Sergeant is a nickname given to him by KBR. I was asked to use his nickname instead of his real name so that he couldn't be tracked down on the internet.
Sergeant is 21 years old and works in the main laundry facility. Eighteen months ago he was a student, living at home in the Diyala region of eastern Iraq. We took the opportunity to discuss some of the 25 most interesting questions my readers submitted.
Do you feel safe? Have you ever had your life threatened because of your association with Americans? Yes, I feel safe. I have not received any threats of any kind.
How long do you believe US Forces should remain in Iraq? I think that the Americans should stay until everyone (in the country) is safe. After the new Iraqi government is able to protect its citizens and brings order back.
What is your opinion of the new (Iraqi) government? Did you vote? Right now, they are not strong enough to do anything. In the future they will be strong. And no, I didn't vote.
Do you feel that the different groups (Kurds, Sunnis, Shiites) will be able to construct a peaceful, co-existant, cooperative, unified country? We all live together now, we lived together peacefully before. I think we will continue to do so. I am a Sunni muslim.
What is your opinion of Americans? I think Americans are good people.
Have you ever been outside Iraq? No
How do you feel about the removal of Saddam? (Shrug) Doesn't really matter. He was a bad man but it doesn't really matter to me.
Do you feel that the Iraqi people, as a whole, are suffering more or less than they did under Saddam's rule? Do you feel more free? I feel the same. The bad people form before, under Saddam, are the bad people now. Saddam's friends, people that used to work for him. They are the insurgents now.
Why do the insurgents attack? Because they were friends of Saddam. They have small brains and will do anything for money.
What do you want most in life? Safety.
Do you have any family? I don't have my own family yet. I live with my mother and my sister.
What is your favorite food? Chicken....lot's of chicken.
What do you for fun? I play soccer.
Sergeant's responses did not quite match up with what I expected nor with what I find in the media. This could be mainly due to the region he is from and his age. Diyala is almost completely rural. Balad Ruz is listed as a main city. You can get a brief 'tour' of Balad Ruz by watching the Pet video that I produced. Balad Ruz is the city with the cow standing on the median.
What I find most interesting is his veritable indifference to Saddam and his removal. To me, this is evidence of the perspective I assume many rural people have. Their day-to-day life has changed little; they still farm to eat, maybe have low paying jobs at the brick factories or as mechanics in towns like Balad Ruz, a larger percentage are shepherds. In this environment, the political and religious differences between the Sunnis and Shiites are of little consequence. This is consistent with Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.
Please, I encourage you to post comments so that I may clarify or expand on anything concerning this interview with Sergeant. I have kept my opinion and interpretation to a minimum so to spark some conversation. It is my intent to continue interviewing people from significant sectorsas they become available.