There are still people shooting at our brother and sister Americans in faraway deserts. Let's keep that in mind. Here's a letter from Major Bob Bateman, and I ripped it's entire content off Altercation, 'cause I think many folks who read this blog need to be able to see it whole. It is one of the best "I wish I was home, but we're making progress here and its something to be proud of because this is what we're fighting for and dying for" explanations I've ever read.
Name: Major Bob Bateman
Dateline: Baghdad, Iraq
Back from the Home Front
I returned to Iraq ten days ago. My R&R was a blissful few weeks with my daughters and my love at my parents’ house at the beach. For twelve days I had little sense of time beyond that provided from the position of the sun in the sky and my mother’s badgering to “come in for dinner.” My feet went unshod for nearly the whole time, and I sank a 50 foot chip shot on the 14th hole, which is enough to sustain.
But I am back now, and so I need to focus again on the here.
The most pressing thing here is the coming referendum. I have, it seems, a moderately contrarian position on this issue. From what I saw of the various and sundry pundits on television during my weeks at home, many consider the possibility that the draft constitution might be voted down as a “tipping point,” or a crisis of some sort. There is some purchase in the old line about “nattering nabobs” on this topic. Quite a few predict disaster should the Constitution not pass this referendum of the People.
I disagree, and to some degree I am bewildered by the negativity. In January, when I got here, the Sunnis barely participated in the first Iraqi foray into democracy. That was a setback. Unlike then, the Sunnis are now registering in droves, as are even more Shi’a, and all of the other sects and ethnicities that combine to make Iraq. Look here. They are, gasp, campaigning. About Issues. Folks, this matters.
Particularly telling in the article linked above are a few lines which seem to make many people nervous because they raise the specter of a splinter Shi’a-Sunni Alliance. Here is the money quote, it refers to Moqtada Al Sadr, the Shi’a cleric: “Sadr called upon his followers this summer to register and then await word from him on whether to vote. The rejection of the charter by his followers, numbering in the hundreds of thousands, and by the Sunnis would sink the draft document, some Sunnis say.”
But I see this as, pardon me, something approaching our first true victory here. Why? Well examine that proposition. Moqtada Al Sadr, a man who a little more than a year ago was engaged with us in a desperate life-and-death struggle, directing thousands of followers in violence against us and the new Iraqi government, is now leading opposition in which the primary weapon is a ballot.
Is that not the purpose for which we came here? Not to determine the outcome of an election, but to enable a truly free and open election. It is, at least, a large part of why I am here. Freedom.
Making this even more possible are the numbers. As the Washington Post reports, “In the predominantly Sunni province of Salahuddin, 722,025 of 1.1 million eligible adults registered to vote, said Isam Hussein Samarraie, the provincial voter registration director. In the January elections, 532,069 people cast ballots there. In Diyala province, 417,000 of 750,000 eligible adults registered. In January, only 119,000 cast ballots, according to Amir Latif Alyahya, director of the provincial elections commission.”
Salah ad Din and Diyala are two pretty rough provinces. In fact, those are two of the four provinces where fighting has never really abated. And here too the process seems to be on track. People are registering to vote against us, which is a damned sight better than shooting at us.
BAGHDAD WITHIN EARSHOT:
When I returned here I discovered a whole new crop of personnel in this headquarters, from the top to the bottom. I am now, officially, the longest serving (in Iraq) person in my particular section. Draw your own conclusions.
I have been engaged in a debate with one reader here through a long string of e-mails. He opposes this conflict, and claims that all who fight in what he determines as an unjust war, are by extension immoral. This posting is as close as I ever expect to get to publicly explaining the “why” of my personal participation.(Footnote 1)
My daughter Ryann kept me on pins and needles for a week as she tried out for her 7th grade school soccer team. On Tuesday I expect that those of you on the East Coast heard my shout of joy when I received her one-line e-mail, “Dad, I made the team.”
That's the end of the letter. Right about now, you can turn up the hurricane radio, 'cause your DJ (me) just got awful mad. Here's a little comment from yours truly regarding that second to last paragraph.
(1) As a matter of disclosure, full and public, let it be known that the "one reader" who thinks participants in war are "by extension immoral" is the kind of spoiled brat American who doesn't deserve to have people defend his butt.
It is an issue of American Consensus that our volunteer armed forces are putting their lives on the line to defend us and our way of life. There is nothing immoral in defending oneself or one's country. If the leaders we as a nation elect make the decision to send our troops into harms' way for immoral reasons it is the fault of noone but ourselves, for we are the ones who elected those leaders. And if we disagree with those leaders or think an action immoral, it is our fault for not changing the hearts and minds of the electorate who put those leaders there. This is a democracy and a republic, the buck does not really stop with the President, the buck stops with us who cast those ballots.
Now, there is nothing unpatriotic about questioning the validity of how or why a war is being waged, or even if someone (misguided as I think this is) who argues that war is never the answer. Hell, there's nothing unpatriotic about expecting the military to police soldiers and keep them under scrutiny for violating the Military Codes or the Geneva Conventions Abu Graib-style. But questioning the morality of soldiers and servicepeople for volunteering to serve and then going to war for us because our elected leaders have decided on that course of action is just flat out wrong. It pains me to see that some Americans are so closed minded and self centered that they take their squemishness out on our boys and girls who have the cajones to step up and wear the green and guns.
What really sets me off is that I bet this (most likely upper middleclass white male milquetoast faux-liberal) jerk probably pats himself on the back for his "courage" to "take on the military-industrial complex," and he probably does it quite loudly at a place not unlike Hot Corner Coffee in Athens. Slime like this spit on Vietnam Veterans in airports. I bet the little punk thinks he's a communist, too, and I bet a bunch of pot-smoking hippie girls just think he's the cat's meow.
What a loser. Just for the record, folks like that aren't liberals, they're stupid.
I want everyone to think of the folks who you know who are soldiers or who have been soldiers and ask yourself if those individuals fit the description of "by extension immoral." I want everyone to go back and read Major Batemans's letter and see if someone like that fits the bill.