[Marxism] What's left?

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Aug 12 08:12:55 MDT 2004

Young Marines frustrated by lack of progress
By Anne Barnard, Boston Globe Staff  |  August 12, 2004

RAMADI, Iraq -- Four months into their tour of duty at one of the most 
dangerous American bases in Iraq, young Marines say the slow pace of 
progress is shaking their faith in their mission.

Playing cards one recent evening while on call to respond to any 
outburst of violence, Lance Corporal David Goward and the rest of his 
squad expressed two growing concerns: that the US military will linger 
here indefinitely and that the troops' very presence is provoking the 
fighting it is meant to stop. They are ready for any battle, they said, 
but a pervasive sense that Iraqis do not want their help has destroyed 
their enthusiasm for the larger goals of launching democracy and 
rebuilding the country.

"I don't think any of us even care what happens to this country," Goward 
said, as half a dozen Marines, all stationed in Ramadi, the capital of 
restive Anbar Province, nodded in agreement. "I'm here to make sure 
these guys get home safely. And they're here to make sure I do."

Senior Marine and Army commanders in this Sunni Muslim region west of 
Baghdad, an area they say must be tamed for the new US-backed Iraqi 
government to succeed, repeatedly cautioned a reporter that junior-level 
troops don't see the big picture. Grunts don't hear Anbar's governor 
asking the United States not to leave, the senior officers said. They 
don't see Iraqi officials shouldering new responsibilities; they don't 
see Iraqi police doing a better job on the outskirts of Ramadi than they 
do in the more anti-American downtown.

But Goward and his squad -- and others who echoed them from Ramadi to 
Fallujah -- are sending a signal from the enlisted men who bear the 
brunt of the military's burden. Many are on their second tour of duty in 
Iraq and may face a third if US forces are needed, as expected, to 
guarantee security through the election of a permanent Iraqi government 
late next year.

They can recite by heart their stated mission, to protect the fledgling 
local government until Iraqi security forces are strong enough to take 
over. But as continued attacks and new US tactics have cut down on their 
interactions with Iraqis -- other than in combat -- many say they 
witness little gratitude and little progress.

 From Goward's point of view, the United States has fulfilled its goals 
in Iraq: toppling Saddam Hussein, capturing him, and handing off formal 
sovereignty to Iraqis. "What's left?" he said.


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