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Unwelcome Americans Cross Iraqi Bridge First

2009/07/30

Poo River Bridge was closed to keep the people in the neighborhoods on each side of this human waste canal from blowing each other up. The closing of the bridge took advantage of the inherent laziness of people by taking away convenient route to get to the other side of this great divide.  The plan was successful. Five years later, this bridge re-opening ceremony was to embody a Sunni and Shia unity forming one Muslim Iraqi people, brothers in arms, to support a prosperous future of Iraq.

Raw Sewage into the river that divided Sunni and Shia.  Stunk so bad you could taste it.

Raw sewage into the river that divided Sunni and Shia. Stunk so bad you could taste it.

At first it made me feel good about what we have done in the country.  This showed one more step toward a peaceful nation.  Maybe, the 4000+ soldiers that gave their lives didn’t do so in vain.  Maybe they brought peace and democracy to a nation; a nation that has the potential to reap the benefits of oil production and bring wealth and success to its people.

Today, thanks to the training and money provided by American Soldiers and taxpayers, the Iraqi Army has a grip on the security of the country.  It’s loose, but it’s a grip nonetheless.

Iraqi soldiers surrounded the tent, filled the streets, rooftops and the bridge itself.  The significance of the ceremony was important enough to lend itself to a very real potential; the enemy arriving with a vest filled with screws, nails, ball bearings and homemade explosives.  A bomb going off here would kill many important people and would surely make international news.  Fortunately, it didn’t happen.

We sat in the back of the tent, merely a shadow of the Iraqi general we were advising, watching as sheiks, other Iraqi generals and religious leaders arrive.  There were lots of smiles, handshaking, and cheek kissing between leaders of both the Sunni and Shia neighborhoods and mulhallas (sub neighborhoods) in this community.  A community once divided socially by religion and physically by an open, black water irrigation system.

In the 120 degree heat, we listened to readings from the Quoran, poetry from local civilians, and speeches from top generals.  They talked about the great things the Iraqi Army has done and the secure future that is in store for the Iraqi people.  Everyone felt good about themselves; you could feel it in the air.

As we stood to move to the ribbon cutting and bridge crossing there was an announcement.  A couple of the religious leaders wanted to make statements.  Everyone obliged and returned to their seats.

Sunni and Shia both stood and made the same claims.  My translator began to speak, “A day of brotherhood, unity, and security.  There was to be only one people; Iraqi Muslims.  No more Sunni, no more Shia…..”

Americans and Terrorist no longer welcome in Iraq.

Americans and Terrorists no longer welcome in Iraq.

My translator stopped speaking.

“What are they saying?” I asked.

“You don’t want to know.”

“Tell me.”

“Okay, sir.  Coalition Forces and Terrorists are no long welcome in this country.” my translator stated.

I sat there boiling.  I understand they want their country back.  I get it.  Really, I do, and they can have it.  It’s hot, dusty, stinky and corrupt.  I miss my family, my house, my dogs, my car and the United States.  It costs American taxpayers way too much financially for us to be in this money pit we call Iraq.  But to say it that way?  It was all I could do to keep from creating an international incident by telling this old fart to go pack sand.

How about this; we leave and take our money with us.  The money that is supplying your military to keep you safe, the money that is helping build your infrastructure, and the money that is supplementing your country because you are too corrupt to get decent bids to produce the oil that will support your country; all of it stops today.  I’ll gladly stop risking my life everyday and go home to my family and let you live in your hot, dry, almost third world country.  No problem.

But instead, I remained professional, kept my mouth shut and plucked an eye booger out from behind my sunglasses with my middle finger.

Then, with the stench of watered down feces so thick you could taste it, the large crowd of 75 to 100 people, surrounded by dozens of cameras and reporters, slowly made their way across the bridge. With US Army security out in front, Americans placed the first steps across the bridge.  It made me smile knowing, that with all their jaw-jacking about how we were not welcome, we still found ourselves out in front, taking photographs, pulling security and taking those very significant, very important, very first steps across the Poo River Bridge.

I am one of the unwelcomed Americans crossing the bridge first.

I am one of the unwelcome Americans crossing the bridge first.

When it came time to leave, we rubbed it in just a little bit more by driving our good ole American Humvees across the bridge. First.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. UpNorth permalink
    2009/08/10 03:52

    Solomon2, I fear that even if Iraq does manage to establish and keep some semblance of a democracy, and they finally get over themselves and realize they’d still be lined for one-way trips to the shredder, they won’t be able to keep it. They’ll get treated just like the South Vietnamese and the Hondurans. The left will excuse leaving them to face (pick one, Iran, Al-Queda, the Russians, the Saudi’s) by stating, “they’re corrupt”. Or, “it’s an illegal coup”. Sadly, this country doesn’t do well by it’s real allies.

  2. Dave J permalink
    2009/08/01 21:18

    I could’nt agree more. I am tired of pouring our hearts and souls in this money pit. Let the Irainans have it if they want to put what money they have into Iraq.I also agree with Mac, Solomon2, and Chas.
    Eileen, I think you speek volumes.

  3. Gary Ogletree permalink
    2009/08/01 21:02

    Honest Iraqis know we saved their ass and they keep saying thanks. Screw these ingrates. They’re not worth worrying about. It’s all about the kids having a chance.

  4. mac permalink
    2009/08/01 06:15

    Grr. Agree 100%. If they’re capabilities are “good enough” we should start leaving right away. Granted, you’d want to leave them with a fighting chance, but it looks like they have that now. From here, Dec. 2011 sounds way to long. This may be a selfish mil family view, but I agree with the recent memo from a Col. advisor (Tim Reese? Can’t remember). August 2010 gives them plenty of time, and given their attitude, it can’t come soon enough.

    I and almost all other relatives would never support a return to the cities if violence increased. We’d also have a hard time supporting a further agreement for an Air Force presence beyond 2011, as Maliki has implied. I mean, are they independent or not? We don’t have the time or the money to keep holding their hand. But their triumphalism at least signals one thing: you all have done the job everyone once said was impossible: getting Iraq on it’s feet. The U.S. military bent behind a huge boulder and rolled it up a steep mountain, and for that we are grateful.

  5. 2009/07/31 22:43

    Because we’ve given the Iraqis more than they can ever hope to repay, they must take the attitude that they owe us nothing at all – that it was the Americans who brought terror to their country and gave nothing in return.

    Very much like the French who complained there was no fighting in Normandy until the Americans landed. Remember, the first speech DeGaulle gave after the Allied liberation of Paris was to give all credit to the French for the liberation. Not one word about British and American forces – and no word about collaborators, either

    Five years ago I wrote:

    “We Americans put too much faith in gratitude. The fond feeling the French had for us twice saving them faded in the 1960’s. The Germans want to forget their debts to us for freedom and unification… Both want – desperately – to believe the U.S. today is just as bad as they were in their imperial days — to lessen their collective feelings of guilt and moral inferiority, and to justify their refusal to stand side-by-side with the United States…Gratitude goes even less far in the Arab world. Arabs today have, at best, selective memories; at worst, they believe their own lies, and, by the noise of repetition, impress it into others…

    …the Iraqis must feel that they created their own democracy, not one imposed by an “empire”…In the end, they may feel angry with us, but if they succeed, they will be a real, confident, country, one that will stand up for democratic values, like El Salvador is today — not wilted lettuces like France and Germany. We want an Iraq that won’t tolerate terrorists in its midst.” link

    But all we got was an Iraq that doesn’t tolerate terrorists, and that may change. The Iraqis now have a republic of sorts – if they can keep it. I sense we are leaving without the values of democracy rooted in the government – the people don’t feel empowered, as the Americans did with their (mildly) corrupt state governments after the Revolutionary War.

  6. 2009/07/31 13:03

    Some times I think that it would have been better to just do Hussin and then walk away. I am begining to think these people have no concept of what civilization is or have even courtesy to extend to us for what chance we have given them.

    chas

  7. Ellen permalink
    2009/07/30 21:19

    You go! God please let our appearance at this spectacle end soon!

  8. 2009/07/30 20:41

    I am speechless…really.

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