Lately signs have been going up in the neighborhood — OUR TROOPS HOME NOW. It reminds me of 2003, when the signs in Fort Wayne said PRAY FOR OUR TROOPS and the ones in Ann Arbor commanded NO BLOOD FOR OIL and others advertised ANOTHER FAMILY FOR PEACE. Ann Arbor was a photo-negative version of Fort Wayne, I told people at the time; I’m sure it still is.
I never thought the war was a good idea, but I hoped it wouldn’t be a disaster. I hoped it would go the way we were promised it would, that the casualties would be minimal, the shooting brief, the outcome something not too shameful. Well, it turned out to be anything but those things. For most of 2003 I was living in Indiana, and I remember the runup to the invasion, the endless letters to the editor about the importance of supporting the troops and the tiresome repetition of what even then were talked-out talking points, about “fighting them there so we won’t have to fight them here.” There was just so much of that crap. Alan was scowled at in a news meeting when he suggested, not long after Mission Accomplished, that we were going to be in Iraq for quite a bit longer. All of this — and, to be sure, a few other events in my life — made me feel I was regarding my community from behind a thick sheet of plexiglass. I’d sit in meetings, interviews, and want to ask, Who the hell are you people?
Things change, and I apologize for woolgathering. It’s just that here we are, four years later, and everything’s different, eh?
Sunday the New York Times ran “The War as We Saw It,” a column with seven bylines, all sergeants and specialists fighting in Iraq. The short version: We’re being lied to, yet again. The surge isn’t working. The situation is FUBAR. No one has a clue. I was struck by this paragraph:
In short, we operate in a bewildering context of determined enemies and questionable allies, one where the balance of forces on the ground remains entirely unclear. (In the course of writing this article, this fact became all too clear: one of us, Staff Sergeant Murphy, an Army Ranger and reconnaissance team leader, was shot in the head during a “time-sensitive target acquisition mission” on Aug. 12; he is expected to survive and is being flown to a military hospital in the United States.) While we have the will and the resources to fight in this context, we are effectively hamstrung because realities on the ground require measures we will always refuse — namely, the widespread use of lethal and brutal force.
That’s my emphasis, by the way. To save the village, we must destroy it, in other words. Saving ourselves, eh, that’s another matter. It’s times like these that I think the Rose Garden doesn’t need a wedding, it needs a hanging. Several hangings.
It’s amazingly accurate, everyone who knows me will attest. Get your own.