13 July 2007

The War Goes On and On…

Filed under: Culture — ktismatics @ 12:45 pm

Here’s an article from The Nation that summarizes interviews with fifty American veterans of the Iraq war describing their experiences in-country. It’s a very long piece, but you get the idea pretty quickly.

[Note: Link courtesy of Lenins Tomb, a Marxist blog from England. The link might look like an ad, but click the place where it says to go on to The Nation (I don’t remember the exact wording) and it’ll take you to the article.]



  1. “The man screamed this gut-wrenching, blood-curdling, just horrified scream,” Sergeant Westphal recalled. “I’ve never heard anything like that. I mean, the guy was absolutely terrified. I can imagine what he was thinking, having lived under Saddam.”


    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 13 July 2007 @ 1:38 pm

  2. The farm’s inhabitants were not insurgents but a family sleeping outside for relief from the stifling heat, and the man Sergeant Westphal had frightened awake was the patriarch.

    “Sure enough, as we started to peel back the layers of all these people sleeping, I mean, it was him, maybe two guys…either his sons or nephews or whatever, and the rest were all women and children,” Sergeant Westphal said. “We didn’t find anything.

    “I can tell you hundreds of stories about things like that and they would all pretty much be like the one I just told you. Just a different family, a different time, a different circumstance.”

    For Sergeant Westphal, that night was a turning point. “I just remember thinking to myself, I just brought terror to someone else under the American flag, and that’s just not what I joined the Army to do,” he said.


    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 13 July 2007 @ 1:39 pm

  3. After persistently acting on such false leads, Sergeant Bocanegra, who raided Iraqi homes in more than fifty operations, said soldiers began to anticipate the innocence of those they raided. “People would make jokes about it, even before we’d go into a raid, like, Oh fucking we’re gonna get the wrong house,” he said. “‘Cause it would always happen. We always got the wrong house.” Specialist Chrystal said that he and his platoon leader shared a joke of their own: Every time he raided a house, he would radio in and say, “This is, you know, Thirty-One Lima. Yeah, I found the weapons of mass destruction in here.”


    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 13 July 2007 @ 1:41 pm

  4. Thanks for the link. Took a while to get through the article but it’s worth the read and I just put it up on Challenge.


    Comment by samlcarr — 13 July 2007 @ 1:53 pm

  5. quite PoMo:

    A few veterans said checkpoint shootings resulted from basic miscommunication, incorrectly interpreted signals or cultural ignorance.

    “As an American, you just put your hand up with your palm towards somebody and your fingers pointing to the sky,” said Sergeant Jefferies, who was responsible for supplying fixed checkpoints in Diyala twice a day. “That means stop to most Americans, and that’s a military hand signal that soldiers are taught that means stop. Closed fist, please freeze, but an open hand means stop. That’s a sign you make at a checkpoint. To an Iraqi person, that means, Hello, come here. So you can see the problem that develops real quick. So you get on a checkpoint, and the soldiers think they’re saying stop, stop, and the Iraqis think they’re saying come here, come here. And the soldiers start hollering, so they try to come there faster. So soldiers holler more, and pretty soon you’re shooting pregnant women.”


    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 13 July 2007 @ 2:36 pm

  6. proud to be an american, ‘case “everybody else be dammed.”

    what to say, shit?


    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 13 July 2007 @ 2:58 pm

  7. ‘cAuse “everybody else be dammed”…oops


    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 13 July 2007 @ 2:58 pm

  8. Everyone is capable of perpetrating such outrages on other people. For the US to put its own people in this position you’d expect the cause to justify the dehumanization. That Congress, with the power of the budget and a Democratic majority, still won’t cut off the money, insisting instead that Bush change his stripes, is unconscionable.


    Comment by ktismatics — 13 July 2007 @ 4:28 pm

  9. John,

    During this week, we had this American guy on our ABC radio for an extended interview. I didn’t catch his name and I only heard part of the interview but my golly gosh didn’t he speak some sense! He was involved in the CIA and I think may have been “let go” because of his rather outspoken views. He was saying how futile this has been from the beginning operationally, and the difficulty faced now with extricating ourselves. I see we Kemosabi, because we are in it also up to our necks. I suspect our current PM is on a slippery slide out and knows it. Its alarming and at the same time depressing listening to the tough talk of cut and run/stay the course politics. The chap on the interview felt that this mess will follow through at least 3 administrations into the future.
    it was very interesting.


    Comment by Ivan — 14 July 2007 @ 12:07 am

  10. John,

    Its the language that also amazes me. In the media down here in Oz, they still refer to these people as “terrorists” Its interesting, because in any other war they may be freedom fighters or even the resistance. I am someone who tends to see the detail when confronted with images from the media, it bothered me a very great deal at how much shooting appeared to be indiscriminate at the time by US soldiers basically a little frightened at the time. It worried me who they were shooting and if these people were indeed the enemy.
    It bothered me also, right from the start with the “shock and awe” campaign. I had some difficulty, understanding how we could disconnect the word “terrorism” from the campaign when this was openly what we were trying to achieve.
    I know I am a very simple man, But when this kind of reaction is the best thing we can come up with after 9/11 we really do need to get better people. I remain sickened by this.


    Comment by Ivan — 14 July 2007 @ 1:05 am

  11. For the American and allied troops everyone is the enemy because anyone could be the enemy. I don’t believe for a minute that our presence there keeps hell from breaking loose, that we remain the only source of order in chaos. If we represent the sort of order described in the Nation article, then if I was an Iraqi I think I might want to give chaos a chance.

    In my view the Democrats don’t want to pull the funding for the war because they don’t want to take the blame for losing the war. Bush and company will say that victory was right around the corner, but then those damn Dems cut and ran. So the Democrats want the Republicans to sink their own ship, leaving the path clear for a Democratic president. But that’s still a year and a half away, which means how many more thousands of Iraqis will have to die at our hands in the name of partisan politics.


    Comment by ktismatics — 14 July 2007 @ 4:31 am

  12. I do agree with you John.

    Its interesting to imagine it from the Iraqi’s perspective. Saddam maybe wasn’t all that bad.

    Have you read a book titled Blood for oil by Micheal Klare ? Tends to offer some historical perspective. Worth reading


    Comment by Ivan — 14 July 2007 @ 5:23 am

  13. Also worth aread is Will Huttons book on China. Nothing to do with Terrorism as such, but a nice insight to the unfolding new world order.



    Comment by Ivan — 14 July 2007 @ 5:25 am

  14. Haven’t read these, but thanks for the recommendations.


    Comment by ktismatics — 14 July 2007 @ 5:36 pm

  15. A couple of other good titles also were:

    Robert Pennocks Tower of Babel
    Bart Ehrmans Misquoting Jesus
    Richard Dawkins A Devils Chaplain (I am still reading this but gosh its good so far)
    also recommend Alex Vilenkins Many worlds in one.
    (If you want a good science read.)

    I think you would like the Dawkins book John. Its a collection of essays and very thought provoking.


    Comment by Ivan — 14 July 2007 @ 9:54 pm

  16. I finally got the Paul Davies book — it’s called Cosmic Jackpot here in the States. Haven’t gotten to it yet, but I’m looking forward to it.


    Comment by ktismatics — 14 July 2007 @ 10:23 pm

  17. “But that’s still a year and a half away, which means how many more thousands of Iraqis will have to die at our hands in the name of partisan politics.”


    BTW…John…way back I never responded to your response to my question about the Iraq war, simply because…I dunno…like, you understand politics better than I. I think you have to be older than me to understand politics. It takes lots of synthesis of lots of various theoretical and practical things all in one. But…thanks for answering my question. It was very helpful and insightful, I thought.


    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 14 July 2007 @ 11:35 pm

  18. Hey Thanks John! I did notice that and thought for a moment it was another book of his. I do hope you enjoy it.



    Comment by Ivan — 15 July 2007 @ 10:14 pm

  19. I submitted an extended letter to our Sydney Morning Herald on an Iraqi Exit. Its for a peice titled “first word” I’ll let you know if they print it. Wife thought it sounded good.



    Comment by Ivan — 16 July 2007 @ 3:41 am

  20. Were you supporting an immediate exit?


    Comment by ktismatics — 16 July 2007 @ 7:14 am

  21. For our people, yes.


    Comment by Ivan — 16 July 2007 @ 4:04 pm

  22. Me too — everybody out.


    Comment by ktismatics — 16 July 2007 @ 4:23 pm

  23. I am a bit of a letter writer about these things. Wrote to my local memeber of Parliment and also the PM and generaly to the Liberal party. You never know if it helps but I tend to think you have got to do what you can. I do that.



    Comment by Ivan — 16 July 2007 @ 4:38 pm

  24. It can’t hurt, that’s for sure. When the US was ramping up and other countries around the world were staging mass demonstrations, it served to demonstrate to US war supporters that the UN would be useless, that we’d have to act unilaterally because only America was prepared to stand up for what’s right.


    Comment by ktismatics — 16 July 2007 @ 5:22 pm

  25. Actually I doubt if its going to make it into print. I do like at least trying to offer some opinion.

    Some time ago, I did just that on a newspaper peice that managed to get noticed by Radio commentators. It developed a bit of a life and I saw the matter discussed more than it usually would. You do what you can.



    Comment by Ivan — 17 July 2007 @ 2:51 am

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