Thursday, August 15, 2013

'I risked my life, for what?': Iraq War veterans chilled by country's slide into civil war

At U.S. News on July 25, 2013, NBC News contributor Bill Briggs brings a story of the effects of Iraq's renewed civil strife on Iraq War veterans 10 years after the invasion and capture of Saddam Hussein -- "As they watch Iraq's mounting body count and potential slide into civil war, some Iraq War veterans are more intensely questioning why they went, what it all meant, and whether the deaths of 4,486 U.S. troops on that foreign soil were worth the permanent cost."

Civilians inspect the aftermath of a car bomb attack in Baghdad, Iraq, on July 24. A bomb exploded near a Sunni mosque in Baghdad's southern Dora neighborhood on July 23, killing several people and wounding many more, police said.

Briggs recounts the struggles many veterans are having with depression, anger and suicide stemming from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of the war. One veteran, Andrew O'Brien, an Army convoy gunner who served in Iraq in 2008 and 2009, survived an IED blast, but attempted suicide in 2010.


Briggs reports that "during July, almost 700 people in Iraq have been killed in militant attacks, including car bombs, ambushes and gun fights." He quotes Alex Horton, a former specialist in the 3rd Stryker Brigade of Second Infantry Division who served during "the surge": "Many troops in Afghanistan have also deployed to Iraq, so to see their hard work unraveling while their mission in another country is still in progress could be demoralizing... Personally, it's frustrating to see this."

Jeremiah the hebrew prophet foresaw the frustration of having the reconstruction efforts go for naught: "Suddenly Babylon has fallen and been broken; wail over her! Bring balm for her pain; perhaps she may be healed. 'We applied healing to Babylon, but she was not healed; forsake her and let us each go to his own country, for her judgment has reached to heaven and towers up to the very skies,'" (Jer 51:8-9).

"Now that I'm hearing about (all the bombings and deaths), all I think about is the guys we lost in Iraq. It's hard to not think that it meant nothing," Briggs quoted O'Brien as saying.

According to Jeremiah, the destruction brought upon the land of the Chaldeans by the invading forces had a resounding purpose -- to bring vengeance upon the land for "arrogance against the LORD" --

"The word which the LORD spoke concerning Babylon, the land of the Chaldeans, through Jeremiah the prophet: 'Declare and proclaim among the nations; proclaim it and lift up a signal flag; do not conceal it, but say, "Babylon has been captured... Behold, I am going to punish the king of Babylon and his land, just as I (will) punish the king of Assyria... Against the land of Merathaim, go up against it, and against the inhabitants of Pekod. Slay and utterly destroy them... and do according to all that I have commanded you.

"The noise of battle is in the land, and great destruction... How Babylon has become an object of horror among the nations! I set a snare for you and you were also caught, O Babylon, while you yourself were not aware; you have been found and also seized because you have engaged in conflict with the LORD. (He) has opened up his armory and has brought forth the weapons of his indignation. For it is a work of the Lord GOD of Hosts in the land of the Chaldeans.

"Come to her from the farthest border; open up her barns, pile her up like heaps and utterly destroy her... A great nation and many kings will be aroused from the remote parts of the earth. They seize their bow and javelin; they are cruel and have no mercy. Their voice roars like the sea; and they ride on horses, marshalled like a man for the battle against you, O daughter of Babylon...

"I am going to arouse against Babylon and against the inhabitants of Leb-kamai the spirit of a destroyer. I will dispatch foreigners to Babylon that they may winnow her and may devastate her land; for on every side they will be opposed to her in the day of her calamity... For neither Israel nor Judah has been forsaken by his God, the LORD of hosts, although their land is (still) full of guilt before the Holy One of Israel...

"For this is the LORD's time of vengeance; he is going to render recompense to her," (excerpts from Jer 50:1 - 51:6).

Briggs quotes an anti-war activist, Mike Prysner, who also was part of the 2003 Army invasion: "What (the violence in Iraq) makes me feel is deeper guilt... One of our roles was to shred their national identity. What is happening today is a direct result of the U.S. occupation's strategy... I'll live the rest of my life knowing I was a part of that."

What Prysner was a part of, was God's wielding of his weapons: "You are my war-club, my weapon of war; and with you I shatter nations, and with you I destroy kingdoms... I will repay Babylon and all the inhabitants of Chaldea for all their evil that they have done in Zion before (my) eyes," (Jer 51:20-24).

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