Pro Deo Et Patria- An Army Chaplain

I am a chaplain in the US Army, serving in Iraq. I'm keeping a blog to share my thoughts and experiences while deployed. They are my thoughts and they don't necessarily reflect the opinions of the US Army! :)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Not a war, but reconstruction

One of the things I've noticed about the coverage of the war in Iraq, back in the US, is the absolutely negative way in which everything connected to it is being portrayed. This includes the media, and members of both political parties. And it comes from people who lack a very basic knowledge of the region or its people. Read this article on CNN for an example. Now, I understand that not every American knows that Al Qaeda is a Sunni organization, but shouldn't the guy who will be heading up the House Intelligence Committee know this?? Seriously... and these politicians are the ones telling us we're "losing."

What bothers me is the way that members of both parties have, a) Turned the war political, and b) Begun to talk about winning or losing in ways that we cannot. Coming back to the States for a bit, and seeing the TV coverage blows me away. What's getting lost in the mix are the Iraqis.

Let me offer a different way of thinking about this: We won the war in Iraq. Yes, past tense: we won. You see, militarily, we invaded Iraq, defeated their Army, and captured their leadership. On this point, we had a crushing and overwhelming victory. No questions about it. We did what we said we were going to do: invaded the country and deposed Saddam (remember, right before the war started, we gave Saddam 48 hours to leave office), and we inforced the weapons inspections. That was the "war." We won that.

What is happening now is the reconstruction and reconstitution of Iraq. In other words: putting it back together. We helped the Iraqis democratically elect a government. Check. We have trained and Army and Police Force. Check. The problem is that the government and military of Iraq are not doing a good job. That is the point on which things are failing. We have to stop thinking about this phase as winning or losing a war.

Over the past two years, we had one political party (the Democrats) pretending that nothing was going right over there, and we had the other political party (the Republicans) pretending that everything was going right over there. (In other words, BOTH are to blame) In the meantime, the Iraqis get hurt by our own self-obsession.

Things are failing because we have been so self-focused that we have failed to stop and ask "what do we need to do to improve the situation?" We have sat and argued about pre-war intelligence, about whether we should call it a civil war or not, about whether the Iraq war is part of the greater war on terror or a separate war, etc. In the meantime, we seem to have forgotten about.... the Iraqis.

What I find interesting about the Iraq Study Group report- which works under the assumption that we're "losing"- is that the people who seem to object to the report the most are the Iraqis. The reason: I think they see that America is getting bored, and is getting ready to leave them in a precarious position. It's kind of like a mother having a baby, and wondering why the baby isn't full grown after three years, and deciding that the best option would be to send the baby off on his own.

I wonder if we have the virtuous resolve to complete our committments, even when they turn out to be more difficult than we first believed?


Anonymous Amy - said...

Good Post. Thanks

5:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for your perspective - great post.

7:49 AM  
Anonymous Kirk said...

I could not agree with you more! Thanks for your input and for giving insight into this situation from a participatory point-of-view. God bless!

10:33 PM  
Anonymous Patti Nichols said...

Thanks so much for writing about your CHOBC experience! I am headed that way in January and I just read through all your posts.
Thank you for serving. I noticed in one post that you mention a Mary, Wesley, and Calvin. I appreciate the sacrifice you make in being deployed. God bless your family.

2:12 AM  
Anonymous Margit Anne said...

Hey Bro...I really like this post.
I am glad you are back here spending time with MA and the boys, althought saddened for the reasons.
We miss you and love you!

Margit and Tom

3:10 PM  
Anonymous Mark said...

Thank you so much friend and "Merry Christmas"

God Bless You!!

If you or any of your comrades ever want a place to leave a comment/tip about Saddam Hussein's atrocities or terrorism links that you see/hear about please stop by and leave a message or email.

Take care,

4:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


You are right on target with your comments and your observations. Unfortunately, the media doesn't look at things with the same eye.

The terrorist networks worldwide view the US military as marginally weak. Plus, Iraq is easier to border-cross than this the US, so they are there, engaging us, in anticipation of defeating us.

Should we "cut and run" these same groups will come at us in OUR cities, going after OUR civilians. We must stay the course. Leaving does not solve the situation--it only moves it. Our military is much more able to defend itself than are our fire fighters or police.

I agree--the war is over. It didn't last very long. It was mostly successful. It accomplished our objectives. It really bugs me that many people forget that Saddam violated US Resolutions and that he used WMDs on his own people. They seem to forget all this.

Bottom line--in my opinion, we are going to be in the Mid-East for a generation. We will only see "victory" by having the ability to stay the course. And, you can't compare this to Viet Nam if for no other reason than this is a voluntary Army.

Stand your ground, Chris. We appreciate what you are doing!

Please wish your troops a Merry Christmas. You are about a days drive from where Christ was born--how cool is that?

For those who would rather be politically correct: Have a Merry Rama-Hanna-Qwanzmas.


4:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for putting this up. I may only be fourteen, but I considder myself to be smart enough to know that things aren't always as they seem. The media has mirepresented and distorted what is really happening in Iraq. I have been researching the War on Terrorism for a school project, and am going to give a speech on my report. I can tell you that finding the truth hasn't been easy, and finding stories from our troops in Iraq is almost as hard. But what you have said is exactly what I've been looking for. My goal for this speech is to lay the truth bare to my classmates and change their veiws about this so called "War." Thank you for all you have done for this country and please know that you have a my support.

Merry Christmas!! (yes I said the C-word, what can they do, sue me?)

3:00 AM  
Blogger Mike & Teddi said...

Hi Chris,
We have been following your blog and finding it very interesting. We miss you at LCC. You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers. God Bless you and all the troops

8:22 AM  

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