[Marxism] A View Of Iraq From A Soldier

m. hasan mhasanmd at gmail.com
Fri Aug 5 00:54:18 MDT 2005

After reading the following statement , I got the chilling feeling that 
there is nothing worse for a soldier who is risking his life to protect his 
countrymen than to realize that his leaders have betrayed him .
    I am a concerned veteran of the Iraq War.

Speech to the "Out of Iraq" Congressional Caucus on July 19, 2005

By John Bruhns

I am a concerned veteran of the Iraq War. I am not an expert on the vast and 
wide range of issues throughout the political spectrum, but I can offer some 
first hand experience of the war in Iraq through the eyes of a soldier. My 
view of the situation in Iraq will differ from what the American People are 
being told by the Bush Administration. The purpose of this message is to 
voice my concern that we were misled into war and continue to be misled 
about the situation! in Iraq every day. My opinions on this matter come from 
what I witnessed in Iraq personally. 

George Bush and his political advisors have been successful in presenting a 
false image to the American people that Saddam Hussein was an "imminent" 
threat to the security of the United States. We were told that there was 
overwhelming evidence that Saddam Hussein possessed a massive WMD program, 
and some members of the Bush Administration even hinted that Saddam may have 
been involved in the 9/11 attacks. 

We now know most of the information given to us by the current 
Administration concerning Iraq, if not all the information, was false. This 
was information given to the American people to justify a war. The 
information about weapons of mass destruction and a link to Osama Bin Laden 
scared the American people into supporting the war in Iraq. They presented 
an atmosphere of intimidation that suggested if we did not act immediately 
there was the possibility of another ! attack. Bush said himself that we do 
not want the proof or the smoking gun to come in the form of a "mushroom 
cloud." Donald Rumsfeld said, "We know where the weapons are." 

After 9/11, comments like this proved to be a successful scare tactic to use 
on the American People to rally support for the invasion. Members of the 
Bush Administration created an image of "wine and roses" in terms of the 
aftermath of the war. Vice-President Dick Cheney said American troops would 
be greeted as "liberators." And there was a false perception created that we 
would go into Iraq and implement a democratic government and it would be 
over more sooner than later. The White House also expressed confidence that 
the alleged WMD program would be found once we invaded. 

I participated in the invasion, stayed in Iraq for a year afterward, and 
what I witnessed was the total opposite of what President Bush and his 
Administration stated to the American People. 

The invasion was very confusing, and so was the period of time I spent in 
Iraq afterward. At first it did seem as if some of the Iraqi people were 
happy to be rid of Saddam Hussein. But that was only for a short period of 
time. Shortly after Saddam's regime fell, the Shiite Muslims in Iraq 
conducted a pilgrimage to Karbala, a pilgrimage prohibited by Saddam while 
he was in power. As I witnessed the ! Shiite pilgrimage, which was a new 
freedom that we provided to them, they used the pilgrimage to protest our 
presence in their country. I watched as they beat themselves over the head 
with sticks until they bled, and screamed at us in anger to leave their 
country. Some even carried signs that stated, "No Saddam, No America." These 
were people that Saddam oppressed; they were his enemies. To me, it seemed 
they hated us more than him. 

At that moment I knew it was going to be a very long deployment. I realized 
that I was not being greeted as a liberator. I became overwhelmed with fear 
because I felt I never would be viewed that way by the Iraqi people. As a 
soldier this concerned me. Because if they did not view me as a liberator, 
then what did they view me as? I felt that they viewed me as foreign 
occupier of their land. That led me to believe very early on that I was 
going to have a fight on my hands. 

During my year in Iraq I had many altercations with the so-called 
"insurgency." I found the insurgency I saw to be quite different from the 
insurgency described to the American people by the Bush Administration, the 
media, and other supporters of the war. There is no doubt in my mind there 
are foreigners from other surrounding countries in Iraq. Anyone in the 
Middle East who hates America now has the opportunity to kill Americans 
because there are roughly 140,000 US troops in Iraq. But the bulk of the 
insurgency I faced was primarily the people of Iraq who were attacking us as 
a reaction to what they felt was an occupation of their country. 

I was engaged actively in urban combat in the Abu Ghraib area west of 
Baghdad. Many of the people who were attacking me were the poor people of 
Iraq. They were definitely not members of Al Qaeda, left over Baath Party 
members, and they were not former members of Saddam's regime. They were just 
your average Iraqi civilian who wanted us out of their country. 

On October 31st, 2003, the people of Abu Ghraib organized a large uprising 
against us. They launched a massive assault on our compound in the area. We 
were attacked with AK-47 machine guns, RPGs and mortars. Thousands of people 
took to the streets to attack us. As the riot unfolded before my eyes, I 
realized these were just the people who lived there. There were men, women, 
and children participating. Some of the Iraqi protesters were even carrying 
pictures of Saddam Hussein. My battalion fought back with everything we had 
and eventually shut down the uprising. 

So while President Bush speaks of freedom and liberation of the Iraqi 
people, I find his statements are not credible after witnessing events such 
as these. During the violence that day I felt so much fear throughout my 
entire body. I remember going home that night and praying to God, thanking 
him that I was still alive. A few months earlier President Bush made the 
statement, "Bring it on" when referring to the attacks on Americans by the 
insurgency. To me, that felt like a personal invitation to the insurgents to 
attack me and my friends who desperately wanted to make it home alive. 

I did my job well in Iraq. During the deployment, my superiors promoted me 
to the rank of sergeant. I was made a rifle team leader and was put in 
charge of other soldiers when we carried out missions. 

My time as a Team Leader in Iraq was temporarily interrupted when I was sent 
to the "Green Zone" in Baghdad to train the Iraqi army. I was more than 
happy to do it because we were being told that in order for us to get out of 
Iraq completely the Iraqi military would have to be able to take over all 
security operations. The training of the Iraqi Army became a huge concern of 
mine. During the time I trained! them, their basic training was only one 
week long. We showed them some basic drill and ceremony such as marching and 
saluting. When it came time for weapons training, we gave each Iraqi recruit 
an AK-47 and just let them shoot it. They did not even have to qualify by 
hitting a target. All they had to do was pull the trigger. I was instructed 
by my superiors to stand directly behind them with caution while they were 
shooting just in case they tried to turn the weapon on us so we could stop 

Once they graduated from basic training, the Iraqi soldiers in a way became 
part of our battalion and we would take them on missions with us. But we 
never let them know where we were going, because we were afraid some of them 
might tip off the insurgency that we were coming and we would walk directly 
into an ambush. When they would get into formation prior to the missions we 
made them a part of, they would cover their faces so the people of their 
communities did not identify them as being affiliated with the American 

Not that long ago President Bush made a statement at Fort Bragg when he 
addressed the nation about the war in Iraq. He said we would "stand down" 
when the Iraqi military is ready to "stand up." My experience with the new 
Iraqi military tells me we won't be coming home for a long time if that's 
the case. 

I left Iraq on February 27, 2004 and I acknowledge a lot may have changed 
since then, but I find it hard to believe the Iraqi people are any happier 
now than they were when was I was there. I remember the day I left there 
were hundreds of Iraqis in the streets outside the compound that I lived in. 
They watched as we moved out to the Baghdad Airport to finally go home. The 
Iraqis cheered, clapped, and shouted with joy as we were le! aving. As a 
soldier, that hurt me inside because I thought I was supposed to be fighting 
for their freedom. I saw many people die for that cause, but that is not how 
the Iraqi people looked at it. They viewed me as a foreign occupier and many 
of the people of Iraq may have even preferred Saddam to the American 
soldiers. I feel this way because of the consistent attacks on me and my 
fellow soldiers by the Iraqi people, who felt they were fighting for their 
homeland. To us the mission turned into a quest for survival. 

I wish I could provide an answer to this mess. I wish I knew of a realistic 
way to get our troops home. But we are very limited in our options in my 
opinion. If we pull out immediately, it's likely the Iraqi security forces 
will not be able to provide stability on their own. In that event, the new 
Iraqi government could possibly be overthrown. The other option would be to 
reduce our troop numbers and have a gradual pullout. That is very risky 
because it seems that even with the current number of troops the violence 
still continues. With a significant troop reduction, there is a strong 
possibility the violence and attacks on US and coalition forces could 
escalate and get even worse. In my opinion, that is more of a certainty. 

And then there is the option that President Bush brings to the table which 
is to "Stay the Course." That means more years of bloodshed and a lot more 
lives to be lost. Also, it will aggravate the growing opposition to the US 
presence in Iraq throughout the region and that could very well recruit more 
extremists to join terror organizations that will infiltrate into Iraq and 
kill more US troops. 

So it does not seem to me we have a realistic solution, and that frightens 
me. It has become very obvious that we have a serious dilemma that needs to 
be resolved as soon as possible to end the ongoing violence in Iraq. But how 
do we end it is the question? 

We must always support the troops. If there were a situation in which the 
United States is attacked again by a legitimate enemy, they are the people 
who are going to risk their lives to protect us and our freedom. In my 
opinion, the best way to support them now is to bring them home with the 
honor and respect they deserve. 

In closing, I ask that we never forget why this war started. The Bush 
Administration cried weapons of mass destruction and a link to Al Queda. We 
know that this is false and the Bush administration concedes it as well. As 
a soldier who fought in that war, I feel misled. I feel that I was sent off 
to fight for a cause that never existed. When I joined the military I did so 
to defend the United States of America, not to be sent off to a part of the 
world to fight people who never attacked me or my country. Many have died as 
a result of this. The people who started this war need to start being honest 
with t! he American people and take responsibility for their actions. More 
than anything, they need to stop saying everything is rosy and create a 
solution to this problem they created. 

Thank you for hearing me out. God Bless our great nation, the United States 
of America. 

John Bruhns

Click link below to watch Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, read this letter into 
the congressional record 

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