In today’s WaPo is a must read post on “soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division.” The 1st Batalion just happens to be the same Battalion of the now infamous Scott Beauchamp, who the wingnuts have virtually crucified for months in the blogosphere. Here’s a few quips from the must read of the day:
Their line of tan Humvees and Bradley Fighting Vehicles creeps through another Baghdad afternoon. At this pace, an excruciating slowness, they strain to see everything, hoping the next manhole cover, the next rusted barrel, does not hide another bomb. A few bullets pass overhead, but they don’t worry much about those.
“I hate this road,” someone says over the radio.
They stop, look around. The streets of Sadiyah are deserted again. To the right, power lines slump down into the dirt. To the left, what was a soccer field is now a pasture of trash, combusting and smoking in the sun. Packs of skinny wild dogs trot past walls painted with slogans of sectarian hate.
A bomb crater blocks one lane, so they cross to the other side, where houses are blackened by fire, shops crumbled into bricks. The remains of a car bomb serve as hideous public art. Sgt. Victor Alarcon’s Humvee rolls into a vast pool of knee-high brown sewage water — the soldiers call it Lake Havasu, after the Arizona spring-break party spot — that seeps in the doors of the vehicle and wets his boots.
“When we first got here, all the shops were open. There were women and children walking out on the street,” Alarcon said this week. “The women were in Western clothing. It was our favorite street to go down because of all the hot chicks.”
That was 14 long months ago, when the soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, arrived in southwestern Baghdad. It was before their partners in the Iraqi National Police became their enemies and before Shiite militiamen, aligned with the police, attempted to exterminate a neighborhood of middle-class Sunni families.
Next month, the U.S. soldiers will complete their tour in Iraq. Their experience in Sadiyah has left many of them deeply discouraged, by both the unabated hatred between rival sectarian fighters and the questionable will of the Iraqi government to work toward peaceful solutions.
Asked if the American endeavor here was worth their sacrifice — 20 soldiers from the battalion have been killed in Baghdad — Alarcon said no: “I don’t think this place is worth another soldier’s life.”
Read it all. Frustrations are high from the troops:
Lt. Col. George A. Glaze, the battalion commander, says his soldiers are playing the role of a bouncer caught between brawling customers. Alone, they can restrain the fighters, keep them off balance, but they cannot stop the melee until the house lights come on — that is, until the Iraqi government steps in.
“They’re either going to turn the lights on or we’re all going to realize they’ve moved the switch,” he said.
“I’m frustrated. After 14 months, I’ve got a lot of thoughts in my head. Do they fundamentally get giving up individual rights and power for the greater good?” Glaze said. “I’m going to leave here being skeptical of everything.”
Of course the wingnuts are totally discombobulating themselves over this one, claiming things like, “More Twisted Journalism,” “Fly Located in the ointment,” and “The MSM’s Pessimistic Dogma Dome Decends Once Again.” For an absolute laugh on just how whacked these right wingnuts are, yet again, go read the phenomenal satirical piece from John Cole of BalloonJuice. And as always check Memeoradum for all the buzz.