The Sandbox

GWOT hot wash, straight from the wire

Welcome to The Sandbox, a forum for service members who have served or are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, returned vets, spouses and caregivers. The Sandbox's focus is not on policy and partisanship (go to our Blowback page for that), but on the unclassified details of deployment -- the everyday, the extraordinary, the wonderful, the messed-up, the absurd. All correspondence is read, and as much as possible is posted, lightly edited. If you know someone who is deployed who might have something to say, please tell them about us. To submit a post click here.


October 10, 2006

Name: Combat Doc
Posting date: 10/10/06
Returned from: Iraq
Milblog url: 

Most soldiers I talk to fall into one of three groups. First are the die-hard supporters. Guys who claim to "hate the Hajj" but really only do so because they think it's their job to. This is about 10%. Second are the anti-war, Bush-is-full-of-shit, no-war-for-oil crowd. These guys see no good at all even if they were part of it. This is about another 10 or so percent. The rest are guys who do their job and seem to be the most confused. The right is saying "Yay Bush!" but they see holes in the story. The left is screaming "Bring our soldiers home!", while some wear shirts saying "Germans Supported Their Troops Too" and claim to speak for a relatively conservative military. Don't worry guys, there's no draft coming. College campuses and wanna-be hippies take note.

It seems each side is claiming to speak for the soldiers, but the press interviews and CNN stories are only pulling out the bits they want to publish to get their message across. Whatever that message is, Joe isn't getting his out.

The fact is that Iraq has both sides. It was a good fight to free a people who have never known what it is to be free. At the same time we went in under a lie and many of the plans and policies have done more harm than good. Cultural and political differences in understanding have created those problems. There have been elections, but what will be the end result? Also the enemy does benefit from your dissent. But soldiers have been used by all. The press on both sides uses stories of convenience to push an agenda, while the government holds to some claims and moves into others to keep the people supporting the war.

In the end Joe isn't being heard by the pro's or the anti's. There is good and bad going on there, but the only one who will tell you the truth is the shooter who handed out bread to the children and lead to the Hajj.


"Germans supported their troops too"? I live in Santa Cruz - a fairly pinko area of California - and that's a new one to me.

Honestly, it's getting harder and harder to know what media to believe, who to believe, what website or newspaper to believe. It's getting harder for me to believe everything on NPR, for God's sake. The BBC is my only holdout that I still trust. At least for now.

Trust No One. - That I believe in.

This is very true. Being over there, putting in so much time and sweat etc...of course you want to see things be a success. All the sacrifice by all the soldiers and families involved, not to mention lives lost/terrible injuries. So it's human nature and more that makes you want to see the whole campaign succeed, no matter what your political view. (Me, anyway.) I'm left/progressive, but i did my duty and went and grunted through it. Combat patrols, sweat, work, more sweat, being mortared constantly, etc. So i wound up with mixed feelings. was a fraud, a lie. Coming from the highest level it may have been a crime, but there's no one with the power who will call it that. (Yet!) So. How are we to feel after all that sacrifice and effort, for a fraud? Grrr.

"Also the enemy does benefit from your dissent." This may be right (I'm not there, so I have no way of knowing), but if dissent is stifled then the enemy has won.

I suppose I fall (and fell) into the Anti-Bush group of soldiers. I was in Gulf War 1.0. But there's so much more to a soldier's experience than politics: Even if soldiers are given an uncensored, unedited voice, it still won't convey the reality on the ground.

It won't convey the heat, or the stink, or the dirt, or the exhaustion, or the terrible sameness punctuated with tears, horror, joy and an ironic sense of humor. It won't convey the peculiar stink of MRE farts. It won't convey the whine of a 5-ton truck, or the weight of a Kevlar helmet on your head. It won't convey the complete and utter lack of a sense of heroism, or the desperation, or the elation at something completely absurd.

Living in a soldier's world in a war zone is like nothing else, and something no civilian can ever even hope to understand. I wish nobody ever had to understand those things, but that's right up there with believing in Tinkerbell.

Here's what: As a former Marine, I can't stand to see my Corps thrown into battle based on outright lies and with a dubious, hazy outcome. Marines are at their best with a clear defined mission. They set out, accomplish the mission and return home and celebrate. Unfortunately, as we've seen before, grunts are the pawns of idiotic politicians who never got any closer to military service than the late show on TV.

"The fact is that Iraq has both sides. It was a good fight to free a people who have never known what it is to be free."

I know you guys are just doing your job, but I don't agree that you guys are "freeing" them. The best freedom you can give someone is to leave them alone. Now they're killing each other because they're Sunni or Shiite.

I think that this war is for oil, but it's not like the US can live without it. We need the oil, and it's not like they use a lot of it so why not get the oil?

I noticed that when the war is mentioned, people say "It's Bush's fault." But it was the AMERICAN SYSTEM that put Bush in power that's run by the AMERICAN PEOPLE! Don't blame Bush as a single man. Americans like to blame other people and don't take responsibility. If you seek someone to blame, you need only to look in a mirror.

I'm sure some of you will say "Well I didn't vote for Bush." Only 30 percent of Americans vote. Did you convince others to vote for Gore? Did you go out and campaign? Did you research why we shouldn't have voted for Bush?

Don't blame others! Take responsibility!

We didn't go in under a lie. We went in under flawed intelligence. If Bush had "lied", I'd be right with you. I hate to belabor the point, but John Kerry, Clinton, many foreign intelligence agencies, the CIA, et al ad nauseum, all indicated the "lie". I hardly think Bush has quite that much power!
Keep up the good fight!

"The fact is that Iraq has both sides. It was a good fight to free a people who have never known what it is to be free. At the same time we went in under a lie and many of the plans and policies have done more harm than good."

This really stands out for me, because it has the ring of truth.

What I find most disturbing about the current Administration is that it paints this conflict as a war of absolute good against absolute evil. It seems that our President "sees the world through the childish, binary lens of good and evil, us and them, the forces of darkness and the forces of light"

I hope that this is just for public consumption, that the administration is actually smarter than that - they just think the American people are so stupid that they need to present things this way. That's condescending and deceptive, of course, but it's also part of politics.

The alternative - that they actually *do* see things this way to a large extent - is incredibly scary.

After reading this post, I was thinking: It might be easier to "hear Joe" if Joe wanted to speak and had strong opinions. People outside the military have opinions on the war, and many of us don't think the Administration has managed things well. What would you suggest be done? In the end, it is what we do next this is the most important thing.

Insightful post from one who knows.

Yes, the politicians are making the calls, but the American people ELECT them.

I agree, we have to stop being apathetic and GET INVOLVED.

Pick a campaign and volunteer.

It is a rule: "Everyone uses the GI." Remember that when you get back - make a difference. Good luck.

I don't think the Iraqi people wanted to be freed from their lives. There are over 600,000 dead Iraqis now, according to a report released today. That's not freedom.

You forgot another category -- the category that doesn't hate the "Hadji's", but will fight, and die (if need be) because it is our profession of arms.

We support this war (we've seen Saddam's mass graves, among his actrocities, and we've seen it before as well, in places such as Srebrenica, Kosovo, Cambodia, Rwanda).

We support the President (not just because it's traditional, or regulation, but because he's right), and our fellow infantrymen.

We're not flashy, we dont expect much from our countrymen: take care of our dead and wounded, don't make us out as victims of the economy, etc.

We signed our names willingly for the chance to serve our country.

"We've" been around longer than this country itself has. We'll be there always.

In battle, your worst enemy, in peace your best friend. No remorse, no regret.

I just want to clarify that it was Bush who started this war based on lies he and his cronies invented, lied to key people in government about, and convinced the mass news media they were true, which resulted in pressure from their constituents who believed the lies forcing the House and Senate to vote for the war. After 9/11, there were hardly any rational Americans. It is only now, after several years, that Americans are finally recovering from the terror whipped up and on by their President. And now that mass media has finally recovered some of their integrity and are actually reporting facts they have examined for veracity.
For those who have examined the situation and learned the truths, or those of us who knew better from the start, we KNOW that Bush is indeed a criminal and should be prosecuted for several things. Murder of soldiers sent needlessly to a war that should never have been, abdicating his fiduciary responsibility to America, lying as the highest elected official of this land to other elected officials who depended on him for truth in order to make his decisions, for absolute failure to respond to Katrina in the first 4 to 5 days of the emergency, and for failing to prevent election tampering which he benefitted by.

Combat Doc, I gave a good post in this place a few days ago and it was rejected by the publisher. Now we have heard there are unscheduled meetings with The President about Iraq. We have news about an Iraq Town being taken control of by an Imam from one branch of Islam. The problem the publisher has caused by this the deletion may not seem important. However the action does reflect the futility of the Iraq problem. "No one is willing to listen to perfectly sound advice", or pull down the big blue curtains. The smoke&mirrors are left in place so the citizens don;t get a grip on the throats of the politicians at the election boxes. Combat Doc, and my friend, you should pass on my original message.

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