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“The War as We Saw It”

August 2007

“The War as We Saw It”. An op-ed from U.S. soldiers currently serving in Iraq.

On the loyalty (or not) of the state army and police:

Local Iraqis readily testified to American investigators that Iraqi police and Army officers escorted the triggermen and helped plant the bomb [that killed and injured U.S. soldiers at a checkpoint].

On the U.S.-centric view of things:

Given the situation, it is important not to assess security from an American-centered perspective. The ability of, say, American observers to safely walk down the streets of formerly violent towns is not a resounding indicator of security. What matters is the experience of the local citizenry and the future of our counterinsurgency. When we take this view, we see that a vast majority of Iraqis feel increasingly insecure and view us as an occupation force that has failed to produce normalcy after four years and is increasingly unlikely to do so as we continue to arm each warring side.

Current conditions:

At the same time, the most important front in the counterinsurgency, improving basic social and economic conditions, is the one on which we have failed most miserably. Two million Iraqis are in refugee camps in bordering countries. Close to two million more are internally displaced and now fill many urban slums. Cities lack regular electricity, telephone services and sanitation.

And this pretty damn condemning summary:

Four years into our occupation, we have failed on every promise, while we have substituted Baath Party tyranny with a tyranny of Islamist, militia and criminal violence.

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

Christina commented:

Having said that, it is an op-ed. Which means it's a highly opinionated piece that may not be substantiated in any way. Often they can be hugely biased and emotive. Just to kick in a bit of opposition for the sake of it :D

(I'm sorry, I know you take these things as gospel :P)

Having said that, yeah, the US need to get the hell out of Iraq and have needed to for quite some time. They can't justify their presence and it was mighty rude of them to turn up there in the first place. If they're not improving things, I really wonder why it is they stay at all.

Right, now that I've procrastinated sufficiently, back to the essay sigh

Matt commented:

Yeah, it is an op-ed, but you know what? I'm inclined to trust people currently in Iraq. I mean, if a soldier is self-deluded they get killed… it pays to be pretty closely in touch with reality.

Nato commented:

I'm pretty sure you could get a couple of soldiers in Iraq who would be a bit more positive than that...

At the same time, soldiers are under a lot of stress, and I can imagine there is a lot of potential for them to become overly critical of the situation.

I would agree it's a bad situation though.