The Marines' Perspective

You should read this article in today's Washington Post. Its the reality of Iraq through the eyes of the Marines on the ground. Their observations are interesting: on the one hand, they believe that their mission is to help the Iraqi civilians, but on the other hand, they question the decision to engage Iraq on the grounds of the WoT.
But Perez said he came to think that war in Iraq was unrelated to his anger. "How do I put this?" he said. "First of all, this is a whole different thing. We're supposed to be looking for al Qaeda. They're the ones who are supposedly responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks. This has no connection at all to Sept. 11 because this war started just by telling us about all the nuclear warheads over here." Snyder, who was listening, added: "Pretty much I think they just diverted the war on terrorism. I agree with the Afghanistan war and all the Sept. 11 stuff, but it feels like they left the bigger war over there to come here. And now, while we're on the ground over here, it seems like we're not even close to catching frigging bin Laden." Perez said he thought that in some ways he was still fighting terrorists "and I can see how they might attack the United States in the future. It's a link, but it's not really based in the same thing." Perez added that he now believes the primary reason for the U.S. presence is to help the Iraqis. "But they don't seem like they want to be helped," he said. "I've only been here two months, but every time you go out, people give you bad looks and it just seems like everybody wants to shoot you." [...] When the Marines returned to their truck, Autin and Kelly began to debate the merits of the American presence in Iraq. "And, by the way, why are we here?" Autin said. "I'll tell you why we're here," Kelly replied. "We're here to help these people." Autin agreed and said he supported the mission. He added later that it was difficult to wage the battle when American commanders were holding them back. "We feel they care more about Iraqi civilians than they do American soldiers," he said. Asked if he was concerned that the Marines would be punished for speaking out, Autin responded: "We don't give a crap. What are they going to do, send us to Iraq?"