Posted: Mon – March 28, 2005 at 07:51 PM
Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.”
I don’t blog much about the war any more, really – which I suppose sets me apart somewhat from the crowd, as a MilBlogger. It’s not that I don’t know what’s going on – I read reports from the field every working day. I have a sense for the tactical level of the current fight. But even with access to a level of detail unavailable to the average guy on the street, I can’t sense the overall operational contours. Every day brings news of successes, and defeats and it’s hard to weigh the one against the other in any way that makes any kind of coherent sense. And anyway, it’s not primarily, or even remotely, a naval battle. My expertise, such as it is, does not extend to this arena. My opinion is next to worthless. This is, more than anything else, a sergeant’s fight, a captain’s fight. In short, I don’t know. I am… uncertain.
Reading between the lines on the things that cross my desk, I see acts of unbelievable sacrifice and heroism. Not just on the side of the U.S. Army soldiers and Marines, but also among their allies in the Iraqi Army, National Guard and Police Services. I also see things that make me wince.
Nothing do I see that clarifies for me any more than all of that which has gone before, the necessity of the fight, or how long it might last. How many more must die, or be maimed, before we come to the clearing at the end of the path. Everything points on to a grim slog, a painful task that needs being done. And this is only one theater, in a much larger, potentially generational struggle between the forces of modernity and those of reaction. And make no mistake – even as events in Lebanon, Syria, Israel/Palestine, Baghdad and even Saudi unfold in a direction which could scarcely have been imagined a few short years ago, the forces of reaction are not about to strike the tent and fade into the background. Their death struggles will be titanic, because for them, like for us, there is no turning back, no possibility of surrender.
But I am persuaded, and have been for a long time, of the necessity of taking the fight to the Salafist heartland. Of winning it there, by supplanting tyranny with hope. But even if I were not, I do not think that as an American citizen, I could go to the incomprehensible lengths that some of my fellows have done.
I read this sort of thing and heave a sigh of despair, while congratulating Smash for being civil about it. (And no, I don’t go looking for people to pick on – but he linked to me, while using Smash’s name, which rendered the whole thing rather absurd.) More of the same tedious tub thumping: Neocons,WMD, blood for oil, moronic presidents, etc, ad nauseam. (Was ever the Latin used to such precision?)
To clarify – I can respect the folks who thought we oughtn’t have gone to fight this war – who think that it was the wrong place, or that it was a distraction or that it wouldn’t serve the ends of national policy. I’ll continue to disagree with those folks, but I can respect the arguments they make. Most of them that I have exchanged viewpoints with have bowed to the inevitability of the moment, and the continued effort which it calls for. They have agreed, however reluctantly due to the war’s provenance, to stay in the traces, and hope for the best. They don’t like the fact that we’re in a fight, but they hope that we win.
I can live with that.
But there are some out there that just can’t get over it, any of it. They can’t get the politics out of their head, even while brave soldiers engage in incredible acts of heroism , and some of them make ultimate sacrifices . They can’t get over the fact that the last national election was nothing if not a judgment on all that went before, and a mandate on how to finish – even if it wasn’t a whole-hearted endorsement of the process. These folks are just so damned certain that the war’s Original Sin blots out any chance to salvage a righteous outcome. For these folks it’s all a part of some right wing plot to… do what? Ruin the country, I gather. Quite how, I’m never sure. Many of them evidently keep their fingers crossed hoping for bad news (payable in Iraqi and American lives) while stuffing their fingers in their ears whenever good news comes out. For these folks, and their despicable certainty, I have nothing but genial contempt – and much less patience than Smash. Doesn’t matter to me if the person who holds those opinions spent 10 years in the military, or not. For them?
Scorn and defiance; slight regard, contempt,
And any thing that may not misbecome
The … sender
— Shakespeare, Henry V