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Saturday, June 25, 2005

The lost boys 

The General doesn't do this very often, but yesterday he spoke out in his own voice:

When you're the father of two beautiful daughters, your house becomes a gathering place for young men. That was certainly the case when my daughters were in high school. We were lucky, most of them were good kids. I spent quite a bit of time with them and got to know them very well.
Now they're coming home from war. The all American boy with a heart of gold talks of his hate for 'hajis' and wishes we could nuke the place. The class clown sits in his room all day staring at the Cartoon Channel while self medicating with pot and booze. The nice liberal Jewish boy who melted my wife's yenta heart tells us in a dispassionate, far-away monotone that 'killing those animals was like stepping on ants.' Our 'son' screams at night. My heart breaks for these boys we adopted in their teenage years. They've lost their souls. And for what?
War does this to people. That's why it should never be entered into unless there is no other alternative. That wasn't the case for this war. As far as I can tell, we invaded Iraq because Bush and the necons wanted to be remembered as great men like Roosevelt or Lincoln, or perhaps more accurately, Augustus. It's there in the subtext of PNAC papers for all to see. The oil is just gravy. That's evil.
And people wonder why parents won't let their boys enlist.
I disagree with the General in one respect. I don't think that it is war itself which does this to young soldiers, it is killing civilians.
And American soldiers have been killing civilians in Iraq for the last two years.
These young men are shooting up cars full of women and children at checkpoints. They're breaking into homes and manhandling screaming grandmothers. They're arresting thousands of prisoners and they have no way to tell which ones are actually enemies, because they have to think of every man they see as their enemy. Whenever they walk along a street, they have to be ready to kill. These soldiers have to develop a brutal, callous disrespect for every single person they see who isn't American. Soldiers also targeted civilians in Vietnam -- and that war brutalized soldiers to the point that ordinary American boys committed the My Lai massacre and how many others.
In a righteous war these soldiers and their families can find some solace and healing in the belief that the sacrifice of their basic humanity was worthwhile. But Iraq is not a righteous war and the soldiers know it.

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