Oct 20, 2003
Soldiers have recently been allowed to return home on two-week furloughs from their assignments in Iraq. When a 21-year-old artilleryman returned to his home town in Florida, he was asked by a friend, "So, how are you doing over there?" "It's madness," the soldier replied. "In the beginning I was into this; we all were," he said. But "we haven't found anything, no weapons of mass destruction, no Saddam, no nothing. And the people there hate us. If we were rolling through a town and they were cheering, hell yeah, it would make us feel better. But when they're not cooperating and throwing rocks and giving us evil looks, we don't want to be there. We're conquerors to them. It wasn't supposed to be like that."
Another friend asked,"What are you exactly doing over there?" He replied:"Ever seen the show 'Cops'? That's basically it: kicking in doors, searching things, looking for weapons and gold and stuff like that."
Last month U.S. soldiers in Dhuluaya, a small town about 50 miles north of Baghdad, were ordered to destroy a strip of date palm, orange and lemon trees a kilometer long. Nusayef Jassim, one of the 32 farmers whose fruit trees were wiped out, said:"They told us that the resistance fighters hide in our farms, but this is not true. They didn't capture anything. They didn't find any weapons." The farmers were refused compensation for the loss of their trees when they sent a delegation to a nearby U.S. military base and were told by officers there that what happened was "a punishment of local people because 'you know who is in the resistance and do not tell us'."
According to eyewitnesses, one of the American soldiers involved in this operation broke down and cried, when soldiers dragged away children who lay down in front of a bulldozer to try to stop it from destroying their mother's trees.
Asked how much his lost orchard was worth, Nusayef Jassim said in a distraught voice:"It is as if someone cut off my hands and you asked me how much my hands are worth."
The Bush administration may claim that things are going well in Iraq, but this is daily reality for both Iraqis and the U.S. soldiers being ordered to terrorize and brutalize them.