The Guardian September 17, 2003


A US soldier in Iraq wonders: "How many more must die?"

Tim Predmore is on active duty with the 101st Airborne Division near 
Mosul, Iraq. He has been in Iraq since March and in the US military for 
about five years. The following letter was written by Tim late last 
month.

"Shock and Awe" were the words used to describe the awesome display of 
power the world was to view upon the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom. It 
was to be an up-close, dramatic display of military strength and advanced 
technology within the arsenal of the United States and the United Kingdom's 
military.

But as a soldier preparing for the invasion of Iraq, the words "shock and 
awe" rang deeper within my psyche. These two great superpowers were about 
to break the very rules they demand of others. Without the consent of the 
United Nations, and ignoring the pleas of their own citizens, the United 
States and Britain invaded Iraq.

"Shock and Awe"? Yes, the words correctly described the emotional impact I 
felt as we prepared to participate in what I believed not to be an act of 
justice but of hypocrisy.

From the moment the first shot was fired in this so-called war of 
liberation and freedom, hypocrisy reigned. Following the broadcasting of 
recorded images of captured and dead US soldiers over Arab television, 
American and British leaders vowed revenge while verbally assaulting the 
networks for displaying such vivid images. Yet within hours of the deaths 
of Saddam's two sons, the American Government released horrific photos of 
the two dead brothers for the entire world to view. Again, a "do as we say 
and not as we do" scenario.

As soldiers serving in Iraq, we have been told that our purpose here is to 
help the people of Iraq by providing them the necessary assistance 
militarily as well as in humanitarian efforts. Then tell me where the 
humanity was in the recent Stars and Stripes account of two young children 
brought to a US military camp by their mother, in search of medical care?

The two children had been, unbeknown to them, playing with explosive 
ordinance they had found and as a result were severely burned. The account 
tells how the two children, following an hour-long wait, were denied care 
by two US military doctors. The soldier described the incident as one of 
many "atrocities" he has witnessed on the part of the US military

So then, what is our purpose here? Was this invasion due to weapons of mass 
destruction as we so often heard? If so, where are they? Did we invade to 
dispose of a leader and his regime on the account of close association with 
Osama bin Laden? If so, where is the proof? Or is it that our incursion is 
a result of our own economic advantage? Iraq's oil can be refined at the 
lowest cost of any in the world. Coincidence?

This looks like a modern-day crusade not to free an oppressed people or to 
rid the world of a demonic dictator relentless in his pursuit of conquest 
and domination but a crusade to control another nation's natural resource. 
At least for us here, oil seems to be the reason for our presence.

There is only one truth, and it is that Americans are dying. There are an 
estimated 10-14 attacks on our servicemen and women daily in Iraq. As the 
body count continues to grow, it would appear that there is no immediate 
end in sight.

I once believed that I served for a cause: "to uphold and defend the 
Constitution of the United States".

Now, I no longer believe; I have lost my conviction, my determination. I 
can no longer justify my service for what I believe to be half-truths and 
bold lies. My time is done as well as that of many others with whom I 
serve. We have all faced death here without reason or justification.

How many more must die? How many more tears must be shed before America 
awakens and demands the return of the men and women whose job it is to 
protect them rather than their leader's interest?

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