Saturday, April 12, 2008


Every so often, General Petraous comes back to the United States from Iraq to report to Congress. His message has always been the same, give or take a few words. The Surge is working, but not exactly. The troops cannot come home. The violence is down, but there is still violence. More money is needed. The Iraqi troops aren't ready. Americans must have patience. In fact, his messages are so similar, why doesn't he send over a one-word telegram saying "Ditto!" and save the taxpayers the cost of the trip?

I have lost all patience with the Iraqi soldiers. Why aren't they "ready"? They are like a pie in a broken oven refusing to display a brown crust. We have trained Iraqi soldiers for several years now, at a tremendous cost. Yet, a CNN segment I was watching about the Sadr City battle showed them going to lunch at the same time the American back-up needed them on the job.

Why is it that the Iraqi insurgents are "ready," but the Iraqi Army, trained by Americans, are not? Perhaps we should discover the secrets of the Iraqi Militias and follow their advice. It just seems to me that, if they are not "ready" by this time, they are never going to be ready. It just may be that these Arabs are not happy about the prospect of shooting other Arabs. So, "ready" may be a state of mind, a reluctance to send out those bullets and bombs that will kill their own countrymen.

I was thinking about it all the other day and I decided to transpose Iraq-USA into Canada-U.S.A. Suppose a marauding force from another country invaded and took over Canada. Would we sit idly by and watch our Northern friends be occupied by foreigners, or would we smuggle in guns and equipment and many of us join the fight against the invaders?

General Petraous imitates President Bush is calling the enemy in Iraq "Al Queda." I suppose it is thought that these words will strike terror in the hearts of all Americans. According to some reports, including Senator Murtha, there are only a small percentage of Al Queda in Iraq. I believe General Petraous put the number at 2,000. So, why keep reiterating "Al Queda," "Al Queda," as though they make up the gist of the enemy? The truth is, we seem to be fighting the Iraqi militias, trained and "ready," who are fighting the soldiers occupying their country. Can we blame them for that?

We went to Iraq for various reasons, most of them known by President Bush and Vice President Cheney and their Administration, and not really relayed to us in a way that was completely truthful. The occupation of Iraq has been described to us in words that are flowery and wonderful, offering them "Democracy" and a chance for better lives. We offered them "equality," and all of the marvelous things that a true Democracy can offer.

It is not a Democracy when a country is occupied by a foreign nation. It is not a Democracy when there is not equal representation of all the people. It is not a Democracy when the oil profits are piled in banks or disappearing into pockets and not used to benefit all of the citizens. It is not a Democracy when the Army, after years of training, is not "ready." Nor is it a Democracy when the female half of the country is cowering in their homes, afraid to step out to the market, unable to enjoy equality.

Millions of people have either died or been disabled in this conflict. General Petraous keeps talking about "victory," but doesn't have a clear answer of just what victory will mean. If we stay in Iraq until there is no conflict, we will have to stay forever, because the religious grudges have afflicted this country since its origin. Truthfully, the real victory will be on the day that we bring our troops home and force the Iraqi to sort out their difficulties without our help.

Ah, but the oilfields...those precious possessions now in the hands of International Corporations...will then be in Iraqi hands. Yes, and I suspect they will be "ready" to defend them and keep the profits pouring out from them. I suspect that the only victory certain people see for Iraq concerns a firm grasp on the oilfields for the benefit of large Corporations.

However, it is always interesting to see General Petraous repeating his message again and again. Occasionally, in between large segments of other stories, we see a brief report on what is going on in Iraq. Usually, it involves the death of an 18-year-old soldier who obviously was "ready" enough to die in battle. We see the American soldiers, equipment dangling from their belts, guns in hand, heavy clothing belying the desert climate, obviously "ready" to fight for the cause. These brief glimpses, which seem to be all we are allowed to see, show the true misery of's toll on the very young! We've all seen the Viet Nam vets who wander aimlessly on our streets, the derelicts, the mentally unsound, the tormented souls. We have one in our town who pushes a bicycle all day long, his worldly possessions in its basket. The next town has one pushing a baby buggy filled with grimy gear. God help us if Iraq will end up stealing the minds and souls of young, idealistic men and women who deserve to know just what in Hell "victory" might mean. General Petraous might think about this and let us all know just what the answer might be.