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Between the Lines

June 29, 2004

What it's like on the ground

Veteran war correspondent Joe Galloway ran across a terrific letter home from an Army lieutenant in Iraq.

"Well, I'm here in Iraq, and I've seen it, and done it," the lieutenant begins. "I've seen everything you've ever seen in a war movie. I've seen cowardice; I've seen heroism; I've seen fear; and I've seen relief. I've seen blood and brains all over the back of a vehicle, and I've seen men bleed to death surrounded by their comrades. I've seen people throw up when it's all over, and I've seen the same shell-shocked look in 35-year-old experienced sergeants as in 19-year-old privates."

Read it all. It spells out in gritty detail what we're asking of our troops – and why we owe them either the reinforcements they need or the quickest way out of this mess that we can responsibly manage.

Posted by tbrown at 12:14 PM


What's next in Iraq?

George Packer of The New Yorker sums it up:

"Perhaps the end of the occupation will liberate Americans from their thwarted wish to be appreciated and loved by Iraqis; perhaps it will also force Iraqis to stop blaming the occupying power for every car bomb. Then the other war, the one that really matters, will come back into view—the increasingly desperate fight between those Iraqis who want a decent future under representative government and those who want to destroy it. For better or for worse, it’s a fight in which America continues to have an obligation as well as an interest. In Baghdad the other day, an Iraqi judge who has survived three attempts on his life as he tries to do his job said, “This is a battle, Mister. And we’re all soldiers in this battle. So there are only two choices—either to win the battle or to die. There’s no third choice.”

Many Iraqis seem to be thinking along similar lines. Winds of Change rounds up what Iraqi bloggers are saying here. A sample:

-- Omar at Iraq the Model, the joint blog of three brothers:

"Some of us were celebrating regaining sovereignty, some were celebrating the end of occupation, others were happy because they think the new government will bring safety and order. I was celebrating a new and a great step towards democracy, but we were all joined by true hope for a better future and by the love we have for Iraq."

-- O at Iraqi Spirit:

"What I would like to say is that in the Arab world, I have noticed 2 vociferous camps. The first we can term as the pro-America and the other as the anti-America.

"I'm a bit weary of both camps to be quite honest with you.

"The pro camp for instance is willing to whitewash everything bad the US is doing in Iraq. Something like the end justifies the means, and as long as the end will be 'democracy' then whatever crap is dished out to Iraqis should be palatable. Iraq for them is like a testing lab for US policies, if it works, then hey its a success, if it does not, then what the hell, it is only Iraqi resources that are being wasted, whether in life or assets. …

"On the other hand we have the anti camp, most of them are armchair analysts, whom are willing to sacrifice every single Iraqi in their war against anything to do with the US. They don't get off their butt and do anything apart from talk, even simple things like boycotting American goods, which is a kind of simple gesture...If you open their wardrobes you will probably find Nike trainers, Gap jeans, and Abercrombie t-shirts... Their favourite drinks are either coca-cola or Starbuck's coffee while performing their daily ritual of discussing how bad the US is. Funny that those people forget that their countries are controlled by the US and can't do anything with out the consent of the white house. How about you work on your countries, surely they are more deserving and more of a priority than Iraq for the future of your sons and daughters, if you really believe that US influence is bad.

"To both camps.... Leave us alone...you never helped Iraq, you just sat there and watched while Iraqis were being abused/killed and stripped of their humanity whether under Saddam or the present regime.

"It is our problem and we will sort it out.

"LONG LIVE IRAQ"

Now there's some Iraqi spirit. Let's wish them well. They're going to need courage and perseverance in the months and years ahead. As are we.

Posted by tbrown at 11:55 AM


&^#@ yourself watch

Josh Marshall attributes Dick Cheney's little meltdown to what lies ahead:
"Cheney et al. can see all sorts of bad business coming down the pike in the next few months -- much of it already on the public radar screen, some of it still clogged up no doubt in back channels, newsrooms and new rounds of dirty-tricksterism. It seems clearly to be getting to them."

Posted by tbrown at 11:52 AM




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