Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Fables of the Reconstruction

As costs for reconstruction in Iraq begin to topple the $200 Billion mark, one must ask what this money has been spent on and what results have been noted. Several times thus far, I have noted that what you are fed through the corporate media is a limited and skewed view of Iraq. Primarily, the news reporters are spoon fed their news by military public affairs officers who boiled down numbers and events for easy consumption by the concerned but faint-hearted American citizen. These reporters have such little integrity that they rarely, if ever, venture outside their Baghdad hotels for their latest breaking story. Dressed up in flak jackets and kevlar helmets, they intimate the violence and danger they must forego to bring us the news. Let's be clear on this from the start, Baghdad is NOT Iraq and Iraq is not Baghdad. The media has successfully convinced the Dancing-with-a-Star loving American viewer that Iraq is a homogenous and violent country. Wrong.

One can successfully break down the situation in Iraq into two parts; Baghdad and rural Iraq. Of course this is a bit oversimplified since there are a few larger cities that are strongholds for insurgents, but in general this division holds true for analysis. Baghdad is a fairly modern city structurally. During the toppling of Hussein, much of Baghdad suffered destruction in the form of communication, electrical, and water breakdown. Buildings were destroyed and roads tore up. Much of the residential areas remained relatively intact but did not escape the attack unscathed. Because of this, the economy was also completely disrupted; leaving people out of jobs, devalued money, disrupting life-support industries such as food and medical services. Obviously, there is a lot of fodder for a fearful reporter to regurgitate as progress in reconstruction. But what about the rest of rural Iraq?

Rural Iraq is unequivocally unlike Baghdad. Most people live in humble mud or brick homes, eeking out a subsistence by herding goats, sheep, or the occaisional cow. Most towns east and north of Baghdad are full of beat up, barely running cars, donkeys, and bicycles for transportation. It is hard to see any evidence of desctruction caused by our troops moving toward Baghdad, or any since. Mostly what is seen are the craters produced by the occaisional detonation of IEDs along roadsides and bridges. There are rarely organized conflicts with insurgents, or any small arms fire from hostiles. Most people go about their days just trying to get by.

In Baghdad, infrastructure indeed existed before the invasion, so it is obvious that Reconstruction would and should include the replacement of said infrastructure; power plants, water processing plants, road rebuilding, building construction, etc. But it is not so easy to decide what should be done with the rural areas that never had such infrastructure in the first place. Because of the collapse of the economy, many rural Iraqis farm or herd for a subsistence and then trade or try to sell what extra they have. But there is no industry to produce a product and thus bring money into an empty economy. With that in mind, on my latest convoy I was able to finally notice some change in the barren landscape. In the emptiness of eastern Iraq, towers to run power lines have been planted, roads have been crudely repaved, irrigation canals are flowing with water.

The question here is twofold. On one hand, what goals for "reconstruction" could be in place for areas that have never had this infrastructure previously. How far should the development of rural Iraq be taken and to satisfy what need? Secondly, on an economic level, how has it been considered that the average jobless subsistence farmer/herder should be able to pay for this electricity, which has now been brought to the front door of his mud home? To power the electric items that he doesn't yet have? Is this just another thinly veiled attempt at subjugating another country to be forced consumers? Are we building them up for exploitation?

He Ain't No Swimmer

Ok, another Dude tale.....

My cool roommate was cleaning up the other day, roughly around the time that he discovered the first Easter Egg. I was moping around in my persistent depressive state when he turned to me with a crinkled face, saying "Um, you won't believe what I found now." He was right, he is the proof of why I do not touch anyone else's personal space.

Cool roommate (CR) pointed in disgust at the floor next to Dude's bed, midway between the head and the foot. CR, referring to a pile on the floor, said, "That ain't head hair, and it ain't back or arm hair."

Neither of us touched it.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Easter Eggs

So my one roommate has been stashing bottles of piss around our room. Our room is 30 feet from the toilets. He then has the balls to threaten me after I complained to the Chain of Command. I laughed. The stupidity of those around me never seems to end.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Bang Your Head!

It is 5am here and the local mosque is blaring the 'call for prayers'. No wonder these people are always pissed off.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


Home in Iraq. Lost 16 pounds, people noticed, wasn't fat but now I am closer to ripped than before. People are happy to see me - that helps. I was feeling good today until I got an email that pointed out to me that I made everyone around me miserable for years. I didn't realize. And, no, it was not written by my STBEW. Actually her and I are closer now than we have been in many years. So it was a good day until now. I'll get over it, I just need to process it for what it is worth.

Monday, August 22, 2005


I made it back to Iraq, not 'home' yet but close. The trips went pretty well except for when I got to Kuwait. I was placed at a new processing facility that has absolutely no amenities...tents and toilets is all. That was the last thing that I needed; to be abjectly alone for 48 hours to fester over my life and my situation. I was surrounded by 1000 people, none of them looked at me, and with everything going on, just drove home the idea that I just do not fit in anywhere. I began to implode. I tried my best to sleep, but the thoughts kept creeping in. I ended up sleeping for about a total of 36 out of 48 hours there. The waking moments were more painful. Every move I made just reminded me of her, every young scrawny short soldier made me think of what was done. And no where for me to turn. I almost broke down and found a chaplain, but I didn't want to fall apart I guess. I wanted so badly to call her, just to hear her voice and hope she would share in the moment with me. No phones, no internet available.

I don't know how to handle anything right now. I seem to be the one emotionally effected negatively by this. My children are happy their plight is over, she seems to be having a good time back with her family and indifferent to me, again. I feel a tremendous loss. Maybe once I get back home to Caldwell, my 2 close friends will be sufficient to help me get through this. I really need my family and friends around, more than ever in my life.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Clipside of the Pinkeyed Flight

Just another update, quickly. Had to go through the grueling process of dismantling a family in a week. My kids and STBEW (soon to be ex-wife) are on a plane headed for the States. The kids will be living, thankfully, with my parents until they come back to me after the deployment. Right now I am left to finish cleaning the mess that accrued after 7 months of neglect to the house. In a few days I go, alone, back to Iraq. It kills me when i see soldiers on TV met at the airport by teary-eyed family and overjoyed spouses. Lucky bastards.

I am doing fine, now. We did lots of talking and I have a pretty good idea of what all happened while I was gone. We seem now to get along better than before I left, primarily because STBEW had no more reason to keep up the passive-aggressive crap. More on the whole story later, maybe. Warning: Hopeless romantic proves how much cruelty he can take. Ladies, there are a few of us men out here. Not many apparently.

Saturday, August 13, 2005


So, many of you should have guessed by now that I came home to find out my wife was not faithful to me while down range. It was not a 'simple' infidelity either, but I won't discuss that here. It is kind of significant, though, in this moral dilemma I now face. I know of another soldier, family man, whose wife 'encouraged' my wife to do the things she did. I know that his wife has done more. He doesn't know a thing. He also has not been home on R&R but will be soon. I will be returning soon.

This is a terribly common problem.

Saturday, August 06, 2005


I want to apologize for not updating with interesting stories. Bad things have happened to me. I can't go into detail now, I am still trying to recover from the news. I don't know what is going to happen from here. I don't think I will be able to blog for a while.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Achtung Deutchland!

Surprise!! After a few days of transport, I arrived back home in Germany. It was s surprise to my wife and kids because I was unable to reveal the day I would return. So I sauntered in around 4 am, terribly weary from the trip.

It is wonderful being back in civilization, or as I prefer to call it...reality. The last 7 months seem like a bad dream that I will have to relive again. Everything has been straightened out at home, too, nothing better than to have a place that welcomes you home.

I have finally adjusted, unpacked, and had my first real beer and meal. It is truly unbelievable what we can learn to give up and learn to take for granted.