Dohiyi Mir
    In Which NTodd Says His Peace

Sunday, August 10, 2003
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We Don't Feel Like Heroes

Somebody at Atrios wondered if many troops in Iraq have access to e-mail. It seems the answer is yes, and they're using the medium to get their views heard:

Susan Schuman is angry. Her GI son is serving in the Iraqi town of Samarra, at the heart of the 'Sunni triangle', where American troops are killed with grim regularity.

Breaking the traditional silence of military families during time of war, Schuman knows what she wants - and who she blames for the danger to her son, Justin. 'I want them to bring our troops home. I am appalled at Bush's policies. He has got us into a terrible mess,' she said.

Schuman may just be the tip of an iceberg. She lives in Shelburne Falls, a small town in Massachusetts, and says all her neighbours support her view. 'I don't know anyone around here who disagrees with me,' she said.

Schuman's views are part of a growing unease back home at the rising casualty rate in Iraq, a concern coupled with deep anger at President George W. Bush's plans to cut army benefits for many soldiers. Criticism is also coming directly from soldiers risking their lives under the guns of Saddam Hussein's fighters, and they are using a weapon not available to troops in previous wars: the internet.

Through emails and chatrooms a picture is emerging of day-to-day gripes, coupled with ferocious criticism of the way the war has been handled. They paint a vivid picture of US army life that is a world away from the sanitised official version.

In a message posted on a website last week, one soldier was brutally frank. 'Somewhere down the line, we became an occupation force in [Iraqi] eyes. We don't feel like heroes any more,' said Private Isaac Kindblade of the 671st Engineer Company.

Not being a soldier, I don't know how this really feels. But imagine being told your mission is right and just, and you believe you're doing good, only to have the population turn against you. That has got to hurt morale (thank you, Captain Obvious). And I suppose that impacts effectiveness, and puts our troops and Iraqi civilians in more danger? All I know is that it's bad.

To get some perspective on all this, you might want to check out the following sites:

* turning tables - in my "Other Blogs You Should Check Out" blogroll in the right nav. I've quoted from Moja's blog a few times. I find the constant use of ellipses a bit annoying, but he provides a good view from Baghdad.

* soldier's paradise - a new addition to my blogroll, providing a soldier's POV that's different from Moja's. Variety is good.

* Bring Them Home Now - I mentioned this site for the first time a few days ago. It's a collection of military families, veterans, active duty personnel, reservists and others who demand an end to the occupation.

* Soldiers for The Truth - the Guardian article alluded to the site, but didn't provide the URL. I've cited Hack's writing from here on occassion. I don't always agree with some of the editorials, but it's really a good site.

* Veterans for Common Sense - explicitly mentioned in the article, but again no URL. I haven't explored the site yet, but their mission is "to inject the element of Common Sense into debates over war and national security."


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