This morning there was rare cloud cover so I sat outside my truck and read, determined to enjoy what I imagine are the last habitable days before the punishing inferno of summer.
Then, a boom, like a taiko drummer had whacked his tympanum a few feet from my head. An IED, I thought – the explosion came from outside the wall, only maybe three or four hundred meters away, which (obviously) ruled out our own artillery and it was much too loud for a mortar strike. I jumped up on the tailgate of the LOS truck and I could see a plume of smoke billowing up, a mushrooming column of gray-white smoke gradually turning black as something caught fire.
I called it in to our liaison at brigade headquarters; I figured the gate guards had already seen it but I was pretty close myself so I felt like I had to do something.
The sounds of explosions no longer make me jump (unless they’re close), nor do they make me afraid or nervous; rather, every time I hear a the distant thud of an exploding car or explosive-filled sack I feel a strange sadness, along with a feeling of blind frustration. Every blast makes me wonder: what’s the purpose? What is this accomplishing? More Iraqi civilians are killed and injured than anyone else by these IEDs. That blast today didn’t kill any Americans (I don’t even know if any were wounded), but an Iraqi child was killed and a handful of other locals were wounded. For what? Isn’t the first rule of guerrilla warfare to win the hearts and minds of the populace? What possible tactical, strategic, or operational objective can be served by murdering Iraqi children?
Don’t they understand that all every soldier wants is peace, and that peace will only come through victory? The sooner the bombs stop exploding, the sooner us infidels will leave. If they want to keep killing indiscriminately, if they want to keep hurling themselves at the gates of our compounds to be mowed down en masse, then let them do so.
But isn’t there something I can do? I feel like a helpless spectator; I’m only 400 meters away and I might as well be in Minneapolis.