I remind myself inconsequently that it is long past the time to quit after each cigarette has the life squeezed out of it. The reddish-tan debris from my cigarette butt lay haphazardly on the wooden lounge chair. A slight breeze enters unobtrusively, carrying them away as the charred cigarette rolls awkwardly between the gaps of the gazebo flooring. It’s a slow afternoon at the outpost. The out of form sun is high up in the sky, practicing for the relentless ass-kickery it will soon deliver during the upcoming months. But for now, the little bit of airflow keeps things manageable.
I must digress however; the United States has a policy that it does not negotiate with terrorists. Policy in general, however, has a tendency of bending and stretching with the cunning use of euphemisms. For example, diplomacy is an effective way to stop situations from escalating to war, but as a set of “boots on the ground,” I wonder how many more soldiers will be sent home with a complimentary United States flag as a result.
I see the answers to the questions unfolding over here in vacation land as the American people ask our politicians the big questions. I’m so sick and tired of the “I told you so-itis” we’re displaying as a nation. Okay, I got it – disbanding the Iraqi Army from day one may not have been the best answer by a long shot, but we can’t just unmake that decision. Where do we go from here?
Dangerous waters lie in wait ahead of every major combat decision. The stateside politicians wear their proverbial floatees while wading ankle-deep in Washington, as the fence-sitters are playing the “hind sight is 20-20” card. Well guess what? I’ve got ninety pounds of gear and I’m drowning in the aftermath.
So, back to my previous point to not negotiate with terrorists, Moqtada al Sadr is a man you have all become fairly familiar with in the “Iraqi Freedom” campaign. He is a Shiite cleric with strong political affiliations in Baghdad, Iraq, and the figurehead leader of the Jaish al Mahdi militia [JAM].
Sadr’s outlook is very simple. If he wants to gain a heavy political influence in Iraq he has to win the Iraqi people and the Americans without looking weak. The American military has allowed him a playground in which to build his militia and his passive-aggressiveness, Sadr City. It’s nearly untouchable by the United States as no one in uniform steps into the area without the Commanding General’s authority.
Sadr has proven that he can lessen the output of casualties the United States receives by imposing a “ceasefire” in 2007. (Exuding a false sense of security?) His mainline following of JAM adhere to the ceasefire as it has given Sadr some time to lick his wounds from the troop surge. Previously, if a member of JAM was to break the conditions of the ceasefire he would be considered rJAM or rogue JAM. This ceasefire was recently renewed with several stipulations.
The ceasefire renewal is seen by Sadr’s top political advisors as a weakness that allows US forces to exploit the JAM militia members. I think it’s even simple to say that the rJAM numbers will be increasing exponentially throughout this upcoming summer. They will deny all links to JAM or claim self defense if caught. Either way, it’s obvious to most that it is an outreach to the coalition forces to believe he is a trustworthy ally. Even the details seem shady. Attacks will continue to happen regardless of where the supposed insurgents loyalties’ lie. It’s easy to denounce attacks from JAM stating that they are acting on their own. Who takes responsibility for those actions? Maybe it’s time for Sadr to start imposing consequences on those who knowingly break the rules, and not just continue to have his cake and eat it too. Bad things continue to happen in Baghdad. All roads lead to Sadr and his behind the scenes affiliation with Iran.
The big question is this: Why the hell are we negotiating with this man? By agreeing to any terms that would put United States forces in harm’s way – we are allowing him to control the pace of this war. I can tell you why. In my beloved way of proving perception is reality, I sure see what “seems” to be happening.
Sadr’s ceasefire is the first sizeable form of stability since the war started. He showed the coalition forces that a decision he made could save U.S. lives. In all reality, the troop surge was working, and this was in fact his last ditch effort to save his militia from crumbling. So during a meeting, a ceasefire is established. Everyone’s happy! Right? Well, it’s too bad eight months down the road Sadr is done licking his wounds, and the new ceasefire stipulations are a smack in the face to the “progress” in Iraq. Oh, by the way – isn’t it very coincidental that some of the troops from the surge have redeployed back to the states at the very same time this ceasefire renewal has taken place? Check.
Now, with an uncharted Sadr City playground for terrorists, an American public demanding troop withdrawals, and everyone playing the ‘I told you so’ game, your American soldiers are almost in a lose-lose situation. Intelligence reports a number of Iranian trained snipers working out of Sadr City, as well as EFP (Explosively Formed Penetrators) shipped priority from Iran’s mailbox. JAM seems to be well on its way to being rebuilt right as the crucial time for action is wavering. Check, again.
Stop idling with the useless progress. Either keep us here, taking people like Sadr out of the equation, or send us ALL home, Washington. You want to win, and you want to save lives. Any other choice in the matter is just raising the percentages of the “free American flag lottery…” And I’m sure the families of each individual service member might have a problem with that. Check-mate.
Why don’t we end the senseless deaths of the American soldiers? Is it the pride of having your point proven or saving face as this nation’s government? If the politicians want to be involved in derailing this war, then let them be the “boots on the ground.” Let the men and women in the military come home to their families while the politicians stay and form a yield sign for destruction. Let their families wonder if they will come home safe, or be delivered in a flag draped coffin for a change. Oh yeah, then politicians too can risk their lives for the insulting pay that the military collects while deployed. Should politicians get the top notch medical treatment while being in office? Let them be on the receiving end of the worthless medical treatment that has been reported about in the news. Let them get the same treatment that the soldiers get, substandard facilities, and a lifetime prescription to Xanax.
However you sleep at night…
The views expressed within this journal are my own, and in no way represent the views or policies of the United States Army, Department of Defense, or any other official agency.