More Random Thoughts

Day 118
I think maybe I don’t really like adjustments very much. Which is interesting because I really like change. I’m finding, at least so far, I don’t like Camp Patriot very much. There don’t seem to be many/any places where people hang out. Or it could be that I simply haven’t found them yet. We’re on a new work schedule which has me doing really long shifts. I’m still adjusting to that. Not sure how I feel about it yet. A lot of people are still at Camp Spearhead. I miss having the people around and I miss seeing some of the people that I’ve gotten to know through this web site. In short, I’m not enjoying the adjustment from life in the NAG to life here in the rear.

I think a lot about what it is going to be like to go home. In my mind’s eye I can see myself stepping off the plane and looking for my family. I can imagine walking across the tarmac and greeting them all after so many months of separation. I worry about returning to my civilian job. I like the job I do out here. I like the excitement, the purpose, the thrill of being a part of history. I think a lot about the plans my family and I have for getting reacquainted with each other again. Some day my time here will be done and I will get to begin living out these things I dream about now. I’m really looking forward to that.

So far I’ve missed an anniversary, two birthdays, a father’s day, at least two martial arts belt advancements and over 117 days of my children’s’ childhood. That’s a lot of sacrifice in my opinion. I’ll never get any those things back nor will I ever be able to make them up. They are simply gone. Everyone out here has a similar list of life events that they have missed. I know a guy who’s mother passed away while he was here. He went home for the funeral but he did not get the opportunity to say goodbye. Because he was here. I know a couple of guys whose wives have given birth to children while they were out here. They have missed forever the birth and first days, weeks and months of their children’s’ lives. Because they were out here.

There’s a huge amount of sacrifice being made by individuals and their families so that the Iraqi people can have their country back. Or maybe we should say so that the Iraqi people can have their own country. “Have their country back” implies that they had it for themselves at some point in the past. Yet, reading Kenneth Pollack’s book, The Threatening Storm, it seems to me that the history of Iraq does not include, in recent times, any period when the country actually belonged to the people. Transfer of power in Iraq has always involved bloodshed and terror. This is the way things are done here. With luck, over the course of the next generation, Iraq will learn a new way of administrating power that puts control of that power into the hands of the general populace. But I think there is a very important lesson to be learned from Russia’s attempt to adopt a democratic, capitalistic society. This article in Foreign Affairs talks about Russia’s acceptance of Mr. Putin’s seemingly authoritarian leadership. The article talks about briefly about Mr. Boris Yeltsin whom the West liked very much for his promises of democratization, civil rights and participation in the world community. The article takes an in-depth look at why Russians prefer Mr. Putin to Mr. Yeltsin.

Something similar is going to happen in Iraq. American handlers have some notion of what they think democracy in Iraq should look like. CNN, the Network Three and other news channels will provide a platform for talking heads to tell us what democracy will look like in Iraq. But until the Iraqis begin to live out democracy no one will really know what form or shape self-governance will take in Iraq. The Iraqi people need to be given a very general framework on which to build a system of government that will work for their society and culture. The general framework should supply the basic requirements of self-governance. Basic rights guaranteed to all people, basic requirements for leadership or, more likely, the basic structure by which a leader will be placed in power and removed from power by the people. Beyond a few basic parameters the Iraqis must be free to build their own government. A government that is controlled, not by a single individual nor by a single group of people be they a tribe, religious sect, or ethnic sub-group.

I want to see a free and prosperous Iraq in my life time. I would like at some point in my military career to come back over here and serve along side Iraqi sailors and soldiers as we help some other nation in this region throw off their despot ruler. And I would like to see, once the despot is disposed, those people use Iraq as the model for building their country.

It’s about the people. This time, it’s about the Iraqi people. If we do this right and finish the job, next time it will be about someone else.