Readers weigh in on an Army sergeant's letter about Iraq. Plus: Did New Mexico really "swing hard" for Bush in 2004?

By Salon Staff
August 8, 2005 11:46PM (UTC)
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[Read "Letter From an Iraqi Vet," by Army Sgt. John Bruhns.]

In his "Letter From an Iraqi Vet," John Bruhns says there aren't many good options, and lists two of them: Pull out quickly, or pull out slowly.

He fails to mention one possible solution: Finally engage the international community (which will also mean giving up some of the spoils of war -- i.e., contracts to rebuild), and give the forces there some form of legitimacy and at least the appearance that we really are there to help, not just to spread American values (which they don't want) or to get their oil.


-- Jan Vilhuber

It seems that many Americans opposed to the conduct and even beginning of this war can't decide what we should do about the occupation and what we should demand. This confusion has made it difficult for us to mount a focused critique and oppositional movement. Sgt. Bruhns' eloquent letter describes this tension.

I would like to suggest the following: Perhaps we don't need to make this decision. Let's demand something different. Let's demand that the Iraqi people decide what we do next. Let's demand an Iraqi plebiscite over the occupation of their nation, overseen by trusted monitors.


If we do this, and we force our government to hold good to it, we will restore to some degree the honor we have lost over this matter. We will offer Iraqi nationalists a separate, legitimate route toward political expression besides the gun. And we will offer a new point of unity for opposition to the occupation.

I would also suggest that such a plebiscite include a ballot on what is to happen to Iraq's oil, in regard to the Bush administration's revealed desire to privatize it.

When we just ask, should we stay or should we go, we resign ourselves to a tragic choice that is unsatisfactory to all and make it possible for the administration to maintain control over the debate. We must move outside these choices and offer the promise of a genuine democratic decision to the people of Iraq.


-- Donald Jackson

First, we should never have invaded Iraq. But we did anyway. Based on false information fixed around a purely partisan agenda.

So, who has benefited the most from this misadventure? The radical Iranian ayatollahs next door. Sgt. Bruhns mentioned an event during which the Iranians inserted their Hezbollah agents into Karbala and Najaf shortly after the war began by having Hezbollah agents join a pilgrimage to these two Shiite holy cities in Iraq.


In early April 2003 I read that about 80 Hezbollah agents showed up in either Karbala or Najaf. The article mentioned that these terrorist agents didn't seem to be doing anything. Puzzling. But what if they were doing something off the radar like setting up terrorist cells?

Could this explain the Iraqi veteran's encounters during the pilgrimage in which anti-U.S. Iraqi protesters started acting like they'd been coached by Hezbollah? Iraqi protesters who sounded like Iranian protesters screaming "death to America" even though U.S. forces had just freed them from Saddam Hussein's regime?

The Iranian ayatollahs saw an opportunity and reacted immediately to get their hardcore religious agents on the ground inside Iraq as soon as the war began in March 2003. These Hezbollah terrorists then started setting up terrorist cells and training Iraqis in how to organize into cells and how to build more efficient bombs.


These Hezbollah-trained terrorists are now building shaped-charge IEDs and killing our troops. And I really doubt we will be able to stop their reign of terror. Their poison has spread too far and their claws are now sunk too deep into Iraq's flesh.

So, the idea that the United States will be able to stop the Shiite leaders from setting up a Sharia-based theocracy in Iraq is laughable. And the Iranian ayatollahs responsible for the Hezbollah agents in Iraq are laughing at how easy the Americans (the Bush administration) were played for fools.

So I understand completely the confusion of the Iraqi veteran. We've all been used and abused by the Bush administration. As have all the Iraqi citizens who wanted their freedom, but really didn't want to substitute one type of tyranny for another.


What a mess.

-- Paul Sorrells

With regard to Sgt. Bruhns' supposedly first-person description of Iraq, how is it that a sergeant in U.S. combat arms doesn't know that an AK-47 is not a "machine gun" but an automatic rifle/assault rifle like our M-16?

The military is very precise about its terminology in such matters. A machine gun, such as our M-60, is a heavier weapon than an automatic rifle. The AK-47 is the most famous automatic rifle in the world. This precision of terminology is drilled into soldiers. It stays with them for many years after they last handle a military weapon.


This mistake in basic terminology leads me to doubt the authenticity of this account.

-- J.K. Kelley

[Read "What You See Is What You Get," by Shea Andersen.]

Maybe Salon should take a closer look at Bill Richardson than did its fawning reporter.

Bill Richardson enjoys an incredibly cozy relationship with GEO Group Inc., formerly Wackenhut Corrections. He and his former GEO warden, now corrections secretary Joe Williams, are trying to build a useless, unstaffable for-profit prison in the remote town of Clayton. GEO is notorious in New Mexico for taking care of the then-speaker of the state Senate with an off-session "consultancy" and a concrete supply contract. A murdered guard at its chaotic Hobbs prison was making $7.95 hourly. Haven't we had enough of this kind of behavior in the White House?


-- Frank Smith

I object to Shea Andersen's claim that New Mexico "swung hard" for George Bush in the 2004 election. According to the New Mexico secretary of state, Bush won by about 6,000 votes, less than 1 percent. Because of some voting irregularities, many New Mexicans believe that John Kerry would have won a recount, but no recount was conducted. A claim that the state swung hard for Bush is clearly erroneous and insulting.

-- Roy Armstrong

Salon Staff

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