I consider myself fortunate to be in Ukraine on a Fulbright Scholarship. It shelters me from the sensationalism surrounding the announcement that “Osama bin Laden, the terror mastermind killed by Navy SEALs in an intense firefight, was hunted down based on information first gleaned years ago from detainees at secret CIA prison sites in Eastern Europe.”
The reaction has been impossible to avoid altogether, as Twitter, Facebook, and many of the blogs I read exploded with videos of euphoric celebrations beside the White House and in Times Square, affirmations of America’s greatness, wishes by otherwise nice young women to see the bullet riddled corpse, and praise given to all soldiers and veterans, including praise from President Obama.
I remain bewildered by the changing and contradictory justifications for our many wars: the well being of Iraqis and Afghans (and now, Libyans), preventing the use of weapons of mass destruction, establishing democracies, Colin Powell’s Pottery Barn Rule (We broke it, so we own it). Didn’t President Bush announce in 2006 that the pursuit of Osama Bin Laden was no longer a goal of our war efforts in Afghanistan?
Timing and political expedience seems to have swung our rationale back to the pursuit of Osama Bin Laden.
Should we pause to consider the return on our investment of money, blood and reputation? I am two and half years removed from my last day in the military, and life-times removed from the world view I had when I first commissioned as an infantry officer in March 2000.
My doubts centered on the realization that my membership in the military, though full of adventure and challenge, just like the television commercials promised, did not provide a valuable service. For this reason, I politely decline President Obama’s thanks.
The military, myself included, makes America less safe from terrorism, debt, and tyrrany. I began to consider the ancient and noble institution of the Army a gigantic toy for politicians who, with the thinnest pretenses, went adventuring all over the world.
I no longer consider myself at war with Afghanistan or Al Quaida, though I understand that many Americans do. I consider war to be very much the business of demagogue politicians who pretend to defend Americans from Muslims, and demagogue Islam-o-fascists who pretend to defend Muslims from Americans. I wish we could make them fight one another directly without the involvement of so many others, but this would never happen. They are cowards who work hard to convince better men to do the fighting.
I’d like to point out the difficult fact that Afghans killed by errant artillery strikes or nervous, undisciplined soldiers, or what a friend of mine calls “Nobel Peace drones,” are just as innocent and just as human as the New Yorkers who were killed when three skyscrapers collapsed on September 11, 2001.The tragedy is firstly that many innocent people get killed, and secondly, that so many good people are easily convinced to sacrifice blood and money. It is best to have as little to do with our wars as possible.
In contrast to the revelers on the National Mall, my pride and identity now have little to do with national pride and national identity. I am as sovereign an individual as the tax code allows me to be.
The only aspect of this announcement I find comforting is that now politicians will likely be confronted with meek requests to undo the TSA, warrant-less wiretaps, secret prisons, suspensions of habius corpus, the department of homeland security, and the wars in Afghanistan and elsewhere. They will have to again justify these institutions, which they will do very easily. I will take minor comfort when the questions are asked.
I retain hope that America can regains the liberties it lost in the name of our many wars. However as I watched the exuberant masses intoxicated with national pride at the announcement of Osama Bin Laden’s death, I thought of not of the importance of restoring our lost liberties, but of running away; escaping and hiding from the collectivist madness — somewhere where neither my person nor my wealth nor my pride nor my identity can ever be dragged into such a barbaric enterprise again.