Experiences/Thoughts on Iraq

Discussion in 'TM Lounge' started by TangneyK, Jul 29, 2005.

  1. TangneyK

    TangneyK Pianissimo User

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    Having spent almost a year in Iraq, and about 6 months in the "real" world to process what I experienced down there, I'm going to start writing some experiences and observations I've had on this thread. Please feel free to attack my observations (as they are subjective), but please don't attack the validity or integrity of my experiences (as I've tried as hard as I can to keep them objective and truthful to the best of my abilities/memories). I have no POLITICAL PURPOSE for this, however, many of my opinions will probably lean one way or the other. (They're opinions... DUH.) I'm not trying to convince anyone of anything. Rush Limbaugh and Al Franken get paid way too much to do that as it is. So, here we go...

    One of my many jobs "downrange" (a combat zone, in this context meaning Iraq) was to escort Iraqis on and off the Forward Operating Base (FOB) and supervise them doing work. After I got to know a lot of the guys, I asked them the question that I think is/was on everyone's mind:

    "Are you glad that the US came in here and kicked Saddam out?"

    To which they ALL replied:

    "Yes. Saddam muzien (no good)."

    I prefaced that question by saying none of them would get into any trouble as a consequence for their answer. I'm 99% sure that they were telling the truth, because the next day I asked another question:

    "Ok. You're glad that Saddam is out, right?"

    Iraqi's: "Yes."

    "Now, is your life any better because of it?"

    Iraqi's (paraphrased): "Not really. We have a little bit more money now, but we have no security (physically or financially). We are afraid. It is a different fear than with Saddam, but we are afraid all the same."

    Huh.

    --Kevin
     
  2. rjzeller

    rjzeller Forte User

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    Those do seem like contradictory statements, but they make sense to me.

    Saddam was an evil, tyrranical, ruthless maneace of a dictator. The fear then (I presume) was that if you said anything contrary to his way of thinking or violated laws, there was no telling what level of punishment you could receive. There also, from tales I've heard about his sons in particular, was a very random risk that you could lose property or family for seemingly no reason.

    So having him gone is a good thing, and becuase they're a democracy now, however fledgling it is, they at least have HOPE of a good future. I think that hope and the support of the US in establishing a fair and reasonable government would make all they're going to through worth it if it works out in the end. So they're glad we kicked him out of power.

    But their lives are not any better -- they have more money, and perhaps more supposed freedoms; but the insurgency is very real and a dangerous threat to everyone there. It's a tough life when there's always the risk that you could get killed at any moment. And they're still rebuilding infrastructure, so I'm sure life is still not convenient, as it were.

    So to me, I guess those two replies basically indicate that they're struggling now, but that at least now there's hope and a future brighter than the one they had with Saddam.

    My 2 pennies, anyway. Some of this WAS based on comments I've received from friends who've served there as well as some contractors who are currently there....
     
  3. Mr. Semman

    Mr. Semman Pianissimo User

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    First of all "Thank You" for your efforts and service. I think that the Iraqis response was quite truthful and clear. After Saddam, there has been a virtual vacuum in governmental leadership. While one side attempts to form a government, the other side is fighting a civil war.

    You asked very good questions.

    Gary

    P.S. I served in Noble Eagle, and presently I am in the Retired Reserve.

    Thanks again.
     
  4. ROGERIO

    ROGERIO Mezzo Forte User

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    I think it's also safe to say that a lot of that fear now comes from being in control of their own destiny. Or maybe better put, they are being presented with the option to be in control of their own destiny.

    Kevin, there was another topic about terroists going and there was much said about why neighbors were not doing more reporting on suspect activities... what was / is your take on that?

    Rogerio
     
  5. TangneyK

    TangneyK Pianissimo User

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    In our conversations, I don't believe that the Iraqis I talked to thought that they were in control of their own destiny. Part of the "lack of security" I mentioned was based on them telling me that they don't and/or can't see hope in the future. They believed that the government we set up for them initially was corrupt (i.e. petty politics, influence through money, etc.), and that the new government would not represent them well (they were Sunni). Not that this type of corruption in government is new--it happens EVERYWHERE--and is probably no more extreme than what happens even in our country.

    How can they be in control of their destiny and have hope for their future when poverty and terror run rampant, and even tommorow is NEVER a guarantee? This is not a rhetorical question.

    Kevin
     
  6. Tootsall

    Tootsall Fortissimo User

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    Kevin, I'd like to ask you a question here. I've been of the thought for some time now that not all of the mayhem in Iraq is being performed as a direct result of Islam, extremist Moslems, or anything else to do with religious terrorists. I have been thinking that a certain amount is being done by or for local petty criminals, warlords and other purely "criminal" groups. Given the proliferation of weapons in this geographic region and the long history of "tribal warfare" it seems to me that there would be efforts by some of these groups to use the cloak of "extremism" to disguise their true actions.

    Based on your experiences and thoughts... do have any comments on this idea? Please note that I am not trying to minimize the activities of true terrorists but it seems that IF there other "motives" involved, then there have to be other methods of studying and analysing their actions and ways to stop them. I guess I'm thinking about things like the different "reasons" for some groups to promote poppy cultivation in Afghanistan.... some obviously to raise funds for al Quaida and other are simply in it "for what's good for Jack".

    Hope I haven't overly confused my question.
     
  7. rjzeller

    rjzeller Forte User

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    I think much of Kevin's input from those he dealt with is colored by the fact that they're Sunni, many of whom did not vote at the behest of several opposition leaders, so they have very little influence in the current government.

    However, I can see where they would feel nervous or scared. Nevertheless, there are surely as many different opinions over there as there are here, and I have heard from numerous friends who are or have been over there that things are definitely looking up and we are very welcome there.

    However, there are clearly some who resent the US presence. It isn't a perfect world, but it would seem we're on the right track.

    Also, I think Toots brings up an excellent point. While it's been verified that a large portion of the insurgency is actually fed by terrorists from OTHER countries (as opposed to a clear rebellion from within), I would not be suprised to find local criminals and warlords would be taking advantage of the situation to further their own ills and wreak havock of their own....
     
  8. Manny Laureano

    Manny Laureano Utimate User

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    Kevin,

    Your informal survey results don't surprise me both in the good and the bad. I think it's going to take a longer time than the public here realize before things stabilize to a point where the good Iraqis that just want to get on with their lives can.

    I don't think the American public that was around immediately after the signing of the declaration of Independence were all that convinced that this "representative republic" thing was going to work all that well, either. That's why lots of folks wanted Washington to be made "King George". Others with a little more vision thought better of that idea.

    Anyway, thanks for serving on my behalf. We can't live without you, our military.

    ML
     
  9. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

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    Manny, also something to think about regarding the birth of our country is that there were plenty of folks that didn't think sticking with Mother England and the status quo was such a bad idea, and didn't want independence at all.

    What we are doing in Iraq, as unpopular as it may be to some, I believe is for the greater good of the world in the long run - we can't look at this in terms of weeks or months, we need to look at it in terms of decades and try to make a projection of the effects of our actions, should they succeed, (and I believe they will) in 40 or 50 years.
     
  10. Manny Laureano

    Manny Laureano Utimate User

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    Yeah, Patrick, when I was in High School, I remember that public opinion ran in thirds: One third wanted independence from England, one third didn't care, and the final group, you guessed it, didn't want independence. I don't know where those figures come from but I've heard all my life from different sources.

    So the minority and the "whatever" crowd won out. One ironic bit that I learned later on in life: if we'd stayed an English colony, we would have remained in charge of the vast territory that was the South. All that cotton and other goods... on the backs of slaves... might have made them less likely to give up ownership. Which means that a civil war of some sort may still have occurred when the King would have announced "okay, no more slaves! You'll have to let them go or pay them! Oh, and by the way.. I'm raising taxes again to make up for the deficit that's going to happen when the slaves go free. Have a nice day!"

    How would the reigning king have dealt with that, I wonder?

    ML
     

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