I was part of an email exchange today that included the following from two colleagues who I've gotten to know and admire over the years. Their heartfelt commentaries on Iraq, war, and Team Bush punctured my heart. They made such raw sense, their words and thoughts were so powerful, so passionate, and so compelling, they'll likely haunt me for some time. The first is an unfiltered flood of astute and fierce commentary by a vet.
With their permission, I am now sharing the emails with you, verbatim.
Whether you agree or disagree with the author, what is indisputable is that these words were written by someone who's been through hell and back. They're painful to read. He was there and knows what he's talking about, as opposed to the usual blathering pundits, so-called experts, and BushCo chickenhawks:
I was watching Glenn Greenwald and Paul Rieckhoff have themselves a grand old dick off. Dicks were waved, measured, and assessed like they were wine snobs in Napa during the first pour.
Yeah, they're both dicks. So's Maher that fucknozzle, shithead's not even very funny anymore.
What I saw in Rieckhoff though, reminded me of exactly what I went through. As my illusions of war, national pride, honor, all of that happy shit faded, I quickly created new illusions to cling to.
Without them I probably would have melted down completely. I had to hold on to the illusion that I somehow waded through all that shit for some kind of reason. That somehow, through all of that, I managed to salvage some measure of personal honor. Other folks went apeshit, did the raping, did the atrocity, but not me. Yeah, bullshit isn't it?
I was there. I was in it up to my fucking neck.
Did anything save me? Nope. All I finally was able to cling to was the hard bitten, hard won wisdom of the boonie rats.
When shit climbed up on us, when somebody was an eyelash away from going completely over the fucking edge, somebody would open their grimy fucking mouth to say,
"Fuck it man. Don't mean nothing."
That's how we got through. That's what we used to step ourselves back.
Fuck it man, don't mean nothing. Most of the time right after that somebody else would chime in with, "Yeah. Don't mean nothing. Fuck it, ruck up, press on."
The politics that sent us there were bullshit. Fuckers like McNamara in the Pentagon, Westmoreland in his air conditioned well-fed bunker in Saigon (Here's a quick strategic guide for you, if you need to live in a bunker in the capitol of your area of operations, you ain't winning jack fucking shit anytime soon troop) knew the truth of what was going on as well as Cheney, Bush and all those motherfuckers knew.
They knew and they did it anyway. Motherfuckers.
I quit asking all those existential questions, quit looking for the fucking meaning of it, because I realized there wasn't anything there to be found.
Rieckhoff and his companions are still clinging to the illusions that kept them alive, maybe even kept them from going absolutely bug fuck.
It has to mean something to them. Hell, they can lie enough to tell themselves that a lot of it actually fucking worked.
I won't challenge them. It's his life, and his fucking process, he has to walk that shit alone.
Besides, the only comfort I can give him is to put an hand on his shoulder and say,
"Fuck it man, don't mean nothing, it never fucking did. Deal with it and go from there. You'll fucking sleep better."
A response to that email produced some of the most effective imagery I've encountered on this topic:
Some guys (like Cheney, et. al.) can't bear the thought of losing, so like gamblers they keep playing a losing game, telling themselves that if they stay in long enough they eventually get to "win."
I had this image of George W. Bush sitting at the slots with a bowl full of dog tags in his lap, shoving them into the machine one after another and pulling the lever, muttering, "If you don't quit, you don't lose."