It’s both disconcerting and hopeful here. Lots of soldiers have expressed real concerns about the future of Iraq and how it will survive once the U.S. leaves. I can see that, just because of how much the Americans are doing. But at the same time at the border Iranians were streaming over to visit holy places in Iraq for Ashura. They aren’t terrorists, they’re pilgrims. Lieutenant Colonial Mario Perez, who is partnered with the authorities at the crossing, said there was a coalition of 400 plus Muslims who had come to march in solidarity with the Iraqis to show violence will not deter them. It isn’t safe, he said, but it isn’t a war zone. It’s only a few people.
I have a skewed perspective here, it’s vital to make a note of that. I am in a place where everyone takes a gun to dinner, and you don’t leave the wire without a helmet, vest and eye protection. But it isn’t all violence. There are developments and positive news. Behind the wire it’s hard to notice because insurgents are still plotting ways to kill Americans, but it is only a small group of people. The Iraqis are working to build a safe country, only with limited assets and a cancerous group always working to undermine them.
I have no idea if it will work, but I do know I’d like to come back after it does. I’d like to sit down with these people, all of whom I have met have been wonderful and kind. I have hope as well as fear for this country, but I see something here worth fighting for. Most Iraqis do as well.