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US Papers Sun: Sadr City/US Separation Anxiety?
Among 5 Killed, a Mender of Heartache and a Struggling Private
By DANIEL W. SMITH 05/17/2009 01:44 AM ET
Not a heavy day for a Sunday, but the New York Times and the Washington Post come through with pieces about the effects of Iraq on GIs, and possible effects of GI’s pulling out of Iraq.

From Baghdad
In the Washington Post, Ernesto Londoño writes that, as preparations are being made for a removal of US troops from Iraqi cities, there are those in Sadr City, of all places, who are becoming uneasy at the thought of such a prospect. There is a strong history of a lack of love between the two, yet, as elsewhere in Iraq, improved security is not a boat that many want to rock. Particularly among those who have allied themselves with the US or the Iraqi governments, less troops (and ones without a local axe to grind) might well mean less stability. "There will be a civil war -- without a doubt," said an Iraqi interpreter. City council members have asked about political asylum in the United States.

Londoño travels with US forces in Sadr City, and points out that it is not merely the US security presence that might be missed, but the rebuilding contracts which they brought with them.
After months of being shunned by local leaders, the Americans, with $100 million to spend on reconstruction projects in Sadr City last year, soon began making friends. They employed 1,500 men as unarmed neighborhood guards. Local businessmen and other leaders who secured U.S. contracts now drive around in Mercedes-Benzes; one recently indulged in the latest fad in Baghdad: a Hummer.
As with the Sahwa, the US military has doled out economic influence to some with whom they are on good terms. It is those who stand to lose the most. The general population is at risk, too, but the Iraqi political leadership is strongly dismissive of any suggestion that US forces remain in Iraqi cities, at least publicly. "The bottom line is they are not ready for us to give over the cities," a senior U.S. military official said. "If we do, and all indications are that they will make us leave, we will be in a firefight to get back in and stop the violence. And we will lose soldiers."

James Dao and Paul von Zielbauer of the New York Times write an article about soldiers’ mental health and victims of the Camp Liberty shooting. They write that “they came to the clinic at the base in Iraq for reasons as different as their ranks,” speaking well of those fallen. Some were there to help, but the shooter, Sgt. John M. Russell, is characterized as someone who “was there because he had to be.”

Though Mr. Russell described his son as “the most stable guy in the world,” two men who served alongside Sergeant Russell said he was unhappy with Army life. “There was never one uplifting conversation that I have ever had with that guy,” one soldier said. “He wasn’t saying, ‘I’m gonna kill myself.’ It’s just a general, ‘I hate this place,’ times 10.”

The story has details about those who perished, but doesn’t address the issues involved as well as other articles in previous days. There are two more such articles in the Washington Post which were covered in yesterday’s US Papers roundup, but are technically from Sunday’s edition, as well as an op-ed about a perhaps unquestioning culture of counterinsurgency doctrine.

Christian Science Monitor, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, no Sunday Editions.

Comments on the US Papers roundup are welcome at


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