Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Bush Announces "Bring It On" Much to Our Dismay. I Decide Never to Reenlist.

2 July, 2003

It’s late at night, and it’s been a day of disappointment, as some families were removed from their homes. The good part about today was that I was able to fix a toddler’s cut foot and give him a pair of perfect fitting flip-flops. I’ve also taught the kids some manners and it is much easier to give them things now. They are learning “please” and “thank you” and how to wait their turn. This was after a few times of me going to give them things, and then walking away after they were rude. So there is hope for them. Any problem can be solved with the right technique or approach. It’s all in how you do it.
Tonight Sergeant Smith came to get Foley and I to help set up some razor wire and evict some families. So, I got me gear on and went to see what was going on. As usual, all the sergeants were standing around smoking cigarettes. I asked, “O.K. I’m here, now what is your plan?” They just kept talking, so I walked around to a dwelling where a group of people were standing with our Iraqi translators, Fleischmann, and some other military geniuses. As I made my way to them, all these little kids came up to me – they know me now – and I gave each one of them a piece of candy. I had a pocket full of candy, thinking I may still be able to keep the kids friendly even thought they were being moved out. One little boy pulled on my sleeve, and showed me an American flag on his shirt. Then he motioned that he wanted to give me a kiss. I was a little confused at first, but I bent down to the cute little man and turned my cheek to him. He reached under my helmet and gave me a little kiss on the cheek. Sergeant Ramos yelled, “HEY! BE CAREFUL!”
‘SHUT UP!’ I yelled back at him. The little kids were so happy. Others then gave me kisses, and I kissed their little cheeks too. It was really amazing. Then a little girl came up with a bear I gave her a few days ago. I was happy to see it was still in good condition and in one piece. I then walked over to the crowd, and as I was walking, a soldier in full battle gear was dragging a screaming boy past me, with plastic restraint bands on his hands. I went to the group and found our translators around Fleischmann, that arrogant bastard. I know the translator, and he said, “Dan, I feel like killing myself, this is horrible!” For the first time, our translator didn’t like what we were doing.
‘Yes, I know, you know I don’t agree with this. I’m sorry too,’ I replied. Fleischmann was talking out of his ass,
“That little son of a bitch is lucky we don’t shoot his ass! Find his parents! He was throwing rocks at us, now he tried to steal my sunglasses!” Apparently, they arrested the kid for being a troublemaker. He is maybe 11 years old. I was just so angry at how Fleischmann was talking – a disgrace.
“Hey Sergeant Major, I would put a fucking sandbag on his head!” a sergeant said.
Fleischmann was spouting off about this kid needing to get shot, or get a good scare. Then an Iraqi man said he could punish the boy, instead of putting him in jail. Fleischmann retorted, “YOU TOUCH HIM AND I WILL PUT YOU IN JAIL TOO! If you do that in America, you go to jail!” Then the father came, wanting his son back. He was afraid the soldiers would hurt him. About this time I just stood there. I wanted to witness all of this, so I could write about it. I want to see and hear it all, so I can share it in this book. How things really are here.
As I was standing there, a little boy came up and simply took my hand. His little hand was tugging on my finger tips, and it made me uncomfortable at first. Then I thought, ‘Imagine how he must feel, hearing and seeing all of this.’ He stayed close to my side, and so I took his little hand in mine. He stood there next to me holding my hand tightly, and I bounced my hand to let him know that everything was OK.
Fleischmann then began to talk to the father, “If your son was older, I would have shot him. He’s lucky we didn’t shoot him for slingshoting rocks at my soldiers! You are a bad father! Where are you all day while he’s doing this?! I’ll give your son back in three hours! We are going to teach him a lesson!” Exaggeration strikes again. It’s a constant demon here. I just stood there and listened to some scouts, “Fuck him, piece of shit! I would have shot his ass – he deserves it!” I know this sounds unreal, but it is true! I still can’t believe it. I stood there with the little boy and two others who huddled up against me. I then turned to see some women with babies in their arms trying to move their things. All you could see were belongings sitting in the street as the sky got dark. I looked at the mess, little kids running around, and babies crying. Hardly any men around – except for us soldiers, and they were too busy getting excited about punishing a child than putting up razor wire. All the men left. They left their pregnant wives, babies, and children behind. See, I was there when the men said they wouldn’t move. Well, yesterday, the Army paid each family $100. Well, the men took the money and left. One lady just had a baby yesterday, and she was already moving scrap metal in her yard today. Of course, you see that often. The women do all the work, and the men stand around and scratch themselves. It was a mess tonight. I found Foley and he was giving water to a woman and her baby to have. I was worried about the boy prisoner, and I was sick of being amongst Fleischmann and his bullshit. So, Foley and I went to the prisoner holding area. As we walked there, the S2 officer, the infamous and childish Captain Jasper, was talking to the translator. He said, “We hold, as a civilized society, certain core values, as Muslims and Christians, and we want to see those values in a new Iraq.” I almost gagged. It’s just a rowdy child! Here are all these officers and self-styled Iraq culture experts, spinning philosophy! Over a little boy. As I went into the prison, I found no one. Then Sergeant Mayer was in there wandering around. “Where’s the boy? I wanted to fuck with him!,” he said.
I kept searching for him still. As I came into the operations room, people were hooting and laughing like children. “Oh, you should have seen him crying like a little bitch!” said one. I went on the back deck and just listened. Sergeant Smith came out laughing. He said, as the XO of the BN stood outside smoking a cigarette, “OH SIR! YOU SHOULD HAVE SEEN IT! WE CRUCIFIED HIM!” He really said this, Foley and I just looked at each other. The XO looked embarrassed to be there. “We faced him towards the wall, made him spread his arms out, placed his nose against the wall, and made him cross his feet! You should have seen it!” Sergeant Smith yelped like a half-retarded teenager. I looked over to Foley, ‘You know he’s divorced, right?’ I said.
“Well, did the kid piss himself?” asked the XO, looking a bit baffled. I could tell the XO was looking at me too, and my disbelief showed on my face. Then CPT Jasper came out, strutting his scrawny, frail, crooked little body – this little Napoleon, with an air of self satisfaction. He looked at me – he is always trying to kiss my ass for some reason – and said something to me while bouncing his head like a cool guy. I just ignored him, and he looked confusingly around, wandered on the deck as if looking for someone to pat him on the back for punishing the little Iraqi.
The XO tried to change the subject, then left us after he was unsuccessful. This is what happened to the boy after being “crucified”:
An act was planned. CPT Jasper planned it. One of the sergeants was yelling at the boy, telling him he was going to be in jail for 30 years, and an old man when he gets out. So, as planned, CPT Jasper walks into the cell, and guards snapped to attention, screaming “ROOM-ATTENTION!” as Napoleon walked in. They interrogated him, asking, “Are you Feda’yeen?!” They boy was crying tremendously. After a dramatic line of questioning and pretending to implant a tracking chip in his neck, they made him swear to God never to do anything bad again. How sweet. One young boy, who I forget to mention earlier, was outside of the fence crying, because his friend was afraid. I got down on my knees in front of him and tried to shake his hand. He wouldn’t though. I then gave him a piece of candy and patted him on the head. I got a translator to tell him that his prisoner friend would be OK. Eventually, I got the boy to smile and shake my hand. When this was happening, some tracer bullets went racing into the sky, like a fireworks show. I stopped talking to everyone. They seemed to be possessed by stupidity and childishness. It’s a shame that grown men act like this! Many of my theories about the nature of man are proving true here. There is so much being incorrectly done here. I call this behavior the “Kid with Magnifying Glass Syndrome.” Some kids that burn ants with magnifying glasses in the sun or pull the wings off butterflies grow up to be big kids that play games with people’s lives. This is a society of human filth. This Army, this Army of idiots. Just because someone is in power, doesn’t mean they are right. Tonight, the BBC is reporting the new E.U. president and an Italian PM said that a German E.U. parliament member would be a good actor for a concentration camp film about Nazi Germany. Another example of irresponsible and stupid people in power. Perhaps Berlusconi’s new friend George W. Bush is beginning to rub off on him.
Yesterday, our Bravo Company accidentally ran over a car with 4 people in it. All four were crushed and killed. It was at night in a narrow alley. The tank was rolling about 30 km/h and went head-on over the car. No big deal. (Gunshots just went off.) I also did one of my jobs today (other than kicking women on the streets), filling media spots for our battalion adjutant. Today it was the London Times. ‘Aggressor 6, would you mind entertaining The London Times this evening?’ I asked.
“Yes! Sure!” he said (the A CO. commander).
‘OK, I’ll arrange it. Be looking for them at 1900,’ I said. Hmm. War is hell. I would like to get interviewed once, I’d share a bit of my mind.
Ahhh, Spatzi! I love you! I whispered again to the stars tonight ‘I love you.’ I’m going to call you right now. It’s 0234. Late, ge! Don’t worry about me, I’m OK. You stay strong and dream of us. I LOVE YOU! MUAH!

It was around this time that insurgent attacks against coalition forces began to steadily increase. I remember being in the TOC one afternoon and standing with a group of people around a satellite television. We were watching Bush give a speech. Some soldiers who had just come in from patrol were standing around as well, in their many pounds of sweat soaked gear. I watched Bush as he spoke. He displayed his typical twisted, uncomfortable smile. He bobbed his head when he talked. He used the same unprofessional tone of voice he had used before. I didn’t trust him. Something deep inside of me, the innermost voice inside of me, the same voice that guides me along, said that something was not right about Bush. Then he said something that turned my feelings towards him from distrust to absolute disgust. “There are some who feel like that the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is bring them on,” Bush said. “We’ve got the force necessary to deal with the security situation.”
As I stood there in the TOC, my jaw dropped. I felt so utterly insulted. As I looked around the room at the other soldiers, dirty faces stared at the TV in disbelief and shook their heads in frustration. I looked over at some friends of mine who looked me in the eye with a million unspoken words. This was at the height of Bush’s chauvinistic phase, which waned somewhat shortly before the U.S. presidential elections and thereafter. He insulted us, and I believe he insulted everyone else in that room. Here he is, a privileged person who had never been in danger or offered his service beyond the borders of the United States, sitting in an air-conditioned conference room in Washington D.C. talking bar room shit. He was trash talking on the international stage! Writing checks with his mouth that he’d never have to pay. WE were the ones paying, the soldiers and Iraqis.
“Bring them on? THEY ARE BRINGING IT ON YOU STUPID MOTHERFUCKER! GOD!” one frustrated soldier vented out loud and walked off. It was then that I decided I would not vote for Bush, no matter what, because he took my service and touted it in front of terrorists, like a carrot in front of a donkey. The terrorists in Iraq know what the deal is here. They know they can’t win militarily. I believe Bush said this for U.S. public consumption. He said it for his audience of sycophants and wannabe military types who never served in the military or never made it to any major conflict. He said it to bolster his image as the “common man” who needed to be president for another term, because of his straight talk and simple solutions. You ask the average soldier what they thought of the comment, soldiers walking around in 120 degree heat, wearing 30 pound vests, pounds more in ammunition and gear, wearing Kevlar helmets and drinking hot water while riding around in unarmored vehicles – ask them what they thought about Bush’s words. Bush was showboating, spouting off nonsense. That comment did more to damage my trust in the Bush administration than any left-wing protest on TV. I think it did more to reinforce the feeling among many soldiers that we were alone to finish the task, that we were the only ones who understood Iraq. George Bush and his uninspiring shit talking could go to hell.


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