We need security, not free food.

This Salon recap of an Op-Ed originally published in the NY Times on Aug. 19 by seven active-duty U.S. soldiers. Two of its authors have since died and one was shot in the head and wounded. Besides being written by active duty soldiers in Iraq, the piece is also noteworthy for how it cuts to the core of the issues the campaign in that country has faced for the past five years and offers solemn conclusions for the future.
Among the “highlights” are:
– Reports that Iraq police and military details have, in many cases, been corrupted, and either allow acts of violence occur against U.S. personnel, or even actively support those actions.
– We are arming Sunni militias who, it is feared, will challenge the Shiite-dominated government for control, in the vacuum that will be the U.S. pull-out.
– Recent assessments of improved conditions in Iraq have been made by the mis-informed and do not represent reality for most Iraq’s who have been living in constant chaos and fear for 5 years now.
The biggest failing of our “leaders”, however, remains the fact that they looked at the invasion of Iraq and deposing of Saddam Husein’s as the end state of this mission without having any plan in place for what happens next. Several costly mistakes pointed out in the article need to be reversed but the largest error, hearkens to my last post – but requires actual action:

At the same time, the most important front in the counterinsurgency, improving basic social and economic conditions, is the one on which we have failed most miserably. Two million Iraqis are in refugee camps in bordering countries. Close to two million more are internally displaced and now fill many urban slums. Cities lack regular electricity, telephone services and sanitation. “Lucky” Iraqis live in gated communities barricaded with concrete blast walls that provide them with a sense of communal claustrophobia rather than any sense of security we would consider normal.

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