...on his third deployment in Iraq, he is no longer a believer in the mission. The pivotal moment came, he says, this past February when soldiers killed a man setting a roadside bomb. When they searched the bomber's body, they found identification showing him to be a sergeant in the Iraqi Army.Why are we still there, indeed, David. The very problems we seek to address are exacerbated by the aid we give. When we train the mostly Shiite police and army to quell the sectarian violence, we are arming militiamen who carry out attacks on Sunnis and our soldiers. Now that we are arming the Sunni insurgents to attack Al Qaeda, we're once again putting arms into the hands of our enemies. And even if these tactics worked at stabilizing the country, we've still vastly magnified Iran's power in the region and globally by giving it such a powerful proxy in Iraq. For those who doubt Iran's influence: Iraq's government will always be Shiite dominated, and where do you think those Shiite politicos went during the bad years of exile while Iraq was ruled by Saddam? That's right. The Dawa Party has its offices in Tehran.
"I thought, 'What are we doing here? Why are we still here?' " said (Staff Sergeant David) Safstrom, a member of Delta Company of the 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry, 82nd Airborne Division. "We're helping guys that are trying to kill us. We help them in the day. They turn around at night and try to kill us."
His views are echoed by most of his fellow soldiers in Delta Company, renowned for its aggressiveness.
A small minority of Delta Company soldiers - the younger, more recent enlistees in particular - seem to still wholeheartedly support the war. Others are ambivalent, torn between fear of losing more friends in battle, longing for their families and a desire to complete their mission.With few reliable surveys of soldiers' attitudes, it is impossible to simply extrapolate from the small number of soldiers in Delta Company. But in interviews with more than a dozen soldiers over a one-week period, most said they were disillusioned by repeated deployments, by what they saw as the abysmal performance of Iraqi security forces and by a conflict that they considered a civil war, one they had no ability to stop
We have only the faintest glimmer of hope for an outcome we could cynically call success in Iraq, and even that success looks an awful lot like failure. Staying in Iraq damages our national interests across the board, with the critical blows coming to our security. Leaving Iraq, despite the ongoing escalation from blood-puddle to blood-bath to blood-fountain it would sustain, is the course that makes America the safest. Once we are out of Iraq, we can move on to a decades-long project I can support - refinishing America's image in the world.