Sunday, August 19, 2007

Brilliance From Boots On The Ground

I love our GIs. These guys and gals really lay it out on the line. Often, I've said, I'm glad they are on our side, and I would not want to be on the receiving end of their lethal trade. Many should head the Marine slogan: Your best friend, and your worst enemy.

They go unquestioningly, but this doesn't mean they sacrifice their rights for it.
The NYTimes published a letter by several GIs currently coming to the close of their tour in Iraq. These guys know from what they speak, and they are brilliant.

Here's a slice, but I highly recommend you read the whole thing.
...In short, we operate in a bewildering context of determined enemies and questionable allies, one where the balance of forces on the ground remains entirely unclear. (In the course of writing this article, this fact became all too clear: one of us, Staff Sergeant Murphy, an Army Ranger and reconnaissance team leader, was shot in the head during a “time-sensitive target acquisition mission” on Aug. 12; he is expected to survive and is being flown to a military hospital in the United States.) While we have the will and the resources to fight in this context, we are effectively hamstrung because realities on the ground require measures we will always refuse — namely, the widespread use of lethal and brutal force...

... In a lawless environment where men with guns rule the streets, engaging in the banalities of life has become a death-defying act. 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. When the primary preoccupation of average Iraqis is when and how they are likely to be killed, we can hardly feel smug as we hand out care packages. As an Iraqi man told us a few days ago with deep resignation, “We need security, not free food.”

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.

Until that happens, it would be prudent for us to increasingly let Iraqis take center stage in all matters, to come up with a nuanced policy in which we assist them from the margins but let them resolve their differences as they see fit. This suggestion is not meant to be defeatist, but rather to highlight our pursuit of incompatible policies to absurd ends without recognizing the incongruities.
And so, as we rapidly approach the artificial deadline of 15 September, we ask the following mundane question: Will George Bush listen to all boots on the ground or just those who tell him what he wants to hear?

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