Monday, June 28, 2004

The event that changed the war for me

"BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Iraqi militants killed an American soldier they have held hostage for nearly three months, saying the killing was because the U.S. government did not change its policy in Iraq, Al-Jazeera television said Tuesday."

This war in Iraq is not one I thought we ought to be in. It was not in my view OUR war. On a much deeper level the entire conflict with the Taliban in Afghanistan was something I think the United States could have avoided years ago by simply altering our course toward hegemony and empire. All the same the Taliban were explicitly complicit in the attacks of 9/11. Therefore in my mind no matter the reason that they may have had for their attack I fully supported their overthrow. I was happy to be part of that overthrow. It was something I could justify in my mind as worth doing.

I have expressed my opinion that the invasion of Iraq was ill conceived, ill advised and improperly executed. I think we fought the wrong war, in the wrong country for the wrong reasons. I still stand by that view. As I prepare to head back out across the big water in a few days I have wrestled with this and consoled myself in the fact that my duty is to the young soldiers I lead, no matter where our task may take us.

All of that “higher thinking” and pontificating matters little now. The savagery and barbarity of the folks that killed this young Soldier and will most likely kill a young Marine tomorrow is beyond the pale of acceptability.

Yes I realize that several civilians have been murdered in much the same way prior to this. I thought that was wrong but my anger was not sparked to the point it has now reached for a simple reason. The civilians were there because they chose to go their and work. Many were lured by the promise of large paychecks. They understood it was a dangerous place but decided to forego the risks for the promise of big money. Their deaths were sad, their murders wrong but this was after all the result of a calculated risk.

Soldiers and Marines too take a risk but it is not one of money. Theirs is a risk to serve something they see and bigger than them. That is all the difference in these murders.

I love being around young troops. This is one of my greatest joys in life. I look into their eyes when we are out doing something challenging and recall the spark that filled my soul nineteen years ago when I was a young buck trooper.

The young men that serve in “real units” are the finest America has to offer. These folks do not ask for much nor do they receive much. I can think a dozen different times over the years when I have had to take money out of my own pocket to buy milk or formula for some 20 year old kid and his family because they just could not make ends meet. When it comes to “show time” most of these kids are right there doing and ready to do what no kid ought to ever have to do.

They are all the same. At times their faces and names run together into a sort of montage of young lives that have crossed paths with yours. Many of them leave the service after one tour; other stick around. It is always a pleasure to run up down the road on a fellow that has stuck around and risen to the noncommissioned officer ranks.

Sure there are troublemakers, some very few actual real troublemakers. I have really only bumped into three completely unredeemable sorts in all my years. I have had my share of yahoos “stand on the carpet” in front of my desk to receive punishment for various offenses. Even these fellows were not bad apples and their offenses were generally things civilian society would not blink at. I have always thought the best cure for young warriors that cannot behave in garrison is to but them out in the field training. That burns up all that excess energy.

I suppose the thing about all the faces merging into what is in my mind the stereotypical “young trooper” is that all the love and affection I have developed for each individual over the years passed via osmosis to all the ones I do not know.

It is with those thoughts that my perspective on the entire War in Iraq has changed. I no longer care why we went, if we should have or any of that. I think the folks that have killed this young Soldier and will probably kill this Marine do not deserve to see another day. They do not deserve to have a voice in what Iraq will become. They do not deserve to believe as they wish or go on living their lives.

I have and will always support the right of a people to assert their will through any means available to them; up to and including revolution and insurgency. Barbarism and savagery have no place in that effort. Those that practice such acta do not deserve the option to express their political will.

Yes the entire purpose and mission in Iraq has changed in my mind. It is all about freeing the world from thugs and punks that would commit murder to achieve their ends. I will march to the gates of Hell to stop people like that.

Recedite, plebes! Gero rem imperialem
El Cid