"Hopefully this Buck won't stopone of the best damn MilBloggers to ever knock sand from his boots." -- The Mudville Gazette

25 February 2006


American Citizen Soldier *Extra*
This is the continuation of a series of selected excerpts from my Afghanistan war journal hand-recorded from October 2003 to August 2004.
All OEB entries are previously unpublished.

Saturday 27December2003
Kabul, Afghanistan

The Afghan National Council is in the final stages of their Loya Jirga, the process by which delegates from across the country have met in Kabul to hammer out a new constitution. This is their historic equivalent of Philadelphia circa 1789. The role of women in Afghanistan’s future has been hotly debated throughout the process, and understandably so considering the country’s ancient Islamic culture and recent fundamentalist track record.

One particular female representative from an outlying province reportedly went out on a limb and publicly chastised the warlord elements of the delegation for “bringing ruin to their homeland” and calling for their ouster from the council. Suffice to say, she is now under 24 hour guard by coalition forces for her own protection. Feminism has not exactly taken root in this part of the world, and is actually rather bad for one’s health when actively pursued. You’ve got to give the woman credit, though. She certainly has guts. Maybe she and Salmon Rushdie should get together and go bowling.

Sunday 28December2003
The nature of our continuous six hour shifts make the days here seem to all run together, especially considering you’ll be pulling guard one day and sleeping through the night, and the very next be stuck on the graveyard shift and trying in vain to eat, work out, and catch a few remaining Z’s during the daylight hours. It’s disorienting, to say the least; a bit like operating under a permanent state of jet-lag.

The so-called “Z Monster” has hit some of us worse than others. My tower mate PFC Marrero -- well known for his uncanny ability to sleep anywhere under any conditions -- has been easy prey so far for the Z Monster. Just the other night in fact it claimed him from the sitting position and slammed him ignominiously to the floor, directly on his ass. Made for quality entertainment for me, if nothing else.

White Trash Molly the dog has found her way into our OP as of late. A puppy in your tower is cute for roughly 3.8 seconds, until she wakes up and begins her daily reign of terror. This mutt will eat/chew on virtually anything -- wood, soda cans, clear plastic bottles, boots, pant legs, sandbags, sleeves, 5.56mm rounds, Kevlar vests, ears… she has even chewed up her own little makeshift sleeping pad. Our only reprieve is when she’s racked out, so we try and feed her as much as possible throughout the day to keep her sluggish and tired. Cheese & crackers seem to be her current culinary favorite, Special K cereal coming in a close second. Although it appears she only eats the flakes to quickly move on to her favorite part -- the box.

Monday 29December2003
Malaria Monday is here again! The Army has seen fit to provide us with anti-malaria medication for the duration of our deployment. Purpose: To not get malaria. Side effects: You feel like you’ve contracted malaria anew each and every week. For this reason I have opted not to take my pills anymore, “mandatory” or not.

A car bomb detonated in Kabul recently, ostensibly an attempt by ACM forces to disrupt the final days of the Loya Jirga. Funny thing is, I only know about it because I saw it on the Fox News Channel.

News from back at FOB Salerno: Our 3rd Platoon also apparently made contact with enemy forces while on a routine “presence patrol” near Khost. It seems they just happened to be at the right place at the right time, netting themselves four enemy kills with no friendly casualites. And meanwhile, here we are stuck in Kabul playing palace guard for Camp VIP. Yay, let the good times roll.

Wednesday 31December2003
New Years Eve
New Year’s Eve for us this year will be fairly low-key. Guard duty in a sandbag-reinforced wooden OP tower. PFC Christy and I were reduced to celebrating our own little completely arbitrary countdown (Afghanistan utilizes a different calendar) over a couple cans of “0.00% alcohol” Bavaria beer.* If you’ve ever wondered what that half-empty can of room temperature beer left on your coffee table from the party the night before that you barely remember tastes like… Well, let’s just say that I don’t have to wonder anymore. Whatever shit-for-brains numbnuts officer that dreamed up General Order 1A -- the prohibition on the consumption of alcoholic beverages by deployed U.S. forces, an unfortunate tradition begun during the first Gulf War -- should be force-fed this Bavaria non-alcoholic barf until he dies of non-alcoholism.
*Bavaria Beer: “When good taste is not an option.”

Granted, I understand the military’s aversion to offending the teetotaling sensibilities of the Muslim populations whose countries we’ve routinely invaded with TANKS, TROOPS, AND TOMAHAWK MISSILES. Clearly, we wouldn’t want them to get the wrong impression. What I don’t understand is that this order applies to none of the other coalition forces in-country. The Italians, the Germans, the French -- basically the entire representative European continent -- all drink and party like it’s still 1999. The officers here at Camp VIP are even known to sneak off and join them from time to time. Tonight is undoubtedly one of those times. Good to know at least someone’s enjoying themselves as we ring in the New Year.
Our platoon medic, Doc Edmundson, delighted in parading around the biggest bottle of whiskey any of us had ever seen: 5 LITERS of German Grouse (empty, wouldn’t you know) that he stumbled upon in the trash. After we all took turns greedily inhaling it’s remnants, Doc posed for photos with it as if he’d just reeled in a twenty-pound bass, complete with shit-eating grin. Whoever drained that huge bottle is going to have one hell of a monster hangover come morning.

Thursday 01January2004
New Years Day
Another batch of officers and sergeant majors* graced us with their presence today in the guard shacks. OP 5 was the lucky beneficiary of a major who delighted in relaying all manner of unrelated information that I certainly could have lived without. One such anecdote involved the insanely high measured levels of fecal matter that are routinely detected in the air around Kabul. It would appear we’re all breathing in hajji poo on a fairly regular basis. You know a city’s dirty when you develop a nasty case of giardia simply from swallowing your own snot rockets.
*Yes, I am well aware that the correct terminology is “sergeants major,” but that sounds lame, so I’m not using it.

Another gem of a story attempted to confirm the existence of the apocryphal “Man-Love Thursdays” among the hajji ranks. We observed two ANA soldiers leaving their barracks hand-in-hand like lovers on a moonlit stroll, and though thoroughly creeped-out, I thought, well… hajjis do have some Euro-like customs. For instance, routinely greeting each other with a cheek kiss and embrace. Still, the soldierly hand-holding struck me as a bit too in touch with their feminine side, my suspicions of which the resident major was all too quick to confirm. “Allegedly,” the hajjis go all squirrelly on Thursdays, the day before their weekly Muslim Sabbath. I don’t know if this is intentional or not (perhaps they merely want for fresh confessional material every Friday), but if I am to understand correctly, Man-Love Thursday would be a very inopportune time to drop the soap in the ANA showers. (Unless, of course, you’re into that sort of thing. See: United States Navy).
Like I said -- information I certainly could have lived without.

Saturday 03January2004
Who said procrastination doesn’t pay? My delay in turning in my dirty clothes to the on-site laundry service here was a stroke of luck. Several people have been getting their DCUs (Desert Combat Uniform) back with one minor problem: they’re now a Barney shade of purple! I’m figuring that the loads all get mixed in with the in-house gym towels which also happen to be -- you guessed it! -- purple. Look like I’ll be hand washing my DCUs and whites while we’re here.

They say the Army won’t make you rich, but subcontracting for it sure as hell might. These Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR) employees are earning beaucoup cash over here; up to five times the amount we’re paid. And they don’t have to pull guard all night and fill sandbags all day wearing body armor and toting a thirty pound weapon everywhere they go. I’m definitely in the wrong line of work. Oh well, only 1,278 more days and a wakeup until I’m out of the Army for good. Time flies when you’re having this much fun. (Whoops, seems my anti-sarcasm medication is beginning to wear off. Time to refill that prescription).

Sunday 04January2004 -- Saturday 10January2004
The past week has been an incoherent blur of long hours, sporadic rest, and certainly little relaxation. The chronic sleep deprivation has weakened my body to the point of infirmity, which I’m still struggling to shake off. The resultant fatigue has made casualties of all my side interests, my daily journal being first among them. Alas, my fever has finally broken and with it my mechanical pencil has been brought back to life. [These entries were originally written freehand].

I have come to realize that my words as found within these pages are as real as I am, perhaps more so. They will likely outlive me, survive to meet great-grandchildren that I will not. These words could potentially travel the globe, one day comfortably resting in cities or locales that I know only from the map. Some of them may already have been immortalized in cyberspace, the newest entries in the virtual fossil record.

This journal is as real as I am. It lives and breathes and complains and aches and pines for home or action or sometimes both at once. I would risk my life to save this journal, to retrieve it under a withering hail of enemy fire if necessary. It is for this very reason, however absurd it may be, that I have taken pains to mail home its tattered and torn-out pages week by week: To protect and safeguard this very personal -- if not exactly historically important -- record of the thoughts and events of a typical American soldier at war in a foreign land. And also to prevent the likelihood of being awarded the CMH* for intentionally -- with total disregard for my own safety, as they say -- placing my body between an incoming RPG round and a f**king book. This is, after all, still technically a war. Stranger things have happened.
*Coffin with Metal Handles

To make up for the literary gap of the previous week, I present the following highlight (or lowlight) reel exhumed from random mental snapshots taken during the exhausting past seven days:

-- PFC Marrero happened upon SGT Boyle’s boonie cap in the hallway late one night, and gleefully incinerated it in the camp burn barrel in a typically Joe-like display of passive-aggressive retribution -- payback for all the previous months of insults endured and pushups ordered. If SGT Boyle ever ascertains the fate of his missing boonie there will be hell to pay, and Marrero knows this. But for now he is content to revel in his little act of rebellion, future consequences be damned. I have rarely seen him so proud of himself.

--1SG Guthrie flew in to Camp VIP from Salerno, officially to check up on us and brief us on the latest goings-on, though unofficially we know better. The NFL playoffs are in full swing here on our two big-screen televisions in the D-FAC (although, I don’t believe I’ll ever get used to catching a live football broadcast at three in the morning), and 1SG Guthrie is certainly one black man who loves his NFL.
He talked a little about 3rd Platoon’s Adventures in Hajjicide as well as let it be known that there was a total of fifty bags of mail for our platoon alone sitting in a tent in Salerno. He said he would make every effort to get it up here to us ASAP. I wanted to add, “Excuse me, First Sergeant, but wouldn’t it make more sense to interdict our mail before it left Bagram for Salerno so that it doesn’t have to be flown all the way back to Bagram in order for us to convoy up there and bring it back here to Kabul? Work smarter, not harder, hoo-ah?”

I didn’t say any of this of course, because one: you don’t tell a first sergeant how to do his job when you’re just a lowly specialist, and two: it would have fallen on deaf ears anyhow. The Army may preach “work smarter, not harder,” but they routinely practice it in reverse. The motto of the infantry is “Follow Me.” If they wanted to be honest they’d change it to “Do As I Say (Even if it’s Stupid, Pointless, and Utterly Counterproductive), Not As I Do (Usually Stupid, Pointless, and Utterly Counterproductive).” I’d like to see that GoArmy ad.

--White Trash the puppy has now fully morphed into Molly the Menace. It is no longer cute to find her waiting for you in your OP when you come on shift, especially at night, having been worked into a hyperactive frenzy by the day shifts. She has unilaterally decided that it is no longer taboo to shit and piss inside the OP tower even as we scream our disapproval, thus, from now on our typical first act upon arriving on shift and finding her there is to “accidentally” leave the guard shack door open in order for her to escape and terrorize the rest of the unsuspecting compound. Eventually, another OP will discover her loose and scoop her back up.

--The twice-daily guard routine is starting to wear thin on all of us, extreme boredom the main symptom. I came back to the OP from a coffee run the other night to find PFC Christy self-administering a series of IV drips to his left forearm, pilfered from the tower’s CLS (Combat Life Saver) medical aid bag. Whatever one’s feelings about needles, you have to admit that it takes some world class boredom to resort to “sticking” yourself for entertainment’s sake. He wanted to do me next, though after witnessing him leak blood all over the floor struggling with his newfound diversion, I politely declined. True, I was as bored as the next guy, but I don't think I've ever been that bored. I fear that if we don’t rotate back to Salerno soon, Christy will start performing open heart surgery on himself just to see what it feels like.

Operation Enduring Boredom marches on.


22 February 2006


I do not believe in a fate that will fall on us no matter what we do. I do believe in a fate that will fall on us if we do nothing.
-Ronald Reagan

Elections do matter.

This is the second in a four-part American Citizen Scholar series examining the influence and impact of presidential leadership (or lack thereof) in regard to U.S. foreign policy and its outcome during tumultuous periods in our nation's history.

In recent months, two Muslim nations have partaken in the voting process for the first time in their respective histories. Participation is high, the enthusiasm even higher; many brave death simply by registering or showing up at the polls.

By contrast, less than half of the eligible American voting public participates in our national elections every two to four years. It doesn’t matter who you vote for, say the pundits, critics, and cynics. Presidents and politicians are all the same.

When referring to such trivial domestic concerns as budgetary tug of war, the daily he said/she said of Capitol Hill carping, or the routine hitting below the Beltway -- perhaps the naysayers are correct. But when it comes to major foreign policy decisions that have wide ranging and long term consequences on the world stage -- history begs to differ.

This is precisely why elections matter.


How Ronald Reagan Scuttled Détente, Checkmated the Soviet Union, and Thawed the Cold War Without Firing a Shot

It is a postwar fact of life that U.S. foreign policy is now funneled through hundreds of bureaucratic channels, from the State Department to the National Security Council to the West Wing. Yet on a grand scale, its fundamental nature remains a direct extension of the top executive’s personality. And in order to best understand and interpret the decisions of such men, one must develop a basic comprehension of what makes them tick.

Richard Milhous Nixon and Ronald Wilson Reagan both inherited a world infinitely more dangerous, though in many ways less volatile, than their immediate predecessors. Thermonuclear proliferation had become the coin of the realm, offering instant Armageddon in thirty minutes or less, yet paradoxically, the brutal efficiency of such weapons had rendered their use strategically impractical, if not unthinkable. If wars are indeed fought for material or territorial gain, then a nuclear exchange, it was understood, would provide neither. "A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought," a newly-elected President Reagan assured a skittish nation, many of whom mistook his hardline rhetoric for reckless goading and deemed nuclear holocaust now at hand.

A World Gone MAD
In an era when the two remaining global superpowers held loaded guns to each other’s temples, few found comfort in the cool rationalization of deterrence appropriately labeled "Mutually Assured Destruction," or MAD. The Soviet threat may have mutated, but by no means had it become muted. Cold war tensions had thawed slightly even as cold war postures remained frozen in place. But the actions of two Republican presidents — a commonality shared in name only — would set the tone for the liquidation to follow. Their dissimilar approaches prove yet again that motivations both political and personal are irreparably entwined.

The Great Communicator
Ronald Reagan was a man of deeply held conservative convictions, dating back several decades. His trademark soaring oratory had changed barely an iota since his 1964 Republican Convention speech for candidate and friend Barry Goldwater that had put him on the political map. "You and I have a rendezvous with destiny," he spoke. "We’ll preserve for our children, this -- the last best hope of man on earth -- or we’ll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness." Not even Reagan the former lifeguard could rescue Goldwater from the depths of a crushing electoral defeat by the still-popular LBJ, yet his performance turned enough heads in the process to ultimately launch his own gubernatorial quest.

Hail to the CREEP
Richard Nixon, by contrast, seemed to possess no particular ideology at all, save for a Machiavellian lust for influence and prestige. Harry Truman had him pegged, labeling him "one of the few in the history of this country to run for high office talking out of both sides of his mouth at the same time -- and lying out of both sides." Whatever got Nixon what he wanted — whatever would throw his personal enemies and political opponents (which rarely garnered a distinction) the biggest and loopiest curveball — was the natural course he would follow. He was the most dangerous kind of politician: one in the Vince Lombardi mold. "Finishing second in the Olympics gets you silver. Finishing second in politics gets you oblivion." Men who cannot abide electoral defeat are men who will do anything prevent its happening.

Ever the pragmatist, Nixon measured efficacy by outcome rather than by intent. As a lifelong Republican ensconced in an age of liberalism, he maneuvered to disarm his political rivals by taking up their own ideas and using them against them, promptly opening up the government’s floodgates and releasing a torrent of federal cash and regulation. But to conservatives, Nixon was no true believer and accordingly fooled no one as such.

Nixon’s continued commitment to détente (a policy of easing tension between nations) stemmed in part from his relative acceptance of the Soviet Union as a permanent force to be reckoned with in world affairs, his foreign policy resigned toward the permanence of Communist regimes and its apparent helplessness in the face of their expansion. A voracious collector of enemies both real and perceived — on a level that would make even Joe McCarthy blush — Nixon curiously regarded his international opponents with less enmity than even his self-cultivated ones at home. "Politics would be a hellava good business if it weren't for the goddamned people."

'When the President does it, that means that it's not illegal.'
Both Nixon and Secretary of State Kissinger, an equally secretive and Rasputin-like figure in his own right, actively courted unpredictability as a resource, a way to keep their adversaries guessing as to their intentions and ferment uncertainty as a tool for stability. Yet, the Soviets had been utilizing this inherent trait of their closed society for decades, notably without such stabilizing effects. Yet unlike the Communists, power for its own sake -- and not coupled with a quasi-religious ideology -- was what moved Nixon, and the essence of détente was to divorce foreign policy from ideology. Nixon longed to abandon the Cold War as an operative concept, and his diplomacy of détente was a response to his perception that the Cold War was no longer sustainable on its original terms. Using triangulation as a tactic to exploit the Sino-Soviet split between the nervous Russians and the insecure Chinese, in a way similar to how Bill Clinton would later use it in the domestic arena, Nixon and Kissinger sought to bring increased stability to a wobbly geopolitical table by adding an additional leg.

Confronting an Evil Empire
Reagan, conversely, frequently described the Cold War as a struggle between right and wrong and good versus evil, with an oft-lampooned Hollywood-bred flourish and clarity of purpose that left no doubt as to who he believed wore the white hat. Whereas Nixon had delighted in the strategic placing of chess pieces on a U.S./Sino-Soviet board, seeking a multipolar stalemate as a measure to ensure lasting peace, Reagan pushed for a bipolar checkmate. Such strategic nuances were anathema to the former screen actor, who disdained the secretive power-politics that were Nixon’s bread and butter. A born performer, Reagan instead thought and spoke in terms that conjured a global morality play. Thus, he regarded it as his primary and most important duty to restate the obvious and mention the unmentionable:
Despite its flaws, our system was intrinsically benevolent and their system was at its rotten core "the focus of evil in the modern world." Elite opinion naturally flew into an uproar over such "inflammatory" and "warmongering" rhetoric emanating from the Oval Office. Yet willing to call a spade a spade, Reagan unapologetically clarified — and in case anyone had forgotten — reasserted what America stood for, as well as what she was against.

Reagan’s view saw the buildup of nuclear weapons as not the cause but the result of this fundamental conflict between two inherently different systems. He never accepted the argument of moral equivalence between the two superpowers that even career Red-baiters like Nixon had come to accept as immutable. Well before he became president, Reagan held a much more skeptical view of the alleged omnipotence of Soviet communism. Not only was it inherently amoral, but intrinsically stupid. "How do you tell a Communist?" he often quipped. "Well, it's someone who reads Marx and Lenin." And how to tell an anti-Communist? "It's someone who understands Marx and Lenin."

Reagan intuitively arrived at the commonsense conclusion (one that pointedly seemed to have escaped the intelligentsia of the era) that any centrally-planned economic system that denied a central tenet of human nature that people will work in proportion to the reward that they receive was doomed to disastrous failure. In his ever-confident mind, the question then was not a matter of whether it would perish, but when. Even as the Soviet Union struggled to camouflage its faltering economy from the prying eyes of the world, it also had developed a highly advanced military, albeit one Reagan argued had been done by "preempting the human needs of its people," a course which, in the end, would undermine the very foundations of the Soviet system it sought to preserve.

Not content to adopt a "wait and see" attitude that had been so integral a part of containment since the fallout from the decade-long attrition of the Vietnam proxy war, Reagan alone envisioned a world in which communist expansion was not merely countenanced, but actively (and at times, surreptitiously) rolled back. If the Nixon through Carter years had shown anything, it was that détente had not panned out as a surrogate for deterrence. In a mere six years the Soviet Union through political or military coercion had absorbed ten additional countries into its communist sphere while Presidents Ford and Carter fiddled. NATO faced an overwhelming superiority in Soviet conventional forces in Europe, and despite a multiplicity of arms limitation talks, the Soviet nuclear arsenal had reached its apex.

This provided a dual impetus for a substantial American military buildup. One: To drag the Soviet military machine into even higher levels of spending and eventual insolvency, and two: To maintain a counteracting force ready, willing, and able to unambiguously dissuade any last desperate acts of a suffocating regime in the midst of its death throes. For Russian history was nothing if not replete with Orwellian examples of tyrannical regimes easing internal unrest through external distraction.

'Star Wars'
Reagan’s unwavering support of the Strategic Defense Initiative, or SDI -- his grand vision of a missile shield to supplant the inherent madness of MAD -- sought to be the final dagger in the Soviet heart. What the chattering classes and critics of SDI's feasibility failed to recognize was that it mattered not whether the expensive and complex system was workable or not. What mattered was that the Soviets believed we were serious about it, and would move towards its development and deployment at the earliest possible stage. They had witnessed our best and brightest walk on the moon, and knew that very little existed outside of the American technological reach when prodded. Their lack of confidence in their own abilities (or perhaps, a rare but honest appraisal of them) forced Realpolitik reformers like Mikhail Gorbachev to wake up and smell the vodka: Either come to the bargaining table or face a new high-tech arms race that we both knew they couldn’t win. If détente was essentially game theory writ large -- a jockeying for diplomatic position -- then the one-two punch of rearmament and rollback would serve as the clinching move.

"A leader, once convinced a particular course of action is the right one, must have the determination to stick with it and be undaunted when the going gets rough."

Thus became the mantra of the Reagan Revolution, a genius which lay in its clarity of purpose. A far cry from the likes of Nixon and Kissinger, who at times seemed to relapse into the post-WWII line of thinking that Soviet belligerence existed merely out of the Russian's own security concerns. Reagan had no such illusions about communist hegemony and the subjugation it promulgated across a continent. The Soviet Union was no mere schoolyard bully with an inferiority complex, it was still an aggressor nation in the mold of Stalin and needed to be viewed and opposed as such. Time and time again, Reagan made it clear on what side of the fence America stood:

"Freedom and the dignity of the individual have been more available and assured here than in any other place on Earth. The price for this freedom at times has been high. But we have never been unwilling to pay that price. As for the enemies of freedom, those who are potential adversaries, they will be reminded that peace is the highest aspiration of the American people. We will negotiate for it, sacrifice for it; [but] we will not surrender for it now or ever."

For Nixon and Kissinger, geopolitics was exciting, a chance to accomplish great deeds requiring multi-volume memoirs; to assume the mantle of "statesmen" and secure their place at the table of history; to cement their Legacy. For Reagan, it was about people’s lives, the dignity and worth of all individuals, the prospect of liberty that he hoped to not only be able to promise them, but deliver to their doorstep. He believed these ideals to his core. The freedom of millions would be his legacy.
"No weapon in the arsenals of the world is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women."

A Tale of Two Citizens
Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon both came from similar backgrounds of rural hardship and distant fathers, yet they each came away from their respective experiences with opposite outlooks on the world. One was brimming with sunny optimism, the other burning with naked ambition. Both maintained few close personal relationships, yet one genuinely believed in the inherent goodness of the American people; while the other neither liked nor was liked by many, be it friend or foe. "Those who hate you don't win unless you hate them, and then you destroy yourself."

One of them craved the Office to feel big; the other sought the presidency as the ultimate means to an end: as the quickest route to realizing his conservative ideals and implementing his vision for America and the free world. Put more simply, to do big things. Accepting the Republican nomination for President, Reagan cautioned against unaccountable bureaucracy run amok, and advocated a return to what had seemed a bygone era of government of the people, by the people, and for the people:

"Back in 1976, Mr. Carter said, 'Trust me.' And a lot of people did... 'Trust me' government asks that we concentrate our hopes and dreams on one man; that we trust him to do what's best for us. My view of government places trust not in one person or one party, but in those values that transcend persons and parties. The trust is where it belongs -- in the people. The responsibility to live up to that trust is where it belongs -- in their elected leaders."

Such was Ronald Reagan's gift to the nation, to future generations, and to the inalienable rights of human freedom in which he so fervently believed.


17 February 2006


photo by Buck Sargent

We seek the truth, and will endure the consequences.
-Charles Seymour


A self-described 58-year-old medical doctor, husband and father of three daughters, this Iraqi blogger who writes under the name "Truth Teller" has been posting his opinions and observations about his home country of Iraq since January 2005. He recently agreed to be interviewed by email for the first in a planned series of ACS interviews with local Iraqis.

Disclaimer: The following views are strictly those of A Citizen of Mosul and are not officially endorsed by Buck Sargent, American Citizen Soldier, or the U.S. Military.


Please describe your religious and ethnic background.

I am Muslim, Arabic, Iraqi and Moslawi (from Mosul).

Do you consider yourself a Sunni Muslim?

I am a Muslim. All my life I feel I am just Muslim, only through the last three years did I start to hear the differentiation between Sunni and Shia. This came with the occupation as an action to weaken the Iraqis by separating them into fighting ethnic and religious groups.

You say you are a practicing medical doctor. Where were you educated and how long have you been practicing medicine?

I graduated from the University of Mosul Medical College in 1972, and [have been] practicing medicine since then. I had been in the United States in 1979 for a training course in nuclear medicine at John Hopkins Hospital, under supervision of Prof. Henry H. Wagner. In 1988 I got my degree in Nuclear Medicine, from Al Mustansirya University, Baghdad, Iraq.

Are you able to earn a decent living as a doctor in Mosul?

Now? Yes. The salary of the doctors at the time of Saddam was very low, less than $10 a month. Now my salary is about 600,000 ID [Iraqi dinar] which = $400 a month. But we depend mainly on the clinic income for a living.

Are you a believer in the duty and necessity of jihad against nonbelievers?

As a Muslim, I realize that the meaning of the word Jihad is misused. The jihad is to defend your religion, your country, home, family and properties from others. If the nonbelievers are peaceful and not causing a threat, I don't think it is my duty to fight them.

Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Ba'ath Party? Did you serve in the old Iraqi army under Saddam, and if so, for how long? Did you serve in any of the Iraqi wars of the previous 25 years?

I never [have] been a member of the Ba'ath party. I served in the Iraqi army twice, in 1973, one year after my graduation from the college (for one year), and in 1982 during the Iraq-Iran war (for two years), but I didn't share in the war. I was a medical soldier with a military brigade serving in the north of Iraq. I left the army for medical reasons. I had a staghorn renal calculus causing hypertension.

What is your general opinion about the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq?

No doubt, I absolutely refuse the invasion. it is an illegitimate act of war against our country.

What is your opinion of American soldiers?

At the early days after occupation, I had the feeling that those soldiers are doing their duty, obeying the orders. I didn't blame them for their mistakes. But now I think that a lot of mistakes are due to personal behavior.

What are your frustrations or complaints with the U.S. military presence in Mosul?

In short: Even if they behave like angels, I will consider them as occupiers. And as an Iraqi Muslim, I can't tolerate occupation.

Did you vote in any of Iraq's recent elections?

Yes, I voted in the last two elections.

Did you support the new Iraqi Constitution? Why, or why not?

No, because it is the first step to divide Iraq geographically, after the occupation divided it ethnically and religiously.

Some Iraqis confess a longing for a return to a strongman like Saddam Hussein to confront the lawlessness and violence that persists throughout Iraq. Do you agree with this?

At the present time I will say NO, because it will lead to more bloodshed all over Iraq. In the past, before Saddam Hussein there were some leaders who governed Iraq [that] were neither strongmen nor dictators. The chaos and the lawlessness throughout Iraq were made and maintained by foreign forces which have an aim to keep Iraq weak and fragmented.

Some of your postings or reader commentary imply sympathy with the insurgency or "mujaheddin." What are your feelings about those that the American army is fighting here in Mosul? Do you agree with them, and if so, why? Please elaborate also on your opinions of the foreign fighters who have come to your city from neighboring countries in order to continue their jihad.

I agree with any patriots who defend his country. To expel the invaders is a legitimate action. But it is the duty of the Iraqi people, not the foreigners. There is misunderstanding of the term "mujaheddin." We use it for those who fight for holy purposes. If the Iraqis cannot defend themselves, then it is the duty of the Muslim neighbors to help them in their Jihad. There are many conditions to real jihad. I think not all of them are available here in Mosul.

If you had sons, would you encourage them to openly resist the "occupation"? Would you encourage them to kill or maim American and Iraqi soldiers? Do you believe it would be worth the cost of their lives to do so?

This is a difficult question, because I have no sons, so my answer will not reflect what I really feel if I had one. But I will suppose if I had one, and try to answer this question. As a matter of fact I will not ask my son to do things I didn't do. To resist the occupation is a sacred duty, but not necessarily by fighting. I think that I resist the occupation in my blog. This is OK for me and [would] be OK for my son. I am a doctor and my duty is to save lives, not to kill. I wouldn't encourage anyone to kill even the occupiers. (I personally have good mental impression of the Americans who I knew during my temporary residence in the States 25 years ago).

If the U.S. military were to withdraw from Iraq prematurely -- and before the Iraqi Security Forces were strong enough to operate on their own -- do you believe it likely that violent attacks would escalate, or even a full civil war may erupt and tear the country apart?

The country is torn apart already. Kurds in the north, Shia in the south, and Sunni in between. The US withdrawal will change nothing; it may facilitate the proposed tear. I don't thing the bloodshed will be worse than now. The Ministry of Interior death squads are fully active under protection of the US troops. As well as the Kurdish robbers are wandering in the city killing and stealing the citizens, again under cover of the US (sorry to say so, but when they came to Mosul before the entrance of the US troops, the citizens of Mosul kick them out and kill many of them, now nobody can hold a weapon to protect himself). If you ask me how did I know that the Kurds did those crimes, I will say: it is too clear to be unnoticed. If the US military withdraws now, there will be escalation of violence, but for a shorter period than that taken by the US to impose their supposed peace. Three years of chaos, bloodshed, and violence under the US occupation is too much for us.

Wouldn't you prefer for your children to live in a stable Iraq governed by the rule of laws chosen by the people, rather than decided by the whims of anunelected and unaccountable elite?

Yes, I prefer for my children and for myself to live in a stable country, not necessarily be it in Iraq. But I don't prefer to leave my country in the time it needs me most. Elected or not-elected government makes no difference to me as far as treating all the people with the same standard; no political, ethnic or religious differences (as what happens now under this government).

The "anti-occupation" forces kill many times more Iraqis than American soldiers with their brutal attacks and methods, yet you appear to continue to vocalize support for their cause. Do you believe that they truly have the best interests of the Iraqi people in mind when they detonate bombs and initiate gun battles in civilian neighborhoods? (If they simply wanted to fight us, we would gladly meet them far outside the city in the remote desert areas).

What I think that you consider accidents happen as a result of anti-occupation acts. I believe that most, if not all the attacks which happen near the schools, mosques, churches, and market places are aimed against the Iraqi people, not against the occupation. They are pro-occupation acts, not anti-occupation. I still accuse [Iraq's enemies] for these acts. The resistance never attacks civilians. I am pro resistance, anti-American as far as there is occupation on the Iraqi land. If you want them to fight you in the remote desert, simply withdraw your force to the desert. They will follow you right away.

The longer the "insurgency" keeps planting bombs, the longer our Army will have to remain here. Can you explain this contradiction?

You are right, this is the reason [that] made me say that those are Iraq's enemy. Just announce it clearly and honestly that you are going to leave according to a fixed time table, the real resistance will stop immediately, as the cause of the resistance is gone.

Your school-age daughter is a fairly well known blogger in her own right, and has even been published in the New York Times Select online site. Does she have journalistic aspirations of her own, and if so, do you support her endeavors?

You probably mean "Najma," the Star from Mosul. She is a genius, her real dream is to study computer engineering abroad (but this probably won't happen -- not abroad, I mean). She is now in her final year of secondary school, next year she should be in college. She writes everything by herself, even her language is better than mine and my wife's. She sometimes thinks of being a journalist. She only thought of that after her readers supported her, but her real passion is for computers. I do support her, as much as I can. As much as the situation allows at least!

You often speak out against corruption and fraud in the new Iraqi government. However, elected governments are no more immune to dishonesty than than unelected ones, the difference being that they are held up to the light of public scrutiny rather than clamped shut behind steel shutters. Could you have voiced your displeasure with the old regime publicly or on the Internet?

In the old regime, we had one family of thugs, now we have thugs every where: the government, the Ministry of Interior, the police, the ING, the Iraqi army, Badr forces, al Mahdi army, al-Dawa party, and the SCIR, not to mention the US troops. All are stealing Iraq's money. At the time of the old regime, there was reconstruction, building, and paving of roads. The electricity was much better, no fuel shortage. Even at the times of crisis, the causes were obvious (the sanctions against the Iraqi people). Frankly speaking, no one could voice his displeasure publicly. The Internet was very restricted and under strict observation.

Have you ever considered becoming personally involved in the political process, as many courageous Iraqis have done in the face of terrorist threats?

I hate politics and the politician. When I started my blog, my aim was to publish health-related topics, I don't know how I slipped into these political arguments. The spirit of my job as a doctor is against the acts of terrorists.

You and I both presumably wish for the same outcome, for Iraq to join the ranks of free and prosperous nations. Yet, we find ourselves on the opposing sides of the struggle. Why do you suppose this is?

My wish for Iraq to join the ranks of free and prosperous nations is part of my personality and loyalty to Iraq and its citizens. Frankly speaking, I don't think any American soldier in Iraq wishes the same outcome. Your presence here is part of your job as a soldier -- to fight, kill or be killed -- not for building or reconstruction. Sorry to be so offensive, but the facts on the ground give this supposition.

I have worked and interacted with many Iraqi Kurds, and I have yet to meet a single one who did not consider our two countries as "brothers." In contrast, this feeling is either totally absent or decidely less-enthusiastic among the Arab population of Mosul, even though both groups are predominantly Sunni Muslim. What do you think accounts for this difference in attitudes?

The main two parties of the Kurds dreamed for decades to have their independence from Iraq. Of course, this is not shared by all the Kurds. The Americans gave them the opportunity to do so. The Arabs want all Iraq as a united country; the Americans destroyed their wish. This has nothing to do with religion; even the Christians have the same feeling regarding this. Another thing is that the Kurds [are] under the control of Massoud Barzani, which isn't different too much from Saddam Hussein. I mean no single Kurdish person could criticize his government without fear of arrest or reprisal.

Where do you see your country in five years time?

Depending on the situation during the last three years, I see a very dark future. The country is being depleted of its [brainpower]; most of the university professors, doctors, engineers, pharmacists and so on are leaving now to Europe or the Gulf countries. After five more years only the savages, the gangsters, and the hopeless people will be here. Maybe some people like me will be here also.

Describe your dream for the future of Iraq. What would you like to see happen and what would you prefer your grandchildren's Iraq to look and be like?

A free, democratic (a real democracy), prosperous, safe and peaceful Iraq. Every other thing will follow automatically.


Clearly, "Truth Teller" views the conflict through the blood-stained prism of his own experiences, which, as a practicing medical doctor, are likely extensive. Not unexpectantly, he ultimately suffers from a lack of the broader context of the overall Iraqi narrative as survived by millions of his fellow countrymen, notably the Kurdish population of the north, a markedly divergent perspective that I will seek to unearth in future installments.

Not all Iraqis think as he does, anymore than all Americans think like Al Gore or Michael Moore (shudder the thought), and one could easily take issue with several of his political prognoses. Nevertheless, I find it difficult to begrudge him his institutional pessimism, an outlook he has earned and deserves if he so chooses -- as well as one likely indistinguishable from a bare preponderance of our own countrymen.

TT's day-to-day existence is undoubtedly severe and problematic on many levels, as such he may be forgiven for believing the Coalition-promised oasis of a better life to be purely a mirage. However, several of his statements -- two in particular -- offer hope that even the most jaded amongst a people bred on disappointment and betrayal already have intuitively grasped the rare opportunity for change that the cruel vagaries of history have presently afforded them.

"To resist the occupation is a sacred duty, but not necessarily by fighting. I think that I resist the occupation in my blog." [Emphasis added]

It appears he may well have already internalized the main tenet underlying our very presence on his soil. And regarding his dream for the future -- it reads as nothing less than a veritable blueprint for winning the War on Terrorism:

"A free, democratic... prosperous, safe and peaceful Iraq. Every other thing will follow automatically."

Dare I say it, but spoken like a true-believing (if not unwitting) Bush Doctrinaire. Oftentimes the truth hurts, especially to those who would lay claim to it.

12 February 2006


There is nothing patriotic about hating your country, or pretending that you can love your country but despise your government. There is nothing heroic about turning your back on America, or ignoring your own responsibilities.
-William Jefferson Clinton

"I Don't Support Our Troops"
Late last month the deployed-area edition of the military newspaper Stars & Stripes reprinted that sentiment in a snarky hit-piece by LA Times columnist Joel Stein, just the sort of infantile, incoherent, and ill-conceived opinion writing needed to swipe the mantle of "Most Anti-American Paper of Record" away from the NY Times. Mr. Stein, a man whose massive intellect makes Jessica Simpson look like Stephen Hawking, writes:

"I don’t support our troops. This is a particularly difficult opinion to have, especially if you are the kind of person who likes to put bumper stickers on his car... I understand the guilt. We know we're sending recruits to do our dirty work, and we want to seem grateful... But blaming the president is a little too easy. The truth is that people who pull triggers are ultimately responsible, whether they're following orders or not. An army of people making individual moral choices may be inefficient, but an army of people ignoring their morality is horrifying... I'm not advocating that we spit on returning veterans like they did after the Vietnam War, but we shouldn't be celebrating people for doing something we don't think was a good idea... [so] please, no parades."

Is it any wonder newspaper readership is at an all-time low?

Earlier, he plays the well-worn liberal "I'm all for Afghanistan now because it turned out to be easy" card:

"I do sympathize with people who joined up to protect our country, especially after 9/11, and were tricked into fighting in Iraq."

Alright, stop right there. Am I the only one who is sick and tired of hearing that the War in Iraq has "nothing to do with 9/11 -- it was all about Afghanistan."? Refresh my memory: How many Afghans were piloting those planes again?

We are at war with Islamic radicals, potentially hundreds of thousands strong and spanning the entirety of the Middle East. Iraq was and still is one of those very cesspools of terror. "But there were no terrorists in Iraq until we got there!" Let's examine that.

This either means:
A. all are foreign jihadists who gravitated there to fight us, B. Iraqis themselves are "resisting" our mere presence on their soil, or C. a varying combination of both.

Ignore for a moment the arrogance of an "insurgency" that completely ignores the electoral wishes of 70% of its fellow citizens. "It's their country!" Whose country is it again?

Forget for a moment the fact that it is a "popular resistance" led by former regime elements with no interest in sharing power with their "lessers" (i.e., all non-Sunnis).

The truth of the matter is that anyone capable of setting off bombs that they know from the start will maim and kill many more Iraqi men, women, and children than "foreign invaders," is capable of doing that anywhere. All they would require is the proper motivation and a plane ticket.

Osama bin Laden was bound and determined to make war with America -- to awaken the sleeping giant he had been taunting for a decade. His goal was to hit us so hard that we would have no choice but to finally engage him on his turf. He has told us so again and again. And he would have done anything or thrown in with anyone to bring his evil plans to fruition, even a relative secularist like Saddam. The horrors of 9/11 are our penance for not having taken either of them seriously for over a decade.

Postulating that Iraq has no bearing on the larger war is as silly as writing off the Normandy invasion as a distraction from the Japanese war in the Pacific. "But Saddam didn't hit us on 9/11!" Fine, granted. And Hitler didn't attack us at Pearl Harbor. It may seem impossible that self-styled Aryan and Japanese "Master Races" could have collaborated with each other at the time, but it did happen.

Accordingly, fighting a war on state-sponsored terrorism without confronting Saddam Hussein would be as hollow a threat as any ever concocted by the UN diplo-doormats at Turtle Bay. We knew Iraq sponsored terrorism, just as we know this about Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia. They all need to be dealt with at some point, whether by force or at the very least, the threat of force (aka diplomacy). Without teeth behind them, however, such threats become meaningless.

Saddam's pre-war actions and twelve years of stalemate proved he could not ultimately be negotiated with, and thus sealed his own fate. Perhaps now those other actors in the region will strain to hear us when we speak softly, for they have seen the size of the stick we are carrying.

As for Mr. Stein, I'd just like to beat him with it. The only reason no one dares spit on returning veterans anymore, Joel, is because the fine line between deserving an ass-whupping and receiving an ass-whupping has since blurred.

The Really Ugly American
Have we found the new Jane Fonda?
Who else but Comrade Sheehan would have the sheer, unmitigated gall to incredulously lament her "lost" First Amendment freedoms from the op-ed page of a major newspaper. (Yes, them again). Apparently, she returned from salsa dancing with el Commandante Hugo Chavez in Venezuela just in time to lecture us on the horrors of living in a "police state." And she didn't mean Venezuela.

Yet still she is puzzled why she was prevented from making a spectacle of herself at the State of the Union Address. I'm actually disappointed she's decided not to run for Congress. After all, it may be the only group of people who's average collective IQ would actually increase as a result of her joining.

Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You...
How did we end up with this "Gimme" Generation of endless whiners, panhandling for special treatment and entitlement handouts on the backs of other hardworking Americans? This entire generation of miscreants and malcontents has stood JFK's most famous line completely on its head.

Also apparently drawn from this group are the few but vocal veterans who return from war to badmouth their own country and its leadership, claiming they were "lied to."

HEAR THIS NOW: If you are thinking of volunteering for military service, prepare for the possibility of losing life or limb in a faraway land for reasons you may or may not fully comprehend. You don't get to choose your war, and you don't get to choose your fight. You swore an oath to serve your country's interests as determined by its democratically elected representatives. If you cannot handle this fact, you are about to commit to the absolute wrong line of work for you.

Societies Die by Suicide, Not Murder
Is there anything more dangerous to our continued way of life than the Western trend toward cultural self-hatred? The Islamists in our midst are capitalizing on this with the same fervor and aptitude as the old Soviet KGB apparatus once did. Still, if it takes a stage-managed Muslim outcry against a series of mildly offensive cartoon drawings to illustrate to the Euroskeptics the very nature of the threat we all face, then so be it.

"Clearly, a civilization that feels guilty for everything it is and does will lack the energy and conviction to defend itself," wrote Jean-Francois Revel in Democracy Against Itself.

Well, at least there's one Frenchy out there who gets it.

Do the Math
In the past six months I have witnessed firsthand in Iraq what economists would call the "opportunity costs" of freedom. I believe, as Thomas Jefferson did, that freedom is endowed to us by our Creator -- no matter what name He goes by. But it was left up to us to unearth, perserve, and protect these "inalienable rights" from the depravities of human nature, the seductive qualities of which none of us are immune. Better men than I line the shores of Normandy and dot the hills of Arlington, an eternal testament to their steadfast beliefs that there are indeed some outcomes in this world that are a fate worse than death.

I believe "give peace a chance" really means "lower the blinds and maybe the bad men will go away." True, war has not solved everything. But to say it has not solved anything is no less pernicious a lie. Southern slavery, Italian fascism, German Nazism, Soviet totalitarianism, Japanese militarism... and now Islamic fundamentalism? Perhaps we should give war its chance.

If not us, who? If not now, when? The costs of inaction are always inflationary. The price of human freedom will always be higher after we've dithered and dallied, wrung our hands, and buried our heads.

Many say we cannot sustain this fight. That our losses are too great, the will of the enemy too strong. I don't know about that. What I do know is that 3,000 civilians were slaughtered on September 11, 2001. 2,500 soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines have made the ultimate sacrifice in the four years since. And in that very same time frame, well over one million additional Americans have volunteered for military service.

Go ahead, do the math.


07 February 2006


photo by Buck Sargent

History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.
-Winston Churchill

View the new teaser trailer HERE
Filmed, edited, created, and lived by BUCK SARGENT
Full length feature coming 2007

Advance praise for GIVE WAR A CHANCE:

"Holy smokes! Is this for real? If so, I can't wait!"
-Another diehard patriot

"Awesome! I love what you have done... I am looking forward tothe full length version."
-Wild Thing

"I thought the trailer was great... I think that what you are doing gives all the "civies" a deeper look inside the daily life of you and your platoon."

"If this trailer is only a piece of the total work, you got a hit on your hands. HURRY UP AND FINISH!!"

"The movie looks great, the title alone, could make a liberal go crazy!"
-Alaskan Viking

"Awesome! I am a flaming Bush hater, but you have my highest respect. Our species needs your children."
-Dave/al2i said

"That ROCKED!! Thanks for your service, your movie & your blog. I'm so incredibly proud of you all for the job you are doing."
-Susie in California

"DAMN!That was the best "trailer" for a movie that won't be finished for an entire year I've ever seen!"


"Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it, nothing can succeed." -- Abraham Lincoln