Published on Tuesday, September 23, 2003 by Reuters
US Soldiers in Iraq Shrug at Bush's UN Speech
TIKRIT, Iraq, Sept. 23 — U.S. soldiers in Iraq shrugged their shoulders after listening to President George W. Bush's speech to the United Nations on Tuesday, saying he said nothing new and did not address their main concern: going home.
''I wasn't particularly impressed with anything he came up with,'' said Staff Sergeant Jason Dungan of the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry Division, based in deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit.
''He just brought up some old issues.''
Addressing the U.N. General Assembly, Bush said evidence of Saddam's brutality uncovered after the U.S.-led war had justified the invasion, which was not sanctioned by the United Nations.
Bush called on the world to work together to rebuild Iraq, but soldiers were disappointed he said nothing that offered them hope of a speedy end to their long tours of duty.
''We've been out here for six months, and it looks like we're going to be here for another six months more,'' said one soldier as he ate dinner in a huge tented ''chow hall'' at a U.S. base in one of Saddam's former palaces in Tikrit.
''That's it. It's a done deal, so nothing he (Bush) says makes a blind bit of difference to us.''
The speech was broadcast on two television sets on one side of the air-conditioned tent, but the majority of soldiers chose instead to watch American football on the other side, or focus on their beef casserole and ice cream.
Some, still smarting from the lack of international support for the war, wondered why Bush had decided to speak to the United Nations at all.
''I personally don't care if the U.N. helps,'' said Sergeant- Major Rodney Placzek. ''They weren't here for the start and they weren't here afterwards. Why do we need their help now?''
But other soldiers said they were encouraged by the speech, which they listened to accompanied by the intermittent boom of outgoing mortar fire, a nightly ritual at the base on the banks of the Tigris river.
''I feel it's good to see we have the support of everyone in our government and that they're trying to carry that over to the U.N.,'' said Sergeant Darryl McDougal. ''Then maybe we can get global support for what we're doing.''
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