Monday, May 28, 2007

As Allies Turn Foe, Disillusion Rises in Some G.I.’s

I attended a Memorial Day service this afternoon that was very well done. A sobering reminder of how many people have paid the ultimate price for this country and the many people left behind who love and cherish their memories.

Last night I watched a '60 Minutes' special report called 'Fathers, Sons, and Brothers' which followed an Iowa National Guard unit through their entire Iraq experience, including extended deployment and the death of several members who served.

Today I read this story (excerpted below) from the New York Times.

I keep trying to understand and rationalize the reasons for staying in Iraq, and wanting to listen to the arguments objectively. But since the credibility of our national leaders is so shot for me on this topic I can't see my way clear to trusting them. And it's getting harder every day to discern any effective path out except complete disengagement.

Pray that we elect an effective 44th US President in 18 months. That person is going to have one hell of a mess to clean up.

from Michael Kamber, New York Times 5/28/07

BAGHDAD — Staff Sgt. David Safstrom does not regret his previous tours in Iraq, not even a difficult second stint when two comrades were killed while trying to capture insurgents.

“In Mosul, in 2003, it felt like we were making the city a better place,” he said. “There was no sectarian violence, Saddam was gone, we were tracking down the bad guys. It felt awesome.”

But now on his third deployment in Iraq, he is no longer a believer in the mission. The pivotal moment came, he says, this February when soldiers killed a man setting a roadside bomb. When they searched the bomber’s body, they found identification showing him to be a sergeant in the Iraqi Army.

“I thought: ‘What are we doing here? Why are we still here?’ ” said Sergeant Safstrom, a member of Delta Company of the First Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry, 82nd Airborne Division. “We’re helping guys that are trying to kill us. We help them in the day. They turn around at night and try to kill us.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I wasn't okay with the way (or the why) we entered Iraq: poorly planned and too small a commitment across the board: no end state, no exit strategy; no political, economic, social, rule-of-law strategy and a singularly weak reliance on military might. With time, it didn't get better. In my experience, military members are truly selfless patriots who remain for their subordinates and peers; but there comes a time when the personal integrity table tilts.
And I voted with my feet - I retired because I couldn't continue to support the SECDEF and Commander-in-Chief.
Far more informed and able individuals than I can formulate strategy and execute the operations … and I have confidence in Gen. David Petraeus - don't know him personally but have talked to some who do, read up on him; reviewed some of plans he approved. I was in Baghdad when initial phase of his strategy kicked off - that’s just a month now. Iraq deserves the chance promised by Petraeus’ boots-on-the-ground.
Our world deserves the chance … the alternative is just not acceptable. While traveling I read Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (who also wrote Kite Runner) and Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi. This week in the news there was an item about increased rates of mutilation of young girls – in London. The beliefs expressed in daily life in the Mid-East, in those books, in London … these are not beliefs I want my children and grandchildren to face head-on.
I’ve come to believe that having done what we have done, instead of turning away from what we’ve done, as the great nation we are, we need to demand that the entire nation get behind making this right. All the elements of our great nation need to pressed – equally into the solution – from State to Agriculture; we need to reach out and repair the great damage done internationally. We must find a way to build a true coalition of nations able to recognize, face, and stave off the serious threat posed by those who hide behind and use radical islam to foment this madness.
So, I didn't agree with getting into this - but I certainly don't agree with backing away now that we're there. In for a penny, in for a pound - we need to see this through. Connie - retired GI