Posted by: Amie | October 2, 2008

“They Should be Grateful”

Being pregnant, I try to avoid the ‘local’ section of the newspaper as much as I can. Reading national news, with the possibility of another abomination of a presidency on its way, is hard enough, but the ‘local’ section is usually filled with obituaries and tragedy.

The other day was none too different.  I scanned over the lists of car accidents and deaths. A name I had heard and seen so many times around our high school, the name of my friend and graduating classmate’s brother, was printed under the title “Local soldier falls in Iraq.” He was 22. He joined to pay for medical school.

Being from a military family, I’ve been raised to believe that even if you don’t support the conflict, you should support the troops. However, now, I’ve come to be divided. My cousin is an officer and was immediately whisked away to Baghdad one week after his baby girl was born last year. When he comes home, God willing, this will be his fourth complete tour of duty, his first being the Persian Gulf. He took a deal to go one last time and be honorably discharged upon his return rather than spend four more years with still the possibility of being shipped out lingering over his head if we were to enter into another territory, or another “surge” was to come about.

He keeps writing home to say a vast majority of soldiers in Iraq do not want to be there. They took deals to get out of the military quickly, joined up for college, accepted duty instead of jail time, etc, and they begrudgingly go through the motions every day just to get home safely. However, he said, there are a very small percentage who really believe what they are doing is noble, right, and that the Iraqi people are, as our conservative media makes them out to be – a lesser, barbaric people in need of discipline.  He said he’s heard a few simply say, “I joined up to shoot at some ay-rabs.”  How delightful.

Thus, I am divided with my support. Call me biased, but I can’t help but believe that soldiers like my friends and my cousins are the ones in the right – the ones simply out to serve their country. With no ignorant grudges, no party loyalties, they’re just simple people like you and me who are doing their job. Others, well, I hope everyone comes home safe, but they lack my support.

In high schools, in churches, in homes nationwide and especially, especially in red states like Indiana, young people are being told to support the war, SUPPORT THE TROOPS – be patriotic, for God’s sake. We’re doing a good thing for these people. We’re helping them. Without us, without the U.S., those people would be lost.

(I’ll save ranting about the arrogance and elitism of these statements and simply say: if we’re so awesome at running countries that we go out and do it for others, then why is our country headed down the highway to hell and picking up speed?)

I am happy to report, that at least in some sector of Conservative Nation, there is hope.

Tonight for dinner, we were invited out by our friends N. and O. to celebrate Eid (the holiday celebrating the end of Ramadan). As our husbands bantered on in Arabic, N. and I discussed her current project. She is currently writing a petition against her high school-age sister’s social studies teacher who spouted racial slurs and stereotypical and blatantly incorrect information to his classes regarding Arabs, Muslims and Islam in general. She is also filming a short documentary for Al Jezeera exposing racism and anti-Islamic ideas taught in western classrooms.

Her eyes were as big as our dinner plates when she said, “OH! And you should have been in my ethics class yesterday. A girl used the word “grateful.”” She swallowed hard in disgust as she continued. “She raised her hand and said, “You know, why can’t these people just be grateful?! I mean, we took out Saddam!” The instructor, took a moment to digest her words, nonplussed. Acting repulsed, he then leaned over the podium with a loud BLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEGHHHHHHHH. Again, he made the retching sound BLEEEEEEEEEEEEGH.

“Go ahead,” he said. “Let’s just regurgitate all we hear in the media!!. “Fox News said BLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEGH.” We piss in their drinking water. We march through their land. We storm into their homes and take away ‘prohibited’ belongings. We place curfews on them.  We tear their country in half. We take away their jobs. We shoot up their moms and dads in front of them. Yes, I would be grateful wouldn’t you?.”

While it kills me to know someone would still carry the ignorance or, if educated, the conviction to make such a statement, I am so incredibly thankful to know that at least someone of authority is making it known of the real crimes of war.

If someone, anyone could make sense of the Bush Doctrine, of “preemptive war,” I’m all ears, but even out of the most staunch Repubs, I have yet to come across anyone who can openly admit it was a good idea.

These atrocities we have committed against the people who posed no real threat to us while we allowed the mastermind of the greatest terrorist attack of our time roam free (we are told) will forever be a blemish upon my patriotism.

Current Iraq War Statistics:

Troop Casualties:

U.S. Troop Casualties – 4,168 US troops; 98% male. 91% non-officers; 82% active duty, 11% National Guard; 74% Caucasian, 9% African-American, 11% Latino. 19% killed by non-hostile causes. 54% of US casualties were under 25 years old. 72% were from the US Army

Non-U.S. Troop Casualties – Total 313, with 176 from the UK

US Troops Wounded – 30,634, 20% of which are serious brain or spinal injuries (total excludes psychological injuries)

US Troops with Serious Mental Health Problems – 30% of US troops develop serious mental health problems within 3 to 4 months of returning home

US Military Helicopters Downed in Iraq – 68 total, at least 36 by enemy fire

Iraqi and Other Non-military Personnel Casualties:

Private Contractors in Iraq, Working in Support of US Army Troops – More than 180,000 in August 2007, per The Nation/LA Times.

Journalists killed – 135, 91 by murder and 44 by acts of war

Journalists killed by US Forces – 14

Iraqi Police and Soldiers Killed – 8,635

Iraqi Civilians Killed, Estimated – A UN issued report dated Sept 20, 2006 stating that Iraqi civilian casualties have been significantly under-reported. Casualties are reported at 50,000 to over 100,000, but may be much higher. Some informed estimates place Iraqi civilian casualities at over 600,000.

Iraqi Insurgents Killed, Roughly Estimated – 55,000

Non-Iraqi Contractors and Civilian Workers Killed – 554

Non-Iraqi Kidnapped – 306, including 57 killed, 147 released, 4 escaped, 6 rescued and 89 status unknown.

QUALITY OF LIFE INDICATORS:

Iraqis Displaced Inside Iraq, by Iraq War, as of May 2007 – 2,255,000

Iraqi Refugees in Syria & Jordan – 2.1 million to 2.25 million

Iraqi Unemployment Rate – 27 to 60%, where curfew not in effect

Consumer Price Inflation in 2006 – 50%

Iraqi Children Suffering from Chronic Malnutrition – 28% in June 2007 (Per CNN.com, July 30, 2007)

Percent of professionals who have left Iraq since 2003 – 40%

Iraqi Physicians Before 2003 Invasion – 34,000

Iraqi Physicians Who Have Left Iraq Since 2005 Invasion – 12,000

Iraqi Physicians Murdered Since 2003 Invasion – 2,000

Average Daily Hours Iraqi Homes Have Electricity – 1 to 2 hours, per Ryan Crocker, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq (Per Los Angeles Times, July 27, 2007)

Average Daily Hours Iraqi Homes Have Electricity – 10.9 in May 2007

Average Daily Hours Baghdad Homes Have Electricity – 5.6 in May 2007

Pre-War Daily Hours Baghdad Homes Have Electricity – 16 to 24

Number of Iraqi Homes Connected to Sewer Systems – 37%

Iraqis without access to adequate water supplies – 70% (Per CNN.com, July 30, 2007)

Water Treatment Plants Rehabilitated – 22%

RESULTS OF POLL Taken in Iraq in August 2005 by the British Ministry of Defense (Source: Brookings Institute):

Iraqis “strongly opposed to presence of coalition troops – 82%

Iraqis who believe Coalition forces are responsible for any improvement in security – less than 1%

Iraqis who feel less ecure because of the occupation – 67%

Iraqis who do not have confidence in multi-national forces – 72%

Grateful.

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Responses

  1. I hate the war. Pure and simple. I don’t believe that we were ever doing a good thing over there. I come from a very strong military family. My mom, dad, grandfathers, sister, brother and cousins have been in the military. I will always support our troops because I know what’s like to have loved ones in the military. I hate Bush for what he is doing to our soldiers.


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