Condemning our soldiers

We’ve sentenced our soldiers to death, why not condemn them too?

At the supermarket this evening I ran across an unusual number of Fort Carson soldiers doing their shopping in their OIF camo and buzzed heads. I deliberated with making eye contact, but they seemed like condemned men in what we know now to be death-row uniforms, being led by their girlfriends or mothers through the aisles to buy their last meals.

I wanted to look at those young men with condemnation. Poor lads, but pawns for a murderous agenda. Please don’t kill anyone I wanted to say.

At the checkout I looked from the side into the pale blue eyes of a shaved-bald, sunburned junior-security-guard-in-training, and pitied the Iraqis for whom our uneducated underclass are making on-the-spot decisions about life and death. These are boys you do not imagine should be entrusted with an ounce of authority, much less guns. (In fact, critical operations such as protection of our politicians or of the Ministry of Oil are not entrusted to these boys, but rather to professional private contractor mercenaries.)

Hang the soldiers’ commanders of course, but brand these poor soldiers too for what they are. Brand them lest others, their children for example, follow their apparently patriotic path. Shit happens, that’s the soldier’s apology for killing the undeserving Iraqi, let it be the mantra over the soldier’s condemnation as well. Your leaders were bad men, but you followed them. Let no one imagine that your complicity was laudable, even acceptable. Shit happens Bro, now you IT.

I’d just been thinking about the necessity of confronting war-doers head-on instead of letting the opportunity pass for the sake of civility. Political aids to President Bush, for example, retiring at age 36 to spend their loot on their children, averting being confronted with their critics. We need to punish these people. A newscaster who characterizes the Haditha episode by saying “the marines were attacked by an IED” should meet the fate of a propagandist.

Let no war-supporter go un-criticized, and why not start now? Perhaps it will prompt some to think about why they are being condemned with such ferocity? Perhaps our scolding can lay the groundwork to effect eventual introspection and reform. How could anyone begin to think they might actually be guilty of war crimes if their accusers are always so civil? Certainly such accusations must be merely academic, otherwise would they not come with a noose? By waiting politely our turn to intone, by not calling urgently for each miscreant’s apprehension, are we not misleading the soldiers about the reprehensibility of their role?

We can talk about forgiveness later. Right now we have to stop the unthinking manslaughterers.

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Eric Verlo

About Eric Verlo

On sabbatical
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