March 28, 2007

"Every day is worse than the previous day.

Ampersand with an incredible round up of horror stories from Iraq, including the story that brought you the title quote for this post, which is from an interview with the Iraqi who lead the smashing of Saddam Hussein's iconic bronze statue. A majority of Iraqis are constantly worried and limit their activities, far too many of them personally know someone killed or injured in the fighting, and a majority of them now believe that it's justified to attack U.S. soldiers.

Following a chlorine gas attack a grisly insurgent bombing campaign, off-duty Shiite police officers massacre around 50 Sunni civilians in Tal Afar, primary testing bed for the Clear, Hold and Build strategy.

Troop morale is in the sub-basement, with 3,301 of them deserting the Army in 2006:

NEWSWEEK: Why are so many soldiers deserting?
Jeffry House: The common idea is that the war in Iraq is going nowhere, and it's bogus, as I've been told [by soldiers] many times. In other words, there was no justifiable reason to attack Iraq in the first place. People are now telling me stuff like, "We clear out a section of Baghdad, hand it over to the government, and the next day 70 bodies would appear." They feel like they're helping the Iraqi government, which [they feel] actually is a bunch of death squads in disguise. So they begin to feel responsible. People can't justify to their own selves what they're doing there, it just seems wrong, wrong, wrong to them. I have a couple of guys who actually finished a six-year commitment. They were given an honorable discharge. They got nice medals and a nice party, and when they drive up in their driveway at home there's somebody giving them a stop-loss document, which means you're back in [the service] at the [military's] pleasure. People are very disheartened. ...

What's your sense of what these soldiers are going through mentally?
It's very wrenching for them. A lot of them had a certain concept of what a soldier is, and that concept has been blown sky high. I have one fellow here who was educated at the Citadel [military school.] He says when he went overseas to Afghanistan, he was given an axe handle and told to beat prisoners. [His commanders told him,] 'These guys caused 9/11, so don't hit them in the back of the head 'cause you'll kill them, but give 'em a good beating.' It's contrary to any traditional understanding of what a soldier is supposed to do. It ruins their mental image of themselves. They no longer know who they are because they had some idea that they were going to fight for truth, justice and the American way. ...

The Bush administration's response? To threaten a veto of any mandated end date, in deep denial of the current political realities in the U.S. and even the Saudi condemnation of the Iraq occupation, and send two reliable, Republican partisans to liveblog from Iraq, when they won't spring for three congressional auditors to go.

Update: Cskendrick, responding to the comments by the Saudi King, notes that Egypt and the UAE have added their opposition to U.S. policies in the region, with the UAE flatly declaring that they won't be a base of operation for any action against Iran.

Posted by natasha at March 28, 2007 01:34 PM | Iraq | Technorati links |