It's showtime again. Today me and a 10 Cav platoon from JSS Karbdegla are going out to a COP (combat outpost) in Saha to join up with another platoon and then we're going to hang out on the main market street in Abu D'Shir.
"How can you spend time with those murderers and then actually write nice things about them?" someone e-mailed me today, referring to American soldiers.
The main test of our soldiers' idealism, character and honor will be whether or not our military once again blindly follows the corporatists' orders without doing their research. If Bush or Cheney or McCain orders our military to attack Iran...or Venezuela...or Russia...or San Francisco, where will these honorable men and women draw the line?
Now we're driving past miles and miles of blast walls again. There must be a million blast walls in Baghdad. It's like visiting the Great Wall of Iraq. Where the freak do they get all that cement?
"Do you think it was a spider bite?" I asked. A tarantula? A scorpion? A three-horned alien? Hey, this is Iraq. Anything's possible.
While we were waiting around the COP for the patrol to begin, I checked my e-mail. "Mom, I'm having a mini-breakdown," wrote my daughter Ashley. "I miss you! Plus I have a bug." What kind of a bug? A scorpion? A tarantula?
Now it's time to hurry up and wait. We're supposed to go out to the markets but today nobody seems to be in any hurry. Me neither -- except that I need to catch a helicopter to the Green Zone at 3:00 pm. So we sat around and talked about the Olympic games -- they are on every TV screen all of the time over here -- and where soldiers would go during their leave. Mostly they would be doing family stuff like taking the kids to Disneyland. A lot of these guys are family men. Rats. I can't find any recruits to come home and marry my daughter.
Then we popped into an MRAP. "Hi. I'm Alex. I'll be your gunner for today."
Alex used to be a punk with a Mohawk. Now he is a family man. He showed me a photo of his daughter. Total cuteness! "She'll be one year old pretty soon. I've only seen her for a total of 25 days." Again and again I keep hearing about how hard it is to be separated from family for at least six months at a time. Another guy I talked with had five children. Another one had three. Someone else told me that his divorce papers had just come through.
"You hungry?" asked the gunner. I'm always hungry. So the MRAP went over to the drive-through at Camp Falcon and we got chicken, french fries and Gatorade.
Then we rolled over to Abu D'Shir -- Shia territory. "How can you tell?"