Friday, February 24, 2006

The Sky is Falling!

Once again I am not the most qualified to answer questions on this topic but I would like to share my viewpoint on the unrest in Iraq right now that is playing all over the news. Civil war huh? Well I have not seen anything of the sort yet but what do I know, I didn't graduate from college with a degree in journalism (which becomes obviously clear when you consider my grammatical skills: ain't that the truth.)

So there is unrest in Iraq huh? Wow hard-hitting journalism at it’s best. Civil war? I don’t think so. In order to have a civil war a lot more would have to happen in Iraq. And my great service to my readers, thank you tfdad, is to point you towards an article that can tell you what those things are. Go to and find the blog entitled “Looking for Signs of Civil War in Iraq.” He explains it better then I could or will apparently cause I am not in an area of religious unrest right now. But then again who is? Is the unrest all over Iraq? Well in my experience it is not. So if there is the minute chance that other soldiers read my blog please speak up and let me know what you think about the topic.

In the background as I write this right now I hear a TV with the news on. The reporter is talking about the daytime curfew that is in effect in some cities today and is treating it like the world is coming to an end. (Newsperson) “And in Iraq today a daytime curfew has been put into effect to help quell the recent violence and mosque bombings. We all hope that such drastic measures will help calm the religious unrest enveloping Iraq right now.” I made that up but it sounds like most reports on the news right now. Daytime curfew-big freaking deal. Maybe the Iraqis can take the time inside to think about what is really going on in their country. Maybe they can realize how low they have sunk now that we had to put them in time-out so they will quit fighting and calling each other names. Maybe they should all count to 10 and take some deep breaths before they come out to play again.

I, like everyone else besides the terrorists, hope that Iraqis will come to some kind of terms with each other so that they can live together in peace. Maybe this “unrest” will help them realize what they need to do and how far they need to go in order to act like civilized adults.

I have been reading a book called “Stoic Warriors” (sorry I have not figured out how to underline or italicize titles yet so forgive me for my quotations) by Nancy Sherman about the role of Stoic philosophy in today’s military. The chapter I just finished is entitled “Manners and Morals” and was about the role citizens are supposed to play in their society (sort of). The Stoics believed it was our duty to bathe properly so as not to offend others, to behave in a non-offensive manner in public so as not to object others to our rude behavior, among a slew of other responsibilities. The Iraqis would do well to read the Stoics and learn to treat each other with the respect that a virtuous person is supposed to. Now I know Americans would do well to learn them too but at this juncture in history I would loan my copy of “Stoic Warriors” and the writings of Epictetus’ to the Iraqis first.

Concerning news reports I think I have discovered a way to gleam more truth out of them. I think it would be better if the news were delivered with no emotion. If we could somehow read just the transcripts of each show then we might not be swayed so much in our opinion of what is happening in the world.

(A blog about “Stoic Warriors” will follow as soon as I finish reading it.)

Saturday, February 18, 2006

"Combat Update"

Ok so I am not the most qualified to talk about this subject, and I welcome other soldiers to chime in here, but I thought it might be good if I wrote about what is really going on here as far as combat operations.

Concerning combat ops my experience is limited but one thing I do know is what I hear over the radio while I am driving and what I hear from other soldiers. I do not intend to divulge any important info but just generalities. Cut me some slack if I am too vague.

From what I pick up the Iraqi army and security forces are playing a much larger role in securing their own country. We (American Forces) are still helping out but the Iraqis are beginning to take the lead on a lot of missions. A lot of times I will hear that Iraqi and American military personnel are performing operations in a certain area that I am in. The general sense is not how we will fare, but rather, how quickly we will capture the terrorists. I kind of liken the operations here to operations in the CIA (another area that I am super qualified in ;). We do a lot of intelligence gathering and strike only when ready. When we do strike we get the job done while minimizing casualties and at the same time accomplishing our goal, or at the very least gaining some new intelligence. Terrorists are at times crafty and at their best good, but we are great at what we do. How I would loathe being a terrorist fighting against the U.S. military. It is only a matter of time until we catch and kill them.

I don’t really know what the media back home is showing about Iraq right now because I choose to ignore it and turn it off. I bet all of you guys would love to be able to do that and still get your news. I am sure you can do it to an extent but there is nothing like actually being here and then matching it up to what is shown on the news. Maybe I should start watching it just for that reason, at the very least I am sure it would give me more to write about.

If anyone has any questions let me know. I would be willing to look into any story and try to give everyone some more insight. Like I said my knowledge is limited but I do have a few resources. Nothing too confidential but just questions about things in general or things that have already happened.

Like I said before things are going well in Iraq, don’t let the media fool you. I feel a lot safer knowing the Iraqis are starting to take over a larger role in securing their own country. Under the tutelage of our military I am sure it is only a matter of time before they take over on their own and continue to kick some terrorist butt.

Here is some food for thought about the media. Remember during the Gulf War and news reports since about the “Elite Republican Guard” units in Iraq? Remember how they were going to give our military such a good fight and how they were trained so well? Well turns out, and I am not the first to report this by any means, that they were just better trained then they rest of the rag tag Iraqi army. I have heard from many guys that they still couldn’t shoot straight or fight well. The media gave them that name so that it would make their reports sound better. Don’t believe me? Check it out for yourself.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Read this letter

This is a great letter from the mayor in Tal Afar, Iraq about the soldiers in his city. This should definitly be on the front page of the papers and on the television but once again our media has utterly failed us by refusing to report on the good stories coming out of Iraq. If you have the time you should write to the major news corporations and ask them to take a look at this letter. You can find the letter at this link

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Who's Fighting For You: Introduction

I talked it over with myself and decided that it might be kind of cool to do a series of interviews with some soldiers in my unit and post them as blogs. There are a ton of characters in the army and my unit definitely has its share. I am not sure exactly when these interviews will start but by writing about it now it will bind me to do it sometime soon. I don't know how successful they will be but I guess we will all have to wait and see.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Bruce Springsteen at the Grammys

If you were unfortunate enough to watch Bruce Springsteen's performance at the Grammys then you will know what I am talking about in this blog. Springsteen played a song called Devils and Dust which was a pretty good song musically. However, Springsteen sang about (now forgive me if I get this wrong, I only heard it once) soldiers changing as a result of doing things in war that they normally wouldn't do i.e. killing and what not. At the end of the song he stood up and said "Bring em home" obviously in reference to Iraq. What Bruce doesn't understand, and never will, is what it takes to be a soldier deployed to a foreign country. He does not know what it takes to do the things we do everyday and he does not know how the war affects us. Bruce has no business writing about war and how it affects soldiers. He is a great musician but a lousy politician and even lousier statement maker. From an American soldier: "Screw you Bruce, you have no idea what it is like so keep your mouth shut and your pen silent."

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

A little coffee and pretending

Today I woke up a little earlier then usual and upon going outside realized that it was a beautiful day. The weather has been rainy and cold lately but I awoke to warmth and sunshine. I decided to take advantage of the nice day so I retreated to my room to make a pot of coffee and grab some breakfast. Once these items were in hand I headed back outside to eat and drink under the sun. As I sat there a friend came out and joined me. We sat in the front of our barracks which lies 20 feet behind 12 foot tall concrete barriers. The barrier we guess is to keep out bombs and what not, I guess we aren’t really sure. Any rate, the barrier allowed us to shut off the outside world and pretend for a while. I hiked up my shorts and felt like I was on the beach getting some sun. My friend was thinking about water-skiing on a lake. Personally it was the best morning so far for me on this deployment. I was able to spend an hour and a half outside just sitting talking. I remembered the vacation I took to California after my last deployment and the fun I had there with friends on and around the beach. This day felt the same to me and I was gladly enjoying the opportunity to pretend.

Now for the fundamental truth that lies behind my morning spent in denial.

No amount of pretending can change what lies behind the barrier around my barracks. Just twenty feet past where I was sitting this morning lies a seemingly endless view of an Iraqi landscape, ever boring that it is. There is still conflict, death, and evil out there try that we may to ignore it. Ignoring this truth for a morning is fine for soldiers but when people ignore it in general it is a bad thing.

People who choose to live in America and enjoy their freedom without recognizing what it takes to have freedom fail to realize the incredible price that has been paid for them to do so.

Norman Podhoretz wrote an article a year or so ago about what he feels is WW IV and what led up to it (WWIII being the Cold War). WW IV is the war on terrorism and is what he feels is going on in Iraq and Afghanistan among other places right now. What led up to WW IV was the oversight by many American leaders of terrorist acts in the past: the Beirut marine barracks bombings, kidnappings by terrorists during the Reagan administration, and the World Trade Centers bombing in 1993 just to name a few. Conservatives and liberal leaders alike overlooked terrorism in the past. What they chose to ignore stewed into the much larger problem that we are dealing with now on a massive scale. Their inability to see the real threat that terrorists posed to the world has led to deaths that might have been avoidable had some action been taken earlier.

We haven’t been able to in the past nor can we now pretend that terrorism will go away on it’s own. It is a massive problem that must be dealt with now and if not dealt with will inevitably endanger the very freedom that we enjoy as Americans and want others across the globe to enjoy. We must face terrorism as a nation and convince those who don’t see it for the real problem that it is to do the same. Pretending that things will work themselves out on their own will not work. Pretending that terrorism isn’t that big of a deal wont work. Pretending that if America just pulled out of Iraq then terrorist acts against America would cease wont work. We have a problem that must be taken care of. Just as we went to fight against Nazis 60 years ago to liberate nations from tyranny we must do the same now and stick with it until the job is finished. Despite what people like Arianna Huffington would have you believe, the parallels between WW IV and WW II are valid. We are at the same time trying to liberate a people from tyranny while at the same time ensuring the security of the freedom we enjoy in America. Terrorism has threatened our security from the Carter administration on and nothing has been done about it until now. We can no longer pretend we are at the beach while we are sitting in the middle of the desert.

I wish I was lounging on the beach with a hula dancer and a beer but I remember a saying that goes something like “Try wishing in one hand and doing something in the other ;) and see which one fills up first.” (My grandma reads this blog so I am trying to keep it clean.)

The pic is of my barracks and the barriers in front of it.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Who's intolerant now?

Newsflash: Muslims are an intolerant people. I am not saying that Islam is an intolerant religion, and I will not make a statement like that in this blog, I am just saying that mainstream Muslims are intolerant. Somehow the mainstream media has missed this fact completely. However, and I will probably only say this once in my life, I don’t exactly blame the media for not reporting it. With the current Danish cartoon scandal having already swept through the Muslim community other less then tolerant behavior springs to memory for me.

Take for example the Taliban checkpoints in Afghanistan where members of the Taliban search cars for music on cassette and then confiscate them when found. Or the complete body coverings that women must wear in many Islamic communities. Let us not forget Muslims do not tolerate gays at all (yet gays for some reason support them more then they do America). Perhaps my favorite is the uproar that was caused among Muslims after a soldier flushed a copy of the Quran down a toilet in Guantanamo (as if such a feat is even possible). What other culture moves to America and instead of assimilating to American culture, demands America to assimilate to its culture? Arabs throughout America demand that exceptions should be made for them because somehow they are different then regular Americans? If Americans moved to Arabic countries and tried to set up little American communities with all that goes along with being American i.e. free speech, equal rights, and bikinis, then Arabs would be up in arms (no pun intended). It would never happen. So why should everyone cater to Muslims?

Could this same argument be made against crazy Christian abortion clinic bombers, or Pat Robertson types? Sure. But it isn’t the same thing. When someone does something crazy in the name of Christianity other Christians are quick to speak out against them and explain why what they did was wrong. Of course there are Muslims against the extremists out there but so far it hasn’t been the majority of them. There is only a tiny voice expressing opposition to the crazy-non-free-speech-Muslims out there. Until an opposition of some magnitude arises out of the Islamic community I will continue to make the statement that Muslims are the most intolerant people out there right now.

On another point the American government has tucked tail and lost it’s balls concerning “offending” Muslims. Are we appeasing or are we employing some kind of homeland defense tactic? Muslim extremists already hate America and its way of life so why are we trying to not offend them? Why have we condemned Danish cartoonists right to freedom of speech when the cartoonists in our country have that very freedom and use it every day in every major newspaper across the country to poke fun at everything from politicians to religion. Where is the Danish ACLU on this one? Why aren’t they up in arms over this violation of the first amendment?

I am not one to back down when I think something is wrong and I cant believe our government has given into the pressure to do so. Of course they have larger things to consider then just angry comments on their blog page but what kind of message are they sending to the American people? Are they telling us that we should be a country of apology-letter-writing-non-line-stepping people? Come on government, strap on a pair and do the right thing. The right thing does not consist of appeasing religious extremists, simple as that.