Saturday, August 09, 2008

Dear Abby: I'm over here in Iraq.... Part 7 of my Iraq embed report

(Photos are of a weapons cache, the phone call center at COP Guerro, my suite at the Camp Falcon Hilton, an MRAP, the rural part of Karbdegla, the former meat-packing company where the Tenth Cav has their JSS and a little boy we met out on patrol)

As the sun set this evening, I left Camp Falcon in the company of my next embed unit and headed out to spend a few days at the Karbdegla joint security station in the West Tigris area. West Tigris is a combination of urban areas and farmland and of Sunnis and Shia. Our JSS is located right in the middle of the mix, in the administrative building of a former meat-packing plant.

After a 20-minute ride in an MRAP, I got settled in my room and sort of collapsed. It's been an intense seven days since I left SFO on August 2 and the jet-lag and lack of sleep has finally caught up with me. The soldiers here are all very nice and were giving me lots of helpful information about their mission, but my mind just kept drifting away. There's just been too much input to absorb since I've arrived here and it's gonna take me months to digest it all -- but I only have a few days left before it's time to go home and I still have so many unanswered questions left about Iraq that I think that my next article should be called "Dear Abby...."

[My apologies to the ghost of the real Abigail Van Buren for this satire. The real "Dear Abby" is not now in Iraq -- although maybe she should be!]

Dear Abby: What really happened at Camp Falcon back in 2004 when it allegedly blew up?

Dear Explosive: According to the official sources I talked with at Camp Falcon, you've got the dates wrong. It was 2006, not 2004. Wise up. And what apparently happened was that a stray mortar shell hit an ammunition dump inside the wire and then went ker-BOOM. Miraculously no one was hurt. And no, you may NOT have a mortar round to take home with you.

Dear Abby: I'm a journalist and I came to Iraq to report on weapons-cache discoveries in Baghdad. So far, I haven't seen any. Do you think I should try to make a fuss?

Dear Fussy: What are you THINKING? You want to go looking for mortar rounds? Why! Get a life.

Dear Abby: What is your opinion of the new MRAPs? They look top-heavy and unstable. Riding in them feels like you might be starring in "Tokyo Drift" at any minute. They look like someone crossed a freight train with that Swiss Family Robinson tree house at Disneyland. According to MNFI recent press releases, there's been several "non-combat-related" deaths recently -- possibly caused by MRAPs? And what if I'm in one and need to get out and the power has failed and I can't get the door open. What should I do?

Dear M-Rapper: My advice to you is to stay out of war zones and stick with your 1990 Toyota

Dear Abby: With this new war happening between Georgia and Russia, will the Georgian troops stationed in Iraq now go home? And does this mean that Bush, Cheney and them are trying to get us into another Cold War with Russia?

Dear Ray Charles: You got to much Georgia on your mind. Move back to Chechnya.

Dear Abby: I'm out here in the West Tigris section of Baghdad in a joint security station with the Tenth Cav Buffalo Soldiers, and there isn't any running water. How will I brush my teeth?

Dear Bad Mouth: If you went over to Iraq expecting the Hilton, you're expecting too much from a war-battered country. Give it time.
Both the Americans and the Iraqis are working on establishing indoor plumbing and it will probably happen within the next year or so. But in the meantime, man up and use Perrier.

Dear Abby: Someone just e-mailed me that it was wrong to force the Iraqis to use their oil money on reconstruction. "You are making an occupied country pay for its own occupation." he said. What do you think?

Dear Occupied: I think we need to do whatever is necessary to help make the Iraqis self-sufficient so we can get out ASAP. We need to go home and start protecting our own country from those corporatist Beagle Boys who are occupying Washington DC. I just wish that Afghanistan, Palestine, etc. had oil money too so we could stop occupying them as well. Heck, I'd even like to see AMERICA become self-sufficient.

Dear Abby: When do you think the Iraqis should start paying for their own reconstruction?

Dear unReconstructed: They are already doing that. They give US troops money for mini-grants, schools, etc. and we distribute it. You got that one wrong. Pay attention!

Dear Abby: I hate to have to drink over a gallon of water a day over here. It seems like all I ever do is drink water. It's ruining my life.

Dear All Wet: In 120-degree heat, you gotta stay hydrated. When you are sweating so much that your entire color-coordinated camo ensemble is soaking wet down to your boots, just bite the bullet and suck it up. Otherwise you could get heat stroke, sunstroke, bladder infections, kidney infections, constipation, chapped lips and wrinkles. Admit it, All Wet. You just don't want to drink all that water because you don't want to have to get up in the middle of the night and stumble out to the porta-potty to pee.

Dear Abby: My girlfriend is starting to date other men while I'm over here in Iraq. Do you think that if I yell at her over the phone loud enough and long enough, it would help keep her faithful?

Dear Phone Guy: Yelling never helps anything. Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. And like the song says, "Try a little tenderness." And also talk glowingly about your future together, such as "When I get home we are gonna...." Help her to see what I can see about you -- that you are well worth waiting for.

Dear Abby: I have a lot of trouble sleeping at night over here. I try to fall asleep but my mind just keeps racing.

Dear Sleepless in Baghdad: There are so many urgent and important things a person can do these days to help the human race evolve -- or even just to keep the human race from driving its own-self to extinct. Spend your extra time doing some of those things. Forget about sleep. Sleep when you're dead.

Dear Abby: I keep losing my pens and have nothing to write with. What should I do?

Dear Pinhead: You suck eggs at writing. Take up gardening instead. It's harder to lose a shovel.

Dear Abby: How come John Edwards' affair made front page news but John McCain's didn't?

Dear Affairs-Seem-Stupid: How come the battle of Little Big Horn made Custer a hero? Wake up, ASS. Whoever owns the press wins.
Dear Abby: Now I gotta ask you the really hard question -- what is the time "horizon" for US troop withdrawal from Iraq?
Dear Really Hard: Troop withdrawal? Coming soon? Hardly. Rest assured that either this "war" or the next "war" or the one after that one will continue to go on ad infinitum as long as corporatists continue to make major profits off of ammunition sales. And I am glad to hear that you have already assumed the horizontal position, because, to paraphrase the words of the late Dwght D. Eisenhower, as long as war-profiteering is allowed to continue, American taxpayers will continue to get screwed.