Saturday, August 25, 2007

"I don't want to be here any more."

The happy-talk coming out of aWol's mouth is not cutting it with those who are actually sacrificing and being sacrificed. In fact, they are downright disdainful. last month, in a dining hall at a base south of Baghdad, aWol was speechifyin' on a big-screen teevee and the soldiers didn't even look up from their chicken and mashed potatoes.

"I don't see any progress. Just us getting killed," said Spc. Yvenson Tertulien, one of those in the dining hall in Yousifiya, 10 miles south of Baghdad, as Bush's speech aired last month. "I don't want to be here anymore."
The frustration and sagging morale is palpable, and it is being expressed in overt statements and in ranting blog posts like this one: "This occupation, this money pit, this smorgasboard of superfluous aggression is getting more hopeless and dismal by the second," a soldier in Diyala province, north of Baghdad, wrote in an Aug. 7 post on his blog, Army of Dude.

The suicide rate in the Army is at the highest level in 23 years. The evidence is even in the latrines. Someone posted the Army's "help cards" listing nine warning signs for suicide in the stalls. One of the cards had seven of the boxes checked. Of the 99 suicides committed by Army personnel last year, 27 of them took place in Iraq. A mental health survey released in May revealed that 45% of the soldiers interviewed ranked morale as low or very low, and only seven percent ranked it as high or very high.

There are two faces to the occupation of Iraq. There is the reality, which the Soldiers and Marines are facing and dealing with daily, and then there is the face that is shown to the public. With support for continuing the occupation of Iraq at about 30% at home, they dare not show the reality, or that remaining support would crumble.

It is depressing and horrifying and I could rant for pages. In fact, I have, as you know full well if you have read this to close, am going to let the soldier/blogger Alex, from Frisco Texas, have the last word:

"The only person I know who believed Iraq was improving was killed by a sniper in May."

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