September 22, 2003


Tim Predmore, serving with the 101st Airborne Division near Mosul in Northern Iraq, writes of his doubts about the war, and his essay runs everywhere from Peoria to Melbourne to London to Los Angeles ...

For the last six months I have participated in what I believe to be the great modern lie: Operation Iraqi Freedom.

After the horrific events of Sept. 11, 2001, and throughout the battle in Afghanistan, the groundwork was being laid for the invasion of Iraq. "Shock and awe" was the term used to describe the display of power the world was to view upon the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom. It was to be a dramatic show of strength and advanced technology from within the arsenals of the American and British militaries.

But as a soldier preparing to take part in the invasion of Iraq, the words "shock and awe" rang deep within my psyche. Even as we prepared to depart, it seemed that these two great superpowers were about to break the very rules they demanded that others obey. Without the consent of the United Nations, and ignoring the pleas of their own citizens, the U.S. and Britain invaded Iraq. "Shock and awe"? Yes, the words correctly described the emotional impact I felt as we embarked on an act not of justice but of hypocrisy.

William Sjostrom has some questions about Predmore’s account. Fellow members of the 101st Airborne are invited to send their own stories here. (Anonymity assured upon request.) Tim Predmore himself is also invited to write.

UPDATE. Damian Penny is betting this is a hoax, but I’m not so sure; a post at Free Republic identifies Predmore as a “SPC (E4) with an MOS of 67T (UH60 Helicopter Repairer) assigned to the Command Aviation Battalion”. Maybe it’s a half-hoax; ie, the author is real but the article is ghosted or faked-up. Or it’s the real deal.

Posted by Tim Blair at September 22, 2003 05:49 AM

A serving soldier who writes such an essay for public consumption should have his nuts cut out and nailed to a tree.
His job is to serve his country, obey orders and keep his mouth shut. Sure, he can exercise his democratic right to free speech-AFTER resigning.
He doesn't like U.S. Government policy? Fine, that's what the ballot box is for.

Posted by: Keith at September 22, 2003 at 07:39 AM

His comments on "do as I say, not as I do" and hypocrisy reminded me of another letter entitled "Essay on Hypocrisy", on essentially the same themes. That letter was also written by a veteran, albeit of the first Gulf War, and a decorated one at that. Timothy McVeigh.

Posted by: scott h. at September 22, 2003 at 08:04 AM

It seems to me to be grossly irresponsible to make statements like this when you're still at war. We have an enemy - al-Qaeda - that has at one of its goals a desire to weaken our resolve; to sow division and doubt into our cause. They take encouragement from instances where we appear to be in retreat, where we appear to not be willing to sacrifice in this war.

This is war. Not a game. If they can, they'll take out New York City and gleefully celebrate aftwerwards as the radiation slowly passes over their heads.

This is, in effect, giving aid and comfort to the enemy. Mr. Predmore should resign his post or keep his mouth shut until he's a civilian. This isn't a whistleblower exposing government malfeasance or corruption. This is an army in the middle of a guerilla war.

Mr. Predmore, if he does exist, is lucky if he doesn't get shot - either by a firing squad or his bunkmate.


Posted by: SteveMG at September 22, 2003 at 08:05 AM

BTW, it reads exactly like something you'd find written in the Guardian. (You can read it here.) No wonder he invited Gore Vidal to witness his execution.

Posted by: scott h. at September 22, 2003 at 08:08 AM

Since when does being a soldier mean that you aren't allowed to voice your opinion? I agree that he should take his orders and get the job done, but that doesnt mean he has to like it.

I'd bet a 50 on the fact that hes not the only soldier in Iraq that thinks that the war is a total joke.

Posted by: Swift at September 22, 2003 at 08:47 AM

He's calling the commander-in-chief, his superior officer, a liar and a fraud. He's saying the war was built upon a lie - by his commander. No military on earth can permit that type of open disobedience. The military is not a democracy; you don't take a vote on what hill to take.

You don't have the same First Amendment rights in the military that you have as a civilian. Surely, you must know that? What type of command can one have if the soliders get to question the commander openly? Challenge his veracity and abilities?

These types of open comments are unacceptable.


Posted by: SteveMG at September 22, 2003 at 09:03 AM

Through military and civilian contacts on the ground in Iraq I have the opportunity to read a variety of correspondence from those stationed there. Though some do complain about ongoing problems I can assure you that not one I have read thinks that their participation there either is a joke..... or a mistake.

Posted by: wallace at September 22, 2003 at 09:07 AM

"Since when does being a soldier mean that you aren't allowed to voice your opinion?"

Um, since they came up with the name "insubordination" for it?

Posted by: Mike G at September 22, 2003 at 09:07 AM

"Since when does being a soldier mean that you aren't allowed to voice your opinion?"

That's what supporters of Douglas MacArthur said. Truman disagreed. He had the last word.


Posted by: CJ at September 22, 2003 at 09:31 AM

The most frustrating aspect of this situation is who knows what is really going on over there? News reports are almost uniformly negative; reports from soldiers are, pace Predmore, almost uniformly positive.

I've seen reports that the vast majority of the violence is in the Sunni Triangle, roughly 1/8 of the country. The remaining 7/8ths is relatively quiet. Power is mostly on; water is available. Many positive developments but those seem to be swept away almost overnight by acts of violence or sabotage.

More troops? More civilians? UN? Polish troops? More police? Iraqi police? or US? Greater UN administration? Or no? Hubris? Overreaching? Or minor bumps?

Very frustrating.


Posted by: SteveMG at September 22, 2003 at 09:49 AM

Sounds like a hoax. And if it isn't, he doesn't offer any insight I can see that is a direct result of his experience. He's offering up a story in Stars and STripes. Anybody can read a news release and offer an opinion.

In my 4 years in the military, there were always plenty of people (including me) bitching about the people in charge. It's a military tradition.

And by the way, being in the military does restrict your freedom to speak openly. If you don't understand the need for that, you're living in fairy land.

Posted by: Bruce b at September 22, 2003 at 11:06 AM

I'll just add my voice to those who are saying that this is grossly unprofessional.

In fact, I'd bet moderately good odds it's a hoax. That rant about "shock and awe", it just doesn't ring true to me.

It also says a lot about the Independent and the Guardian that they would cherry pick one condemnatory report coming out of Iraq from the many positive (to a great or lesser extent) ones and thrust it into the spotlight - especially given the dubious providence of the claims contained within.

Posted by: Anthony C at September 22, 2003 at 11:18 AM

Some bums whine and backstab when a job's not going as well as expected. Others do their best and gain for all from their individual achievements. Chief Wiggles is the antithesis of this Prodmore arsewipe and I know who I'd prefer in the trenches.
Read the chief's latest accomplishments @
(Keep the tissues handy).
Oh, and here's your chance to play Sanity Clause.

Posted by: slatts at September 22, 2003 at 11:29 AM

Bloody hell, just type "Tim Predmore" into Google and check out the results - every anti war site and their dog has latched onto this bloke's bloody letter. "Straight from the horse's mouth."

Oh aye, this one article expressing some rather dubious assertions imediately invalidates all the positive correspondence coming out of Iraq, not only from soldiers but also from civilian observers and, most importantly, from the Iraqis themselves.


Posted by: Anthony C at September 22, 2003 at 12:02 PM

Very frustrating, Steve? Just stick to Fox News, you'll get all the positive news you need there.

Posted by: Miranda Divide at September 22, 2003 at 12:44 PM

If the guy actually exists and it's not just a stir-up by some time-wasting anti-helping-people-live-better type, then the response from his CO should be worth reading. Keep us posted Tim.

Posted by: Jake D at September 22, 2003 at 12:46 PM

Miranda Divide:
After watching Fox for the "positive" news, I'll pickup the NY Times or watch CNN for the "negative". One foot in a bucket of hot water, the other in ice cold water. Supposedly, I'll be okay - it'll balance out.

But it doesn't feel right, doc.

Who expects a perfect Jeffersonian democracy after six months? As Lileks pointed out, you have people who have spend the past 30 years with their faces pushed into mud. Much like those in the former-Soviet Union, or Eastern Europe, or South Africa, things take time.

I'm optimistic but my head isn't stuck in the sand (or anywhere else).


Posted by: SteveMG at September 22, 2003 at 12:56 PM

Hey, Bobby Fisk.

Just give us the link, please. Don't need to post the entire article. If we want to read these unbiased, objective dispatches from the Walter Duranty of our generation, we'll do it.


Posted by: SteveMG at September 22, 2003 at 01:05 PM

Here's a link to a bit of good news that President Bush spoke of the other day. Glad someone in the mainstream US media picked up on it.

Posted by: JDB at September 22, 2003 at 01:18 PM

The hundreds or even thousands of soldiers who have re-enlisted since the beginning of the war would never be given this much ink to support US policy.

Posted by: perfectsense at September 22, 2003 at 01:43 PM

Anthony C. quotes antiwar sites saying that Predmore's letter comes "Straight from the horse's mouth". Sounds to me like that estimate is off by just about exactly 180 degrees.

Posted by: Dr. Weevil at September 22, 2003 at 02:10 PM

When I had the pleasure of playing in the green machine, we always had a couple of recalcitrants who were a waste of time and space. Seriously, every unit has a couple of blokes who aren't worth feeding. This dickhead sounds just that sort.

They tend to be the barracks lawyers who waste the time of every other member of the unit. Who's only benefit is as an example of what not to be like. They also take a healthy portion of the crap duties, so they aren't a total loss, except that you have to put a decent digger with them to ensure they do the job properly.

Ah, the wonders of modern technology, we are now elevating the lowest common denominator to the level of reliable source. I guess socialism can work in some circumstances. Unfortunately for the 101st, it is at the expense of unit cohesion, morale and their perception of dependability.

Ignore the fucker, I can almost guarantee that 99% of his unit does.

Posted by: Todd at September 22, 2003 at 02:11 PM

I wondered what would bring the False Miranda out of the woodwork. By the way, "Robert Fisk" and the Miranda Dipwad come from the same IP: I wonder if this brave soul will ever grow enough spine to post with their real name? Probably not.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at September 22, 2003 at 02:15 PM

'With age comes wisdom, and at 36 years old I am no longer so blindly led as to believe without question.'

I'm old. I'm wise. I question. I am no longer blindly led.

It's all about me.

It's always all about me.

'To serve?'

No. To self-serve.

Posted by: ilibcc at September 22, 2003 at 03:11 PM

One of my readers found a copy of the AP story covering the incident referred to by Predmore here. Odd that there's no mention of it at all on the Stars & Stripes website. What it sounds like to me is that the kids' wounds weren't as bad as you would otherwise be led to believe. Sitting here in the safety and security of my living room it's easy to state that the doctors should have done all they could to help the kids, but the only thing we have to go on is the opinion of one soldier who may or may not have any idea what he is talking about. Perhaps it was a security risk to let this man bring his kids in to get treatment? I have no idea, and neither does anyone other than the medical people who were there at the time.

Posted by: Lee at September 22, 2003 at 04:01 PM

A hit! A palpable hit!

Methinks the righties doth protest too much.

Posted by: Nemesis at September 22, 2003 at 04:51 PM

That'll give the left a well-deserved break then.

Posted by: ilibcc at September 22, 2003 at 05:17 PM

Read the above and tell me again how the Left are whingers. No hard info on this story/allegation/rumour yet, but many informed commentators (you guys) seem convinced by the excellence of your own prejudices.

I am a centrist. Convince me with some actual facts, and I may go your way.

Posted by: Thom at September 22, 2003 at 06:52 PM

Who cares if this guy exists or what his opinions are?

I've been out of the military for some years but do remember the type: misfit. To have served for 5 years but only achieved E4 tells me that this guy has not conformed to military life or that he has been subject to significant disciplinary action(s)or probably both.

He has nothing to say that I want or need to hear.

Posted by: ZsaZsa at September 22, 2003 at 07:42 PM

Again the weary wisdom of the tired high-school teacher, morally superior to all his charges, never again not standing for the anthem, etc.


Sorry, was that ad hominem? Tomorrow, Mr Weary, got do to some actual living this evening.

Posted by: Thom at September 22, 2003 at 07:56 PM

Oh Thom, shut up. Your snotty "I'm a centrist, convince me" attitude is the only morally superior stance here.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at September 22, 2003 at 08:54 PM


That was damn near a cutting post: the nearly snide yawn almost added nuance.

I usually choose to observe rather than comment but since you're obviously feeling rambunctious, let's play.

It's flattering to note that you have taken such an interest in those aspects of my life that I've referred to at this site. You, on the other hand, choose not to divulge personal details that might put your posts in perspective. (You also no doubt have reasons for not including a valid email address.) Perhaps I'll take more notice of your posts if you ever post anything meaningful.

I was going to address some of the content that was directed at me rather than to my post but decided against it since you're still trying to work out the meaning of ad hominem. Also, there is no more point in analysing your comments than there is in analysing the unknown substance that on occasion gets stuck in the tread of my shoe. Is it gum? Dog shit? Who cares?, it's a minor nuisance to be dealt with then forgotten.

I look forward to our next enounter Mr Nearly __________. You can change identities by simply inserting any of the numerous appropriate surnames: funny, sarcastic, perceptive, the possibilities are almost endless.

Seriously, your post has so troubled me, I doubt I'll be able to sleep tonight.

Posted by: ZsaZsa at September 22, 2003 at 10:14 PM

I'd have to echo Dr Weevil's sentiment.

Posted by: Matt at September 22, 2003 at 11:19 PM

Predmore could be for real. On the other hand, the other guys in the 101st seem to have a different attitude;

Posted by: Wilbur at September 22, 2003 at 11:38 PM

Entirely possible... after all, there was that one Muslim soldier who killed his CO and injured several of his mates trying to prevent "Bush's illegal war against Islam."

The corps lets you hold whatever opinion you want, as long as you do as you're told.

Posted by: Tatterdemalian at September 22, 2003 at 11:45 PM

Y'know, when I was a grunt, I don't remember being asked for my approval. Something about "shut up and soldier"...

Posted by: mojo at September 23, 2003 at 02:17 AM

Man, Nemesis' Hamlet quote was PERFECT.

Posted by: Chris Muir at September 23, 2003 at 02:43 AM

Actually, Nemesis' lifted Hamlet quote was good-but, reading into the link, I find it hard to believe our doctors would turn away from helping those children-if anything, US soldiers put their lives at risk to avoid civilian casualties.

Posted by: Chris Muir at September 23, 2003 at 02:48 AM

I bet the Guardian and the rest of the leftist-media/anti-war pinko's had multiple organisms when they picked up on this story.

Perhaps this will encourage more troops to reply and tell us what they think...

Posted by: Jettison at September 23, 2003 at 04:16 AM

Yes, the Hamlet quote is perfect. It was spoken by Queen Gertrude of the actress in the play. She does not realize that she is actually referring to herself, since the King and Queen of the play represent King Hamlet and Queen Gertrude.

(If we're protesting too much, it's because of all the letters from soldiers in Iraq (the horse's mouth), that one gets the most attention.

Posted by: scott h. at September 23, 2003 at 04:38 AM

Reads like he wants to be discharged so he will be sent home. This homesick boy let's discipline drop to this end. He shouldn't be discharged but instead sent home to serve out the remainder of his hitch in the Aleutian Islands and then given a less than honorable discharge when he leaves the service. I wouldn't hire this piker to clean toilets.

Posted by: Harry at September 23, 2003 at 06:41 AM

I am a veteran Navy nurse who served two tours in Vietnam. I am also a Navy brat whose grandfather, father, and two brothers were all career Navy. Guys like this one are not the rule in the military since the institution of an all volunteer service, but they were numerous during the draft.
Any service is only a microcosm of the society at large. Who doesn't work with someone who constantly whines about something or other. Such people do enter the service, but don't usually stay unless they are sure they wouldn't make it on the outside without the guaranteed income and benefits (no matter the pay rate).

McVeigh didn't leave until the military told him he couldn't go into special-ops. Then, all of a sudden, everything he had done as a soldier was wrong. Obviously, the military (and the government behind the military) had to be wrong on everything if they didn't have the foresight to recognize him as one of the elite. The fact that he was capable of bombing a building full of innocents -- no matter how capable he was at rationalizing his motives -- shows that his hated superiors knew what they were about, not the other way around. He was even capable of rationalizing the murder of the children in the day school -- that he knew would be there -- as "collateral" damage. Still the soldier.) But he sure got back at all of us, huh!

I'm sure this jerk isn't the only one to wonder what he's doing in such uncomfortable circumstances. I'm sure there are many who would like to go home -- who wouldn't prefer it? The only thing significant about this is that it is the only voice coming from the serving men and women that the anti-everything's have been able to glom(sp?) onto to back up their assertions.

Lastly, my younger brother finally retired, after 31 years, during Clinton's last year. I never knew for certain how he felt about Clinton because he held his political opinions to himself until he retired. After he retired, however, he told me that the one thing he hated more than anything else about his service was that it ended with the likes of Clinton signing his discharge papers. He also told me that he didn't know of anyone he worked with who liked the fact that Clinton was CinC. My point here is that for eight years, my brother kept his mouth shut, no matter how he felt about the weasel in the White House.

This little turd is expressing himself to the world about the Commander in Chief, during a time of war. It is at least gross insubordination and he ought to be dishonorably discharged for it.

Posted by: Debra Bates at September 23, 2003 at 09:34 AM

Old military rule: keep it in the barracks, keep it on the ship, keep it in the hangar! Do NOT, for fear of violating rules which invoke the UCMJ, babble out into the public world, even though civilians have that right.

Posted by: MommaBear at September 23, 2003 at 12:13 PM

Here's an interesting story of a second U.S. Congressman criticizing what he sees at the overly negative press coverage of Iraq. He alleges that the press doesn't cover areas outside of Baghdad where, he says, much progress has been made.

The Congressman is a Democrat, albeit a moderate one who supported the war resolution.

If these reports are true (or nearly so), it indicates that (1) the press is just doing a terrible job, whether because of ideological bias or, more likely, sloppiness and laziness and (2) the Bush Administration is just awful at public relations. They should be out there every day feeding the press; reporting on new schools being built or repaired, roads being paved, hospitals being fixed. If you don't feed the press, the press will gnaw on your legs until you're bled dry.


Posted by: SteveMG at September 23, 2003 at 01:35 PM

Such consternation in the ranks. There's a mole, a spitter, a traitor... a dissenter. I thought the basic tenet of democracy was to defend and protect the right of the dissenter to dissent? No, hang on, here on cut-and-paste Tim's call-and-response blogmire we cut off the balls of dissenters. Weedle him out, expose him. Surely he's a hoax? He has to be!

My IP is All present and accounted for, Sah!

Posted by: Miranda Divide at September 23, 2003 at 03:24 PM

ABC news is now calling the Iraqi forces who are attacking US soldiers "resistance fighters" rather than terrorists. During WWII Americans cheered for the French Resistance as they fought against the occupying German Army. What would have Americans thought if a letter similar to Tim Predmore's had been written by a Sergeant of Hitler's occupying army- complaining about the illegal invasion of France, and the horrible conditions imposed on the occupied? He would have been praised as a hero in the NY Times, and his letter enshrined in the US National Archives. Odd when the shoe is on the other foot, eh?

Posted by: Ziggy at October 2, 2003 at 07:55 AM