I admit it. I’m tired of writing about this war. You’re probably sick of hearing it too.
Everyday is a a different version of the day before, just with more blood, more empty words, more no-end-in-sight. Bush can give all the speeches in the world but he never changes the script. He can’t. One thing I can safely predict is that Bush is not going to pull out of Iraq. He is going to hand that over to a Democrat to do. It’s in his nature to leave a mess behind. Just ask Texas.
Anyway. Another bloody Sunday.
More “Extremists” dead. Another helicopter crash in the desert. 2 more soldiers killed.
I began to write this post, thinking about the word “Extremist”. The concept. Who is an extremist?
n. One who advocates or resorts to measures beyond the norm, especially in politics.
If you had the luxury of being dropped on Earth in the year 2007 without prior knowledge of history, or being up-to-date with the rhetoric and development of the war. If you just arrived without knowing anything about America, or Iraq, or Saddam, or Al Queda; if all you did was land here and look at a picture of the war: who looks like an extremist?
The ones with IEDs, rags, and sandals?
Or the ones with aircraft carriers, unmanned spyplanes, and tanks?
Who’s taken the absurdity of war to new levels? Above the norm? The insurgents may be extreme in their religious beliefs, or their tactics, but we’re extreme when it comes to the art of warfare. We’ve perfected it.
It terrifies me how institutionalized war has become in America, everything Eisenhower warned against:
This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
War has only touched American shores on 2 days in this last century, more than 50 years apart. Thus, we’re rather insulated, ignorant of its devastation. Its brutality. We talk of it as a concept, as an ideological and partisan argument, or as entertainment.
I also worry about how whitewashed and remote this war is.
It has been said that only 1% of Americans are effected by the war. The percentage of Americans either serving, or with family serving, in Iraq and Afghanistan. We’ve built the world’s ultimate army and we use it like a toy.
And we refuse to take our ball and go home.
Trivializing the horrors our soldiers face is not honoring them, any more than a magnet on the back of your SUV honors them.
The president and his men treat soldiers like they’re disposable, and in a sense that is what war is all about; they’d rather send 20,00 more troops than sacrifice their misguided beliefs and ideas that led them to this debacle; and have been proven to be, not only false, but dangerous. They refuse to learn from their mistakes and adapt. Instead of turning parallel to the beach and swimming out of the current, they continue to hopelessly struggle against the rip tide as it drags us out to sea and drags Iraq towards a Civil War.
Our soldiers don’t have the luxury of analyzing it, they don’t have the comfort of politics. They’re just trying to stay alive another day. We owe it to them to not whitewash the psychic and physical harm of what they’re facing over there. Not to talk of our soldiers’ lives in terms of numbers and tactics, and treat them like they’re disposable.
We shouldn’t let the president sacrifice more of our countrymen in his attempt at saving face and staving off the inevitable for some other president to figure out.
Sadly, war is something we legislate in America, vote upon, argue over, watch on TV, read about in the paper, on artofstarving. But it’s not something we have to fight. We hire others to do it for us.
We train these guys to be bloodthirsty killers.
We’ve built the largest, most-sophisticated military the planet has ever seen.
We have satellites in space watching them.
We can fire a missile from the deck of an aircraft carrier hundreds of miles away and guide it precisely to strike an outhouse in the middle of the desert, if we want we can blow that shit to smithereens.
Meanwhile, our enemies try to ram our Humvees with explosive-laden donkey carts.
We have long-established, celebrated organizations just to entertain our troops during war.
Comics and musicians and pin-up models parading about on a stage so the soldiers can escape the reality of their reality for a few precious hours.
War for us is an industry.
High School ROTC programs indoctrinate young men into our warrior culture.
Colorful flag guards.
Crisp uniforms that girls find sexy.
Fast-paced videos showing the fun and adventure of being a hired killer.
AN ARMY OF ONE.
Next week at the Super Bowl, you’re going to see super-sleek, fast, deadly jets fly over the stadium, accompanied by a sonic boom and the roar of the crowd.
People watching on TV will be filled with an intense swelling of nationalistic pride and not really know it as they pig out on chips and buffalo wings and wash it all down with Budweiser.
Then a famous Pop Star, known for driving his car while chugging on the juice inevitably winding up in trees and front lawns, the Piano Man himself, will sing the national anthem.
The stadium will be quiet, everyone on their feet, men holding their hats over their hearts, some young girl with a tear running down her cheek will be singled out in the crowd by the camera man.
The notes: “and the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air…” will then fly out over the airwaves to almost a billion people across the globe.
When he finishes everyone in the stands will break out in wild applause and the players on the field will begin to jump up and down and beat their chests.
And then they’ll inevitably show the troops in Iraq, sheltered in some desert tarp, dressed in their camoes. The troops will get up and cheer for the cameras, pump their fists in excitement, their adrenaline pumping, smiles on their faces, they might even look happy.
But when the cameras are turned off, they’ll probably look like this.
The announcer will then comment about what a treat it is for the soldiers. To be able to watch the football game. Grown men, dressing up in pads, pounding each other. Million dollar athletes going to war for a trophy while half-naked cheerleaders wave their pompoms and kick their legs in the air and a fat guy in a glass booth babbles about the pregame tailgate parties.
Then they’ll go to commercial and a duck will be trying to sell me insurance and I’ll wonder about the word “extremist” and what it really means.