Sunday, October 30, 2005

The number.

Warning! Rambling post follows with my feelings expressed, some of which are not rational, possibly racist, and definitely not definitive by any means.

This week marked a supposed "milestone" in the US war in Iraq. The 2000th American was killed in that Godforsaken country. And just as quickly, the milestone was suprassed as 4 more Americans were killed a couple of days later. The papers have talked about it, as has the TV, there are lots of posts on blogs up, and the news magazines will no doubt have their stories out this Monday when they publish. Lex has a particularly good post up, which as is always the case some of it I agree with, some of it I don't. Its very much worth the read however.

All of the punditry, all the blather, all of the analysis are about one thing: what does it all mean? And as an adjunct is this sacrifice some how "worth it"? To tell you the truth, I just do not know. I'm not sure anyone does for sure, although there are plenty of people on both sides of the aisle that think they do. Mostly I just have very mixed up feelings and beliefs.

I believe that first and foremost there is only one number that matters. Its not a 100, 500, 1000 or even 2000 or God forbid, 4000. Its the number 1. That the number 2000, is an aggregation of individual tragedies that have happened to families, husbands, wives, fathers and sons. Each of those folks was ONE special person to someone, or to many people. That these aforementioned families have had their lives irrevocably shattered. That the loss of each and every one is unfair and they are all worthy of honor, but also anger.

Anger that there are Islamic lunatics who think they have a right to use violence to impose their apostate religion on folks who know better.

Anger that after over 10,000 years man has still not figured out a way to rid himself of the foolishness of war.

Anger at the unfairness of it all that these folks , who had so much to live for and so much yet to do, are gone while fat cat rich bastards live in comfort and will never have to lift a finger to support the effort they gave their lives for.

Anger that the powers that be did not think this whole thing through before the invasion started. That they ignored the warnings that were given them, and more importantly did not use overwhelming force and strength if in fact it was necessary to invade. I believe that in the end Shinseki was right about troop numbers and that if this is going to go on for some years to come, ALL of the Armed Services need to be a lot bigger than they are now.

Anger that the leadership of the Department of Defense does not believe that.

Anger that the insurgents cannot see that they cannot win in the end, so why continue?

Anger that after 60 years of whining about Israel and the poor poor "Palestinians", the damn Arabs cannot get over it and just move on. That with all of the money they have available, their countries are still second rate in terms of standard of living and other indicators of civilization.

Anger that Arabs as a group are so wedded to their outdated and useless tribal ways that they could not take on this problem themselves and are too lazy to do so, but would rather leave it up to the United States and others to do a job that they should be able to do and are not, or won't.

Anger that Islam is still stuck around theirs and others necks like the millstone and apostate religion that it is.

I'm also confused about a lot of what has been accomplished and what is left to be done. I'm sure lots of folks of both sides will try to educate me, but I'll give you a hint: it won't change my mind.

Sure Saddam is gone and that is good. Iraqi's are starting to build the basics of a new government. They have voted and will vote again. Life is better their than before. All true. However when did it become America's vision to forcibly remake sovereign states into some replica of America? And if that is America's mission, why are we so selective about it? On every continent of the globe, except for North America, people are living in tyranny. If in 5 years, Iraq elects a Nasser, or an Ayatollah, will we have to go back and do it again? Maybe they might be better off with a King like is in Jordan. What if they end up with a one party state, that is a democracy in name only, then what?

Why Iraq? Why not Egypt which is the real center of gravity in the Arab world? Oh I forgot, they are an "ally" and we give them 3 billion per year. Can't very well invade them. They are far from a democracy though, "opposed presidential election" or not.

I believe that the US is committed to Iraq and has to continue to live up to that commitment. Its the surest way to show Iraq and other nations that the United States is different than the colonial powers that came before it. Then again at least with the colonial powers there was some sort of stability. When the US refused to support the colonial powers back in the 50's, we laid the ground work for the chaos we are trying to fix now.

I am proud of all the young Americans who serve and choose to serve, particularly now. It was easy for my generation, no one believed there would be a big war, and so service in the armed forces was about adventure, travel, excitement and camaraderie. The Cold War bounded everything and kept lunatics in their box. Fear of confrontation with the USSR kept things like this Iraq fracas from happening..(usually...). That's all gone now. It pains me to admit it, but the young person who raises his hand today and takes the oath is probably a braver and better person than I was at that age. Especially those who volunteer for the Army or the Marines. They know the war is out there, on their horizons; and still they volunteer. Their service is particularly special because they do not have to do it. Thousands of their fellow countrymen avoid their obligation of service every year. Not these men and women who have gone on to hopefully a special place in heaven. They could have taken the easy path, but they chose not to. They had hopes and dreams and all of them thought they would get back safely. However, they chose to serve.

Perhaps in the end that is what all this means. Lex said it better than I can:

These men and women, all two thousand of them: They are not a number. And they are emphatically none of them a symbol. They were of us and from us, each of them unique, each of them a window on the universe, now shuttered. They gave all they had, and all they ever would have because they believed in us.


I wish the neocons had understood that before they started us down this path. Do they? Some believe they did......I'm not so sure. I really wonder if they do. I'll never know the answer to the question, I suspect. However I will remember these young men and women who served. Each of you should too.

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