[Marxism] A View Of Iraq From A Soldier
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
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
Click link below to watch Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, read this letter into
the congressional record
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