everything old is new again

Five Years Later

March 24, 2008
Five Years Later

In which The Tree says things that could piss people off, but asks that readers bear with him.

I’ve railed against the Iraq war since the year before we invaded; it’s all over there to the left in the archives. When I started all of this, I got into political blogging rather unexpectedly — it was over the Pledge of Allegiance controversy that sprang up when that father didn’t want his daughter to speak it in class. PromoGuy (I wonder what happened with him…haven’t thought of him in years — aha, his blog still sort of exists, apparently) started a group blog called… One Nation? Under God?…something like that that I joined (and I think that’s where I met blogger Brian Peace). I was on the “drop the God” side of the issue, as it wasn’t part of the original version of the Pledge.

I actually lost a blog friend over that — Todd, who lived in Tampa with his wife, Robin. We’d gotten on famously before then, but he couldn’t see the point I was trying to make and it all went to hell in a blogging bucket rather quickly. A pity, that. As time progressed, I stopped blogging on the group blog but picked up my own side of things when this site was The Gamer’s Nook. Initially, I wrote extensively in my own words, but as 2004 progressed, I became a virtual copy-and-paste factory which wasn’t doing anyone any favors — least of all, me — so I stopped. Hell, I practically stopped blogging, period, due to the burnout of that election.

Anyway, that’s a long segue into today’s topic: the war is now over five years old and we’ve lost 4,000 troops in a fight that was never about what ShrubCo claimed it was, but rather, a poorly planned neocon wet-dream that I don’t see us getting our arms around any time soon.

So why am I blogging about this again? I have hundreds of posts in the archives going over it all in fine detail. Well, there’s a story to tale here, a personal one I’m still mulling over and I’m not sure I like the ramifications of it.

There’s a new ReMax ad on television where they show a soldier — presumably in the Middle East — communicating with his wife over the net while they plan the home purchase they’re going to make when he comes home. It ends with the phrase, “Welcome home.”

When we saw it the other night, I had a knee-jerk, instant dislike for it. I couldn’t quite put it into words to Kim, who didn’t see why I should have such a strong reaction to it. To her, it’s showing a positive sign — troops are coming home.

To me, it felt… I don’t know how it felt, but it was wrong. I know I’m being stupid about it, but it just feels like propaganda to me for some reason. The troops aren’t coming home and won’t be, any time soon. But look at the soldier in the ad — he’s planning on buying a home, and look! There he is with his wife, so it’s all good!

Cynical, I know.

But then Kim said something that I’ve been mulling over ever since. She feels I may no longer support our troops, despite the fact that the mission in Iraq is not of their own doing. What might have happened is somewhere around the time of Abu Ghraib, I started losing respect for our soldiers. How could anyone do such horrible things to their fellow man — and not only do it, but photograph it, document it?

I guess it’s there, in a subtle pattern in my discussions with her and in my thought processes.

In going over all of this, I’ve come to the understanding that no, I haven’t stopped supporting our troops on the macro level. They’re not all responsible for the atrocities. I have stopped supporting commanding officers who turn blind eyes to such things, who allow such activities to continue on their watch with nary a reprimand. Our armed forces — the Army, in particular — have been chewed up and have lost their edge, their battleworthiness due to this misguided adventure.

Due to bad management, both civilian and military. We should have never gone in there in the first place.

That doesn’t excuse the vileness we’ve perpetrated on the Iraqi people, though — and much of that was done by the grunts, even if they were just doing their job. So yeah, maybe I don’t support the troops as much as I once did. In some instances, I’ve been outraged, unable to conceive of these things being done in my name.

So now, 4,000 dead, untold tens of thousand newly disabled US vest, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead or wounded. When does it end? When Hillary or Obama enter office? Unfortunately, no, it doesn’t, despite rhetoric to the contrary. It can’t, or a shitty situation will just become worse.

I need to work on my feelings regarding our troops. I know people over there, or who have been there, not once, not twice, but three times. I know children of friends of ours who are enlisting in the Army, knowing full-well what could happen. I wish there was a way I could roll back time on a world-wide political level and change things, make it all better. But until such a time as a time-ship a la Kang the Conqueror’s* ends up in my possession, I need to face the facts that my own feelings about the troops have changed and that I need to work on it, because really, I do want to support them.

All of this, because of a stupid realtor ad.

* If you don’t know who Kang is, just follow this link. I was going through wikipedia at lunch and came across Kang and it all came flooding back to me, the Celestial Madonna storyline from the mid-70s…

6 Responses to Five Years Later

  • Where’d my comment go?

  • Part of supporting the troops, as I see it, is trying to make sure they’re deployed responsibly and ethically with the tools they need to get the job done. Our leadership failed at each point in that process.

    Also part of supporting our troops is trying to help them retain their humanity in desperate, inhuman conditions. Instead, we ordered them to torture. (No, I don’t think Abu Ghraib was a “few bad apples.”)

    And part of supporting our troops is maintaining the level of professionalism necessary to keep them proud to be elite soldiers. Instead, we’ve lowered our recruiting standards and training requirements to the point where our military is accepting white supremacists into its ranks — meanwhile we hire very high-priced, better equipped mercenaries to do tasks that used to be managed by our military.

    Our military armed forces are a diverse group and there’s plenty nobility and base meanness to go around, but the leadership — the people who are supposed to lead these soldiers to their better, more professional nature have instead encouraged shortcuts and pushed them into inhuman conditions for no apparent gain except some contracting firm’s bottom lines.

    I don’t think recognizing that is “not supporting the troops.”

  • Weird. I think the comments may be freaking out about too long comments, which is probably what happened to your comment, Steve.

    So, I’m going to post mine in parts.

  • Okay, so posting in parts isn’t working, either. I wonder what it is that it doesn’t like about my comment.

  • Yup he still exists!

    I really liked One Nation Under, I still do – wonder if it could go anywhere today (there is no shortage of topics!).

    Anyhow, glad to see you are still at it. I focused http://www.promoguy.net on music, and blog about life elsewhere.

  • Hey there! I used to love your weekly memes. Nice to see you!

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