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The Mass Media

For People Who May Never Understand

Kudos to Felicia Whatley, for her brilliantly penned opinion piece! If Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway produced a love-child, their offspring could not have stated it any better; “…For people who may never understand.” Thank you, Ms Whatley, for helping me to understand why the occupation of Iraq is an exercise of liberty. You have helped me to understand what guilt, sleeplessness, therapy and alcohol has not. In 2005, my company used to pass out pencils and paper to Iraqi children, in hopes of gaining a village’s confidence, so we could extract intelligence; I did not understand that we were renovating schools. When a platoon returned after removing election posters of candidates who were not supported by the U.S., I did not understand, we were preparing the Iraqi people for democracy. I did not understand that pouring money into building the gyms, Burger Kings, Pizza Huts, swimming pools and recreation halls, on American Bases, constituted reconstruction. Nor did I understand how noble it was to let the natives of a province govern themselves. The men, women and children of Anbar Province are extremely fortunate that we have given back their native soil. I did not understand that Anbar Province belonged to the United States. Now I know it was theirs to give.

Ms. Whatley has helped me see the true Iraq. I now understand that my fellow soldiers, mostly from rural and inner-city areas, many exercising their only option to gain a college education, died “For the idea they did something right.” My original understanding was that the U.S. invasion of Iraq was due to their production of Weapons of Mass Destruction, ties to Mohamed Atta, an attempt to purchase yellow cake uranium and their affiliation with a collection of third-world super powers known as, The Axis of Evil. I did not understand that since all these things are still unproven, we should just ignore the initial reasons provided by our president for going to war, and try to establish a government that is suitable to U.S. interests. I did not understand that I should be “Grateful that the war is in the Middle East and not in places like the U.S.” I did not understand that the American civilians killed on September 11, were more important than the Iraqi civilians that have been killed since March of 2003.

I have been on missions were my company has stormed in at night, not on a suspected enemy hideout, but on civilian villages. We did not go to a home where we expected a specific individual to be located. Our mission was to rush into every house, as quickly as possible. We were to seize all computers, cell phones, papers, pictures, anything that may be used to prove their ties to the insurgency. Our orders included the detainment of every military age male. We also did “Show of Force” missions. These were relatively easy missions. Our only job was to show up to a village with as many gun trucks, tanks and soldiers as possible. We wanted to make sure the Iraqi people understood the extent of our force. Oddly, we could not understand why these same villagers would not cooperate with us when we asked about suspected insurgents.

It was always my understanding that, when the Iraqis fired mortar rounds into our Forward Operating Base, it was because they did not want an occupying force in their country. I did not understand it was because they did not care about their own people’s lives. I did not understand that the civilians killed by my company where different then the civilians killed by Iraqi combatants. I did not understand why we called men attacking an armed force, terrorists, yet the men systematically raiding a civilian village, in the dark of night, house by house, smashing doors, scaring children and stealing electronics, were called liberators.

When I enlisted, “For the idea that [I] did something right,” I thought I it was an honor to defend free speech for those who disagreed with me. I did not understand I was only protecting those who, “Get in the political process the right way.” Bravo, Ms. Whatley! You have helped me to understand that the people, who want to bring the men and women in Iraq home, do not support our troops. To really support the troops you must desire to keep them in harms way. You have helped me to understand that Iraqis are incapable of governing themselves. After your marvelous combat experiences, I can only imagine how eager you must be to join the active army, and redeploy to Iraq. I am sure you could help explain to the Iraqi people, as you have done for me, why the U.S. must remain in their homeland, regardless of the death toll.