Nytimes dyktige Michael R. Gordon har snakket med soldatene i Irak. Flere skjønner ikke hvorfor de er der. De er ikke mange nok til å gjøre jobben, og irakerne kan de ikke stole på. Hvor utbredt stemningen er, er vanskelig å si. Men den brer seg. Gordon har vært hos de 600 soldatene i Hit i Anbar-provinsen, heartland til sunniene.
Survival may be the only thing the troops here agree on. The first death of a comrade in battle is always an emotional shock, and the views from the foxhole here are probably as varied as the 34 soldiers. Still, in this hostile stretch of western Iraq, some of the troops have begun to wonder if the presence of United States forces here is worth the cost in American lives.
Sergeant Poetsch was with Specialist Potocki when he was shot as they manned a combat outpost in the city. At first, it seemed that the 21-year-old specialist from Baltimore would be all right, but he later died from internal bleeding.
The loss of a comrade hit the platoon hard, as Sgt. Ryan Kahlor, 22, noted in an emotional letter to his parents in San Diego.
«The world keeps turning and so does the fighting in Iraq,» he wrote. «Yesterday, my soldier and friend was shot and killed. …He is the first one in our platoon to be killed. His death has started an uproar of emotions in the platoon.»
«No one understands why we are here and what our mission is,» Sergeant Kahlor added. «This war is lost. We aren’t helping these people. We are just dying and getting injured.»