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British Volunteer needs some reassuring of why he is in Iraq.

Posted on 05/21/2004 12:01:42 PM PDT by Steve Van Doorn

He is freqent to a form for an on-line game. His nickname is Aston.

He works for the ministry of defense as a British translator (I think). He needs some reason to be in Iraq:

He is a liberal but went there for unknown reasons as a volunteer. Any advice you could tell this young man?



This is what he wrote:

I think we've lost this battle for hearts & minds

I'm back in Tallil (just outside Nasiriyah) after a few interesting days in Dubai. I'll post some other time about Dubai, but believe me, it was an eye opener and not what I was expecting !

Got back here at the start of the week, and things are slowly getting worse. Not just here, but across the entire area of operations that our Division is responsible for in the South of Iraq.

I assume you may have read about the various incidents at Al Ammarah, Basrah and Nasiriyah. However, you guys don't get to hear about even 5% of the incidents that go on, just in the South East alone. Every single day, there are multiple attacks on coalition forces here. Most usually end without coalition casualties, or at worst a few injuries. Usually an insurgent or two is killed daily during these attacks.

But it's the neverending nature of these attacks that is alarming.

Every single day, without fail, people are getting killed or injured here due to hostile incidents. I would like to think that it is the greater experience and training of the British forces on the whole that has kept the casualty figures down.

However, the insurgents aren't exactly the greatest of fighters either. They do what they have to do - they unleash mortar and rocket attacks at our bases and run, or they'll fire at our patrols & convoys and run, or they'll leave an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) in the path of one of our patrols and run.

They seem to care little for what happens to their own people. Often it is other Iraqis that get hurt/killed by the IEDs (Our vehicles have special devices fitted that usually automatically trigger the explosives a few metres ahead of the vehicle), and when it comes to the occassional suicide bombing, the local population takes the brunt of the damage.

As I said, things are worsening. I read and sometimes watch the incident reports as they are collated at Divisional HQ, and I am surprised by just how many there are daily in just the south east of this country.

The upsurge in hostilities seems to have two marked points.
Firstly, on the back of the American attempts to subdue the militants in Fallujah. This saw increased hostility elsewhere.
Then, most seriously, the prisoner abuse photos.
The faked ones involving the British seem to have done irreversible damage to coalition-Iraqi relations round here. Thus, attacks have increased markedly in the past two weeks. When I was at Basrah, we were getting mortared almost every night.

Now at Tallil, the action is getting uncomfortably closer.
Nasiriyah is a hotbed of dissent at present, and the Italians seem to be feeling glad they pulled out 3 months ago from the town itself to this new base at Tallil.

2 days ago an Italian patrol found an arms cache at the base perimeter that included amongst other things two SA-8 surface to air missiles. Remember, Tallil has an operational airfield which is used by a number of coalition planes and helicopters.

Then yesterday morning we got rocketed - twice. The explosions being around 400 metres away - close enough to be alarming, without being close enough to be dangerous.

To top it all off - yesterday afternoon I was almost hurled to the ground when something (Either a mortar or a rocket - the Italians won't say yet which) thudded on the other side of the building I was standing next to. Just a few metres away; literally a handful of metres away. The building took the force of the blast and I reckon I was lucky to get away with just a headache and my heart skipping a few beats.
It's at times like this that it all gets personal.
At times like this I start wondering about why we are here.
I mean, why are we here ? What are we doing here ?
All I see in Camp Mittica is hundreds of Italian troops vying with each other about who has the largest biceps or the best sun tan. Occassionally a few troops or Carabinieri will go out on patrol to Nasiriyah and come back in time for a quick work out in the gym followed by some personal manicuring in front of a vanity mirror.

The ironic thing about the Italians is that the new Brigade is apparently named after the place of a 'famous' Italian victory (Portosuolo Del Fueli - I doubt thats correctly spelt). Correct me if I'm wrong, but haven't the Italians pretty much lost every war they've been in, or had to be bailed out by someone else ? Not since the demise of the Roman Empire has Italy ever had any battles to commemerate.
To top it all off, a British Battalion is on it's way up here to reinforce the Italians.
400 troops with armoured vehicles and tanks. If I was a newly arrived Italian soldier, I would hang my head in shame at allowing another country to get me out of a tight spot yet again.

What are we achieving here in Iraq ?
The population are slowly showing signs of restlessness, and murmurings abound about our lack of popularity. Slowly but surely we are losing the battle for hearts & minds.
To be honest, I feel it was a lost cause to start with.
Trying to force democracy down the throats of people who can barely stand each other is not good. These people are not used to personal unrestricted freedom. Centuries of living under one dictator/ruler/king/chief or another is a tradition that will not miraculously be forgotten overnight.
These people are not ready for democracy. We cannot force them to take it on. It is alien to their culture and their traditions.

So why the hell are we here ?
The battle for hearts & minds is nearly over, with us as the losers.
Lets just get some of the infrastructure up and running again and the Iraqi police trained up and armed, then get out of here.
I fear we are wasting our time in this country. Democracy does not belong to them, and we do not belong here either.



US Military tactics need reviewing

There is something wrong with the way US troops handle situations/encounters.
Take all the reports regarding the usage of heavy handed methods. Take also the reports of various 'friendly fire' incidents. Take the reports of shooting at buildings or places in error.

There are too many incidents happening where US troops have failed to check their target and apparently just let loose.
At first I used to think these were individual bad luck cases with inexperienced or nervous troops involved. However, after hearing many stories over here in Iraq, and after witnessing first hand the way the US troops handle themselves, I am now convinced the problem is INSTITUTIONAL.
Yes, institutional.

The US forces need to take a few leaves out of the book of their coalition partners - particularly the British. The American approach is very different from the rest of the coalition.
US troops adopt an automatic aggresive stance right from the start. They train weapons on everyone, including their own allies ! They use unnecessary aggression when dealing with non-Americans here. Even us Brits are subjected to this.
There is no politeness or any evidence of manners when out in the field.
Sure, the Americans I have spoken to in various camps and compunds have been nice people, but once out of their camps they transform. Hence why I say the problems are institutional. I believe it is a failing in the training.

Whats worse is that the rest of the coalition are starting to get really pis$ed off now with their American colleagues. The British have in fact pretty much had enough. Speaking to your everyday squaddie, there is a definite impression of hostility, and in a lot of cases outright hatred of American tactics. Troops here are seriously angry.
They believe the Americans are letting the side down. That the south of Iraq has been handled professionally by the rest of the coalition. We've gone to great lengths to reach out to the Iraqi people, and gained the trust of a large majority.
There were very few hostile incidents up until two months ago (Fallujah).
Now it would appear that the south of Iraq is turning really nasty. Coalition forces blame the heavy handed actions of American troops for this. They also attribute a large part of the blame on the prisoner abuse photos (Both the American ones and the faked British ones).
Simply put, the British do not want to work with the Americans and want nothing to do with them at present. I kid you not, relations are pretty dire at present, but the media probably won't be reporting it (So don't even bother asking for links etc please - just take what I say on face value).

Here are two horrifying incidents for your perusal -
1. Camp Navstar on the Kuwaiti border, 45 minutes drive from Basrah down MSR Tampa. This happened approximately 2 to 3 weeks ago.
A British convoy approached the camp. British flags and uniforms clearly on display, and advance notice having already been passed on down the route.
American guard opens fire with .30 cal machine gun, but luckily misses.
Once everyone had calmed down (Fortunately our troops being British, did not fire back 'kneejerk American Military' style), the guard was questioned and in his defence he stated that the sun was in his eyes, so he couldn't quite make out what was coming down the road towards the camp, so he decided to open fire upon the numerous vehicles anyway...

2. (Happened recently) A British Chinook helicopter trying to land was shot at three times. Eventually it landed and the pilots got out and were involved in a scuffle with the American guys who had fired on them. It turned out that the American gunners had thought the British helicopter was an Iraqi army machine coming in to attack them. The pilots had to be restrained from killing the Americans there and then, all the while screaming out asking just how f**king many hostile Iraqi Chinooks there were flying around with British colours currently ?

There are other incidents of American military 'shoot first & ask later' on their coalition allies, but those two stand out prominently as examples of what I am talking about; i.e. an INSTITUTIONAL problem with American military tactics & training.

The latest alleged incidents involving Iraqis at a wedding being shot up by American planes/helicopters - if proven true serve to highlight further the deficiencies in tactics. It illustrates the lack of understanding of their environment. It almost looks like a lack of respect for the people they have come to assist. If you want to liberate the Iraqis, then at least get to understand their culture - understand that it is THEIR country and that firing guns into the air at celebrations is a traditional thing. There have been other incidents of US troops misunderstanding their environment and shooting at people who were celebrating.
Lets not forget the wedding in Afghanistan where upto 50 guests at a wedding lost their lives this way.

How about the failure to confirm targets ? Several dead Canadians and British troops stand testimony to these failures, as do several dead Kurdish allies in northern Iraq when an F16 dropped a large bomb on a convoy during the initial invasion last year ? How about that red cross hospital hit two days in a row despite clearly marked as a hospital ?
And so on and on and on.

I ask you, am I wrong in thinking that there is something very wrong with American military tactics, especially in terms of checking/verifying the intended target ?
If the British can succeed without pis$ing off an entire population, then so can the Americans. Take a few leaves out of our books.

Respect the locals. Respect your allies. Verify the target before unleashing deadly force. It works for the British, and it should work for the Americans too.


At present the US Military in Iraq is in danger of alienating itself from not just the local population, but from it's allies too.
That is very worrying.
Forget the battle for hearts & minds - we've clearly lost that now, the battle to remain a cohesive joint security force in Iraq is now on.
Lets not lose this one too.


TOPICS: United Kingdom; Your Opinion/Questions
KEYWORDS: iraq
Here are some pics he sent before he wrote these posts...

Some photos Aston took from Iraq

I think we've lost this battle for hearts & minds

US Military tactics need reviewing


This is Aston he drives in the white car to the left in the pic.

Personally I think he is keeping this as a journal to write a book or something. he has been there for one month.

1 posted on 05/21/2004 12:01:44 PM PDT by Steve Van Doorn
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Comment #2 Removed by Moderator

To: Steve Van Doorn

if he's been there that long and he doesn't know - he should leave. He is definitely a brain-dead liberal.


3 posted on 05/21/2004 12:08:59 PM PDT by steplock (http://www.gohotsprings.com)
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To: georgebushrules; Admin Moderator

Meow...


4 posted on 05/21/2004 12:10:31 PM PDT by WinOne4TheGipper (I cannot believe I just said that!)
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To: Steve Van Doorn

A summation:

On one hand we have the Italians who will not fight.

One the other hand we have the Americans who are more than happy to kick arse and take names.

Granted, the Americans are doing nearly all the heavy lifting (they are there in the most numbers and in the worst areas).


5 posted on 05/21/2004 12:10:39 PM PDT by 2banana (They want to die for Islam and we want to kill them)
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To: georgebushrules; 4mycountry; EggsAckley; trussell
I'd tell him just to try to kill more civilians, the 11 thousand in Iraq alone just isn't enough. Death to the mongrels!

Fresh meat!
6 posted on 05/21/2004 12:12:35 PM PDT by WinOne4TheGipper (I cannot believe I just said that!)
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To: georgebushrules; TheBigB

You're the "Varmint Cong" guy, IIRC. Here ya go...


7 posted on 05/21/2004 12:17:09 PM PDT by WinOne4TheGipper (I cannot believe I just said that!)
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To: Steve Van Doorn

Aston, the Coalition has been doing a lot of good things in Iraq. Don't automatically believe the newspapers or the BBC.

If the Iraqi people aren't dancing in the streets for us, that is okay. It's more important to be respected than loved.

US military tactics may indeed need reviewing. Right now, though, there is no time. The big concern now is the June 30th handover date. If that proceeds smoothly, everything is going to get better in Iraq. For one thing, we can then get another UN resolution, and then reinforcement troops from other countries like Pakistan will start pouring into Iraq.

Hang on until June 30th. Keep punishing the insurgents.

We've already closed the border with Syria. The "wedding" was really a terrorist encampment. Hopefully we can close the border with Iran.

Stay strong. We're almost through this.

I know it's dire. There is light ahead in the tunnel. Keep pushing. You are making the free world very proud. You can do it. You can win this thing.


8 posted on 05/21/2004 12:17:50 PM PDT by rogueleader
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To: Steve Van Doorn

Pretty wordy for a guy who doesn't know some basics. Bless him anyway.

"They believe the Americans are letting the side down. That the south of Iraq has been handled professionally by the rest of the coalition. We've gone to great lengths to reach out to the Iraqi people, and gained the trust of a large majority."

Um, other "coalition" forces were given Shia and non-Sunni Baathist regions to police. Ask him if he's familiar with the differences. Does he think all Iraqis are the same?

"There were very few hostile incidents up until two months ago (Fallujah)."

False. Also, ask him about Sadr's army, it's purpose and agenda.

"Now it would appear that the south of Iraq is turning really nasty."

Would that be Sadr's folks?

"Coalition forces blame the heavy handed actions of American troops for this."

Again, ask him who specifically is doing the fighting there. Sadr?

"They also attribute a large part of the blame on the prisoner abuse photos"

He's there, but from what I read it's actually quieted down since the photos. Ask him, if the photos are the cause, why is Fallujah quiet?

Partly I blame the Coalition Govts. for failing to define the perps for what they are. They have zilch concept of public relations.


9 posted on 05/21/2004 12:18:02 PM PDT by Shermy
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To: Steve Van Doorn
We are losing badly on the home front, but we are winning on the Iraq front. The combined results of these two battles has emboldened those who want to take power in Iraq and install themselves as dictator. This small minority of Iraqis fear freedom and democracy because they want to kill, rape, and pillage their countrymen as Saddam did. These people are Saddam loyalists, terrorists, and criminals. They will not win if we can vanquish them before we lose the battle on the home front. It's a critical battle, a race against time and media. We must win or we will share the fate of the innocent Iraqi civilians--who are mostly too fearful of Saddam (even though they know that Saddam is history) and of whoever might take power that they cannot show their joy at their victory.
10 posted on 05/21/2004 12:19:10 PM PDT by dufekin (John F. Kerry. Irrational, improvident, backward, seditious.)
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To: Steve Van Doorn

He looks islamic breed. Anyway, I rec'd this today via email. It pertains to the whole of the civilized world and not just America. The pattern of international terrorism began worldwide years before 911.

THE SNOOZE ALARM

U.S. Navy Capt. Ouimette is the XO at NAS, Pensacola.

Here is a copy of the speech he gave last month. It is an accurate account of why we are in so much trouble today and why this action is so necessary.

AMERICA NEEDS TO WAKE UP!

That's what we think we heard on the 11th of September 2001 and maybe it was, but I think it should have been "Get Out of Bed!" In fact, I think the alarm clock has been buzzing since 1979 and we have continued to hit the snooze button and roll over for a few more minutes of peaceful sleep since then.

It was a cool fall day in November 1979 in a country going through a religious and political upheaval when a group of Iranian students attacked and seized the American Embassy in Tehran. This seizure was an outright attack on American soil; it was an attack that held the world's most powerful country hostage and paralyzed a Presidency. The attack on this sovereign U. S. embassy set the stage for events to follow for the next 23 years.

America was still reeling from the aftermath of the Vietnam experience and had a serious threat from the Soviet Union when then, President Carter, had to do something. He chose to conduct a clandestine raid in the desert. The ill-fated mission ended in ruin, but stood as a symbol of America's inability to deal with terrorism.

America's military had been decimated and downsized/right sized since the end of the Vietnam War. A poorly trained, poorly equipped and poorly organized military was called on to execute a complex mission that was doomed from the start.

Shortly after the Tehran experience, Americans began to be kidnapped and killed throughout the Middle East. America could do little to protect her citizens living and working abroad. The attacks against US soil continued.

In April of 1983 a large vehicle packed with high explosives was driven into the US Embassy compound in Beirut. When it explodes, it kills 63 people. The alarm went off again and America hit the Snooze Button once more.

Then just six short months later a large truck heavily-ladened down with over 2500 pounds of TNT smashed through the main gate of the US Marine Corps headquarters in Beirut and 241 US servicemen are killed. America mourns her dead and hit the Snooze Button once more.

Two months later in December 1983, another truck loaded with explosives is driven into the US Embassy in Kuwait, and America continues her slumber.

The following year, in September 1984, another van was driven into the gates of the US Embassy in Beirut and America slept.

Soon the terrorism spreads to Europe. In April 1985 a bomb explodes in a restaurant frequented by US soldiers in Madrid.

Then in August a Volkswagen loaded with explosives is driven into the main gate of the US Air Force Base at Rhein-Main, 22 are killed and the snooze alarm is buzzing louder and louder as US interests are continually attacked.

Fifty-nine days later a cruise ship, the Achille Lauro is hijacked and we watched as an American in a wheelchair is singled out of the passenger list and executed.

The terrorists then shift their tactics to bombing civilian airliners when they bomb TWA Flight 840 in April of 1986 that killed 4 and the most tragic bombing, Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988, killing 259.

America wants to treat these terrorist acts as crimes; in fact we are still trying to bring these people to trial. These are acts of war.

The wake up alarm is getting louder and louder The terrorists decide to bring the fight to America. In January 1993, two CIA agents are shot and killed as they enter CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

The following month, February 1993, a group of terrorists are arrested after a rented van packed with explosives is driven into the underground parking garage of the World Trade Center in New York City. Six people are killed and over 1000 are injured. Still this is a crime and not an act of war?

The Snooze alarm is depressed again. Then in November 1995 a car bomb explodes at a US military complex in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia killing seven service men and women.

A few months later in June of 1996, another truck bomb explodes only 35 yards from the US military compound in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. It destroys the Khobar Towers, a US Air Force barracks, killing 19 and injuring over 500. The terrorists are getting braver and smarter as they see that America does not respond decisively..

They move to coordinate their attacks in a simultaneous attack on two US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. These attacks were planned with precision. They kill 224. America responds with cruise missile attacks and goes back to sleep.

The USS Cole was docked in the port of Aden, Yemen for refueling on 12 October 2000, when a small craft pulled along side the ship and exploded killing 17 US Navy sailors. Attacking a US War Ship is an act of war, but we sent the FBI to investigate the crime and went back to sleep.

And of course you know the events of 11 September 2001. Most Americans think this was the first attack against US soil or in America. How wrong they are. America has been under a constant attack since 1979 and we chose to hit the snooze alarm and roll over and go back to sleep.

In the news lately we have seen lots of finger pointing from every high officials in government over what they knew and what they didn't know. But if you've read the papers and paid a little attention I think you can see exactly what they knew. You don't have to be in the FBI or CIA or on the National Security Council to see the pattern that has been developing since 1979.

The President is right on when he says we are engaged in a war. I think we have been in a war for the past 23 years and it will continue until we as a people decide enough is enough.

America needs to "Get out of Bed" and act decisively now. America has been changed forever. We have to be ready to pay the price and make the sacrifice to ensure our way of life continues. We cannot afford to keep hitting the snooze button again and again and roll over and go back to sleep.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Admiral Yamamoto said "...it seems all we have done is awakened a sleeping giant." This is the message we need to disseminate to terrorists around the world.

Support Our Troops and support President Bush for having the courage, political or militarily, to address what so many who preceded him didn't have the backbone to do both Democrat and Republican. This is not a political thing to be hashed over in an election year this is an AMERICAN thing. This is about our Freedom and the Freedom of our children in years to come.


11 posted on 05/21/2004 12:21:28 PM PDT by lilylangtree (Veni, Vidi, Vici)
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To: Steve Van Doorn

Tell him if Islam conquers the world it means the end of Benny Hill re-runs.


12 posted on 05/21/2004 12:24:08 PM PDT by Tijeras_Slim (John Kerry - Not the Swiftest Boat in the Delta.)
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To: Steve Van Doorn
A HUGE convoy!


13 posted on 05/21/2004 12:25:06 PM PDT by eyespysomething (The Barbarians are at the Gates. Don't give Kerry the key!)
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To: lilylangtree

I posted a link to here so he can read your comments.


14 posted on 05/21/2004 12:29:29 PM PDT by Steve Van Doorn
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To: Steve Van Doorn

Every jihadi we take out in Iraq is one who isn't planning a bomb attack in London. Something for your friend to ruminate upon.


15 posted on 05/21/2004 12:30:56 PM PDT by thoughtomator (Any "church" that can't figure out abortion and homosexuality isn't worthy of the appellation)
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To: Steve Van Doorn

Nice picture of the British Saxon APC, wonder how it is performing in Iraq.


16 posted on 05/21/2004 12:34:30 PM PDT by protest1
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To: Steve Van Doorn

"2 days ago an Italian patrol found an arms cache at the base perimeter that included amongst other things two SA-8 surface to air missiles. Remember, Tallil has an operational airfield which is used by a number of coalition planes and helicopters."

The SA-8 Gecko is a mobile SAM vehicle, likely he meant SA-7 Strela, the cheap handheld Russian version of the stinger.


17 posted on 05/21/2004 12:35:13 PM PDT by Joseph_CutlerUSA ("It is generally inadvisable to eject directly over the area you just bombed. " -USAF Manual)
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To: Steve Van Doorn

Tell him to ask Nick Berg...oh, wait...


18 posted on 05/21/2004 12:36:22 PM PDT by danneskjold ("Somebody is behind this..." - George Soros)
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To: Steve Van Doorn

I'd like to know just how many RAF aircraft are bombing targets compared to USAF, both in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The amount of American aircraft bombing targets in Iraq and Afghanistan is exponentionally bigger than RAF or "coallition" planes.


19 posted on 05/21/2004 12:39:16 PM PDT by Joseph_CutlerUSA ("It is generally inadvisable to eject directly over the area you just bombed. " -USAF Manual)
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To: Steve Van Doorn

Personally, I think we have finally seen a photo of bogdan polska, one of our more famous trolls.

Just a theory.........


20 posted on 05/21/2004 12:39:20 PM PDT by EggsAckley ("people who go to the Supreme Court ought to interpret the Constitution as it is interpreted...")
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To: Joseph_CutlerUSA

Considering that, it is common sense that most air to ground friendly fire incidents *a constant in war* involve American troops.


21 posted on 05/21/2004 12:42:10 PM PDT by Joseph_CutlerUSA ("It is generally inadvisable to eject directly over the area you just bombed. " -USAF Manual)
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To: Steve Van Doorn
Interesting letter, thanks for posting it.

As for "why he's there" only he can answer that, since he voluntarily went (I gather) in the first place. Why'd he go in the first place? What factors convinced him to go? And why does he think those factors are no longer in play? I honestly don't know the answer to any of that, presumably he does.

It's entirely possible that he *shouldn't* stay there. For example if he went to Iraq with false preconceptions such as "everything will be great there and people will not be attacking soldiers there, and soldiers will not be shooting back". If this is what he thought Iraq would be like, then indeed perhaps he does not belong there.

22 posted on 05/21/2004 12:50:02 PM PDT by Dr. Frank fan
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To: Steve Van Doorn

Tell him to stop whining. The U.S. is a superpower and we do not apologize for being one. Our troops are NOT trigger happy grunts who shoot anything that moves. If anything, they are TOO cautious about dealing with the cowards who shoot and run.

If he wants to win their hearts and minds, volunteer to fix up a school or bring running water to a village instead of whining and playing video games.


23 posted on 05/21/2004 1:03:45 PM PDT by Blood of Tyrants (Even if the government took all your earnings, you wouldn't be, in its eyes, a slave.)
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To: Steve Van Doorn

I'd rather have our guys too strong than too weak. I'd keep my gun trained on anything that moved in that land of terrorists, too.


24 posted on 05/21/2004 1:11:55 PM PDT by KellyAdmirer
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