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I am a person who, unfortunately and fortunately, has experienced death from all sides.  I know that statement might be hard to wrap your mind around but I believe that all people should and must strive to do so.  I have a deep understanding of what it is to live with having taken human life and I have a deep understanding of what it is to lose life.  To lose your own and the lives of others in the many different and varied ways.  I share this because I believe it is important that you understand that I know intimately of that which I write here.

More below the fold.

The experience and aftermath of taking a human life is not something you can ever communicate to another person.  It simply isn't humanly possible to express such and event.  Even though the laws of man say you are not guilty of a crime for which you should be punished and societal tradition says you have in fact done something to be proud of, you still cannot ever, ever shed the guilt that your soul must carry and that is pain one cannot share.

The lose of a loved one is also something that cannot be communicated to another person.  It is something that can only be truly understood when experienced and even then can not be truly shared.  And even within that larger group that has experienced such lose there are subgroups of those who have lost their loved ones, friends, and acquaintances through violence, accidents, suicide, and natural death. Even these groups cannot share the different types and levels of grief, deep pain, anxiety, and anger they experience after such an event.

And then there is ones own death.  This, for those who have gone to the edge and returned, cannot ever be communicated to another living soul.  We can all share the anxiety of looking at our own demise but to have actually been to the edge and returned is not something one can share.  It is an experience that changes the very soul of the person and it is a profoundly personal change.

Now you may ask why I am posting this diary on a political blog site.  The answer is this.  War is the perfect storm of death and all the varied experiences of death.  Soldiers may and often do experience all that I have written above in a single day in war.  They take life and loose friends and family through violence, accident, suicide and natural causes within the span of months, weeks, days, hours, or minutes and sometimes experience their own death as a cruel bonus while living the horror of war.  A very miniscule few come back from the pull of death mostly broken and maimed, but those are the miniscule few.

These experiences that I have expressed above are happening every bloody second of every bloody day in Iraq.  I write about this because when soldiers have to experience these things for all the right reasons it is bad.....very, very, very bad, but when they experience it for all the wrong reasons it becomes evil....very, very, very evil.

The American experience in Iraq is evil.  It is evil because the American people were lied to, misled, and deceived into an unnecessary illegal preemptive war and subsequent insurgency and civil war by those who were and are charged with, and constitutionally responsible for, showing the light of truth and defending the constitution of the United States.  It is evil because each and every day the perfect storm of death flows over the Iraqi countryside taking lives that should not be taken for reasons that are not reasons.  The brave, the innocent and the guilty share death equally.  They share an equal death that is promulgated by those who know nothing of death.  Those who have no understanding of service to country and the ultimate sacrifice that may well be asked, because they have always shirked their duty when called and never struggled to defend the democracy they so enjoy.  It is not necessary to list the violations of laws and the constitution that have been put upon the American people by this administration leading up to the war with Iraq, executing the war with Iraq and occupying Iraq because I believe that any rational, thinking human being capable of speaking, hearing, seeing and reading should know all of these things by now.

When people die it is because their leaders have failed.  That is simple truth.

Those Are The Sergeant Majors Thoughts On That.

Originally posted to SGT MAJOR MYERS on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 02:42 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Straight Talk... (21+ / 0-)

    As always from you Sgt Major.

    It must be crushing to face such truths and to ascribe evil motives to the actions of the nation you have served so honorably.

    I salute your bravery in facing the truth.

  •  Great diary, as usual Sgt. Maj. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Earl, FindingMyVoice, blueoasis, Lashe

    The soul that is within me no man can degrade. - Frederick Douglass

    by Kimberley on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 02:48:08 PM PST

  •  well said (12+ / 0-)

    When people die it is because their leaders have failed.  That is simple truth.

    It is a terrible thing our failed leaders are doing to the willing young people who are in Iraq and Afghanistan.  And a terrible thing our policies over there are doing to those whose only crime was that they happened to live there.

    The fact that our failed leadership and wrong policies have led us to creating this sad situation is an outrage.

  •  I keep wondering how much (8+ / 0-)

    its really true that the militiary is behind them and when the "cone of silence" will be broken.  

    To some extent it is already in a number of ways.  The fighting dems are one example, the active duty folks who post here from time to time is another, but by and large the military has stayed on board.  How long will that last?

    -4.63,-3.54 If the people will lead the leaders will follow

    by calebfaux on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 02:50:40 PM PST

    •  Until we force civlian (6+ / 0-)

      leaders to reconsider their current policies or until we change them out altogether.

      Although I've daydreamed from time to time about our military refusing to go along with this stuff, I know in my heart that's just a cop out. The military is handling the strain as best they can without adding the weight of one more massive crisis to the already creaking timbers on which this nation stands. A military insurrection would put us under, I think.

      The soul that is within me no man can degrade. - Frederick Douglass

      by Kimberley on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 03:02:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  wasn't thinking militiary (0+ / 0-)

        insurrection but.... there are other ways of letting displeasure be known

        -4.63,-3.54 If the people will lead the leaders will follow

        by calebfaux on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 04:18:12 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I understand what you're (6+ / 0-)

          driving at, but they've resisted as much as they reasonably can without it turning into what could be thought of as revolt or insurrection.

          Americans have watched silently, for the most part, as officers throughout our armed forces have been retired for daring to speak up, Rumsfeld's path is littered with the likes of Gen. Paul Van Riper and Gen. Eric Shinseki (both of whom should have been instrumental in averting compounded disaster when this administration revealed its intention to invade Iraq). We watched as the Pentagon humiliated a Marine commander by replacing him during the invasion of Iraq because he was being too thorough as they moved towards Baghdad for the propaganda piece de resistance. You can't help but wonder today how things might have changed if the Marines had been allowed to disarm people on the way in, eh? And let's not forget that it was the JAG Corps that was the first to balk - hard - at our fancy new policy of torturing prisoners in our custody.

          I mean, how many officers do we need to watch these guys throw into oncoming traffic before we realize they're being sacrificed at the altar of stupidity and arrogance? These men stood, they balked and they have all been wrung out of the military for it. There was even one J3 that Rumsfeld went out of his way to openly mock in front of the press when they retired his ass.

          I guess my point is that we have more than enough evidence of broad resistance to this hardship and dishonor from our military - or what's left of it. Now it's up to us to correct course and hold people accountable.

          The soul that is within me no man can degrade. - Frederick Douglass

          by Kimberley on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 06:40:57 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  The soldiers signed up for this. (6+ / 0-)

      When they signed the dotted line they signed up to kill and be killed. I'm sure many realize this and that's why they're not screaming into the cameras against this war. Forget what it would do to unit cohesion.

      But I can't imagine many who would prefer Iraq to being home with family and friends. And since I can see no beneficial gain to my country with them there I want them home.

      So I'm doing what little I can to get them all out of there. That's my job as a civilian. They're doing their job over there following orders and trying not to get killed. Leave the fighting to the soldiers. We'll deal with the politics.

      Eat the rich. Their toes taste like chocolate.

      by rjo on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 03:48:10 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  They signed up for service, not lies (17+ / 0-)

        So I'm doing what little I can to get them all out of there. That's my job as a civilian. They're doing their job over there following orders and trying not to get killed. Leave the fighting to the soldiers. We'll deal with the politics.

        I agree with all of your paragraphs, but would like to add that our volunteer service members volunteered to protect our society on the assumption that if necessary, their lives would be spent in support of protecting our society, with broad support from We The People who are responsible for the decision to take this most momentous of national decisions.

        I believe that crucial assumption is incorrect for this action at this time.

        We were told (beliveably or not, and whether the arguments were persuasive or not) about a collection of reasons for this debacle. Some of us did not believe those reasons, some did not consider even those reasons sufficient, some thought those reasons justified this action. To the best of our knowledge today, the only remaining semi-valid reason for this action is to eliminate Saddam.

        If our leadership really thought eliminating that unholy evil bastard and help his broken society recover from that ongoing and to some extent American-supported tragedy, then we should have debated it as a society, and arrived at three important points of consensus:

        1. Understand the situation well enough to be able to do the whole job correctly;
        1. Establish how much resources, especially a realistic estimate of the cost to our precious service members;
        1. Achieve consensus that "regime change in Iraq" is worth taking the most violent actions a society can impose on another.

        We did none of these things as a society.

        We failed completely in our commitment to our service members.

        They did not sign up to be spent this way.

        Again, this is not disagreement with your comment, as much as it is a desire to add to the conversation, to express what I believe to be our responsibilities to our service members.

        •  Well to be cynical. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          perro amarillo, Joy Busey, lgmcp

          Anyone who reads history can realize American military incursions are often based on lies.

          But that's not the point. The point is when they have the uniform on they're supposed to stay out of politics. Wasn't it Olympia Snowe we were pissed at for violating that restriction not too long ago?

          The whole point of our system is that civilians have ultimate control over the military.

          From the highest General to the lowliest Private, their job is not to decide where to fight. Their job is to think of the best ways to fight wherever the civilians tell them to.

          We shouldn't be asking the troops to attack the Commander in Chief. Once they're out if they want to do so, that's great. If you haven't noticed, many do decide to do just that.

          In the meantime everyone outside of the armed services should rail on the politicians to not carelessly send our soldiers into foreign lands. It's what's best for the country. And like I said, that's the job of the civilian.

          Eat the rich. Their toes taste like chocolate.

          by rjo on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 05:11:29 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  A substaintial number signed up to kill (0+ / 0-)

          It' a volunteer army.  What sort of person volunteers to be cannon fodder?  One who wants to experience the "thrill" of killing another human being.  Sure the proximate reasons given for volunteering are money, money for school, money, and needing a goal in life.  But there are plenty of alternatives to the military for finding such things, that don't involve killing or being killed.  At some point, EVERY person who volunteers for military service must think about being killed, and having to kill, and whether they could do it.  The ones who go through with volunteering have for some reason decided they are killers.

          There are probably a lot more sick fucks in our all-volunteer military than we realize.  Already we are getting regular reports of torture, massacres, and executions.  Are these reports the tip of the iceberg?  How many of our troops think this sort of killing is fun or thrilling?

          -7.4, -5.9 | "Ignorance and bigotry, like other insanities, are incapable of self-government." -Thomas Jefferson

          by Subterranean on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 10:09:45 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  tell that (11+ / 0-)

        to the reservists who signed up to protect america in times of crises. Not to invade and occupy another nation that posed us no threat.

        The world will end not with a bang, but with a "Do'oh!"

        by Love and Death on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 04:32:42 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  They are always free to resist (0+ / 0-)

          If enough reservists did a moral check and simply refused to go kill poor brown people, the US war machine would implode.  So what if they have to do a few years in prison?  What would you rather do, sit in a prison cell, or go to Iraq to slaughter poor people?  

          I'm tired of all this moral relativism with respect to our troops.  If a war is wrong, immoral, or even evil, then a great deal of responsibility lies in the hands of those doing the fighting and killing.  Yes, more responsibility lies with the leaders, but that doesn't absolve the soldiers of all accountability.  If the soldiers don't fight, there's no war, hence, they MUST be responsible to some extent!

          -7.4, -5.9 | "Ignorance and bigotry, like other insanities, are incapable of self-government." -Thomas Jefferson

          by Subterranean on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 10:25:00 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Do they still shoot US soldiers (0+ / 0-)

            for cowardice, for refusing to participate in battle? If not, then I agree with Subterranean, that there is no excuse for the troops' participation in immoral wartime activities.

            What if they gave a war and nobody came?

            Economic Left/Right: -6.63 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -5.85 That makes me more Gandhi than Stalin

            by TomDuncombe on Tue Mar 28, 2006 at 03:42:42 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  “War is an ugly thing, (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            We hold these truths, newfie

            but not the ugliest of things; the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war, is much worse.  A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight; nothing he cares about more than his own personal safety; is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.”

            Young men and women who think like this are the ones that I have shared the military with.  Do no condemn young people who wish to serve their country for the failings of the leadership.  The vast majority want to serve their country lawfully but unfortunately and like our greater society there are those who are not the most upstanding of society.

            "Don't hit at all if it is honorably possible to avoid hitting; but never hit soft!" - Theodore Roosevelt

            by SGT MAJOR MYERS on Tue Mar 28, 2006 at 03:50:11 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Let me say this (9+ / 0-)
        Most of those who join the Military have a great love of their country and they know that if the need arises that it has to be defended, they are willing to do that defending.


        When they signed the dotted line they signed up to kill and be killed

        You say that like you think most if not all service personel are all too happy to have a chance to kill someone. That could not be further from the truth.

        They do not join the military to kill or be killed as you say. They do understand that in the event that our country has to be defended that they have to be prepared to kill and they have to realize that they may very well be killed. There is a huge difference in that and your statement.

        We need to take care to remember also that a few bad apples in the Service does not make all service personel love going to war or torturing people etc. Most service personel are just there to do the job that someone has to do when it is needed.

        It would speak better of you to not make condensending remarks when referring to those who serve. The very freedom that you  do enjoy is because others have placed their lives on the line to preserve it for you.

        The problem comes in when our leaders decide to use the military in the wrong way and for the wrong reason  such as in the case of Iraq.

        A service persons duty is basically to follow orders becuase without that any unit is not functional. So when ordered into a fight the service person really does not have the option of saying wait a minute now are you sure this is legal or is this necessary.

        Service personel can not be expected to be consitutional experts in regards to the legal powers or other matters that determine if a war is legal or not. They have enough on the hands just trying to do the job that they have been given and stay alive.

        One more thing that we need to remember when we talk about the military personel. That is that the military is made up of people of both political party followers just as our country is and that in itself lends to some believing their party leaders when they tell them that their goal is the right one. Others have a different belief I am sure but they are in most cases united when in battle or war mode  at least it has been the case through my past experience.

        Regardless how one feels about war, we owe our service men and women a great debt for their willingness to serve our country.

        Been there and did my service.

        Many thanks to the SGT MAJOR for a very precise and well said dairy.

        The Christian fundies have forgotten one major thing about religion . If God wanted to enforce his will on people he is capable of doing it himself.

        by eaglecries on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 05:04:36 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  History disagrees with you (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          We hold these truths, blueoasis

          The large majority of American military actions have had NOTHING to do with defending America.  They are more often than not about using force to take something that will further empower America's ruling class.  

          The last war about defending America was WWII, yet our military has been very busy since then.

          -7.4, -5.9 | "Ignorance and bigotry, like other insanities, are incapable of self-government." -Thomas Jefferson

          by Subterranean on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 10:28:18 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I do not disagree with you on that however (0+ / 0-)

            I was not referring to what the military has been used for. I was in fact referring to the service personel themsleves and that they are not signing up for the "killing or be killed.

            I also stated

            The problem comes in when our leaders decide to use the military in the wrong way and for the wrong reason  such as in the case of Iraq.

            I and most everyone with any sense I am sure would love nothing better that to have a world where we never went to war or had to have a military. But while we may have used that military in the wrong way over the past decades, it does not do away with the fact that we have to have a defense force in this world we live in.  The key is that somehow we have to be insistant that the force is not used in the wrong way.

            It would completely be unwise to even think that a nation could exist free for very long in this world with all the present and future constant agressions and greed for resources( which by the way we are more and more guilty of) without a force to defend that freedom. The availablility  or shortages of vital resources will play a large roll of causing unrest and agression for years into the future.

            The Christian fundies have forgotten one major thing about religion . If God wanted to enforce his will on people he is capable of doing it himself.

            by eaglecries on Tue Mar 28, 2006 at 07:16:02 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Recommended (10+ / 0-)

    I write about this because when soldiers have to experience these things for all the right reasons it is bad.....very, very, very bad, but when they experience it for all the wrong reasons it becomes evil....very, very, very evil.

    True as bones and blood, Sgt. Major Myers. Well said and said it should be. Thank you.

    You didn't do it.

    by Earl on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 02:53:49 PM PST

  •  We have lost the idea ataht war (12+ / 0-)

    is something one does not enter lightly. We have become too complacent with years of peace, as well as fake images from movies glorifying violence, the whole macho Schwarzenegger/Bruce Willis/Sly Stallone hero bullsh*t. And don't get me started with video games full of violence and killing.
    Then we send our young men and women off to aa bogus war and it doesn't turn out like movies or video games. This shit is for real.
    You're right about life and death. I don't think there are any more profound experiences than bringing life into this world and watching it go (and causing it to go must multiply that a thousandfold). I was at my dad's side when he passed, and it is something I will never forget. And he didn't go due to violence.
    The unfortunate thing is that people like George Bush have never once, ever, had to taste disappointment, loss, hardship or fear (unless you count fear of getting caught DUI). He has no compassion for what he has put so many people through. I weep for those who have died. But I weep more for those left behind bnecause their pain is ongoing. The dead have moved on to the next level of exoistence, whatever that is.
    Mostly, I weep for the callous indiffernce to the value of human life that this administration exhibits. To them a human life is no more valuable than a kleenex.
    You're right about the evil. I have always felt that, in some way, good and evil are right here on earth with us. And when yoou start a war, you open up the very gates of hell and bring it alive. Good will triumph becuase it must. But the harm that is done, unfortunately, lives on as well. Maybe that's as it should be. It's what is supposed to make us NOT want to do such things.

    All Truth is non-partisan

    by MA Liberal on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 02:57:21 PM PST

    •  Ghengis Khan (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Topaz7

      Didn't even have the bloodiest dramatist of all, William Shakespeare (not to mention the Bible), to put violent ideas in his head.  I am of the opinion that violent drama, even comedic, is a help in this.  You can't fight ignorance by fighting information, expression, and creativity.  And it is ignorance that is the problem.

      9/11 + 4 Years = Katrina... Conservatism Kills.

      by NewDirection on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 03:18:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  George Bush did lose a little sister - (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      biscobosco, Lashe

      Robin - in 1953 when he was about 6 or 7.  That's what gauls me - he should know better - but obviously doesn't.  

      Great minds have purposes, others have wishes. Little minds are tamed and subdued by misfortune; but great minds rise above them - Washington Irving

      by Stein on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 04:00:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  have you read e.l. doctorow (7+ / 0-)

        on this?
        the president who does not mourn

        This president does not know what death is. He hasn't the mind for it.
        ...
        He does not mourn. He doesn't understand why he should mourn. He is satisfied during the course of a speech written for him to look solemn for a moment and speak of the brave young Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
        ..
        But he will dissemble feeling. He will say in all sincerity he is relieving the wealthiest 1 percent of the population of their tax burden for the sake of the rest of us...

        Have you ever read "Bush on the Couch"? If not - the account of how the family dealt with the death of his sister is sad, and revealing.

        I think they didn't even bring him to the funeral. Lots of WASP "suck it up" mentality there...  

        •  What else would expect for the spawn of the (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          biscobosco, Joy Busey, lgmcp

          woman who said she didn't want to waste her "beautiful mind" thinking about body bags?

          It's hard for me to understand the "suck it up" mentality when it comes to mourning but that is probably a result of my morbid Irish ancestry.  But your comment did help bring to mind some people I used to know.  In fact the wife reminds me of Barbara Bush.  A few years ago, a teen-aged grandchild of theirs committed suicide.  Within months, they were worried about their son because he seemed to be having a tough time moving beyond it.  I was appalled to say the least.  We have since lost contact.  

          Great minds have purposes, others have wishes. Little minds are tamed and subdued by misfortune; but great minds rise above them - Washington Irving

          by Stein on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 05:06:50 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you again for your comments and insight (8+ / 0-)

    Too few people ever confront their own mortality until right before their own deaths.  They blissfully ignore the inescapable end to life without giving thought to the journey that leads them to that destination.  They may trust in their religious beliefs to comfort tham when the time comes but a real confrontation with death often prompts reconsideration of long held beliefs.  

    I - thankfully - cannot claim to have shared your experiences.  

    But while I expect most would be glad never to face the prospect of taking another's life, I think there is value in being forced to confront your own mortality.  Few seem to ever consciously realize that (at some point, if thankfully not this second) they ARE going to die.  Those that have come close to death, whatever the circumstances, are often prompted to examine their own lives - and far more.  

    The experience provides an epiphany of sorts in some and a changed outlook on the value of life.  Too often those in high places view deaths as mere numbers, oblivious to the individual impact each has on so many.

  •  Something so awful (9+ / 0-)

    ... is written into the very sinews of the nervous system. It is why trauma can never be expunged. But the brutal fact of it is open for some meaningful action.

    It is what we DO with our lives and our thoughts and our emotions that matters.

    With this, and other diaries you have written, you have made meaningful homage and penance for all you have suffered.

    We need to say it straight, as you have.

    The war in Iraq is evil. The people that started it are evil, because they have knowingly perpetuated suffering and death.

    "... the laborers still form an incoherent mass scattered over the whole country, and broken up by their mutual competition."

    by Valtin on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 03:01:27 PM PST

    •  Good post (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sc kitty, Valtin, sbdenmon, Lashe

      Bushco are terrorists, at home and abroad. Greed, thievery, lying, hypocrisy, heresy, conceit, arrogance, selfishness, sadism, cowardice.  Evil incarnate.  They wouldn't walk across the street to protect the American people if there weren't personal gain in the effort.

    •  That's why (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lgmcp

      IMHO at least, it's worthwhile to have government leaders who have seen active combat, because they know the horrors it will cause, from all facets as expressed by Sgt. Maj. Meyers.


      Bush, Cheney, and their gang of thugs all ran away from Viet Nam, and the closest they came to actual combat was through war movies and headlines.  But that didn't stop them from rushing to send our young men and women into combat without any valid reason or strategy.


      Yet if we challenge the war, our patriotism is questioned.  It's a pretty sad state of affairs, and hopefully the media and grassroots efforts can not only expose this inept lying administration for what it is, but put in a responsible government too.

      Get your Free Mac Mini, you know you want one.

      by Bush B Gone on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 03:50:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Death Of The Family Farm In America (11+ / 0-)

    Doubtless has something to do with this.
    On the one hand I pause before drawing any equivalency between the killing of a domesticated animal and a human being. Of course the feelings and the fact of the matter are different in kind and degree... But not, I suppose, entirely.
    I have never killed a person but unlike most Americans today, I have killed many animals up close and personal. That is an experience, if only to witness, that at one time in the not-so-distant past, many Americans, even in urban settings, had.
    An experience which at the very least makes it a very dark thought to imagine a human meeting slaughter. Video dramatizations are not similar to the impact of any real death, they are nothing one way or the other in my opinion. Not desensitizing and not preparatory.

    In any case, I tend to look for nonlinear solutions to problems... I think that if field trips to slaughterhouses were a normal part of a senior-year high school education, that we would get into fewer wars over the following decades.

    9/11 + 4 Years = Katrina... Conservatism Kills.

    by NewDirection on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 03:14:26 PM PST

    •  I once posited a question (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Subterranean, grndrush, biscobosco, Lashe

      How different would our nation be if you had to have accomplished the experience of taking the life of each type of animal that you wanted to eat. Only one, mind you, but how many people would bother to kill a steer in order to be able to eat hamburger the rest of their life?

      Its a different angle from what you suggest, but I think would lead to the same outcome. It's almost impossible to really learn compassion at a deep level without directly experiencing suffering at a comparable level.

      I've always been a huge advocate for public executions - preempt everything on TV for them - run them at 6PM. I wonder how many people would continue to support capital punishment if they and their kids were subjected to that on a regular basis. As it is - out of sight out of mind.

      "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins." - Mencken

      by johnsonwax on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 04:36:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Public hangings were the norm (2+ / 0-)

        in Europe for many many centuries,unless they happened to be using beheading instead.  

        I guess you could argue it worked, since those countries don't do that anymore, but I think that might be forcing the point.  The practice went on for an awfully long time, and by all accounts usually had a rather grisly and festive atmosphere, with packed crowds cheering.

        I fear your nightly news approach would tend to DE-sensitize rather than the reverse.  

        The initiatory killing of a meat animal, however, as a one-time, first-time experience, has a shocking and memorable effect. Poultry and pigs I've helped slaughter didn't stop me eating meat, but did help me take it a LOT more seriously.  

        The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function -- Edward Teller.

        by lgmcp on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 08:09:11 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Death was the norm (0+ / 0-)

          during that time as well.

          Most families had at least one child die early in life - some multiple. Exposure to death was common - so what's an execution or two?

          But most people today aren't exposed to that - maybe they're home when grandma dies in their sleep or something like that, but most people aren't exposed to violent or sudden death. There's nothing routine to death to most folks. Unfortunately, I've seen a disproportionate amount of death for someone who doesn't encounter it as part of their job - it sticks with you as you describe.

          So I don't think the public execution would desensitize. For the vast majority of people it would be there first encounter with death and it happens so infrequently that I imagine few would really get used to it.

          "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins." - Mencken

          by johnsonwax on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 08:31:42 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  This is America we're talking about (0+ / 0-)

            I fear that public, televised executions would merely serve to rouse the ogres and troglodytes to greater passion.

            The corporate media would prepare the masses with 24-7 "documentaries" on all the horrible crimes perpetrated by their star.  The night before the beheading, someone like O'Reilly would get an EXCLUSIVE one-on-one interview with the "monster," and would spend his time verbally berating the subject.  By the time of the televised beheading, Americans would be stuffing their faces with pizza and guzzling beer in anticipation of the event, all a-twitter with glee that the criminal was about to get "it".  

            It would be an event to compete in the scope of its hype with the Superbowl.  Vast sums of money would be made off of such a beheading.

            Would Americans be better for it?

            -7.4, -5.9 | "Ignorance and bigotry, like other insanities, are incapable of self-government." -Thomas Jefferson

            by Subterranean on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 10:57:38 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Better for it? (0+ / 0-)

              Probably not. It'd surely wedge the public more than currently. One problem we have in resolving these issues is that too many people just don't care, so the politicians play the center against each side.

              If it played out your way, then I would have to hope that the parallel between the US and Saudi Arabia would cause the rest of the world to take notice.  

              But I'm not as cynical about the public reaction as you.

              "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins." - Mencken

              by johnsonwax on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 11:06:18 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  It's not cynicism, it's experience (0+ / 0-)

                I saw how the public ate up Bush's warmongering.  How engrossed they were in learning all about our technological terrors to be unleashed on the Iraqis.  

                I see how Americans vote.  Lowest common denominator.

                I see how Americans do in school, right at the bottom of industrialized nations.

                If you're more optimistic, that's cool, but please don't call me a cynic and turn your nose up at me.

                -7.4, -5.9 | "Ignorance and bigotry, like other insanities, are incapable of self-government." -Thomas Jefferson

                by Subterranean on Tue Mar 28, 2006 at 12:25:18 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I didn't turn my nose up at you (0+ / 0-)

                  I simply commented that you were more cynical than I on this. There's nothing wrong with that and if your experience bears it out then perhaps you're more qualified in your cynicism than I am in my optimism.

                  "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins." - Mencken

                  by johnsonwax on Tue Mar 28, 2006 at 12:38:34 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

      •  I Agree With THat Too (0+ / 0-)

        I've thought the same thing and in fact I am a vegetarian in part for that reason. I once saw a documentary on slaughterhouses by the way, wherein the shellshocked workers who could on average hack no more than two years at that occupation, with some frequency could no longer eat meat.

        9/11 + 4 Years = Katrina... Conservatism Kills.

        by NewDirection on Tue Mar 28, 2006 at 07:18:05 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Brilliant post (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      We hold these truths, kurt

      I'm reminded of the first deer I killed.  I used to hunt deer in high school, with bow and arrow.  Not any more, more because of the sort of people that hunt rather than any moral problems with it.  I just got sick of seeing hunters kill for the sake of killing, of walking in the forest and finding all sorts of animals killed and left to rot, all for the enjoyment of some stupid redneck.  

      I learned a few things when hunting, such as, If you shoot an animal, don't leave it to rot, it is wasteful and disrespectful to the animal.  The last deer I killed, I tracked for 6 hours before finding it.  

      I remember my first deer kill, it was a great shot at 45 yards (with a bow, that's pretty good), and I cried.  My dad's friend who was helping me gut the deer thought I was nuts, "I was hooping and hollering when I got my first deer, aren't you happy?"  Well I was, but I had also taken a life, and that's nothing to be happy about.  

      We always butchered our own deer, and ate the meat.  The experience gave me a closer tie to the land and nature, and to the fragility of human existence.  To think that not to long ago, a bad year for deer hunting may have meant starvation to humans, makes one grateful for our society's abundance of food.  

      Eh, off topic I guess, but your post was so good I had to say something.  :)

      -7.4, -5.9 | "Ignorance and bigotry, like other insanities, are incapable of self-government." -Thomas Jefferson

      by Subterranean on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 10:39:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Sgt, Major... (16+ / 0-)

    ...when I joined the Army in 1980 I signed up for the medical service corps primairly because I didn't want to be in a position where I would have to pull a trigger and take the life of another human. I consider the taking of human life a greater tradgey than being killed. I have great sorrow for those who have to perform this act for thier nation, thier burden is one I could not endure. I am not a coward in the sense that I wouldn't lay my life down for the right cause, and I would take up arms if an invading hostile force were present  in my neighborhood. I take exception to our leaders who send our troops into a "pre-emptive" war with little regard of the costs our soldiers must bear.

  •  And then there are the civilians (19+ / 0-)

    I am deeply sorry for the terrible things that the Bush administration has forced our soldiers to see and to do. War is a horror of absolute last resort. It is not a diplomatic tool to be used to try to seek personal revenge or reshape the world based on some warped neocon fantasy.

    I hope you understand, Sgt Major Myers, that I truly mean no disrespect when I ask readers here to also try thinking for a moment about what it might be like to be an unarmed civilian in a war zone.

    Where you can't do anything to shield your children from seeing people murdered regularly before their eyes. Where kids have seen their teacher's brain splattered all over the blackboard during a school day, or some friends blown up as they were trying to play a game of soccer. Where a mother's child is shot to death by a sniper while she was holding him (yes, this happened to the cousin of a friend. As you might imagine, the mother was never the same.)

    Where you don't have any organization bringing you food and fuel, but you've got to figure out how to feed your family each day without being killed, even though you have no job and no money. Where you don't have weapons to try to protect your loved ones or yourself.

    War is not a video game, or a John Wayne movie, or a political tool. It is a horrific obscenity. So many killed, so many maimed, so many scarred emotionally and physically. And for each victim, a circle of people who love them who also suffer.

  •  Thanks Sarge (8+ / 0-)

    I'm living in dread of the days to come. The days after the war. The days when our folks come home and we pick up the pieces.  The American pieces here, the Iraqi pieces there. The worst truly is yet to come. The inflamation and the pain after the shock recedes. The ugly looks to be 100 stories high. You  know what I mean?  

    •  The pieces (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Stein, FindingMyVoice

      As someone who was a child when during the Vietnam war (I am 46 now), I lived a lot of it vicariously through my sister, who is 12 years older than I.  She dated draft dodgers, knew guys who fled to Canada, and all that.  I've also raad a good bit about it.

      There is a lot that's appalling about that war, and thee is a lot that's appalling about the Iraq war.  One thing, though, that was appalling was done by liberals, and that is the mistreatment of the troops on their return.  This should be our watchword now.  

      Not only is treating the returning troops with respect the decent thing to do, it is also the expedient thing to do. I have seen lots of theories about why the Republicans and Conservatives have been in ascendance.  One I don't see often (I can't recall seeing it at all) is the way the returning troops were treated.

      In the TV show Taxi, there was a scene where Jim (a very zonked out graduate of the 60s) meets Tony, a war veteran.  Jim starts talking about how dumb the war was.  Tony says "The only reason you guys could protest here was because we were over there doing your fighting for you.  What do you say to that?"

      and Jim says

      "Thank you"

      well, I can't thank many returning troops, because I don't know many - and none in person.

      But Thank You Sergeant Major, and thanks to all the troops who are serving.  Now, let's thank them even more by bringing them all home

      "Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants, and the creed of slaves." William Pitt

      by plf515 on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 05:24:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Back then the media did its job (0+ / 0-)

        And Americans understood that their troops were not fighting a heroic struggle for freedom.  I suspect that is in part why some people mistreated the returning soldiers.  They believed, wrongly, that every soldier was guilty of war crimes.  

        This does raise an interesting question, however.  If a war is criminal, if a war of aggression is a war crime, then what of its participants?  Without our troops, there could be no war of aggression and thus no war crime.  All there would be is a government in disarray because the troops refused to go on a search and slaughter mission in another poor country.

        I don't know what to make of it all, but I'm not about to worship every returning vet as some sort of hero.  "Just following orders" only goes so far with me.  But I would never assume that a vet was a war criminal, either.  The few Iraqi vets I've met, I've thanked for their service, and let them guide the conversation lest I say something about the war that offends them.  

        -7.4, -5.9 | "Ignorance and bigotry, like other insanities, are incapable of self-government." -Thomas Jefferson

        by Subterranean on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 11:07:13 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  There are no simple truths. (0+ / 0-)

    The reality of our misguided war in Iraq is far more complicated.  The realities of the wars I fought in, and presumably the wars you fought in, were more complex than the simplistic nonsense bandied about by those who did not fight in them.

    I have seen atrocities, committed by all sides in war.  I have seen atrocities since I was a boy, watching the Biafran War unfold around me, as a gang of Hausas hacked an Ibo man to death in Kano on the opening day of that war.  I have seen refugee camps full of the alienated, vacant faces of the victims of war.  I have seen the mounds of dead awaiting burial.  I have carried away the dead, dug their graves and buried them.

    I have no patience with those who would reduce this war in Iraq to a simple evil, any more than I countenance George Bush's simplistic lies which led us into this war.  War is mankind's natural state, and the veneer of civilization is very thin.  There are no good guys, and there never were.  To say this war is an unmitigated evil is mere Hollywood:  Saddam Hussein was a genocidal monster, and unless you are willing to see him back in power, transferring power to his Caligula-esque sons, do not speak of unmitigated evil.  The democracy now enjoyed by the living of Iraq is no small thing.

    Cynical?  Hateful?  Insane?  Yeah, probably I am.  But I must confess to a low chuckle at the idea of rational thinking human beings:  they do not exist.  Do not be deluded, o Kossacks.  It is an ill wind which blows nobody any good, and the vast majority of Iraqis will tell you so.

    People are usually more convinced by reasons they discovered themselves than by those found by others.

    by BlaiseP on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 03:20:24 PM PST

    •  Are you out of your mind? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lazybum

      "democracy enjoyed by the Iraqi people"?  

      You are repeating the GOP talking points.  By most measures, Iraqis have harder, more dangerous lives now than they did under Saddam.  Free and democratic?  Is it freedom when you cannot let your sister go outside alone at any time, for fear she will be raped and killed?  Is it freedom to go without water and electricity?

      Is it freedom to live under Sharia law, under the code of the Koran?  To have to cover all exposed skin, so that you arouse no men, giving them excuse to rape you and then stone you to death?

      What about the 100,000+ Iraqis who are dead because of the war?  Are their families enjoying their newfound freedom?  

      Is a nation truly free when it is controlled by a heavily armed foreign occupying force?  Is that possible?  Free and under military control?  

      I understand that your viewpoint is one which many troops have been brainwashed to believe (although it didn't take much brainwashing to make them believe it), but isn't there some point that a soldier realizes he is killing poor people who never did anything to the US, never threatened the US, and were even enemies of Al Qaeda?  Or is such a reality too painful for our troops to grasp, when they are forced to continue on their rampage of death and destruction?

      -7.4, -5.9 | "Ignorance and bigotry, like other insanities, are incapable of self-government." -Thomas Jefferson

      by Subterranean on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 11:18:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I am doing no such thing. (0+ / 0-)

        I fear you are unwilling to see the facts.  The GOP is in horrible disarray over this war, the Administration's talking points are not mine.  I have made that clear enough.  Yet for every well-constructed lie, there is a nugget of truth within it.

        The people of Iraq, people I know well, Kurds especially, are simply thrilled by what's happened.  I translate the Azzaman newspaper for the benefit of this forum, and I will not have some half-baked lunatic tell me what's up in Iraq.  What do you really know of Iraq?  When you've drunk a hundred liters of Iraqi water, you can tell me what's up.

        It is interesting that you would mention rape.  Saddam's sons, especially considering the foul reputation of Uday and Qusay Hussein.  As for the freedom to go without water and electricity, take that matter up with your precious jihadis, who you clearly find to be Fine Upstanding Patriots, for it is they who are cutting the lines, and blowing up the oil pipelines.

        As for sharia law, I have lived under it.  You may not find it to your tastes, but they find our treatment of women equally abominable.  Our pornography especially is repellent to Muslims.  Iraqi women have the right to vote, and may I add in passing, Shiism has made startling advances in the separation of Mosque and State, and in the rights of women and foreigners.  Again, you really ought to read more Arabic, or Farsi, for such twaddle would not escape your fingers.  Islamic societies such as the horrible Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan reflect the cultures of misogyny which harbour these ideas.  Our Christian society abuses women and children, too.  Shall I call every crime against women and the oppressed in this country a direct reflection of our Judaeo-Christian heritage?  In like manner, do not be so quick to heap abuse on Islam, for you do not understand it.  Our own culture changed, Islam is changing too, and the only long-term certainty related to the outcome of this war is the attenuation of the influence of the imams.  Marja Sistani has resolutely informed his followers Islam has no place in government, for religion is the province of absolutes, and politics is perforce the province of compromise.  In short, "sharia law" in Iraq means no more than "In God We Trust" on your currency.  Islam has no Pope, no Rota, the only required statement of any Muslim is this:

        <div style="text-align: right;">لا إله إلا الله محمد رسول ال

        </div>

        Nothing else is anything but cultural, in Islam.  Even the Holy Qu'ran is interpreted in many ways.

        You forget, in the course of Saddam's rule, the hundreds of thousands who died in his vicious and unprovoked wars against Iran and Kuwait.  I was soldiering during those years, and Saddam turned Iraq into a charnel house.  He flew SCUD missiles into Israel.  He gassed his Kurds.  He murdered his clerics, including the father and aunt of Moktada Sadr.  These are not GOP talking points, they are the simple truths of the equation.  Saddam is gone, and Iraq is a manifestly better place.  That the erstwhile Baathists wish to create enough havoc to regain their grip on Iraq concerns you not a whit.  The jihadis, too, are a Heavily Armed Foreign Force, and they have killed far more Iraqis than American forces.

        One thing about myself, I do not toe anyone's line but my own.  Read my sig, I am as much a Democrat as you are.  However, I do not believe you are much on Human Rights, despite your feckless protests about burkhas and salafi sharia.  As a soldier, I was in the service of this country, and I saved far more lives than I took.  I fought for the rights of man, something you will never understand.

        People are usually more convinced by reasons they discovered themselves than by those found by others.

        by BlaiseP on Tue Mar 28, 2006 at 08:27:38 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  This should be required reading (7+ / 0-)

    for every American who has only seen the sanitized version of the war through the media. Most have no concept of the tragedy of taking another human's life and or having ones friends and family die violently. Thank you so much for these poignant words. They have touched me on a very deep level.

  •  The Evil Aspect (2+ / 0-)

    This administration has been fast to pin the "Evil" tag on everything and everyone they disagree with, but no one seems to question their definition of evil.  The pResident owes us an explanation of what he means by Axis of Evil.

    I like your definition of evil.  It comes in many forms and perhaps terrorism is a symptom in many cases.  But you have attached the Evil tag to this administration in a perfectly logical and understandable way.  Now, that is something worth getting into other people's heads.  I can think of quite a few I know whom I could shame into accepting this.  As AdvisorJim says, it starts by opening a crack...

    Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power. - Lao Tzu

    by FLDemJax on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 03:35:01 PM PST

  •  just a great, great diary. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    grndrush

    thanks again.

    Your diaries have been real powerful lately.

  •  The local news ran a story about the funeral... (5+ / 0-)

    of a local young man who was killed in Iraq.  I saw the story over the w/e.

    The soldier left behind a wife and 2 young kids.  They have suffered a loss that we can only imagine.  They have a void in their lives that can never be filled b/c of a war that was initiated for bad reasons and is being continued for worse reasons.

    As much as I hate this war, it's occasionally hard for me to get my arms around what is really happening.  As bad as it is in the abstract, it's much worse in the concrete.  Every day, lives are being cut short b/c of oil, b/c of hunger for power, and b/c of neocon fantasies.

    I really have a hard time dealing w/ that fact.

    Some men see things as they are and ask why. I see things that never were and ask why not?

    by RFK Lives on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 03:49:13 PM PST

  •  Thank you Sgt Major (4+ / 0-)

    for eloquently sharing your thoughts.  

    As a child I witnessed and experienced the unexplained collapse and sudden death of a sibling.

    It was in the late 60's & Vietnam.  While the news brought death to our house almost daily, nothing could prepare me for the pain I felt.  

    Then, within a couple of years, my "appointed" big brother was drafted.  That was a year of hell for me waiting for his return.  (I realize it wasn't great for him either.)

    Thankfully, he did return but those two experiences have colored how I view war.  People die.  And when they die, they leave behind others who mourn the loss.  War is something that should never be entered into lightly but it appears it was this time - with no thought to the "survivors" and it angers me greatly.  

    Each Sunday, when I watch the "In Memoriam" on This Week, I stop and pay homage to the men & women who have given their lives in the name of this war.  And my heart breaks for those left behind...

    Great minds have purposes, others have wishes. Little minds are tamed and subdued by misfortune; but great minds rise above them - Washington Irving

    by Stein on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 03:51:13 PM PST

  •  I am nauseated at times (11+ / 0-)

    when I hear the rationale that the number of troops killed so far is miniscule compared to Vietnam, WWII, or other conflicts. When I read or hear the stories of the individual soldiers killed it becomes blatantly apparent that they are not a number and the loss cannot be quantified for their families. We frequently acknowledge the service of our troops and I hope that we acknowledge them as individuals with dreams and ambitions as well. The Right may see yellow car magnets as sufficiently patriotic but I believe that our shared grief for the wasted lives seems the most appropriate way to support the troops.

    Bitter Fruit by Paul Frusco

    Faces Of The Fallen - WaPo

    •  There is a Jewish saying (9+ / 0-)

      From the Talmud, I believe

      He who save one soul saves the entire world

      there is also the rule called Pikuach Nefesh, which essentially says that saving a life trumps everything else.  You are allowed (indeed, obligated) to eat on Yom Kippur if fasting endangers your life, as an example.

      Both these are saying what you are saying.  Human life is sacred, if anything is, and saying that any number of deaths is miniscule is abhorent, disgusting, and sinful.

      Let me close this with two more Jewish quotes:

      From a rabbi whose name I don't recall just now

      "Most men are worried about their own bellies, and other people's souls.  They ought to be worried about their own souls, and other people's bellies"

      and, from Hillel

      If I am not for myself, who is for me?
      If I am for myself alone, what am I?
      If not now, when?

      "Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants, and the creed of slaves." William Pitt

      by plf515 on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 05:29:39 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Check out the casuality # (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Distaste for Dissent

      It is about 25,000, which is I believe higher than the casualty figure for the 3rd year of our presence in Vietnam.  

      The kill to wounded ratio is lower than for any previous war, but many of the wounded are going to return and wish they were dead.  Many will kill themselves, rather than face life as cripples, both physically and emotionally.

      So the KIA #s are pretty misleading when it comes to calculating the losses of the war.  The media are content to cover for Bushco on this one, but someday the truth is going to be unavoidable, and Americans are going to have to deal with a lot of angry vets who aren't being cared for properly.  Once Bush can't use them for photo ops, he'd just as soon get rid of them.

      -7.4, -5.9 | "Ignorance and bigotry, like other insanities, are incapable of self-government." -Thomas Jefferson

      by Subterranean on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 11:25:37 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Also, You Have To (YUK) Take Into Account.... (0+ / 0-)

        ....the "civilian" deaths of those in Halliburton, etc., as the reason the they are being used so much is to keep the actual death toll low.  I also heard something a while back about deaths that happen in say, a German hospital, as a result of wounds from an Iraqi battlefield, are NOT counted among the official death toll.  Don't know whatever came of that now, but apparently the same thing happened in Vietnam, then when people caught wind of it, the death toll nearly doubled overnight.  Anyone know the validity of this?

  •  War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning (0+ / 0-)

    by Chris Hedges is required reading. He's a NYTimes war reporter who's seen a lot and has a similar tone. The book was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Here's a link.

    Thanks for the diary!

    [RED/GLARE]

    For business reasons, I must preserve the outward sign of sanity.

    --Mark Twain

    by redglare on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 04:16:21 PM PST

  •  Another person who has seen lots of war... (0+ / 0-)

    ...is Robert Fisk.

    Watch this brief interview where Fisk discusses the reality of this unjust war and its impact on inciting terror:

    Exclusive Interview With Robert Fisk: Robert Fisk explains how and why terrorism is spreading

  •  My brother served two tours of duty in Vietnam (15+ / 0-)

    when he first came home, he had nightmares, and would wake up screaming. Yet he wouldn't talk about it. That was so many years ago, but to this day, he still will not talk about it. He's not the same person he was before, what ever happened to him in Vietnam, we will never know. God Bless you SGT MAJOR MEYER.

  •  Please get this man on TV. (6+ / 0-)

    A microphone, a television camera, and fifteen minutes on the evening news.

    I see them bound by a philosophy with plans and tactics to impose their will on other countries. - G. Bush, on terrorists, 3/21/06

    by Yellow Canary on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 04:24:24 PM PST

  •  It's Too Much To Bear (11+ / 0-)

    Sgt. Major thank you for your words and  bless your heart for all your efforts to help us all understand here.

    Every evening I see the faces of the dead soldiers in silence in the nightly news on NPT. They are never silent for me. My mind is screaming WHY and cursing the people that put them in harms way for nothing. I think of the horrors they faced every day and the innocent people of Iraq that died that day too. It's too much and I wonder how our soldiers bear it. (while the chickenhawks dig into their lobsters and laugh counting all the money they made scamming us all) It's too much. There is no justice and the whole world watches and knows. It's just too much!

  •  Justice (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    biscobosco, FindingMyVoice

    I can only hope that those who placed our warriors in psychic and physical peril on a lie will, someday and somehow, be held in moral accountability.

    "In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

    by Five of Diamonds on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 04:44:46 PM PST

  •  At heart, all great writing (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    biscobosco, Joy Busey, blueoasis

    ...is about death, and how we process and assign meaning to that, according to former poet laureate Billy Collins. Your diary helps prove him out.

    What is to become of those who've seen death from all angles when they return to discover a government they served refuses to serve them?

  •  I firmly believe this: (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Stein, Ahianne, Patricia Taylor, peraspera

    because

    ...when soldiers have to experience these things for all the right reasons it is bad.....very, very, very bad, but when they experience it for all the wrong reasons it becomes evil....very, very, very evil.

    The American experience in Iraq is evil.  It is evil because the American people were lied to, misled, and deceived into an unnecessary illegal preemptive war...

    no matter what politicians try to do, no matter if the most honest man in America becomes our next President, if we as a nation don't admit this invasion was built on the quicksand of lies, our service people will not succeed over there.  Anything that is built on lies will not prosper. It may look good in the short term but in the long term it will always fail because it is without truth. Therefore the only right response to Iraq is admit the truth and then get out of there.  

    Abu Ghraib is another symptom of the lies this invasion was built upon.  Where there is lying  there is confusion and every evil.

    I am rambling...I guess I just should say thank you  SGT Major for putting something into words that I have been thinkiing about for a long time.

    I have discovered a rare species: Democraticus vertebrus var. Feingoldii

    by zett on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 05:05:47 PM PST

    •  Anything of permerance.... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      biscobosco, testvet6778

      ...has to be constructed on a solid foundation. The case for this war is a house of cards supported by layer upon layer of lies. Evidence abounds.
       Something that really got to me was watching privates being convicted of prisoner abuse while thier cowardly leaders sat back and let them take the fall. Real leaders stand up for thier soldiers. I firmly believe the orders to torture came from the higest offices yet privates are doing the time.

  •  Sgt. Major Myers... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Stein, peraspera

    Sgt. Major Myers...

    Only those who have experienced these things can know the full truth of your words about the inexpressible. But you sure do a pretty darned good job of expressing it anyway! Thank you.

  •  A devoted fan (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    peraspera, We hold these truths

    of your writing and of this site. This type of brilliantly focused honesty is pure and piercing light that guides us all through these dark dark times.

    Truth alone may not be enough to save us, but without the light of truth like this, we would sure be lost already.

    Thank you Sgt.

    You can't get away with the crunch, 'cuz the crunch always gives you away

    by dnamj on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 05:26:26 PM PST

  •  No comment from me. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    biscobosco, Patricia Taylor

    This simple statement tells it all.

    "When people die it is because their leaders have failed.  That is simple truth."

    Thanks Sgt Mgr.

  •  Sergeant Major I I salute you a disabled vet (7+ / 0-)

    I wish they would impeach Cheney Rummy for using chemical weapons on elisted men in 1975 when they were in Fords White House, everyone forgets the DA IG report of 1975 http://www1.va.gov/...  and Cheney was Chief of Staff for Ford, Rumsfeld was Sec of Defense and George H W Bush was head of the CIA when human experimentation was stopped by executive order, the CIA and DDOD were funding the chemical and drug experiments on  America's enlisted men in 1975,  sarin, mustard  LSD, PCP  etc  read page 14 and 15 of this manual  to see comments about the violations of the Nuremburg Codes of 1947 http://www1.va.gov/... and then see Lane Evans letter to Sec Nicholson of the VA on 28 April  and his reply on 5 Oct 2005  and how he helped Rummy and Cheney and W bury this again here  
    http://veterans.house.gov/...   these men are dispicable and what happened to "A promise made is a Promise Kept"?  Lies  lies and more lies  Army Inf 73-82  and GW1  Sergeant Major thanks for posting this, not all miltary people approve of how this war has been handled and you stated the position well  Huuah

  •  More proof of lies. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Superpole, lgmcp, testvet6778

    For those who haven't seen this yet, the NYT has yet another Bush-Blair meeting memo to report.

    Bush decided in January of 2003 to invade regardless of inspection outcome.  This British memo also has Bush contemplating more lies to provoke the war including painting a US plane in UN colors for a target and assassinating Hussein.

    "In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

    by Five of Diamonds on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 06:04:09 PM PST

  •  if someone doesn't stop him Iran is next? Can our (0+ / 0-)

    great great granchildren afford it?  They will still be paying off this war it looks like....

  •  I Doubt That Those Dead (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sockpuppet, TXsharon, FindingMyVoice

    already in Iraq want any other soldiers or civilians to follow them.

    There is no honor in that.

  •  Thank ;you (0+ / 0-)

    There is nothing one can add to your elegy.

  •  come on now (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sockpuppet, testvet6778, blueoasis

    i like my news to be sanitized. why can't you talk about puppies and flowers and pretty missing white women like the news is supposed to do?

    Help me retire to Hawaii by age 30! Pimp my site Simple Vegetarian Recipes!

    by OrangeClouds115 on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 06:41:40 PM PST

  •  Witness Every Day (7+ / 0-)

    One way that I make this war real and personal, every single day is to visit RubDMC's Iraq War Grief Daily Diary.  Some days are more difficult than other days and some times I feel utterly hopeless but then I remind myself how the people, our troops and the Iraqis, who are living this every day feel.  Most days I read it and cry.

    I remember the first day in Crawford, TX when there were only a handful of us in a ditch, in the hot, hot sun with fire ants and chiggers.  The sheriff told us that it was dangerously hot and we should give it up.  He said that we had made our statement but now we were going to get sick from the heat.  I asked him how hot he thought it was right now in Iraq where our children were.  He just nodded and shut up!

    The Christian Right is neither Witness Every Day

    by TXsharon on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 07:03:17 PM PST

  •  asdf (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    biscobosco, sockpuppet, testvet6778

    Having politicians who have never walked in the valley of death send troops thru it based on deceit, is profoundly immoral.  Then to think that they got into office based on their 'integrity and values' is profoundly deceitful to top it off.  Still now people cheer for them, they disgust me.
    How many troops will take their lives or live in  a PTSD world for the rest of their lives when they get back?  If they get back.

    A legacy of death, lies and incompetence with the sign of the cross.

    by FreeTradeIsYourEpitaph on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 07:30:50 PM PST

  •  I have not taken the life of a human, (7+ / 0-)

    but have participated in the mercy killing of pets. Not quite the same but similar.

    I have held the body of our dead baby daughter in my arms.

    Each was a peaceful death, but one cannot look on the face of death without being changed. Each death was very hard to deal with. I cannot conceive of what a horror it would have been to witness death by violence.

    It is very important for us to take good care of our veterans. They have given us more than most of us can even bear to think on. They deserve our undying thanks for what they have done, and what they have tried to do.

    One nation, under surveillance, no liberty, nor justice for us

    by SisTwo on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 07:31:28 PM PST

  •  Haud maioribus verum exsisto (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FindingMyVoice

    No greater truth can be told.

    Thank you, Sergeant Major!

    Is private credit the friend and patron of industry? -- The Federalist Papers, No. 15, Alexander Hamilton

    by NBBooks on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 07:43:34 PM PST

  •  No (0+ / 0-)

    War. Let's make war history. Never needed, never persued. I'm talking about all forms of war, not just the organized military kind. Come on! What-a you say?

  •  Please Move to My District (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kurt

    And run for congress. Thank you.

    George W. Bush is just like Forrest Gump. Except that Forrest Gump is honest and cares about other people.

    by easong on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 08:14:50 PM PST

  •  When people die, it's because (3+ / 0-)

    someone wanted to kill them, and succeeded.  In the 3 years and 2200+ body bags spent in Iraq, 42,000 American citizens were murdered by their own kind.  It is the farthest thing from a noble cause, and no patriotism attaches to the coffin, whether pine or bronze.

    Absolutely and without question it's madness to have people die for Bush and Halliburton.  My brother died because a skinhead got stoned and drunk, had a fight with his girlfriend, decided to kill himself but then changed his mind and went to "take the world down with me."  I blogged about this, lots of oh, that's awful, but that wasn't the point.  My point was to use real experience in arguing about the death penalty, and the PTSD I suffered for 10 years was introduced not for self-aggrandizement, but to put out a slice of life.

    I remember a few months back when dailyKos all of a sudden discovered PTSD - because soldiers weren't being treated properly by the VA.  Well, yeah, that's a bitch, and there are 40,000 others over that time period who need treatment and don't get it.  The estimate is that maybe 25% of people with severe depression ever get treatment.  I'd imagine that's quite high compared to PTSD patients.  I mean, someone who sees a screwdriver being rammed through his brother's eyes in a continual loop - well, that's just nuts.  He's fucked up, man.  Fuckin jumps out of bed screaming at night!

    I'll respect Sgt. Major, but I'm not fawning, and no one's going to "salute my bravery in facing the truth".  And you don't have to be a soldier to go through all the shit described here.  I faced the truth.  I wiped my brother's brains off his checkbook in a closed-up house in July, in Florida.  The stench was overpowering as they say.  I'd say it knocks you backwards.  But I did what was needed to take care of things - because he would have done it for me.  He would have gotten drunk, but he would have done it.  I took a special pleasure in ripping off the yellow crime scene tape, because I had been barred from the house for months because of "evidence concerns".  Dude, the screwdriver was embedded in the man's neck.  There's your evidence, asshole.  The trial was over, the skinhead given a leg up in the world, with the guarantee of three hots and a cot for life, and the chance to tie up Florida's overloaded "justice" system with 6 chances to appeal.

    Did I want him to die?  Are you nuts?  Of course I did, and I still do.  And you know what?  For $100 I could have made it happen in 1995.  A serious guy made a serious offer, but I didn't take him up on it, because we don't do things like that.  They say you don't know until you go into combat whether you really can kill.  Well, I know.  I don't like that part of me, but if attacked with deadly force, I will kill without hesitation.  None.

    And you know what's different?  My clothes.  I'm wearing blue jeans and a sweatshirt, not a uniform.  Yes, 2000 soldiers is a lot of people.  And 40,000 more non-soldiers is a small city.

    "You! What planet is this?!" Leonard McCoy, MD

    by moltar on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 09:26:04 PM PST

    •  But... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sockpuppet, We hold these truths

      We do salute your bravery. The horror is not confined to war. Quoting the Sgt. Major:

      The lose of a loved one is also something that cannot be communicated to another person.  It is something that can only be truly understood when experienced and even then can not be truly shared.  And even within that larger group that has experienced such lose there are subgroups of those who have lost their loved ones, friends, and acquaintances through violence, accidents, suicide, and natural death. Even these groups cannot share the different types and levels of grief, deep pain, anxiety, and anger they experience after such an event.

      I simply can not imagine what would happen to me if someone close suffered such a fate. Please accept  my condolances and best wishes for your future.

  •  Thanks, Sarge (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SLJ, 42

    All your posts are very touching. It's heartening to hear a military man speak as candidly as you do about the evil of war, the horrifying experiences everyone in a battle zone is forced to experience, and the fact that we are engaged in a grossly illegal conflict we started. I thank you, both for the horrors you've unfortunately experienced, and carry around with you every day, in the course of defending our Liberty, and for having the courage to stand up and be counted as a member of the reality-based community which recognizes just how wrong and evil this conflict is.

    A very miniscule few come back from the pull of death mostly broken and maimed, but those are the miniscule few.

    I'm having trouble understanding exactly what you mean here?

    Now you may ask why I am posting this diary on a political blog site.

    LOL. I doubt anyone on this site (besides a troll) would ask such a question. It's ENTIRELY appropriate.

    ...I believe that any rational, thinking human being capable of speaking, hearing, seeing and reading should know all of these things by now.

    One would think so, eh? But 30%+ of 'us'...

    Bush B Gone's Golda Meir quote reminded me of something someone long ago once said to me: "People talk about being willing to die for their country. That's not what they are asked to do. They are asked to KILL for their country." So true.

    Lastly. An extremely uncomfortable thought has found its way into my head over the past few years. Europe, Africa, Asia and numerous other locales have experienced war on their own soil at some time during the last, say, 70 years. They have some idea, if not directly, from their parents or grandparents, of the horrors of war.

    The US hasn't had a battle on its own turf since the Civil War - 140 years ago. I'm coming to the extremely unpleasant conclusion that the imperialistic desires of much of this country will not be snuffed out until the US is forced to actually fight a war on its own soil, to see first-hand the completely needless devastation and 'collateral damage' we've been inflicting upon others for years now. Would you care to comment on this?

    Thank you, sir. You have my utmost respect.

    Blue Skies...cdn

    "I woke up this morning, and I got myself a beer. The future's uncertain, and the end is always near." - Jim Morrison

    by grndrush on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 09:37:33 PM PST

    •  war over there (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      grndrush, 42, We hold these truths

      grndrush -- I was just saying the same thing to my wife the other day...

      Had we fought a war on our own soil within living memory there would be far less (if any) tolerance for starting pre-emptive discretionary wars. For US, war is something that happens "over there."

      Today we have a largely idealized vision of War. Think of what positive images we have for: the Revolutionary War, the Civil War (those who call it The War Between the States or, even, the War of Northern Aggression, seem to have an even more idealized view of it!), and WWII (i.e., The Greatest Generation). The bad taste of Vietnam and Somalia are balanced out by views of Gulf War I and Kosavo.

      If the US had a collective memory of the enormous costs not only to military participants but also to civilians and to the environment I firmly believe we would not have so eagerly rushed to war and would not have attacked Iraq.

      -----
      "If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion." -- The Dalai Lama

      by SLJ on Tue Mar 28, 2006 at 05:54:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  As a military historian... (9+ / 0-)

    I have been studying war & death for decades, yet I can't pretend to have anything like the experiences you have tried to describe or at least explain. (The closest thing: having two dogs, long-time companions, pass away in my arms.)  No amount of reading or listening can make up for the experience--and for that I consider myself lucky.

    Your diary makes me think of that famous scene in Shakespeare's King Henry the Fifth (Act IV, scene 1), in which the king (in disguise) talks to two common soldiers before the battle of Agincourt:

    King Henry:  ... Methinks I could not die any where so contented as in the king’s company, his cause being just and his quarrel honourable.

     Will:  That’s more than we know.

     Bates:  Ay, or more than we should seek after; for we know enough if we know we are the king’s subjects. If his cause be wrong, our obedience to the king wipes the crime of it out of us.

     Will:  But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make; when all those legs and arms and heads, chopped off in a battle, shall join together at the latter day, and cry all, ‘We died at such a place;’ some swearing, some crying for a surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left. I am afeard there are few die well that die in a battle; for how can they charitably dispose of any thing when blood is their argument? Now, if these men do not die well, it will be a black matter for the king that led them to it, whom to disobey were against all proportion of subjection.

    Methinks King George hath a heavy reckoning to make.

    "Let's not dwell on the bad news; we are NOT in a civil war; and yes, I DO have a plan...." -- Abraham W. Lincoln, Gettysburg Address, Nov. 1863.

    by Shiborg on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 09:39:24 PM PST

  •  Sarge I wish every wife of the CongressMEN (0+ / 0-)

    and male Senators could read that.

    Coming to your town soon! The Social Security Adminstartion Electric and Power Company. "Omen Tuffy" 1918-1992

    by generic on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 11:37:28 PM PST

  •  ASK!.......................... (0+ / 0-)

    Coming to your town soon! The Social Security Adminstartion Electric and Power Company. "Omen Tuffy" 1918-1992

    by generic on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 11:42:16 PM PST

  •  sorry Smage I have to, 10,000 disabled vets need (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OpherGopher

    and their widows need this they have waited 30+ years for this info and KOS fans can force DOD to give it up, please vote on my poll and tell DOD to tell the VA the info they need so the widows and vets can get their benefits NOW  TY

  •  You allude to the chickenhawks... our 'leaders'.. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    testvet6778

    Rightfully with this phrase, "because they have always shirked their duty when called and never struggled to defend the democracy they so enjoy."

    I would personally substitute a few words.  Instead of "democracy they so enjoy", how about "democracy they so take advantage of and abuse"?

    But I hear what you are saying, SGM, and s'truth!  

    Life is not a 'dress rehearsal'!

    by wgard on Tue Mar 28, 2006 at 01:57:56 AM PST

  •  Thank you Sgt Major (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    We hold these truths

    your statement moved me very much.

    I write this with tears in my eyes, which is not usual for a 41 year old guy.

    I have never been a soldier. I have never taken a human life, for that I am eternally grateful.

    I have had a very privileged existence even when only compared to my immediate family. My parents were young children in WWII. My Mother in Germany and my Father in Italy. My mother at the age 4-5 was buried under a house for a week in a British (night) air raid, with my grandmother and other people sheltering in the cellar. They were not rescued for so long because another unexploded bomb was lying in the street which blocked access and had to be dealt with before rescue. My mother and grandmother both suffered detached retinas caused by the initial bomb and building collapse concussion. This affected their sight for he rest of their lives. My father remembers as a young boy walking down a lane in northern Italy where there were piled corpses on either side, higher than his head. My maternal grandmother once said that after a couple of days of hearing artillery shells whistling over your head, you don't jump anymore because you know you won't hear the one that hits you. My paternal grandfather was in the British 8th Army. Captured twice in North Africa (he was a motorcycle dispatch rider), made to clear mines by the enemy and escaped twice. His only two comments he ever made to me about his war experience was one about his second escape; "it's a good thing I had hidden the Beretta I had taken off the dead Italian" and upon arriving in Italy; "when we got hold of some of the German BMW bikes, we threw our BSA's in the ditch. The German bikes were really good". We never as a family sat down and discussed memories from WWII. These small recollections and damage caused came from maybe half a dozen short conversations. As I said this makes me feel very privileged but also that the damage done by war last lifetimes and possibly generations.

    (dedicated Kos fact checkers may notice a small inconsistency in the small history I detailed. I will elaborate on it if anyone spots it or is interested)

    Casualty is the first truth of war. (-6.00,-7.03)

    by Foreign Devil on Tue Mar 28, 2006 at 03:15:01 AM PST

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