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BETWEEN IRAQ AND A HARD PLACE


photo by Buck Sargent

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

IRAQI CITIZEN SOUNDBOARD
A CONVERSATION WITH A CITIZEN OF MOSUL

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.

START OF INTERVIEW

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.

END OF INTERVIEW

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.

Oh my. Stay safe and thank you.

Great post Sarge. I agree with you on those positive aspects. I was saddened by his sense of hopelessness. I see a bit of contradiction that to me says he has never been really free in his country and doesn't trust or maybe is afraid to get his hpoes up or be disappointed.

Well done! I think you got more out of him than he has volunteered in the entire history of his own blog.

Three things came to mind when I read your dispatch today, Buck.

First, it seems that TT wants and welcomes all the benefits of a U.S.-led liberation mission but he cannot stomach the fact that he was liberated by the "infidels." He says he supports one side of the effort, but his actions show that he is reaping the benefits of the other. (He might consider a run for U.S. Senate. I'm sure he'd fit right in with Teddy and Hill.)

Second, if Iraq is such a run-down, electricity-deprived shithole as a result of the invasion as TT says it is, how the f*** does he get on the internet to do his blog? I would think that he would want to conserve electricity by only using it when absolutely necessary. I wouldn't want to run out if there was such an energy shortage here in Anchorage and I certainly wouldn't be on the internet every day.

Third, I got the immediate impression that TT's views and opinions aren't generally shared by Abdul Q. Public around there. I'm looking forward to future interviews for this very reason.

I'm glad that you are doing what you do. Thank you.
~Em Green~

Oh what a load of crap.
Truthteller is transparently a good and honest man, working by choice in a difficult area of medicine. He is also a patriot, which is meant to be a good thing. All he is saying is that he is pissed off with your clumsy "liberation" that has reduced Iraq to a shambles.
An unnecessary shambles. If you had to conquer Iraq, you should have done it properly:
put in enough troops to carry out an effective occupation, like your senior generals wanted to -
involved Iraqi leaders immediately in setting up their own government, instead of wasting a year with Allawi and Chalabi -
used your reconstruction money effectively, instead of letting profiteers steal it all; the money soaked up by Bechtel and Halliburton could easily have rebuilt every hospital in the country -
taught your troops to defeat the terrorists by example, to show respect for human life rather than shooting indiscriminately at every imagined threat -
shown an example of decent and civilised behaviour; no, Abu Ghrab wasn't a few bad apples, it was the fruit of a rotten tree -
etc, etc. I could go on for hours.
Bottom line: thank God my country, New Zealand, hasn't got any oil.
Otherwise you would be down here bringing us freedom and democracy and enduring bases. (Never mind that our country is already the freest, fairest, most democratic in the world - if we had oil that wouldn't count for zip.)
And you'ld get a bit of Jihad up you asses if you tried it, mate - Kiwis are very good shots.
Seriously - you would have as much reason to conquer and occupy NZ as you really had to do it it Iraq.
And therefore you've made a total balls-up of the whole exercise.
I remember when we used to look up to the USA.
No longer, mate, no longer.

Em,

The electricity situation is admittedly spotty. It isn't a matter of conservation, it's more of a "one minute it's up, the next it's down." We have the same problem on the FOB from time to time. That's what happens when you're running off generators or an electrical grid that hasn't been updated since the time of Edison. Saddam's government neglected this part of the country, and it shows. It'll take some time for the new government to start responding to the people's needs, but they also have to understand that government doesn't respond until you force them to at the ballot box. People here grew up under a statist economy and don't possess that natural "can-do" sense of capitalist spirit. Most just sit around waiting for someone to fix their lives for them, New Orleans-style. Changes in those attitudes will take time.

Kiwi,

I agree with your assessment of TT. I do feel he is essentially an honest man willing to make sacrifices for the benefit of others, however, he is jaded in the sense that inner city residents in any country often become about their surrounding. (I.e., blaming the police more than the criminal, not taking more responsibility for the problems in their communities).

I disagree with you wholeheartedly on many, if not all, of the points you have made:

--The "more troops to do the job" canard. The position du jour seems to be that we didn't have enough troops back then, and have too many right now. Well, which is it? The senior generals who were actually in charge at the time (not retired armchair generals like Gen. Shinseki) determined the force levels they needed, and the administration gave them absolutely everything they asked for. It's easy to say in hindsight that more were needed for an insurgency that no one DID (or could have) predicted at the time of the invasion. Remember, the insurgency didn't even really begin until months later. There was a fairly long period of relative calm after the fall of Baghdad. It was a concerted effort and decision on the part of Iraq's enemies to attempt to throw the country into chaos, not an "obvious" result of removing Saddam. A true patriot would do what is best for his country and his people, not fight an unnecessary guerrilla war just on general principle. That is what TT seems to advocate and that is where he is simply flat-out wrong. He is helping to condemn his fellow countrymen to a worse fate simply in the name of national "pride," something I fail to see the honor in.

--The U.S. has always tried to get Iraqis themselves to step up and take a leadership role. Until recently, they have always been unwilling to do so. Whether out of fear or malaise, I cannot speculate, but to say we ignored them is simply false.

--No one is "stealing" Iraq's money. There is plenty of investment to be made, but few willing to get involved because of the tenuous security situation. Again, another example of how the "resistance" is only resisting actual progress for the people they claim to represent. Money is absolutely flowing into the Kurdish territories precisely because they have clamped down on the security situation and now realize how much they stand to lose by not doing so. You'd be surprised how much construction is going on there compared to cities like Mosul. Check out the "Dream City" of Erbil:

http://www.michaeltotten.com/archives/001055.html

--"taught your troops to defeat the terrorists by example, to show respect for human life rather than shooting indiscriminately at every imagined threat -
shown an example of decent and civilised behaviour; no, Abu Ghrab wasn't a few bad apples, it was the fruit of a rotten tree"

These comments of yours are simply ignorance with extreme prejudice. You have no idea of the lengths we go to to avoid hostile action around civilians, or the respect we show for a culture that often doesn't even show respect for it's own avowed beliefs. You've likely never even met an American soldier, so perhaps you should stick to what you know (whatever that is). And blaming the many for the actions of a few is precisely the type of judgments we try to avoid making of the Iraqis. We know that the overwhelming majority of them are decent people who just want a better life for their children. We do not blame them all for the truly despicable actions of a few. And we fully realize that some soldiers in a war zone will use bad judgment or make mistakes, or perhaps just be bad people entirely. All we ask is the same courtesy and benefit of the doubt in return. Trust me, we do not "shoot at every imagined threat," any more than the police in South Central L.A. beat up every black man they come upon. American troops show more discipline and restraint under fire today than any other military in the world, past or present -- including our own. That is an incontrovertible fact borne out by military history.

And really, the whole "war for oil" bit is getting a bit tired, is it not? Really, it's time to either put up or shut up on this one, not just wave it endlessly on a placard. I've got an entire post bubbling under the surface just itching to annihilate this ridiculous premise, but that's for another time.

New Zealand may indeed be "the freest, fairest, most democratic in the world." Honestly, I don't know enough about it to contest that. But it's not solely because of New Zealanders that it has been allowed to remain so. You guys apparently have a memory about as long as the French.

-Buck

Many Iraqis know what is at stake, and know who the real bad guys are in their country:

The following is a letter from the Mayor of Tall 'Afar, Iraq (between Mosul and the Syrian border) to the departing men and women of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment:

In the Name of God the Compassionate and Merciful

To the Courageous Men and Women of the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment, who have changed the city of Tall’ Afar from a ghost town, in which terrorists spread death and destruction, to a secure city flourishing with life.

To the lion-hearts who liberated our city from the grasp of terrorists who were beheading men, women and children in the streets for many months.

To those who spread smiles on the faces of our children, and gave us restored hope, through their personal sacrifice and brave fighting, and gave new life to the city after hopelessness darkened our days, and stole our confidence in our ability to reestablish our city.

Our city was the main base of operations for Abu Mousab Al Zarqawi. The city was completely held hostage in the hands of his henchmen. Our schools, governmental services, businesses and offices were closed. Our streets were silent, and no one dared to walk them. Our people were barricaded in their homes out of fear; death awaited them around every corner. Terrorists occupied and controlled the only hospital in the city. Their savagery reached such a level that they stuffed the corpses of children with explosives and tossed them into the streets in order to kill grieving parents attempting to retrieve the bodies of their young. This was the situation of our city until God prepared and delivered unto them the courageous soldiers of the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment, who liberated this city, ridding it of Zarqawi’s followers after harsh fighting, killing many terrorists, and forcing the remaining butchers to flee the city like rats to the surrounding areas, where the bravery of other 3d ACR soldiers in Sinjar, Rabiah, Zumar and Avgani finally destroyed them.

I have met many soldiers of the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment; they are not only courageous men and women, but avenging angels sent by The God Himself to fight the evil of terrorism.

The leaders of this Regiment; COL McMaster, COL Armstrong, LTC Hickey, LTC Gibson, and LTC Reilly embody courage, strength, vision and wisdom. Officers and soldiers alike bristle with the confidence and character of knights in a bygone era. The mission they have accomplished, by means of a unique military operation, stands among the finest military feats to date in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and truly deserves to be studied in military science. This military operation was clean, with little collateral damage, despite the ferocity of the enemy. With the skill and precision of surgeons they dealt with the terrorist cancers in the city without causing unnecessary damage.

God bless this brave Regiment; God bless the families who dedicated these brave men and women. From the bottom of our hearts we thank the families. They have given us something we will never forget. To the families of those who have given their holy blood for our land, we all bow to you in reverence and to the souls of your loved ones. Their sacrifice was not in vain. They are not dead, but alive, and their souls hovering around us every second of every minute. They will never be forgotten for giving their precious lives. They have sacrificed that which is most valuable. We see them in the smile of every child, and in every flower growing in this land. Let America, their families, and the world be proud of their sacrifice for humanity and life.

Finally, no matter how much I write or speak about this brave Regiment, I haven’t the words to describe the courage of its officers and soldiers. I pray to God to grant happiness and health to these legendary heroes and their brave families.

NAJIM ABDULLAH ABID AL-JIBOURI
Mayor of Tall 'Afar, Ninewa, Iraq

Excellent post and commentary, Buck Sgt ~ I appreciate hearing the different points expressed. Lots to ponder over here.
This is such a multi-faceted situation in a part of the world I knew little about until 3 years ago. Religion, civil matters, corruption, occupation, foreign terrorists. There is no one easy answer and I pray that minds will stay open to solutions that will help the Iraqis achieve their dream of a stable and prosperous country. And after all is said and done, it will be up to them to make it so. They certainly have some large hurdles to overcome, but given time and support, hope can overcome despair.

Anonymous--also known to me as NZ from days past on TT's blog--has this thing about America invading New Zealand for some reason--he can hardly get through a comment without mentioning it. Anybody up for A War for Wool?--I dunno. Masochistic personal tendencies projected onto his world view?--more likely. As Great American Sadists, we should politlely decline. Sorry I don't have anything more substantive to offer, but I've been down that Hobbit trail with him many times and have never been able to do as well in answering him as Buck just did. And even he will get nowhere with him.

Buck--I posted that letter to TT's blog two days ago and got some response from him on the subject. You can probably guess. I encouraged him to contact the Tall'Afar city government so he could expose the hoax as a great blow in his jihad against the coalition. No answer as yet--anyone out there have some info supporting its provenance other than its having been read at a briefing?

So many points to pick up on - to take just a tiny one:
"American troops show more discipline and restraint under fire today than any other military in the world, past or present."
Have you ever heard of the British? Their infantry doctrine at the time of the Falkland War was the aimed "double tap" - their FN rifles had the full auto disabled. The lads tried to capture Argentinean FNs which could shoot full auto, but of course the NCOs disapproved. Be interested to know if the same restriction applies on their modern "bullpup" guns.
There was an hilarious report a year ago about the British command in Iraq asking the US to give their convoys transiting the British sector lessons in recognition of the Union Jack, because the Yanks were loosing off at anything that moved, including their allies in their pinkies (Land Rovers.)
Presumably there were no British Paras on patrol in the South at the time. You would only shoot at them once.
There are many different versions of reality. I'm very puzzled by the way the free world media - the great British and European papers, Reuters and so on, are able to report accurately on events such as the Tsunami, but can never get anything right about Iraq.

"Have you ever heard of the British?"

I think so. Didn't they used to have a powerful Navy or something?

"Their infantry doctrine at the time of the Falkland War was the aimed "double tap" - their FN rifles had the full auto disabled. The lads tried to capture Argentinean FNs which could shoot full auto, but of course the NCOs disapproved."

Not sure what exactly your point is here. Although if you're attempting to give a lesson in army doctrine to an experienced infantryman from a conflict that took place over 20 years ago... really, come on now.

"I'm very puzzled by the way the free world media - the great British and European papers, Reuters and so on, are able to report accurately on events such as the Tsunami, but can never get anything right about Iraq."

I'm just as puzzled. Although calling a bunch of self-congratulatory wank rags "great papers" is a bit much.

Perhaps they COULD get something right about Iraq if they chose to, but it's their liberal worldview that they can't see past. Reuters won't even print the word "terrorist" without putting "scare quotes" around it. Sounds like "one man's 'terrorist' is another man's freedom fighter" moral equivalency nonsense to me. And this is in the hard news sections, routinely making editorial judgments in their copy.

Maybe Americans will take them seriously when they start acting like professional journalists again. As we speak, the Balkans are still an absolute mess after a previous administration attempted the very same thing as Iraq but with very little follow through. If anything's a "quagmire" it's that place. But very few soldiers are dying there so you don't hear a peep about it.

Honesty in reporting, that's all we ask. Believe me, if Iraq was as big a disaster as the press would like it to be, you'd be hearing about it from soldiers themselves. Try and find a current milblog that has this view. And no, there's no censorship over here; the only prohibited info is operational details that aid the enemy.

Fascinating.

Thank you Buck and Dr.Truth Teller for sharing this exchange.

It is wonderful that Iraqis can freely connect with the world.
Freedom is something we can all agree is precious.
Thanks to those who have be fighting fascism in Iraq and everywhere else.

From NZ
Don't think I better hang around here – not a military man and I find your depth of anger a bit alarming. Couple of points:
1)Sorry I didn't make myself clear regarding “restraint and discipline under fire.” What I was trying to say was that the Brits, some of whose Regiments have continuous histories going back hundreds of years, seem to place more emphasis on fire discipline than the US military currently does. And after all they did manage to contain their Irish terrorist problem with these tactics. And US fire discipline, or the lack thereof, seems to be one of Truthteller's (and other Iraqis) main complaints.
2) Just from a quick glance at some of your other posts, you seem to argue your case pretty effectively in some ways. So what is the point of this? “...calling a bunch of self-congratulatory wank rags "great papers" is a bit much.” If you've traveled a bit, you must be aware that extreme right-wing Americans only make up a tiny percentage of the world's people. And that millions of us, particularly perhaps the more educated and influential, regard the Times of London, fo example, the oldest newspaper in the world I believe, as the world's “Journal of Record.” (One is reminded of the old cartoon of the butler saying to the duchess, “There are three reporters at the door, your Grace, and a gentleman from the Times.”) Is “wank rags” as a description of this really an effective way of communicating with us?
Remember, the Brits ain't the Redcoats any more - they're your main allies in Iraq.

-NZ

Cutting and running already? What happened to all your "kiwi jihad" bravado? I think you're plenty safe behind your computer screen.

You're admittingly basing your impressions of U.S. soldiers on the word of an Iraqi who unabashedly gives vocal support to people who indiscriminately maim and kill anyone they please at any time for any reason (or no apparent reason at all). I gave Truth Teller his due simply to allow equal time to the "other side" of the story. I didn't expect anyone to actually take him seriously. The allegations he makes are often preposterous, in the same way Michael Moore is preposterous. I don't doubt that he sincerly believes what he believes, but like the American Left and your precious "papers of record", they are often wrong in a spectacular fashion.

FYI, the Irish terrorist problem took the Brits nearly two decades to get under control, and then only by legitimizing the aims of the terrorists and working with them politically. I don't recall my country giving them hell on a daily basis about their situation, other than covert financial backing from Irish enclaves on the East Coast.

"Is “wank rags” as a description of this really an effective way of communicating with us?
Remember, the Brits ain't the Redcoats any more - they're your main allies in Iraq."

The London and NY Times have both essentially reduced themselves to the respectability of tabloids. I didn't do this to them, they did it to themselves. I lament this occurence precisely because it is bad for our republic, just as it is for one of our two political parties to have gone off the deep end into madness. The only way to have a healthy balance of power is for both sides to act like adults and be taken seriously, despite your political disagreements. But to routinely lambaste the leaders of one side as "worse than Nazis" and the like is simply beyond the pale.

And I agree, the British "Military" are indeed our steadfast allies, and we appreciate them. The British people, on the other hand... well, that's a mixed bag. How far they've fallen since the time of the Blitz. Churchill was right, it WAS their finest hour. Nowhere to go but down.

It is amazing how some people think they have to have the last word. That somhow that makes them right. But alas some people will never see the truth because lies are easier to believe. I am so very proud of our soldiers and their work in Iraq. It gives me hope for all of our futures. Keep safe and keep going strong.

Oh Buck ,,,,,, "depth of anger" - you need to do something about that. ;-) On one hand I give the Doc a hand for his straight forwardness and honesty. On the other hand I find him to be but an apparition of a man. Blame everyone but yourself for your problems. Additionally, his rationalization for the killing of innocents in markets and neighborhood streets lacked any truth which I think was displayed. His attitude is one of the reasons why the children of Iraq will and are very important towards Iraq catching up with the world whilst leaving their Arab and Iranian brothers in the dust.

I approve of what you're doing, as usual, and especially now: opening a dialogue with "the other side" like this, not just at the higher echelons of government but man-to-man, is just what we need to win the peace. As I'm sure you can appreciate, that victory is usually the more difficult one.

One thing, though, about the Mayor of Tall 'Afar's letter: bombs made out of the corpses of little kids? Is that for real?

--
alt.flame Special Forces
"I should have put the bum away early, but my timing was a fraction of an
iota off." -- Philadelphia Jack O'Brian

Yes, the letter is real. I noticed TT over on his blog already disbuting it's authenticity. But a Washington Post reporter acknowledged he received a copy of the letter directly from the mayor of Tal Afar as well, yet declined to publish it. Instead he wrote up the exchange with a negative spin (I know, SHOCKING). The entirety of the article is pretty decent, though. I'll give the WaPo credit for being the only major paper to even TRY and see past their biases.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/02/15/AR2006021502586.html

As far as boobytrapping corpes, that really isn't a new tactic for these guys (or in the history of warfare period). In Afghanistan, the Taliban could always be counted on to boobytrap their own bodies with live grenades after being taken down. What I think IS new however, is the sheer level of inhumanity in which this generation of terrorists has wallowed in. These people care nothing for human life whatsoever, not even their own. There is zero moral equivalence between us and them; if that were not the case, the entire population of Iraq would be wiped out by now. We have the means to. Thankfully the enemy does not.

Here's a tiny sample of what these bastards are capable of. I'm gonna come out on a limb and venture that it's a tad worse than "detainee abuse":

--"Three children were killed and two wounded when a bomb exploded outside the Karama primary school in the Saydiyah neighborhood of southeastern Baghdad, said Gen. Salman Hassan Shammari of the Iraqi police. A second roadside bomb killed two children and wounded four more in the Fadhl neighborhood, he said. It was unclear who detonated the bombs or why."

--"BAGHDAD — Marwan Rassam's restaurant is a Baghdad institution, famous for its pizzas and grilled meat sandwiches wrapped in flat "saj" bread.
Ordinary as that may seem, Rassam's diner was bombed last year by extremists who have broadened their targets beyond Americans, Iraqi police and troops to include bakers, cigarette vendors and even employees of a perfume boutique.

"I'm like any other Iraqi nowadays, feeling that I am vulnerable and can die at any moment," Rassam, a Christian, said Friday.

In the past two weeks, mechanics, blacksmiths, bakers and liquor dealers have been killed in drive-by shootings or roadside bombings.

Two brothers working in an exclusive cologne and perfume shop in Baghdad were gunned down Friday in the store. The killers left without taking anything, police said.

About an hour later, armed men attacked a nearby watch store. This time the staff was ready, grabbing guns from below the counter and chasing the assailants into the street.

They shot one dead, and U.S. soldiers sent in a robot to remove a grenade from the corpse.

Just why Iraqis with no clear ties to the U.S. military or Iraqi police are being killed or kidnapped in increasing numbers has become one of the most disturbing questions of the post-Saddam Hussein era.

In Rassam's case, perhaps the young couples sitting at outside tables enraged Islamic extremists. Or the diner could have been targeted by militants wanting to kill policemen who regularly eat there. Nobody knows for sure — except the bombers."

--"The suicide attack that was performed on an election center in one of Baghdad's districts (Baghdad Al-Jadeedah) last Sunday was performed using a kidnapped "Down Syndrome" patient.

Eye witnesses said (and I'm quoting one of my colleagues; a dentist who lives there) "the poor victim was so scared when ordered to walk to the searching point and began to walk back to the terrorists. In response the criminals pressed the button and blew up the poor victim almost half way between their position and the voting center's entrance".

[Using mentally slow Iraqis as human bomb fodder is surprisingly common. We took one into custody recently just to protect him from his own brother who tried to use him in a suicide attack].

--"In a land where almost everyone has a horror story to tell, Jassem Aziz's experience of Sunni violence against Shias is particularly grisly. He holds back tears as he talks of how his cousin, Ahmed al-Bahadli, was murdered 10 days ago.

A Shia Muslim from the Sadr City slums of Baghdad, Ahmed had joined the new Iraqi National Guard, only to be killed in his patrol car when a bomb planted by insurgents exploded.

The next day, as his family took his coffin for burial in the holy Shia city of Najaf, 100 miles south of Baghdad, they were stopped at what purported to be a police checkpoint near the town of Iskandaria and ordered out of their minibus.

Insurgents wearing fake police uniforms shot and beheaded six of the mourners, including Ahmed's mother. Then they ripped Ahmed's body out of the coffin and decapitated him too."

--"A suicide attacker steered a car packed with explosives toward U.S. soldiers giving away toys to children outside a hospital in central Iraq on Thursday, killing at least 31 people. Almost all of the victims were women and children, police said.
<...>
"It was an explosion at the gate of the hospital," a woman who had wounds on her face and legs told the AP. "My children are gone. My brother is gone."

With no room left at the hospital, emergency workers rushed victims to hospitals in Baghdad, about 15 miles to the north. And when the hospital morgue was full, the workers were forced to place the dead in the hospital garden so family members could find them."


--"BAGHDAD -- A suicide bomber in an explosives-laden SUV killed at least 27, including an American soldier, late this morning in the deadliest insurgent attack in more than two months.
<...>
Many, if not most of the dead were children loitering and playing near U.S. soldiers at an impromptu checkpoint in Baghdad al-Jadida, a lower-middle class residential district populated by Shiites, Sunnis and Christians.

At the nearby Kindi hospital, hundreds of distraught parents mingled in blood-soaked hallways shouting and screaming as they looked for their children, many of whom were badly mutilated.

"Most of them are children. The Americans were handing out sweets at the time of the attack," a duty policeman at the Kindi Hospital said.

"We have received the bodies of 24 children aged between 10 and 13," said an official in charge of the morgue.
<...>
"Why do they attack our children? They just destroyed one U.S. Humvee, but they killed dozens of our children," he said as women screamed, slapped their faces and beat themselves over the head.

"What sort of a resistance is this? It's a crime," he added.

At Kindi hospital, one distraught woman swathed in black sat cross-legged outside the operating room. "May God curse the mujahedeen and their leader," she cried as she pounded her own head in grief, reports the AP."

[Read the whole sickening roundup compiled by Greyhawk]: http://www.mudvillegazette.com/archives/004003.html


Stories like these are what TT commonly brushes off as "U.S. propaganda". He should know better. His beloved "resistance" commit horrible acts in this city, although we've put the hammer to them and effectively shut them down in recent months. The local propaganda machine is in full tilt, however. Just the other day I overheard an Arab couple whose home we visited telling our chaplain that they have a low opinion of Americans because all day they are told to by the Mosul spin machine. (Mosques, local press, word of mouth, etc.)

With all due respect to the above commenter who said "There are many different versions of reality", I believe that to be incorrect. While there are as many perceptions as there are individuals, reality does in fact have an objective nature, even when it cannot be objectively measured. The widespread acceptance of perceptions does not necessarily make them precise or accurate. When people argue about events that have happened, nobody serious suggests that multiple conflicting accounts are each completely accurate--they argue for accepting their particular description on the grounds that it is most correct. The intellectually honest position, then, is to compare the stories (using a single standard of evidence) in order to derive a more accurate description of reality, not to claim all viewpoints are equally correct. If the tiny percentages of people holding that minority opinion just might be right, you are better served by honestly trying to understand their position (not just what that position is reported to be) and resolve its conflicts with your own beliefs, that you may better understand what is really happening. Which, of course, is what the internet facilitates so amazingly!

Arguing that all viewpoints are equally valid, even if done only out of habit, generally indicates a lack of conviction regarding the structural integrity of one's own viewpoint coupled with an unwillingness to face the logical implications of its inaccuracy...

Buck Sargent, thank you for your service.

Holy criminey, am I the only one who's brain hurts after that last comment?

Well said, Mr. P. I absolutely concur. (I think?) However, I believe you may be too smart for some of the peaceniks in my audience. If it doesn't rhyme and is too long to fit on a protest sign or a bumper sticker, they're not interested.

"Hey, Hey... Ho, Ho... Arguing that all viewpoints are equally valid even if done only out of habit generally indicates a lack of conviction regarding the structural integrity of one's own viewpoint coupled with an unwillingness to face the logical implications of its inaccuracy... has got to go!"

Yeah, I'm not seeing it.

How about "if reality is what you make of it, than why are you arguing with me about it?"

Sorry--I didn't realize that last one sounded so intimidating until after I had posted it... ;-)

I stumbled across this on Neal Boortz's site. This is definitely #1 on my wishlist for my Easter basket this year:

"Why Mommy is a Democrat"
http://littledemocrats.net/index.html

Check out the sample pages. They're so funny I almost crapped myself. (The second image is particularly instructive. The cute little helpless squirrels talk about the value of ensuring our collective safety, but note who is actually walking the beat. I can't believe that one slipped by the author. Absolutely hysterical).

This is my favorite "about the book" blurb:

"'Why Mommy is a Democrat' may look like a traditional children's book, but it definitely ISN'T JUST FOR CHILDREN. With numerous subtle (and not-so-subtle) satirical swipes at the Bush administration and the Republican party, 'Why Mommy' will appeal to Democrats of all ages!"

You don't say!

Seriously, this is a MUST HAVE coffee table book. Paul, I'm sending you this to go with the Paris Hilton memoir I got you last year.

Hahahahahahahahahh...oh my God my stomach hurts, I can't take any more...

Hi Buck Sargent:

An excellent interview. I'm sure it must have seemed a bit awkward for you, but you really came across as impartial, and the questions you asked Truth Teller were very revealing.

One interesting thing about Iraq is that the end-goals of men like Truth Teller and men like yourself are largely the same. The disagreement comes in how to get there.

reading some of the comments on here, between some american and brits about whos best at what waste of time... as an ex soldier having served in Gulf war(1) and Northern Ireland in it's more troubled times, i had the good fortune to serve with americans in Germany and in a combat situation!
I found them to be both proffesional and a good laugh....and your right people back here should tour the Grave yards of France or the 8th Air force graves back int the UK if you doubt american commitment to Britain& after 9/11 our commitment has got to be with the U.S.
God bless America & God save the Queen!

I think TT's comments partly reveals how Iraq allowed itself to be ruled by a thug like Saddam for so long.

I think it also shows the shame many Iraqis feel after seeing how easily the US Military slapped him down, at not having removed him from power themselves long ago.

As for your brave friend from NZ, I for one don't give a shit how he looks at the USA. I am sure he lives in a very nice corner of the workd but does anyone remember the last time anyone thanked New Zealand for anything?

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