Friday, September 07, 2007


I don't know how to feel.

"Riverbend," an Iraqi woman whose blog I have read since the start of the war, years before I joined the Army even, is gone. She is now a refugee in Syria, having chosen to flee her home in Baghdad like millions of others. She can no longer accept the way things are in her homeland, regardless of what we try to tell ourselves. No matter what we say about the good we're doing over here, this woman's testimony is a seething incrimination of all the ways in which we have failed her.

I'm confused. I should be happy for this woman--I've read and enjoyed her work for so long, and I've worried for her safety when the posts dwindled and eventually almost stopped. I prayed--as much as someone like me is capable of praying--that things would improve for her sake. I should be happy that, at long last, she and her family have found safety outside of Iraq, at a time when our ally Jordan and even our own government are denying Iraqi refugees asylum by the truckload.. I should be happy that at last, she can fall asleep next to her husband and not fear raids from either Shiite death-squads or even my fellow soldiers.

And, all I feel is a profound sadness.

Why is this?

Should I not congratulate her? Should I not be happy for her children, who now need no longer fear the mortars that even now disturb my sleep? Why do I feel only sorrow at what should be a small moment of relief for one innocent in this conflict?

But then I remember: this is our fault. This is my fault. This woman--funny and passionate and possessed of better English skills than most of my fellow soldiers--had to leave her home behind because WE--with our "war on terror" and our goddamned criminal lack of empathy for any country not white enough or Christian enough for our sensitive tastes--WE caused this. We uprooted this woman's life, killed her relatives, tore her family asunder. WE made it so that she, a secular Sunni, could no longer leave her home without wearing a hijab and being accompanied by at least one male relative, for fear of being targeted for her failure to practice "good Islam."

Don't tell me that the terrorists did this. They may have been the bullet, but we were the powder. Regardless of whatever horrors they have committed, the ultimate blame rests with us. The death, the starvation, the crumbling infrastructure. Our leaders knew the risks--going as far back as the 1990s. Our leaders persuaded the public. Our leaders have convinced us, time and time again, to just "give it six more months." We're the ones who went in, ignorant of the culture and history of another people, and destroyed it. Like SHEEP, we have gone where they wanted us to go, even if it leads to the slaughter.

So don't tell me that the terrorists did this.

We appointed every Interior Ministry death-squad assassin.
We provided every unaccounted-for weapon and round.
We pulled every trigger.
We launched every bomb.
We shot every child.

For a long time, I justified to myself that, by contributing to this war effort, by maintaining the force infrastructure so necessary to our cause, I might have been able to help good people such as Riverbend. I told myself that, more than anyone else in my own country, I might be doing my small part to help keep her safe. And now she's gone. She's left. So now what am I fighting for?

River, be safe. I hope that now you will be able to pick up the peaces of your life. I pray that one day you will return, and perhaps even forgive us.




Blogger Seven of Six said...

Excellent post Milo, as usual.

Don't tell me that the terrorists did this.

In Iraq, the term for terrorist may very well be occupier.

Be safe, keep your head down and chin up!

7:33 PM  
Blogger Thomas said...

It disheartens me to say that even though the majority of us back here want this over with, the minority who still supports this garbage is still local and adamant about it's continuation; how things are so much better over there then they were before Saddam. They still believe that Osama and Saddam were in cahoots; cahooting if you will.

I've had arguments with friends over this in the last few days, and a guy in the bank yesterday told me we should just level the whole place and come home. Yet, another person told me today that he looks forward to us "crushing" Iran. This is of course from people who have never been over there. Only one the aforementioned will ever spend anytime over there because he's in ROTC and as you know they have a direct line with "the reality of the situation."

I often worry that I'm blinded by my same ideology as they seem to be with theirs, blinded to the truth of what is really going on over there. I want to be wrong, I'd like to think that it's all sunshine and rainbows over there and Saddam had tons and tons of WMD's and was planing to use it on my friends and family, but we stopped him just in time.

I think for once I'd like to be wrong about something.

Be safe, The TB

P.S. Sorry about rambling a bit on our personal forum.

Be safe,

The TB

8:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh dear. You're so right on, as usual. There was just an article in the paper today about the number of Iraqi refugees being under reported. I hope that some years down the all works out. Don't mean to sound glib, but god, the horror of it all. Keep thinking and writing and for the love of god, stay safe.

1:55 PM  
Blogger iamcoyote said...

Exactly how I feel, Milo. I cried with her as she packed and repacked her suitcase and felt ashamed that I'm still in my safe home, my family pictures on the wall, my kids able to go to work and school without worrying that they might be targeted on the way. I'm glad she's safe for now, but how valuable is safety without home, history, community, country... And you're right. She's more articulate in two (or more?) languages than most of us with just barely one.

6:29 PM  
Blogger runningwolf said...

Thank you for letting us know Riverbend is safe.
And, no, it is not easy being a non-xtian in this country.
May you come home safe, and may the Creator, by whatever name one calls That One, have mercy on us, for what we have done.

4:39 PM  
Anonymous DerelictDaughter11 said...

i cried as i read her last post...glad for her safety, terribly sad that she had to leave her home because of...all this. bless you and stay safe. may *everyone* return home safely.

9:53 PM  
Anonymous Anne said...

*steals a kiss, runs away*

I love you Milo!

7:01 PM  
Blogger soul pumpkin said...

...thanks for yet another stunning post, Milo...the entire country should read your words and thoughts...
...i've been away for a while, but my thoughts are with you and every soul affected by this quagmire...
...and i haven't forgotten about setting some of your words to safe, my friend...



10:19 PM  
Blogger Mary said...

I DO wish everyone in the US would read this....

7:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You voiced my thoughts so very eloquently. Thank you.

Stay safe and be home soon.

7:52 PM  
Anonymous OZinWisconsin said...

Are you out of that hellhole yet?

2:25 AM  
Blogger Binh said...

Damn good post. It's too bad you couldn't email this to her - I'm sure she would appreciate your thoughts. It's soldiers like you and Iraqis like her who are the hope of ending this war since the politicians in Washington seem to be hell-bent on staying in Iraq one way or another (see my blog on the Dems and Iraq) as long as there's oil to be found there for the Empire.

7:14 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

Quit your self-righteous bullshit. I'm damn sure that almost every one of the men (and women, since you sound like a pogue) you serve with would love to give you a blanket party for talking shit on them on your secret blog. I hated bitches like you in when I was in the Army, and so did every one of my friends. The lies you post here are pathetic. I've already served my time. 13 months in Iraq... Sinjar and Ramadi. And guess what? We didn't supply any of those weapons. How the hell do we supply Soviet weapons? I could debunk every one of your bullshit claims, but I won't waste my time. I wonder what your commander would say if he read this. I know what mine would have said. "What a little pussy."

8:10 AM  
Blogger Army Sergeant said...


Why don't you get off the specialist here? You want to try to debunk something in particular? You think he's factually inaccurate? Then say so. Don't call him a liar just because he feels guilty and thinks we're responsible for stuff.

You want to know what the guys in my unit would say about someone who trolls the internet looking for soldier's blogs so he can yell at them for their opinions? I promise you, it ain't pretty.

4:36 AM  

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