In your book, Soft Spots, you said “I didn’t give a s…t about Saddam Hussein or terrorism or Al Qaeda. I didn’t care about anyone’s freedom or liberty. I never heard any of that mentioned. I really never heard anyone say we have to fight these guys so we do not have to fight them at home. I could’ve cared less about that.” So, what did you care about when you were over there?
I cared about getting my guys home alive. I wanted to complete my mission and get my guys home alive. I didn’t hear much about the reason we were going. I don’t think a lot of people realy know why we were there.
If you were fighting for each others lives who was fighting for Iraqi freedom and liberation?
I do not consider myself a liberator. I do not know if they (Iraqis) wanted to be liberated. I do not know if we made things better or worse. Some people seemed really happy when we were there. It is hard to figure out. Iraq is really confusing to me. I am not trying to talk circles around the question. I just haven’t been able to figure it out. I do not know who was fighting for liberation. Nobody in my platoon was. Ideology was the last thing we were concerned with. We were concerned with whether our weapons were going to work and what the hell we were getting ourselves into.
If someone came to you and asked why the U.S. government sent you there what would you say?
I do not have an answer to that question. I know why they said they sent us over there- to find WMDs or to overthrow Saddam Hussein, but what is the real story? I really do not know.
That is terrifying on all levels. If you did not know what you were trying to accomplish how was it supposed to be accomplished?
I do not know the answers to these questions. These are the things I wished I knew.
One question someone asked me to ask you, I heistated to ask you but I think it reflects a lot about the American psyche and a lot about the disconnect between civilians, the military, politicians and the media. His question was “Why the f..k did we go to war over oil?”
We don’t pick where we fight. That is a question he would have to ask his local Congressman or Senator. We go where we’re told. We are not foreign policy experts. That sounds like a pretty big anti-war question, but we really need a military.
Have you experienced any aggression as a result of being over there?
Not at all. Not many people judge me. I think people knew that I did not have a choice. I could go to war or I could desert and deserting was not an option. They were not paying me to figure out the problems. They were paying me to do what I was told and that is what I did.
In your book you refer quite a bit to the “Support the Troops” stickers. I couldn’t help but sense there was some sort of sarcasm in that. What do those mean to you?
Yes, there was sarcasm there. They call the Korean War the forgotten war but I think this war is along the same lines. People really do not care. They cared the first six months, but when Anna Nicole Smith or Paris Hilton came along in the news, the war became unimportant. People are not putting anything into this war. If we win or lose how does that affect their life? They put these Support Our Troops stickers on their car but what have they done to support the troops? The sticker isn’t doing us any good.
How would you say your trust in the U.S. government has changed?
I do not have a lot of trust in the government. I do not trust any politicians. I went to war as a Republican. I came home and tried to be a Democrat and then I realized that both sides lie to you. I am over politics.
Who did you vote for in the 2000 and 2004 elections?
In 2000 I voted for Bush and in 2004 I think I voted for a Libertarian. It was a protest vote.
Charlene’s Note: Because I believe this interview is so enlightening, I’ve decided to give it the space and attention it deserves. More tomorrow on this forthright interchange.