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WorldWatch - November 4, 2007 - Civilized Religion - The Ornery American

First appeared in print in The Rhinoceros Times, Greensboro, NC
By Orson Scott Card November 4, 2007

Word from a Soldier in Iraq

On Monday I got a letter from a friend of mine who is a sergeant in the U.S. Army. With permission of his commanding officer (he does not reveal any classified information), I'm sharing it with you.

He writes: I've been on the ground in Iraq for a few weeks now, and thought I'd chime in with a grunt's-eye view.

In Sadr Al-Yusifiyah, an area to the East of Anbar province (just across the Euphrates from Anbar, actually), things are moving in a very interesting and hopeful direction. About six months ago, something happened that the Americans are calling "The formation of the CLC," and the locals are calling "The Awakening."

It works like this: All over Sadr Al-Yusifiyah, and in surrounding areas, local citizens are sick of the violence, the kidnappings, the killings, the unrest. They're forming neighborhood watch groups in concert with US support, and manning checkpoints throughout the region, systematically kicking Al-Qa'ida out of the neighborhood.

These Concerned Local Citizens (CLC) are becoming increasingly more organized, and just this week, all seven tribes in the Sadr Al-Yusifiyah area agreed to submit to the leadership of a Kurdish-Zawba'i tribesman as the overall chief of Sadr Al-Yusifiyah CLC, preparatory to the legitimization of the CLC into the greater Iraqi Police and Iraqi Government structures.

The magnitude of this step cannot be overstated. As I write this, in an area that used to be subject to at least 2 IEDs a week, and numerous mortar/rocket/small-arms attacks, there has been an uneasy (and steadily becoming "easy") peace. No attacks. No killings, local or otherwise. One accidental shooting a week ago among the locals, the guy will be fine. For over two months.

Two months of peace in Sadr Al-Yusifiyah.

The loud sound you hear is me knocking on the wood desktop under the computer. Much work is yet to be done. But we are already at the point here that, if my commander or I mention a name of a known "badguy" who has yet to flee the area, the response is often that selfsame badguy, bound and gagged, at our front gate in the morning, with a line of witnesses behind him, ready to put him in jail.

Yes, witnesses -- men whose fathers, brothers, or sons have been killed by Al-Qa'ida, men who were too afraid to come forward jut seven months ago, are now making sworn statements against the terrorist bastards who nearly ruined their town.

Here and elsewhere, we are winning this war, and we will win through to the end, if we persevere. Because the Iraqi people are on our side, for the most part, and more provinces and municipalities are "awakening" all the time.

End of letter.

Our soldiers in Iraq are volunteers; they are in the military because they wanted to take personal responsibility for the defense of freedom and of the United States. But just because they're volunteers doesn't mean that they are so gung-ho they can't see the truth.

If our soldiers see their efforts being wasted, they say so. If they don't believe they are being well-led, then they are the first to gripe about incompetent command.

At this moment, morale could not be higher among U.S. troops. They can see that the change in strategy and tactics is working. It isn't so much the number of soldiers as the use General Petraeus and the whole American command is making of them.

But these soldiers are keenly aware that the mainstream news media, in their insane hatred of President Bush, simply will not get their message through. For instance, the L.A. Times just ran a front page story with the headline "Iraqi deaths plunge in last 60 days." But the subhead was: "U.S. military credits troop buildup, but residents say Sunni-Shiite separation has brought relative calm."

In other words, even our success has to be denied. In journalism, the writers and editors know that the last thing you say is taken as the "real" story. The second explanation erases the first.

They could have reversed the subhead, and left you with the affirmation of the value of the troop buildup. But instead, they left you with the denial.

The forces within the U.S. who are desperate for us to lose this war will do anything they can to keep the present situation in Iraq from giving President Bush the credit he deserves for his bold action, his persistence, and his willingness to change strategies when offered a genuinely better idea.

But the soldiers know the truth, and want you to know it, too.

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