Same ol’

Random Baghdad building at sunset.

Random Baghdad building at sunset.

More rapes, more murders, more bombings.

An investigation is underway to determine if soldiers are responsible for the killing of an Iraqi family and the raping of a woman. Just this morning, a bomb ripped through a busy market Saturday morning and killed at least 60 people.

Just another day? It seems like it sometimes. It’s hard to deal with what’s happening outside.

I’ve talked about it before, but our brigade safety officer and I have had it out a few times – straight out arguments. He says all of it is just media over-hype. “The media is responsible for the deaths in Iraq. They encourage the violence.”

He goes on to prove his argument by saying people die everyday in American cities, and nobody reports on that. “Iraq is no more dangerous than any American city. How many people died today in Iraq? 30? More people died in the US. You’re safer here, actually.”

“Sure I’m safer here, I’m in the military, I have an automatic weapon, and I’m on a secure installation,” I responded.

“See? You’re better off in Iraq.”

“Sir, we’re talking about the country itself. And if you’re gonna do a ‘per capita’ deal, America has like 10 times the number of people that Iraq does….”

We’d go back and forth for a good 15 minutes. Eventually he’d play the “well, you’re just a liberal” card and that’d be the end of that.

It was infuriating, but you know what? Being right or wrong wasn’t a concern. Blaming the media is how he deals with the war. He detaches himself with what happens on the outside and assigns sides.

Is that the ‘right’ way of going about it? Well, no, but it is overwhelming to comprehend the reality of the situation here. Thirty dead yesterday, 60 today, beheadings, sectarian violence…on and on; it’s hard to get your mind around it and see people instead of numbers.

The other night on patrol, we caught glints of light that we thought might be tracer fire. Turned out to be nothing and we started joking about if we had gone through the endless steps we’re supposed to follow before being allowed to engage a target. My driver started venting.

“F*** this place! What we need ‘round here is a glass-paved parking lot. We’ll see who’s f***** laughing then. Kill every last f***** one of ‘em.”

“Not everyone is an insurgent, brother.” I piped in, partly to antagonize.

“You think I care?”

I said he should, but the words rang hollow. We label everyone as “Haji” – our generation’s version of “Jap” or “Gook.” We all lump “them” into one group – the enemy. I suppose I’m partly to blame for how that young soldier demonizes everyone.

Today, sitting through our briefings, we listened to more reports of IED strikes and the normal roll call of death. I had to let off some steam myself once I got back.

“Yeah, sucks, but you know what?” one of my listeners, an admin sergeant, said. “Sixty-some days and I’m home.”

“So we can just ignore it?” I asked.

“You think I’m gonna give a f*** about this place when we leave?”

Will I care then either? Do I really care now? How do you let yourself feel for these people when there’s so much tearing them apart?


About salemonz

Born in San Diego, Calif. Raised as a Navy Brat, I jumped ship and crossed over to the Army. Served as an enlisted journalist for a bunch of years, then helped the DoD figure out what the hell to do with social media. After the Army, now I drift down the river of life, trying not to be a jerk.

8 responses to “Same ol’”

  1. JHearne says :

    This is intense. I don’t really know what to say about this but I think it’s an incredible piece.

  2. flythemig29 says :

    Actually Iraq can be compared size and population wise with California. Since I am very familiar with Cali I can tell you that while I have been concerned for my safety there I have never been shaking like a dog shitting a peach seed scared like I have been in Iraq. The big difference is that there are not people in Cali actively trying to kill me or capture me so I can be on Headline News. They also don’t have indirect fire weapons.

  3. finch says :

    DUDE – the truck didn’t even freggin’ WORK!? WTF mate?…sheesh…no salmonz sightings to report – but i may have missed it…

  4. salmons says :

    flythe: Yeah, it is crazy how someone could be that far removed.

  5. Chris Erdman says :

    Writing from California, I’m thankful for your intelligent, soulful perspective. Glad there are guys like you on the ground.

  6. salmons says :

    Chris: Hey, brother, nice to meet ‘cha! Much thanks for the “soulful” props. I’m glad you had a chance to stop by. The fact that people keep stumbling onto this blog is what keeps me going. That, and the lady-types! Word.

  7. Lisa says :

    I’m thankful to find this blog and know there are good men like you asking the important, lasting questions. I’m putting you on my prayer list. God bless and keep you in the intense heat of Iraq.


  8. David and Sheena MacDonald says :

    Great intellectual posts. Sounds like you’ve got a great critical thinking mind despite all the mess you’re working in. Cheers and stay safe..


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