Our Troops In Iraq Just Want To Be Loved… Awwww, Isn’t That Sweet?

Today in the Globe Tina Susman of the Los Angeles Times writes about Army Lieutenant Matt Vigeant working the streets of Sadr City in Baghdad.

A few quotes from the Lieutenant while he’s working an ineffective roadblock seeking to capture a so-called suspected militant at the edge of Sadr City:

“Some people are grateful, but the closer you get to Sadr City, the more obvious they make their feelings”…

“You try to show them you’re friendly,” he said. “You do all these things to show them we’re not here as crusaders, but it gets really frustrating. JAM just has that popular support,” he said, using the Arabic-based acronym for Sadr’s Mahdi Army, which holds sway in Sadr City.

“Sometimes I wonder if the people really appreciate what we’re trying to do,” Vigeant said as traffic zoomed by. “I risk my life every day on the street. My guys risk their lives every day.”

The Lieutenant doesn’t feel appreciated, but of course it’s not his fault, not his country’s fault, not the fault of his leaders. No, it’s that evil mullah, that guy in the black hat, that Mucky Toddy Sadder feller.

Apparently the Lieutenant missed the memo. It goes something like this:

We didn’t ask you to come here. You came here illegally, immorally. You invaded our country. You occupy our country. You destroy our country. And we had done nothing to you.

You speak of crusaders, of not being crusaders. But your own officers and leaders speak of a war between Christianity and Islam. But never mind that. What you are, you are our Nazis.

You invade and destroy. You killed my father. You killed my mother. You killed my brother. You killed my sister. You killed my son. You killed my daughter. You murdered my infant.

You arrest my neighbors and my cousins for no reason, you throw them in prison and you torture them.

You destroy our cities, you level our neighborhoods, you build walls between people who lived at peace for hundreds of years. You drop bombs and missiles in civilian neighborhoods and then say everybody who you killed was a militant or an insurrectionist or an al-Qaeda. Was my four-year-old daughter an al-Qaeda, Lieutenant?

You don’t speak our language. You don’t know our culture. You trample on our customs. You call us names.

You build bases and an embassy that speak only to you expecting to be here for a hundred years or more, but say you are creating democracy. A democracy that you will rule, Lieutenant?

No, Lieutenant Vigeant, no.

We will appreciate you lying dead in the road. We will appreciate your fellow soldiers when their blood flows into our sands.

We will appreciate you going home, all of you, now.

You do not bring democracy or freedom. You have brought bloodshed, hatred, division, murder, rape, and destruction without parallel in our land.

We are not stupid. We are not the children you and your leaders think we are. We are an old people. When history began it began here. That matters not to you. We know you came for our oil to feed the desires of an arrogant society. There was no other reason for you to come here. You had to lie to yourselves, you had to debase your own principles of government to come here.

Well, you are here. Now you can bleed to death or you can leave. We do not want you.

Whatever government we decide to have will be the one that we choose, that we bleed for, that we shed our own blood for if we find that necessary. But it will not be the government you force on us at the point of a gun.

We are an old people. In time you will leave, with nothing but your dead to show for your arrogance and stupidity and cruelty. We will survive. We will go on.

And you will have broken yourselves on the rocks of our ancient deserts.


8 Responses

  1. Exactly, how stupid can he be? Of course they don’t appreciate him: he’s a foreign occupier, who is oppressing them. He can bleat on about risking his life but he’s not risking it for them – their lives are under threat from a Crusader army, that is responsible for the death of over a million Iraqis.

    This Republican song probably expresses the sentiments of the people in Sadr City.


  2. Steph –

    Love the song!


  3. Ric: Brilliant.


  4. I received this from a friend this morning:

    Americans ‘stole my life from me’
    Phil Sands, Foreign Correspondent
    Last Updated: May 04. 2008 8:45PM UAE / May 4. 2008 4:45PM GMT

    Amer Samara’ae was held for a year in US prisons in Iraq without any charge. Phil Sands / The National
    DAMASCUS // Amer Samara’ae hates Americans. Not some Americans, not American soldiers, not American mercenaries, not the US president. He hates all Americans, something he learned to do during a year inside their Iraq prisons.

    “I was innocent and they took me and they stole my life from me,” he said. “I’m not a religious extremist; I never was. I hate them because they took everything. Do they think you’re just going to forget?”
    The Iraqi, who is 36, was not caught up in any of the headline-grabbing torture scandals and did not fall under the sway of radical Islamists. His story of life inside the US internment camps is more mundane: sitting in his Damascus flat, where he now lives as a refugee, he speaks of humiliation, of casual inhumanity.

    “I was arrested in Baghdad while visiting a friend and then I was taken into the system,” he said. “They didn’t have any charges against me and one day in an interrogation they decided that I was giving weapons to the insurgents. I don’t think they knew what they were doing.
    “I was made to stand around naked sometimes, I was handcuffed and I had to walk to the toilet chained to a heavy tyre. That was normal.”

    Waiting for one interrogation session to start, Mr Samara’ae said he was made to kneel on a hard floor in front of the US flag for two hours.

    “The Americans are making enemies for themselves,” he said. “In my case, I was made to kneel in front of an American flag, with my hands tied behind my back. Now whenever I think of America, whenever I see that flag, I’m angry. I hate all Americans, and I hate their flag, I hate it.”
    Before the war, Mr Samara’ae, a Sunni from the city of Samarra, worked as an officer in Saddam Hussein’s feared security services, then took job as a maintenance man with the Red Cross. After the US invasion he set up a small firm with a contract to maintain Baghdad’s Yarmouk Hospital. The business became successful until he was arrested and it collapsed.

    According to Mr Samara’ae, “most” of his fellow prisoners in Camp Bucca, a sprawling US prison camp in southern Iraq, hated their captors, feelings he insisted were not about religion or being recruited by al Qa’eda.
    “They would put moderate prisoners in with extremists and that was stupid, but most of the prisoners have done nothing and that’s what makes them hate the Americans. If you are innocent and in prison, you hate the man who has trapped you.”

    In 2005, Mr Samara’ae took part in an attempted prison break, building an escape tunnel from his compound. Working at night for three weeks, he and fellow detainees used an improvised spade to dig a 17-metre-long tunnel in the soft sand. The bid for freedom failed when the roof caved in.
    “Everyone in that prison wanted to get out,” he recalled. “If you’re innocent you have no faith that justice would be done in there, so you try to escape.”

    Then, one day at the end of 2005, he was suddenly released. “You don’t hear anything about it; you’re basically just told you can go. No reasons are given, there are no apologies. I wanted someone to say sorry and to admit they’d made a mistake with me. There was nothing.
    “When I was arrested I had US$2,000 (Dh7,300) in my pocket, and my car outside. I got nothing back when they released me. I’d lost my business, I’d lost everything. Now I’m a refugee.”

    A senior international official with access to the US prison system in Iraq said there had been improvements since the darkest days of the Abu Ghraib scandal. But he questioned whether vocational training and moderate preaching would have any real effect on the prisoners’ views.
    “People in prison will do anything to get out of their compound, they’ll do anything just to break the monotony which is probably why they go to these sermons,” he said on condition of anonymity because he is not authorised to talk to the press.

    “I suppose preaching moderate Islam in the camps won’t do any harm. It might make a difference, somehow, but there’s no proof it’ll change much, it’s difficult to say, it’s a difficult thing to measure.
    “The camps really did use to be recruiting camps for al Qa’eda. I think the Americans are improving their screening and their in-processing, I think they’ve learnt a little bit since the start of the war.”

    The notion that the US-run prisons are improving was supported by Sheikh Harmid Rashid al Boalwan, a member of the Anbar Salvation Council and head of the provincial committee to free Iraqi prisoners. However, he said the key problem was that thousands of innocent people were still being held without charge or evidence.
    “It’s not as bad as it was at the beginning of the war and now we can at least talk to the Americans,” he said. “There are signs that they understand this is a real problem but it has not been solved. The number of people being held in prison is still the main issue.

    “If you are putting innocent men in the same prison as extremists and criminals you are going to make more problems.”

    Sheikh Boalwan also said released prisoners were still coming out of detention angry and discontent.
    “We’ve got to solve this matter,” he said. “We do have a system of giving a list of names to the Americans so that people will not just disappear and never get released. We hope this will improve things.”


    “You cannot witness all of these things and do nothing”
    [ Dr. Intisar Mohammed – from documentary: Iraq – The Women’s Story ]

    “What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty and democracy?” Mohandas K. Ghandi, ‘Non-Violence and Peace and War’, 1948.

    “We don’t need spectators to witness our suffering and tell us they feel with us. We need help to put a stop to it.”
    [Raja Shehadeh – from When The Birds Stopped Singing]


  5. Hey, not all Nazis were evil. Look, some played with kittens


  6. And that’s just a harmless furball next to the kitten? I guess this takes the steam out of the kitten deniers.


  7. It’s a great song that has been sung plenty of times in Irish bars in America, it conveys a very simple and obvious message, that I sure most Americans would have no difficulty grasping, and quite a few have had sympathy for – so why this great difficulty in understanding, why Iraqis, Afghans, Palestinians, Lebanese, and Iranians would feel the same way about colonisation?

    I wonder what Lieutenant Matt Vigeant thinks about his colleagues, who refer to Iraqis as Untermensch (subhuman)?


  8. Think ‘Indian Wars’ – not the Brits in India but eradication of natives using starvation by killing the buffalo – then add Depleted Uranium and removal of leadership and infrastructure. It’s called creating a wasteland – a basic tool of Empire/Monopoly. Much as I despise him, it isn’t just Dubya.


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