This one tops the list...
The Warden of Falloujah
By Mike Carlson, Mike Carlson served as the officer in charge of the Camp Fallouja Regional Detention Facility from March 2006 to October. He is now a graduate student in creative writing at the University of Central
It's not personal.
The enta who screams "meesta!" every 10 seconds for 48 hours straight isn't doing it to infuriate you, his captor. What it boils down to is that he can't pronounce "mister," and he was carrying that 155-millimeter round in the back of his pickup, and he was going to try to blow you up, and the reason he was picked by the insurgent leaders to haul the shell is that he's soft in the head, which is why he cannot stop screaming "meesta!"[snip]
You won't fire your weapon in anger.
Your truck will stop one night outside Abu Ghraib. You will wait for explosive ordnance techs to clear a suspicious burlap bag. Because there are so many bombs, you never know how long you'll sit exposed on the road. During the second hour, CF-4562 will ask you in perfect English if he can pee. You will escort him to the edge of the road. When he thinks you aren't looking, 4562 will slink away from you and your rifle. You will immediately see through such a feeble escape attempt, and here, outside the site of America's shame, this enta will be one sandal step away from giving you an absolutely justifiable reason to finally click your weapon's selector off of "safe."
You will raise the muzzle slowly with muscles that ache from humping 60 pounds of body armor and ammo and water and Quick-Clot coagulant, but before your thumb moves over the safety, you will automatically say "kiff," Arabic for "stop," because it's been drilled into you as part of the rules of engagement. You will want to shoot, and 4562 will hear that in your voice. He will stop. He will manage a feeble stream of urine before you shoo him back aboard the truck.[snip]
You will return to civilian life.
You will be jumpy and vaguely unsatisfied, disconnected from the civilians around you who care only about text messages and gas prices and catty e-mails. Navy doctors will find Iraqi sand trapped in the innermost pathways of your ear canals. Your wife now snores, and all her unfamiliar noises combine to drive you from your bed.
On one such night, you will turn on the television news and see that Anna Nicole Smith's death has trumped the coverage of America's 3,118th fatality, 31-year-old Petty Officer 1st Class Gilbert Minjares Jr. You will note that, at 39, Smith was younger than most of the helicopters flying in Iraq. You will turn off the TV and sit in the dark and feel your eyes water as you think about how you took 55 Marines and sailors into a combat zone and brought all 55 back home, and that no one in America besides you and those 55 really cares or understands what you went through.
That's only three exerpts of twelve. Go read the rest.
I'd say creative writing classes were paying off.
Desperation Helps Out in Baghdad
The long and short of it is, whether you see it as a knock at the administration and the Iraq government or the bare knuckles truth, it is time to change tactics and that, of course, is why Petreaus is there.
As they say, it's not over until it's over. I don't like comparisons between wars, but in every military conflict generals have changed and leaders have taken new drastic steps in order to bring the interminable war to a swift close. I don't see it as Sherman's March to the Sea, or Replacing McClellan, D-Day Landings or Rolling Thunder bombings. Every situation requires a different tactic. If hands off in Baghdad didn't work and promising not to leave didn't work, then it's time to change.
The only thing I believe we should hold steady on is not leaving. Particularly, without having made every effort, I do mean every, to insure that Iraq does not fall into total chaos and spread across the region.
Part of that is this - Into Sadr City
As U.S. and Iraqi forces attempt to pacify the capital, mixed couples who symbolize Iraq's once famous tolerance are increasingly entangled by hate. Forced by militias or insurgents to leave their homes because one partner is from the wrong sect, they find few havens because of the other partner's affiliation. These strains, fueled by displacement, separation and fear, are beginning to tear apart such families, weakening bonds that for many Iraqis hold the hope of sectarian reconciliation.[snip]
As U.S. and Iraqi forces attempt to pacify the capital, mixed couples who symbolize Iraq's once famous tolerance are increasingly entangled by hate. Forced by militias or insurgents to leave their homes because one partner is from the wrong sect, they find few havens because of the other partner's affiliation. These strains, fueled by displacement, separation and fear, are beginning to tear apart such families, weakening bonds that for many Iraqis hold the hope of sectarian reconciliation.