Baghdad Blogger -A U.S. Soldiers’s internet Diary

A U.S. soldier based in one of Saddam’s former palaces describes a life of fear, apathy, pride and frustration seldom seen in media reports from Iraq.

Feature, Paul Woodward,
Pacific News Service, Jul 11, 2003

“I’ve been asking random soldiers who the Vice President of the United States is…a very simple question…but I found a surprising answer…the majority of those I asked did not know the answer, nor do they care…this is bad…our lives are at stake…our country as well…and we do not even pay attention…we have a voice…but we do not choose to use it…”

Sgt. Sean, an American serviceman now based in Baghdad, has been keeping his Internet journal, Turningtables (http://turningtables.blogspot.com/), since early June. He has six years of military service under his belt, including stints in Bosnia and Afghanistan.

“we volunteered for this…we sit here because we raised our hand…and sold our souls…most would think that we knew exactly what we were getting into…they would be wrong…we were naive…we were homeless…we were living with our mothers…this is just a job for 75 percent of us…”

Soldiers on active duty are often reluctant to say how they feel. But at a time when U.S. casualties are mounting, the justification for the war is open to question, and “pockets of resistance” are starting to resemble full guerrilla warfare, Turningtables unmasks the fears that can lie hidden behind a soldier’s expressionless face.

“it’s a sad state that originates when the death of soldiers becomes common everyday news…and it stops being surprising…and shocking…and horrible…when it takes a really gruesome story to remind you that you are in the middle of this shit…and you can’t go home…YOU CAN’T GO HOME…you want to curl up and quit…”

Circumstances may have set this soldier on a course he hadn’t foreseen, but his appreciation for military life shines through.

“if there is a person who wanders aimlessly through life I would recommend the service to them…and I would even allow my children to join…I would only hope that they remain objective throughout…that they keep a sense of reality and stay aware.

“the military in itself is altruistic…communism…but how else could it possibly operate…selfless service…the good of the whole over the good of the one…the pay…the living conditions…think about it…soldiers are not free to make their own decisions…if they were how could anything difficult be completed…how could a platoon take a machine gun nest…or a war be won…”

His support unit wants to be seen as the toughest in the Army, but he knows that neither inside nor outside the military does any glamour attach to the role of support. Movies don’t get made about these troops, though they form the backbone of every army.

Based within the confines of one of Saddam’s former palaces, Sgt. Sean is not exposed to the dangers facing those who patrol the streets of Baghdad. The searing summer heat, however, spares no one. Even the ants search for relief.

“…one of the drones discovered the climate-controlled comfort of my canvas house…and they went and told all their little mindless buddies…and every 10 minutes there is a new line of them…I sweep them away…I slap them with my shower shoes…they fall back…they regroup…they send out a new scout team…and then they launch their new offensive…”

Arnold Schwarzenegger may rally the troops in Baghdad and promote his new movie by calling GIs the “true terminators,” but the life Sgt. Sean describes gently mocks the icons of warfare that are Hollywood’s bread and butter.

“I once read that some people come off as courageous because they are so afraid of being thought a coward…I’m glad that as of yet I haven’t had to prove my courage…that would mean somebody was trying to kill me…and right now…I’m content with people shooting off nasty e-mails instead of bullets…”

Military service carries the honor of defending one’s nation, even for those who never fire a shot, but all the while soldiers’ hopes and dreams for their lives at home lie suspended.

“there are so many difficulties that come with a deployment to the Middle East…a major portion of your life is put on hold for six to nine months, and all the areas that could not possibly pause for your war are forced onto the phone lines…”

Sgt. Sean, like thousands of other American service men and women, now finds himself at the sharp end of a political experiment whose design was always unclear and whose conclusion seems ever more elusive.

PNS contributor Paul Woodward edits The War in Context (http://warincontext.org), and has corresponded with Sgt. Sean since late June. All quotations are from Sgt. Sean’s weblog, Turningtables, and are used with the author’s permission. Frequent ellipses are the soldier’s own style and do not signify omitted text. Turningtables can be found at http://turningtables.blogspot.com.

From: news.pacificnews.org

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