Sunday, September 21, 2008

From an American Airman in Iraq...

to a friend:

Dear Mike:

We have read your articles, and when I say we I mean myself with my fellow soldiers, and to be blunt, your (sic) pissing us off. You talk about war, the military, and government as if we're just screwin' the country and out for some laughs.

First the thing about oil in Iraq, GET A FUCKING CLUE! We found 100% pure pesticide...know what that's used for? BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS. They were moving the stuff out before we got there...well, most of it anyway. And a country that plans, encourages, or aids in any way to terrorism is a direct threat to the United States.

And on a positive note, the people over there are no longer under rule by a heartless dictator. Stop looking at the picture the liberals are trying to paint to everyone because they want the white house....people are happy over drive around town and they still wave and smile at you saying thank you.

If only Americans were like those people...because they know how precious freedom is. And we are fighting for your freedom. We just happened to get in there before it became a larger threat...that's the way its done. If you think that what we are doing over there is nothing more than trying to get ourselves some oil, then I suggest that you put your boots on the line, gear up, and charge into the frontlines with us so you will then fully understand.

But that's the problem right there. Nobody can fully understand until they have been in our shoes and know what its like. I thought I knew but I was wrong. So all we ask is for your FULL support, a thankfull (sic) attitude, and your prayers for all the soldiers that are standing fast in the path of the enemy ready to kill for you.

Because of us you will never know what it is like to hold a weapon in your hand and have to kill for your freedom.

We don't enjoy killing, but we take great pride in why we are doing it. We are United States Soldiers (sic) and we defend your freedom wherever we go.

Airman Blake French
United States Air Force

Mike Palecek forwarded the above note to me along with his response which was:

"You and your fellow soldiers are murderers. Someone should have told you by now. Sorry to have to be the one. Mike"

My response to Mike and Airman French is...

You know it's funny (figuratively) how many of these air force guys enjoy their work. It's odd how the human mind is able to rationalize all kinds of things like why it's okay to look someone in the eye and shoot them, in Baghdad, and get a medal when putting a bullet through someone's skull in the South Bronx gets you a one way ticket to death row.

It's a kind of psychological boot camp that soldiers go through that makes the marrow in their senses harden, and calcify with no hope of detoxification when they return to home soil, but only more deeply entrenched pathology for which we all take responsibility. We, their teachers, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, classmates, pediatricians; we who replace the fillings in their teeth, and fill their childhoods with biblical axioms like "Thou Shalt Not Kill," we then turn them loose, and tell them anything goes in the name of protecting freedom; a freedom which has become yet another abstraction not unlike terror itself.

Guns and roses---no longer just a rock group, but a way of life, a mindset that eroticizes weaponry, and war, with a social infantilism that is as inescapable as it is chilling.

An old friend of mine's 27 year old son is in the air force, and he loves going back for more. I know him from when he was a scrappy four year old---a blonde, blue eyed boy who couldn't wait to crawl back into bed with his mother; now, he's off working on aircraft when he isn't on campaigns, loves it, says he never saw combat, but combat is in his eyes.

The problem with Airmen Blake French is that they never lose the combat in their eyes, not even when they come home to Connecticut, not even when they sleep in the back alleys of our inner city.
The soldiers who return from Iraq and Afghanistan do not think of themselves as murderers any more than those who returned from Vietnam, Korea, or those who saw combat in World War II.

We must never dishonor the service of those who, with good conscience, are guided by the belief, rightly or wrongly, that they are acting in defense of their country, and/or their liberty. We must acknowledge, too, that it is often economic inequity, and lack of opportunity, that drive youngsters of color, and of limited means, to pursue military life as all too often it is their only hope for opportunities that are denied them in civilian life.

But, for the most part, they have bought everything Airmen French wrote, hook, line, and sinker. They are the victims of war, too, every bit as much as those who come back to us in body bags. We must condemn those who give the orders, more than those who carry them out.

It is the war machine that murders. We must never confuse the machine with its parts. And, i
n this election year, we have a "war hero" candidate who wants to roll back benefits given, for generations, under the G.I. Bill. Is this how to support our troops? Indeed, the ones who support John McCain are the ones who can least afford to do so.

We must say to Airman French, and others like him, put down your weapons, and come home. We need you to start defending freedom here.