gave them vast tracts of land in the Bronze Age.

Then there are "Christian" fundamentalists who believe in ethnically cleansing Israel/Palestine to make way for the world's Jews, not because they care about Jews (who would generally be safer almost anywhere except Israel), but just so they can achieve their specifically Christian fundmentalist goal of kicking off the Book of Revelations. The same people seem to believe in Greed rather more fervently than in the Prince Of Peace - just look at how they operate in the USA. Then we have all the other great "Christians" of Western history whose understanding of the Christian message was exemplified by the racist doctrine of "Manifest Destiny" that produced genocide in the Americas, "justified" slavery and mutated into the racial supremacist ideology of the Nazis.

If you add up the corpses, my guess is that Christian fundamentalism has killed more people than any other religious ideology. My Muslim neighbours are certainly far less threatening to me right now than the "Christians" in the White House and Downing Street.

Anyway, you can put the blame on Islamic "jihadis", but do you really want to fight all the world's Muslims for the sake of a few crazies? Why not isolate the crazies and start treating the rest like human beings for a change? That's a "war" we might actually win, instead of re-launching the Crusades, which were all about land and loot in the first place.

The fact is that oil and US hegemony over the Middle East are far more plausible reasons for launching a hugely expensive and destructive war than the mutually incompatible ravings of various religious fundamentalists. After all, nobody's bombing Indonesia, home to plenty of Islamic fundamentalists and the world's most populous Muslim country. Muslim Pakistan is our "ally" in the Great War On Turr. And Muslim Saudi Arabia - home to most of the 9/11 terrorists - seems totally immune from our efforts to promote "democracy".

Maybe it's time to look a little harder at our own actions, as nations and individuals (e.g. supporting butchers like Saddam or Sharon or regimes like Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia) and stop creating terrorists in the first place, instead of putting all the blame on the Islamic Bogeyman?

Just a thought.

Peace and safe home-coming to all in Iraq, and thanks as ever to Zach for providing this forum.

Taff

yong said...

Mel,
I have worked, studied, and lived with moslems for many years. Some are vehemently anti-american, while many others couldn't care less. They do share two traits though, they are honest, and they are giving. Given a choice, I would rather do business with a moslem than with anyone else.

Your middle ages interpretation of what is happening in the world today, is quite frankly, rubbish. It is fantasy to propose that people and religions have stayed static for 1000 years. The modern believer of Islam bares no resemblance to the faithful 10 years ago, let alone 1000! But how about all those weirdos and their jihads? Now there's the rub. It all stems from one source: Israel.

There have been very grave injustices done to the Palestinians over the years, and the USA has been an active participant in many of them. Of course Israel has a right to its existence, and being the most powerful military force in the middle east, that is assured. But every act of murder, theft, and propaganda committed by Israel has been condoned by the USA, and any remedy to counteract them have been vetoed by the USA in the UN. - This is important. Not only have the US given Israel the means to commit barbarous acts, but several US administrations actively blocked any means to stop it.

You add this brewing resentment of injustices to this US invasion of the middle east and you get what we have today. A hell hole in Iraq and angry people wanting to take justice in their own hands.

Most of all, you are forgetting one very human reaction: revenge. Forget religion, forget indoctrination, forget politics. If somebody came to your house, told you to get out, and when resisting, arrested/shot/injured your family then bull-dozed your land to build a condo for a bunch of immigrants and claimed it has always been their land because it says so in the old testament. What would you do?

If you were bombed and had your daughter's limbs blown into pieces, your son run over by the invader's tanks, your mother assaulted by foreign troops, and were told they did it all for your freedom and that you should be grateful. What would you do?

There have always been and always will be religious nuts (of all kinds) encouraging people to hate and commit violence. Nobody listened to them before, but they are listening now. Can you now guess why? If there's a local mosque near you, go and meet some actual moslems, before you condemn all of them with your vague ideas on historical precendence.

mihael said...

Stop listening to priests and politicians and listen to your own head for a start. I was atheist before, but got an aversion to any kind of religious organisation or religious rhetorics since my last war. If you believe in god, he is almighty - doesn't need a medium in a form of priest to relay messages. He doesnt give a damn wether you cross yourself or bow before him.

Steered a bit off topic, but somehow its related to all this clash of civilisations talk.

Kristen said...

hurria said...
"And of course, you haven't mentioned the thousands upon thousands of Iraqis who have been picked up, detained, kept incommunicado, and abused or tortured by the U.S. - and not in a decent prison like you have in the U.S., but in worse conditions than they experienced during Saddam's time - for simply being asleep in their homes at 3 AM, or walking or driving down the street at the wrong time, or trying to run a small NGO to obtain medical equipment for hospitals and clinics, or being overheard criticizing the occupiers, or the so-called "government", or being the relative of a "suspected terrorist" who has eluded capture."

I couldn't agree with you more. I was told that not too long ago entire households were taken just to make sure the alleged troublemakers couldn't cause any problems during that time. When I questioned it, I was told they were "known bad guys". I asked how they were certain that every man in that household was a "bad guy" and I never got an answer. Excuse the vagueness. I'm not sure I can talk openly about it in detail. I feel so terrible for families whose lives are ripped apart for mistakes and for "safety's sake". Not to mention to houses that get bombed by mistake and are glanced over as nothing more than collateral damage. Houses that were suspected insurgent houses, but after the fact it is revealed that 70% of the people in the house were women and children and the "insurgent" house contained no such people. Fathers who come home to find their house is leveled and the bodies of their children litter the scene. It's heart wrenching. I can't wait for the day that all outside forces can leave.

Malu said...

Zack,

I am so sorry for you. You are fighting a stupid war against people that don't deserve what is happenning to them. Still you have to be there and follow your orders, even if you are no more the same boy that started in the US Army five years ago. I am sorry because you are a young man and a father and now you understand the war is unfair and is not saving Iraq and its people, but doing quite the opposite. You'd better be at home, playing with your kids and snuggling with your wife.
On the other hand this post of yours restores a lot of my faith in the human species and our capacity of learn and grow. I'll think of you and wish that you go home safely to tell your kids what you learned in this war, and this will be very important for you, for them and for the world. From now on you are not anymore a naive boy, but a man that has understood where his place is in the world and that can and will take his future on his own hands. People like you can help making the world better.
When you go home America will have a much better citizen than it sent to Iraq. Now you know that war hurts innocent people and is never a choice made by women, children, old people or common citizens. War is created for greedy men that don't hesitate to send people to kill and die, if it will give them more power. And war, no matter how "just" it allegedly is, always hurts women, children and the weakest.
Sorry about the rant. I just want to wish you the best, that you don't kill or hurt anybody and don't get hurt yourself.
Come to visit my blog sometime.

Anonymous said...

On religious fanaticism and rhetoric:

"The enemy has got a face. He's called Satan. He's in Falluja. And we're going to destroy him."

Who said that? Not some crazy Islamist raving about the "Great Satan" USA. That was Lt Col Gary Brandl just before the assault on Falluja last year.

"My God's bigger than your God" is not a great foundation for a foreign policy.

Peace and safe home-coming to all in Iraq.

taff

Snag said...

I want to correct a previous statement regaring white phosphorous. I questioned whether it could be considered a chemical weapon. It was made clear in training many years ago that it was to be used only against equipment, for clearing brush, or for signaling. If used as a weapon against people, it is definitely a chemical weapon.

Chris said...

Zach,

Hey, I just came across your blog as I was doing some work for my acting class. I am studying some of the biggest complaints that soldiers have while stationed overseas. I was in the Army for 6 years without every having to go OCONUS. In fact, I never did much...must have gotten lucky. Either way, I am in the midst of performing a poem from a collection of plays called Spoon River Anthology. Pick it up if you ever have the chance and read the poem from Harry Wilmans. It so beautifully represents you...of course, not the ending of it, but that's not the point. Drop me an email if you want to know more, otherwise, take care of yourself :)

chris

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