A Soldier Speaks: We Have Lost Our Way in Iraq
By Sgt. Kevin Benderman, 3 January 2005

One of the reasons I oppose what is happening in Iraq is the fact there are no soldiers from Saddam Hussein's army doing any of the fighting there. The people who are fighting are just normal everyday people like you and me, people that are defending their homes against a superior military force, and are fighting to keep that which is rightfully theirs. The ability to set the type of government they will live under is their right, just like it was the Americans' right to determine what kind of government that we formed during the American Revolution.

We stated that we wanted Saddam Hussein out of power in Iraq and now he is--so why are we still bombing everything that moves over there? When I was there from 1 Mar 2003 until 1 Sep 2003 I did not see any soldiers from his army because they had already been eliminated by our forces. I was in a Kurdish controlled area that was protected by the Peoples Union of Kurdistan soldiers and they had a pretty good handle on the situation there. So, in light of that fact, I wondered what we were doing in that region, since we were supposed to be stopping the dreaded Republican Guard of Saddam Hussein from torturing and killing innocent civilians.

I am scheduled to return to Iraq this week and I think that there is no way we should still be there. What would our purpose be, to kill civilians? I did not join the army to kill women, children, and old men. The contract which I signed when I enlisted in the army states, "I swear to defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies, both foreign and domestic". I do not see how and old man or a child in Iraq could be an enemy of the constitution of the U.S.

I am proud of my service to my country--but I take no pride in what is happening in Iraq now. I am ashamed that I am associated with this mess. And an American soldier should not be ashamed of what they do. You would think the people who are in charge of making these decisions would use a lot more prudence in their thinking process--which seems to lead them to conclude there are no other ways to accomplish the task of foreign relations but war. War is the ultimate last resort in any situation. General Douglas Macarthur stated that no one hates war more than a soldier, and he was right. I hate war in any form.

It seems like some people that have never been to war are the ones who beat the war drums the loudest. You must wonder what they are thinking. Has the video game mentality so pervaded our country that that is how we base our decisions on war?  Some of the younger guys were totally out of touch with reality in that respect. I had to repeatedly tell them to keep their heads down because there are no restart buttons on reality.

I sincerely believe that we have lost our way in Iraq, and that the best way to avoid creating any more terrorists in the world at this time is to bring our soldiers home from Iraq and to let them sort out what type of government they want. We did it for ourselves during the American Revolution; now it is time for the U.S. to get out of the way and let the people of Iraq form their own government.

 It is time for them to create employment in their country to put their people to work, not for our companies to take away their ability to create jobs. How much more money does Halliburton really need? And why should the American taxpayer shoulder the financial burden of rebuilding Iraq? There are a large number of people in Iraq who have the skills necessary to rebuild it and to set up their own way of conducting business. It is time for us to get out of their way and let them do it.

Sgt Kevin Benderman has applied for "Conscientious Objector" status which as of this writing has not yet been granted. Sgt Benderman will ship out for his second tour in Iraq on Jan. 5, 2005.two days from now.