With the way things have been going with the war in Iraq, more people than ever have become interested in hearing a “soldiers perspective.” Yet I find myself answering the most complicated questions with the most dilute answers. It’s hard to describe the experience of being an occupying soldier in a foreign city. One separated from your home by an ocean, a culture and thousands of years of history; it’s even harder to explain the feelings and reactions of the Iraqi people. Their’s is a complicated society as culturally and ethnically diverse as almost any other; Of course, coming from a nation with such a unique extreme of national diversity, it’s difficult for many to understand this. To generalize the feelings of the Iraqi people by saying the Iraqi people are ready for this and the Iraqi people are tired of that is to boil down an issue of the utmost complexity to a level which can’t possible do justice to the severity of it’s many dilemmas. Simplified questions get simplified answers and the path we tread there is anything but simple.
Iraq is much like the US in that it’s impossible to get all the people to agree on anything. There’s the obvious gap between the Shiites and the Sunni’s a generational gap between those who remember the old Iraq (pre-Saddam) and those who don’t, and a rapidly widening gap between the religious and the secular. The already strong western influence on the secular culture is becoming more prominent as more and more people gain access to uncensored internet and sattelite TV but the sway of the Faith increases as well as people turn to the mosques for support during this difficult time. You’ve got business owners who’ll support anything as long as it’s making them money, you have farmers who don’t care who’s running the country as long as their irrigation pumps have water and they’re getting the supplemental rations they’ve relied on for the last 12 years. You have average citizens who want national strength and independence but are far more worried about the safety of their family and their ability to provide for them.
I don’t even know where I’m going with this anymore. I used to worry that the people back home didn’t have an accurate understanding of the situation in Iraq. We really did have a trust and a peace established with the people in most of the country. The attacks that were happening were coming from a determined minority, a small group. But now I feel like thanks to a series of mistakes, we’ve seriously damaged that trust. Insurgents will always be a minority but if you piss off enough of the indifferent majority you’ll have an angry plurality; if we don’t have a working relationship with the people on the streets the insurgents will find it that much easier to fight us.