Friday, February 23, 2007

Long Iraq Tours Can Make Home a Trying Front

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/23/us/23military.html?hp

In the NYT today, Lizette Alvarez wrote about the problems that soldiers who return from Iraq face with their families and their surroundings.

"Most families and soldiers cope heorically. But these separations jabe also left a trail of badly strained or broken unions, many severed by adultery or sexual addictions; burdened spouses...; financial turmoil...; emotionally bruised children...; and anxious parents who at times turn on each other."

I don't know about you guys, but I've always had that very victorious, brave image of a soldier returning from war and just enjoying life to the fullest because of everything he's seen. But sometimes, the reality that waits for them at home is not so celebaratory. It's heartbreaking that these soldiers are dealing with whatever they are dealing with at war, and they are constantly missing their friends and family- and then when they come back, they get pats on the back, but there doesn't seem to be a break for them.

When the article described that Cpl. John Callahan's wife had had two affairs since he's been gone, didn't pay for the credit card bills, and sent their children to live with her parents (this was the very first sentence of the article), it really hit home that going to war doesn't just affect the soldiers, it really also changes the lives of their spouses. I mean, there's the expected loneliness and worry, but then comes the not-so-great consequences from those emotions, like turning to another man when the husband is off serving the country, or just disregarding the children they have.

I watched Flags of Our Fathers yesterday and I remember Adam Beach's character, Ira Hayes, telling another person that he didn't want to be sent home, that he was going to be staying at the war. They sent him back anyway, and he spiraled into depression and alcoholism.

I can't even begin to imagine, and even the worst scenarios I think up- I know that's just not giving these experiences of the soldiers justice.

"When Sergeant Gallagher came home for two weeks last year, he walked out of the room anytime anyone talked about Iraq." That quote really got to me.

Here's another article for reference, from the LAtimes. It's about military amputees from the point of view of his spouse: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-journal23feb23,0,7265596.story?coll=la-home-headlines

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The First Blog: Rape Accusation Reinforces Fears in a Divided Iraq

I've decided to create a blog where I can put down my thoughts about the news I read. I receive the New York Times everyday, and I try my best to read it. Sometimes I come across certain articles that really catch my attention, and I just feel like I need to write about it, but don't usually know where. So I guess this will be the place now.

The article that really stood out to me today is a front page story by Marc Santora. He's the NYT correspondent in Baghdad, I believe, and I really enjoy his writing. I think he is able to strike a neutral voice between the very angry sectarian opinions that are expressed on that side of the world.

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/21/world/middleeast/21iraq.html?_r=1&ref=todayspaper&oref=slogin

(I don't know how to shorten the link into a link. Sorry, guys.)

A Sunni woman announced on Baghdad TV that she was raped by Shiite officers. The entire community is shocked because no one really talks about rape so publicly. I mean, it's pretty alarming in a country as liberal and nosy as the US, imagine how strange and foreign it is for that to happen in Baghdad (I'm assuming).

What I thought was terrible was how the Sunnis and Shiites immediately got up in arms to defend themselves and blame each other. The Sunnis are saying that this is how the Shiites abuse their power, and the Shiites are saying that the woman is a liar and she is just trying to incite Sunni propoganda.

However, it is clear that Santora wishes to show that it shouldn't be about Sunni vs. Shiite. What the people should really be focusing on is the woman being raped by officers who are supposed to help maintain order.

"The case “should not be dealt with on a sectarian basis,” said Saleem Abdullah, a spokesman for the Tawafiq bloc of Sunni parties, which helped the woman come forward. “She is a sister for all Iraqis.”"

And then near the end of the article, Santora writes, "Sabah Salem, a professor at the Baghdad University College of Law, said that while men were occasionally charged with rape in Iraq and punished, many cases went unreported."

"'Rape cases in Iraq are viewed as a shameful thing to any woman regardless of the fact that she is the victim,' he said in an interview."

Santora is trying to point out that rape is happening in this world and it is going unreported, and a woman's body is being violated, and these people are just looking at it from the faulty, and extremely self-absorbed, perspective.