01/11/2005: The considered opinion....
of a soldier who now opposes the war was posted over on Daily Kos: Pilgrim's Progress, Or Why a Soldier DOESN'T support the War in Iraq.
I have been told, by a rabid republican whom I genuinely like and respect, that the current situation is Clinton's fault. They support us, but they needed that tax break to buy the million dollar house overlooking the ocean. The shortage of equipment and men is Clinton's fault. I don't know if I'll ever understand the cognitive dissonance required for otherwise highly intelligent people to think that way. I have also been told by some that I am a coward for not deserting my post, and risking all sorts of harm to my family and throwing away my honor and sixteen years of my life for their vision of righteousness. "You are a very sad sack," wrote one rather strident poster on this subject recently. Thanks for the support, and fuck you very much.
I find myself in a very curious position. I'm damn good at what I do. Leading and taking care of soldiers has been my life's work, even as a reservist. I love my soldiers as any man loves his brothers. I don't want them to be placed at risk unnecessarily. I don't want them to dream what I have dreamt. I don't want their honor sacrificed anymore than their bodies. But we all signed the contract, didn't we? For our various reasons--college money, a bigger house, because our brothers and fathers did it, to get out of a bad situation, to learn a trade, patriotism, whatever. There are as many reasons people join the army or the National Guard as there are people in the service. I've never met anyone who wanted to kill another person, though I'm sure they exist. That possibility was something that we accepted without really thinking about it. I mean, you buy insurance in case you get in an accident. You know it's possible, but it doesn't really hit you until the airbag does.
Back to our question. What does it mean for me? I think the war in Iraq was wrong-headed. I think the primary motivation was to ensure Bush's reelection. I fought in the war because that's where I was, and far more importantly, that's where my men were. I'll never abandon my men. Ever. My soul would be forfeit if I did. Those who would suggest such a thing do not understand me or the thousands of others like me who know that this war is wrong on so many levels, but it's our job to fight it. Which brings me to my next point. You can support the soldiers AND hold those responsible for criminal actions to account. The concepts are not mutually exclusive, and we know the difference between a lawful order and an unlawful one. That's why the Army is prosecuting these people. I can't do anything more about the civilians who ordered it, or winked and looked away, or whatever than you can. I worked my ass off first for Wes Clark and then for John Kerry. I intend to work my ass off in the 2006 mid-terms (as much as one can from Afghanistan.) I train my men as best I know how, to survive and win. That is my job. I am going to Afghanistan in 2006 if I don't get deployed somewhere else first. Afghanistan is actually a mission that I believe in, that we abandoned early for Bush's Iraq adventure. I really don't want to go, but my soldiers deserve good leadership. I will provide it. I'll stand with my brothers. I am eligible for retirement in 2008, barring stop-loss. I just hope to make it with my body and soul intact. In the mean-time, all I can really do is shut my eyes and hold on tight.
You can support me and my brothers by continuing to agitate for an end to this war, and for the benefits that we were promised, but that Republicans seem determined to deny us. You can continue to hold their feet to the fire in the mean time to ensure that we have what we need to survive, and to punish them for their failures.
Len on 01.11.05 @ 06:57 PM CST