I don’t have much time for commentary, but this article speaks for itself. It’s a great one. Here are some excerpts:
Anderson says that even the small talk was difficult to tolerate. “I hate Iraqis,” he quotes his peers as saying. “I hate these damn Muslims.” At first he was puzzled by such talk. “After a while I started to understand. I started to feel the hatred myself. My friends were dying. What am I here for? We went to fight for our country; now we’re just fighting to stay alive.” In addition to taking shrapnel from a roadside bomb – the injury that earned him the Purple Heart – Anderson says he often found himself in firefights. But it was work at a checkpoint that made him seriously question his role. He was guarding the “backside” of a street checkpoint in Baghdad, he says. If a car passed a certain point without stopping, the guards were supposed to open fire.
“A car comes through and it stops in front of my position. Sparks are coming from the car from bad brakes. All the soldiers are yelling. It’s in my vicinity, so it’s my responsibility. I didn’t fire. A superior goes, ‘Why didn’t you fire? You were supposed to fire.’ I said, ‘It was a family!’ At this time it had stopped. You could see the children in the back seat. I said, ‘I did the right thing.’ He’s like, ‘No, you didn’t. It’s procedure to fire. If you don’t do it next time, you’re punished.’”
Wow, thanks, Commander Psychopath. A soldier’s gotta follow orders, but there comes a time when he needs to refuse to take an unjust order. Every soldier is supposed to have a moral compass to guide him, whatever his CO might say. It’s a last line of defense against tyranny, something Germany didn’t have in Hitler’s time. The right to refuse to take an illegal order is a fundamental human right.
We was going along the Euphrates river,” says Joshua Key, detailing a recurring nightmare that features a scene he stumbled into shortly after the US invasion of Iraq in March 2003. “It’s a road right in the city of Ramadi. We turned a sharp right and all I seen was decapitated bodies. The heads laying over here and the bodies over there and US troops in between them. I’m thinking, ‘Oh my God, what in the hell happened here? What’s caused this? Why in the hell did this happen?’ We get out and somebody was screaming, ‘We f***ing lost it here!’ I’m thinking, ‘Oh yes, somebody definitely lost it here.’” Key says he was ordered to look for evidence of a firefight, for something to explain what had happened to the beheaded Iraqis. “I look around just for a few seconds and I don’t see anything.”
Then he witnessed the sight that still triggers the nightmares. “I see two soldiers kicking the heads around like soccer balls. I just shut my mouth, walked back, got inside the tank, shut the door, and thought, ‘I can’t be no part of this. This is crazy. I came here to fight and be prepared for war, but this is outrageous.’”
He’s convinced that there was no firefight.
Uh…. I don’t know what to say about this. Is this winning hearts and minds?
There are psychopaths in every army. The problem with war is that it allows them to do what they really want instead of pretending to be a normal human being instead of a monster. War hurts everyone, but I think it hurts good men more. A psychopath is more likely to enjoy war. Clearly the guys playing soccer with severed heads are having a good time…. which makes me wonder what the fuck is wrong with their souls.
Key seems still in shock at the utter senselessness of it all. “Why did it happen and what was the cause for it? When I asked that question, I was told, basically, ‘You didn’t see anything, you know?’ Nobody asked no questions.” Assigned to raid houses, Key was soon appalled by the job. “I mean, yeah, they’re screaming and hollering out their lungs. It’s traumatic on both parts because you’ve got somebody yelling at you, which might be a woman. You’re yelling back at her, telling her to get on the ground or get out of the house. She don’t know what you’re saying and vice versa. It got to me. We’re the ones sending their husbands or their children off, and when you do that, it gets even more traumatic because then they’re distraught. Of course, you can’t comfort them because you don’t know what to say.”
While the residents are restrained, the search progresses. “Oh, you completely destroy the home – completely destroy it,” he says. “If there’s like cabinets or something that’s locked, you kick them in. The soldiers take what they want. Completely ransack it.” He estimates that he participated in about 100 raids. “I never found anything in a home. You might find one AK-47, but that’s for personal use. But I never once found the big caches of weapons they supposed were there. I never once found members of the Ba’ath party, terrorists, insurgents. We never found any of that.”
It goes on like this.
What the hell are we doing over there?
I think the people who support this war need to remember what war does to the souls, minds and bodies of the soldiers who have to fight it. When you send a soldier to fight and die in combat, you’d better have a damn good reason to do so. That’s the deal — they defend our country with everything they’ve got and we don’t send them into harm’s way unless we’re positive it needs to be done.
I get the feeling that we’re in Iraq because somehow their country ended up ontop of our oil. Maybe we should be up-front with the troops and tell them why they’re really there, instead of feeding them all this “spreading democracy” bullshit. There’s lots of places that don’t have democracy. We just happened to invade one that has a shitload of oil. Go figure.
I don’t blame the soldiers for wanting to believe the democracy lie while they’re over there — whatever gets you through. But when they come back home and start to count the cost, they soon discover that there’s a lot that doesn’t add up.