America: Society Iraq War Journal Society

Shaking My Head

All I can say about all the collapsing of American pipe dreams in Iraq is that this is what I stated from the very start, before the descent into the Afghan war, would happen; what all the people who shouted for deliberation and tolerance before losing our minds to stupidity and knee jerk reactions, were trying to tell everyone? It is truly bitter to see all the worst of my fears coming true (not that I’m surprised any more). And I have to ask, why is it that people like me can see all this coming, while so many others can’t? Why does it take the deaths of thousands and the flashes of horror to remind everyone, over and over and over and over again, that war is ugly and that it has never, ever left its participants with satisfactory and morally acceptable results? Why does war awaken nightmares? I lost friends because I stated, the day after the New York tragedy (an event that I REFUSE to reduce to some media slogan by referring to it with the trite name of “9/11” as if it were a football game) that the American reaction would lead to war without reflection. I stated that the New York tragedy was an opportune moment for Americans to once and for all examine their place in the world and what their unrestrained power and arrogance has done to others. But no… they had to react in the predictable and immature way, by going to war. A bully punching out bystanders because he can’t find the culprit. Really I shouldn’t be concerned about how Americans feel or what image the US has in the eyes of the world, but in fact I deeply care about the States and many people there, and would hope it would learn to grow up.

Charley Reese ponders why it is that the Iraqis have treated their captives with respect and dignity, whereas the American occupiers haven’t. I feel the very question arises out of naivete and disrespect, making an assumption that somehow Iraqis ought to be less civilized than Americans. But all evidence points to America as a nation that loves violence, cares little for people outside its borders (and even for its own citizens within), sets the military upon this unrealistic and ridiculous pedestal ( went to the video store last night to look for a movie… I was very disturbed by just how many war movies and movies about murder and destruction there were… almost all of which were American… I decided to rent the French documentary “Le Peuple Migratoir”, a beautifully filmed account of birds migrating around the world), and absolutely adores war (as long as it doesn’t touch its own borders). How many times have I heard an American tell me that their joining the military made them into a better, more mature person? I always guessed that meant that people who don’t, and don’t want to, join the military are somehow not mature or are “lesser” people. Reese talks of “dishonoring the uniform”. Exactly why is it that the military deserves such a cult status? It is a job that those in it joined of their own free will. Why is this idiotic “giving their lives for freedom” dogma followed, instead of giving priority to learning how to talk with other people to achieve peace and understanding before needlessly throwing away such a valuable gift as a life. “Dying for one’s country” is treated as if it’s the epitome of all that should be aspired to in life.

So many questions of “why” that I have to ask. I’m not so much angry any more so much as stumped for sense. I feel like I am witnessing a prison yard full of blindfolded murderers all fumbling about and beating each other because they refuse to take off the blindfolds. I have turned off the TV. I don’t think I can stand watching Rumsfeld or Bush tell another face saving lie.

Meanwhile, while the Iraqi deaths soar outside the baseball stadium’s wall, unseen, the media tallies up the numbers of Americans dying like counting home runs. There are no screams, no entrails spilled in the street, no charred meat, or clouds of flies. No death. Deaths. Dead. Dying. The “Ultimate” debt, a finality that cannot be paid, and which never had a price.

America: Society Iraq War Journal Musings

Moment of Silence

Nova Scotia Skiff
Moored skiff in a cove near Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, 1990.

I came across a post by Thomas of Pacific Tides about the state of the world today. While there have been thousands of posts concerning the war and the dying, something about Thomas’ post left me numb and so grieved that I almost broke down weeping. He sums up in such succinct and simple words the stupidity, futility, and sorrow of all that is going on that I couldn’t help but feel the weight of the last two years bearing down upon me. Thomas links to the Washington Post’s photo catalogue of American soldiers who have so far died in the ongoing war (what crassness to announce the war is over!). I took some time to gaze at a few close-ups of those mostly young faces and for many moments I felt lost and overwhelmed. Looking at them up close, with their smiles or brave seriousness, all the possibilities and reasons for being alive swept through my heart. They will never come back. They will never again feel the kisses of their loved ones. They will never more know the wind on their faces or the taste of a peach. They will never more hear their mother or father laugh, never sing a song or lie on a beach watching the stars. And what for? What for? There were Bush and Blair laughing ( laughing! ) while soldiers and civilians are dying. What the ……. for?

I put on David Wilcox’s Frozen In the Snow to try and ease the pain in my heart. Like waves on a quiet shore, the song rolling back over and over again, the sad words repeating. The memories of those I have never known bobbing like flowers in the wind. A lullaby to the dying and the dead.

I have always been fundamentally against militaries of any sort, anywhere. They represent to me the worst of human endeavors and the epitome of failed communication and thoughtlessness. People talk of violence and injustice toward women, but why do they turn away from the violence and injustice toward (mostly) young men? Why is it all right that young men are recruited, taught how to murder, and then sent out to be anonymously slaughtered? If, in the course of the nightmare, they come to feel that they must take their lives into their own hands and attempt to leave, they are chastised for being “cowards” and “dishonorable”. The law is set up to punish them, often with death. What is the difference from slavery? Always there is talk of “patriotism” and “for the homeland”, accompanied by strong emotions about who they are and what they are defending. And when they come home in body bags empty phrases repeated without any way to truly compensate for the loss. Mothers nodding to themselves that their sons died valorous in battle. Valorous.

And what of the “Enemy”? The countless thousands, who are painted as non-entities, mere shadows to release your weapons at. Where are the photo galleries of the Iraqis murdered? Will anyone ever take a moment for them? Give them faces? Comfort their mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters?

They will never come back. Let us take a moment to let that sink in.