Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
I reccomend going and reading Iraq the Model. These guys started blogging early in the war. They went from optimistic, to extremely pessimistic and downright hopeless and pretty much stopped posting for a while -- but they're back on the upbeat, hopeful side now.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
A moment of joy for us and the families of the 99% of soldiers who go and make it back.
Followed by a moment of silence and reverence for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for a more secure world, and for their friends and families.
That is all.
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
Terrorism, yes. Civil war, no. Clear enough?
Yesterday, I crisscrossed Baghdad, visiting communities on both banks of the Tigris and logging at least 25 miles on the streets. With the weekend curfew lifted, I saw traffic jams, booming business — and everyday life in abundance.
Most Iraqis want better government, better lives — and democracy. It is contagious, after all. Come on over. Talk to them. Watch them risk their lives every day to work with us or with their government to build their own future.
Tuesday, February 28, 2006
The Associated Press reported Monday that Sunni Arabs in Iraq are prepared to end their boycott of talks to form a national unity government, thus disappointing yet again those journalists who've been telling us for two years civil war is imminent. (more...)
Maybe Bush is right and the bulk of the Iraqi population really does want freedom?
Friday, February 17, 2006
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
Friday, December 16, 2005
For those of you who don't know, she's a Mosul teenage girl.
Voting before the terrorists wake up. I like that. I don't think she's talking about our troops, Mr. Kerry.
He does have access to email, but they keep him pretty busy over there and he has little time to actually respond. If he has anything to say I'll be sure to post it here. Stuff that comes from Brian I try to put in courier font to look like a typewriter, sort of... and I will introduce his text as such.
I am also sure that this kind of stuff happens frequently, all over Iraq. Our guys (that includes the gals, you know) are typically good human beings who care about other human beings. But you don't see it reported in the MSM. That would be propaganda. ;-)
Thank you all, again. Wow.
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Sunis Oppose Al-Queda -- urged by clergy to vote
FALLUJA/RAMADI Iraq (Reuters) - Saddam Hussein loyalists who violently opposed January elections have made an about-face as Thursday's polls near, urging fellow Sunni Arabs to vote and warning al Qaeda militants not to attack. In a move unthinkable in the bloody run-up to the last election, guerrillas in the western insurgent heartland of Anbar province say they are even prepared to protect voting stations from fighters loyal to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of al Qaeda in Iraq.
Graffiti calling for holy war is now hard to find.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Of course, they're "surprised", but ... just the numbers, minus the spin:
- 70% of Iraqis say their own lives are going well
- Nearly 2/3 of Iraqis expect things to improve in the year ahead
- Over 60% of Iraqis feel very safe in their own neighborhoods
- 61% of Iraqis say local security is good
- Average household incomes have soared by 60% in the last 20 months
- 70% of Iraqis rate their own economic situation positively
Friday, December 02, 2005
Welcome to Beth-Nahrain: Something to be cheerful about
I can't describe my feelings when I see such pictures of Iraqis, specifically the children, being happy and just enjoying their day...I was filled with excitment to see that the Iraqis are defying the odds and are enjoying their holidays, and trying to make their children have a normal life.
and a whole lot more from the post she got them from in Sooni's blog.
Sooni lives in Baghdad.
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
...approximately 130 Iraqi army and special police battalions are fighting the insurgency, of which about 45 are rated as "in the lead," with varying degrees
of reliance on U.S. support.
"Quagmire" indeed. "No strategy". And yet we keep making progress. Funny, that.
We were invited to dinner this evening by one of the local nationals that we have a lot of dealings with. He told us a few days ago that his family would make dinner for us, so tonight was the night. It was really good. They grilled lamb and some sort of minced meat kabob and served them along with cucumbers, tomatoes, and freshly made flat bread. The idea is to roll the stuff up in the bread or use the bread to pick up the other items and eat them that way. Afterwards we had Iraqi tea. The host and his family and some of his friends were there, and then about 8 of us Marines and our interpreter. This man has several kids. We brought some balloons for them, which turned out to be a big hit. After dinner the two Marine officers talked politics and business with our host, the other Marines sat there and talked to each other, and I got up from the table and played with all of the kids. I carried the baby around for a while and then had balloon wars with the others for the rest of the time. We chased each other around the courtyard and made a bunch of noise and such. Eventually they all ganged up on me. They actually wore me out pretty well. When we got back in the vehicles to leave our interpreter said, “I don’t know who was having more fun, you or the children.” She said that the caretaker had smiled and told her that his kids were having so much fun. It was a good time. I didn’t want to leave. Hopefully I’ll get back there soon to visit.
I have a new story from last night that is pretty neat. We got a call fairly late in the evening that two Iraqi nationals were up at the hospital and needed to be picked up. Evidently they had been treated in Baghdad and flown here, which shouldn’t have happened, and the hospital that released them expected someone here to get them back to their town.
Nobody really knew what to do with them, so they called us, since we are civil affairs. We went to the hospital and that’s where the story begins. When we got there we found out that it was an Iraqi man and his grandson. The grandson has cerebral palsy and had somehow got a hold of some kerosene where he lives and drank some of it. When the American military found out, they put him on a helicopter along with his grandfather and flew him to Baghdad for treatment.
We brought one of our interpreters so we could communicate, then figured out what to do. Evidently a flight in the morning had already been identified for them, so we just had to put them somewhere for the evening, since the hospital here refused to let them stay over night, saying, “We’re not a hotel”, which I thought was a little ridiculous.
Well, we decided to put them up for the night at the local mosque, because we know the caretaker really well and work with him often on various projects. This all took a couple of hours to figure out so by this time the child had fallen asleep so I wrapped him up in his blanket and carried the little guy out to the truck to take them over there. He didn’t wake up until we got outside and into the cold air but when he did, he didn’t seem afraid at all that a stranger was carrying him. It seemed like he knew that he could trust us, and when we got to the mosque and I went to get him back out of the truck he reached for me and put his little arm around my neck when I carried him inside. I guess it made quite an impression on the mosque caretaker as well, because he told our interpreter a little later that he was very moved by it. He told her it was such a sight to see an American carrying an Iraqi child as if it was his own. Like he was carrying him to safety. I’m not sure how much the child knew what was going on, but when I laid him on the bed they had ready for him, he looked up at me and smiled.
The caretaker and his wife invited us to stay for tea (a common custom in this culture) so we sat down and visited with them and the grandfather of the child. As it turns out, the grandfather is a village elder where he is from and holds a significant amount of authority and power. He had never dealt face to face with Americans and kept saying how impressed and amazed he was with us. He said that he watched all of us work and he had never seen a group of people that work day and night every day without tiring and that work together so efficiently. He had been in the Iraqi military years ago and said that it couldn’t compare to the level of efficiency and effort of our American military. He also couldn’t believe that we would do so much for a man that we had never met before and did not know. That we would fly his grandson all the way to Baghdad, treat him, and get them back home. He couldn’t believe that we all cared so much about people we didn’t know, and that my fellow Marines and I would take time to sit and talk with him and look after their well being. He kept saying, “Look, you are all officers and you talk to me and look after me. I am nothing.”
Judging from the stories he was telling, evidently he had been fed the propaganda that the Americans were conquerors and that we had come to “swallow Iraq up.” With reference to me carrying his grandson and us treating and looking after them he said, “Look, this is not how conquerors behave.” Our interpreter said that he kept repenting for the way he had thought and for what he had done before, which led us to believe that he had probably supported the insurgency in one way or another. He repeatedly said that he would go back to his home and tell everyone about the Americans and how we really are. That we are here to help them and to help rebuild their country and give them a better life. Since he probably has quite a bit of local influence, this could be pretty good for our cause. Who knows, maybe we helped prevent some insurgent activity and possibly saved a couple of American lives down the road somewhere. I hope so.
After tea we left for the night, then came back early in the morning and got them on the flight back to their home. I was left with a good feeling about the whole experience. This is one of those things you don’t get to see on the news. How we completely changed someone’s mind about what Americans are like and how we were able to save a little Iraqi child. The man assured us that under the old regime before we were here, his grandson certainly would not have been flown to Baghdad and treated and saved. When we said goodbye to the man, he shook my hand and blessed me and wished me long life. That was pretty neat.
When the kids saw our vehicles approaching they started running out and following us. We stopped and passed out toys and candy and talked to the adults. Mom, do you recognize any of the toys? (ed. My wife and others send toys to Brian to help out. They are inspired by the kids and want to do something.) The kids of course mobbed us, which I never mind at all. They’re pretty cute I think. Our interpreter talked to one of the mothers of the kids, and the lady said that they are always glad to see the Americans coming because we make their children happy and we do so much to make their lives better. I thought that was neat. They definitely like us in that village.
They are cute kids, aren't they?
In a letter from Brian (a couple of months ago):
In addition to the mission, I handed out school supplies, toys, candy, and water to over 30 little Iraqi kids and interacted with them quite a bit. I did some first aid on some of them that had cuts and scrapes and stuff. I cleaned off and dressed their wounds. Nothing too serious. They seemed utterly fascinated with the band-aids that I put on them. After I cleaned up the first kid they all started coming up to me and showing me their little cuts and scrapes and wanted me to put band-aids on them too, even though most of them were already almost healed. I felt really good after helping them. These kids live in poverty and have nothing. They fought over the bottles of water we handed out, let alone all of the toys and such. I made sure every one of them got something though. Some of the bullies tried to take stuff from the smaller kids and kept coming back for more stuff, but I made sure the little ones kept their stuff. I took lots of pictures that I will show you. They even kept trying to get me to give them my camera and my ballistic sunglasses. We were absolutely swarmed by these kids. It was a lot of fun though. There was one little kid that I met named Umar. He was probably about 7 or 8 years old and he was really sweet. He didn't push or shove like the others and we taught each other a few different words in our native languages. He kept trying to speak Arabic to me really fast and I think he kept forgetting that I couldn't understand him. He could say a word or two in English though, so we could communicate to an extent. I bandaged up a scrape on his hand and he was very thankful. I gave him a couple extra band-aids for when that one came off and he shared them with the other kids that had cuts. I thought that was really neat. He was the only one that did something like that. I got a couple of pictures with him, which he was very excited about, and he would look at them on the camera and smile and say "Very good, very good". He seemed really intelligent and he said that he goes to school, so I made sure that he got a little bookbag with some pencils and paper in it. They had a little school in this village, but who knows how much the kids learn. I hope I get to see that little guy again.
Sunday, November 27, 2005
Marines, Soldiers work together to win Iraqi trust
Brian and the rest of the CAG are in charge of Civilian Affairs ... they fix broken stuff, build stuff that wasn't there before, and try to build good relations with Iraqi civilians in general. Anything from water plants to schools, roads, electrical plants.... things to get the country up and running and working -- in many cases better than it was before we got there.
I think this stuff needs to be shared.
As a further explanation of the motivation behind this blog, I'll send you to an article from Mona Charen.
The most telling part of it is here:
"... In his first tour, he [Sgt. Todd Bowers] noticed that members of the press were reluctant to photograph Iraqis laughing, giving the thumbs up sign, or cheering. Yet Bowers saw plenty that would have made fine snapshots. In Baghdad, Al Kut and Al-Nasiriyah, Bowers reported no signs of anti-American feeling at all among Iraqis.
[...] At the same site, the Marines had repaired an old Ferris wheel. The motor was dead, but when two Marines pushed and pulled by hand they could get the thing turning to give rides to the children of the Iraqi employees. They did so for hours on end. A photographer from a large American media company watched impassively. 'Why don't you take a picture of this?' demanded one Marine. The photographer snorted, 'That's not my job.' "