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Gurglings of a conflicted mind, an exploratory post.
I read this book, and it’s haunting me. It’s about a Navy SEAL team that went on a reconnaissance mission in Afghanistan. The team was compromised by local goat herders, who they allowed to live…to their own detriment. The goat herders presumably alerted the Taliban and a battle ensues. Four U.S. SEALs vs. 120 Taliban members. Not good odds…and only one member survived (obviously the author), thanks to his teammates’ continued efforts to fight once they were wounded, his lieutenant’s bravery, his own training (and bravado), and, surprisingly, Afghan villagers. The gunfight and subsequent deaths of Luttrell’s comrades is horrifying and stays with you long after you’ve read and reread the passages. (It reminds of how I felt after watching Bagdad E.R.)
It’s a timely read, too, as U.S. forces are again starting to concentrate their efforts in Afghanistan. This book sparked an interest in me to find out more about the Taliban, the complexity of war, and our troops’ experiences. Luttrell was tortured by the Taliban for a day or so, but never goes into exactly what that entailed and it wasn’t clear to me how he escaped. I have read a lot about torture techniques lately, and I can only imagine what they might’ve done to an American soldier (and a Special Ops guy at that).
Here’s the rub: Luttrell is no fan of liberals. He seems to be right wing all the way (a paraphrase: We were going to Afghanistan to do God’s good work on behalf of the U.S.A. and our commander-in-chief, George W. Bush). Especially in the beginning, before I had a chance to become engrossed in Luttrell’s story, I was furious. Obviously, I am left wing so of course I disagreed with nearly every one of his stances (the propaganda of the “liberal” media, how liberals have bleeding hearts but no good sense…). More than that, I was irritated that Luttrell took so much time taking swipes at liberals that it distracted me from such a compelling story.
The thing is, I think liberals should read it. Yes, we know all the bullshit things that are said about “lefties,” and Lord knows we have all bemoaned the audacity of the right, but having read the whole book, I understand the right-wing stances a lot more. I even have begun to rethink my own stances. Luttrell says once diplomacy is exhausted and you send the military into combat that we as the American public should give them free reign to fight the battle they are there to fight. As in the Taliban doesn’t adhere to the Geneva Convention rules, while Americans do, and this creates problems in the field. For example, the team in the book was compromised by goat herders and the military reasoning would suggest that if these guys wanted to live, they needed to prevent the goat herders from leaving…whether by restraining or killing them. Okay, easy enough. Tie the goat herders up and be done with it, but these guys weren’t expecting to be compromised and they had no way to simply restrain the goat herders. (The dilemma is much more clearly articulated in the book.) They let the goat herders go, in part for fear of being charged with murder once the liberal media got wind of it. Look. When I read that, I was like, wtf, dude. These were unarmed civilians. There’s a clear ethical path to take.
But then our soldiers’ heads and bodies got blown up, the Taliban fired several rounds into the faces of death soldiers just for kicks, and this made me physically ill. Because I realized this: the goat herders lives were not more important than those soldiers’ lives. Three goat herders for the lives of soldiers. I sound fucking right wing, I know, but I am angry. I think there should be more freedom to fight battles the way enemies do. I don’t agree with having no oversight…I mean there has to be some rules. I have no idea how war should work. In situations where America is in a battle (even if the “reason” we’re there is insane), I would prefer that our soldiers (who are there to serve whether or not they agree with the reason(s) we’re there) live versus the “enemy.” I’ve come to see that’s where Luttrell is coming from…that war is his life and his teammates are his family. Or something like that. He’s passionate and he has a right to be.
But back to the clear ethical path. The team was unable to make radio contact with their headquarters once they were compromised. They were on their own and keep in mind, their pickup was preplanned for several days later. No one was coming to get them early and high-tail it out of there before havoc ensued. It was their lives or the herders. And Luttrell wonders, was it the “right” choice in the end? He makes a good point: the American public doesn’t really want to know what has to be done in order to fight wars or win battles. Or more honestly, Luttrell has me pegged: I don’t necessarily want to know what happens until after the fact, until after it’s lost its reality, until it becomes a story instead of the here-and-now. It’s gruesome, but someone has to go out there and figure out where Taliban officials are and even kill them if need be. Why does it make sense to me that blood will run no matter what? I am so conflicted about feeling gun-ho about war tactics. My stance is, apparently, just this: do what you do. It’s all so ugly and once I start to imagine what it must be like to have your thumb blown off or half your skull ripped away and still be alive and know you’re dying, I can’t un-imagine it. So maybe it’s better for me not to see it in the first place.
For all these thoughts in my head, I still have absolutely no doubt that American soldiers were sent into harm’s way before diplomacy had been exhausted where Iraq was concerned. The Taliban and Afghanistan were trumped by Iraq and it’s inexcusable that American soldiers have been murdered so that public cheer for the war on terror would rise again. Soldiers were murdered for and by distraction. And President Bush and the rest of us will be frantically trying to scrub the blood stained on our hands forever.
Anyway, if you can stomach the right-wing rants and the blood and guts, you might give this a go. Or you can refer back to my scathing review of Luttrell’s book as I was reading the first part of the book: https://medicatedlady.wordpress.com/2009/03/29/we-had-an-idiot-as-president-gods-wicked-sense-of-humor-exposed/ That post was not exploratory; it was decisive….I think I felt as left-wing as he is right-wing. And now that it’s marinated, look how my thoughts scatter. I’m my own personal clusterfuck of ideas.
- Also, mentioning “sex” in a blog brings you more traffic, or so Bryan says. Put as many sexual tags as you can think of on your blog post. Think hard.
- Try to find another writing utensil.
- Tell yourself that this other writing utensil is perfectly sufficient.
- Upon immediate dismissal of the above point, keep calm.
- For Christ’s sake, shake out your luminous hair.
- Distract yourself by considering your freckles.
- Consider the cost of Claritin, which you had to buy because you needed it, but you would have preferred that the Family Dollar had generic in stock.
- Email Jade. Email Bryan. Email Melissa.
- Write random bullet points and hope no one notices the randomness.
- Think morbid thoughts. Such as all the ways horrible things can befall people: aortic tears in plane crashes, torture, being shot repeatedly in Afghanistan, having your rehab dog shot to death upon returning to Texas, forest fires that incinerate entire crews of smokejumpers in Montana (?) gulches, plane crashes that result in the consumption of rugby players, cutting your own hand off, freezing to death on Mt. Everest, starving in the Alaskan wilderness, dating, ending up in a freezer, being in Iraq, being in Somalia, being infected by the swine flu, having multiple myeloma with a 10% chance of living through the treatment much less the illness, and not having your favorite writing utensil or an interesting blog topic.
a sharpened pencil
the way I like
with nothing to say
so I write my name
over and over
to soothe my compulsion
a predator poised
with no prey
which is a problem
because before I was categorically appalled.
I fear my stance might be right-wing.
I fear my stance, if I look too closely, might be inhumane.
I fear my stance might make me a bad person.
In my heart
I believe in torture.
Torture is a way of life.
No one is innocent.
Anyone who cannot torture themselves
needs to be taught a lesson.
Self-inflicted, otherwise, seems just for the soul.
Most people are strong enough to suffer alone
anyway in their own minds.
But those who torture outside of themselves
I wish them the same and worse.
I wish them suffering and comprehensible pain of every kind.
I wish their blood to bleed as they watch their friends scream
animalistic cries of the wounded and damned.
I wish for them to know the inevitable and fear.
that I truly have a wish of agony
that I believe there are those deserving
because before I was categorically appalled.
It should be one or the other
but I want both
protein or fiber
I’m getting older
I need both
but the calories
the blasted calories
Consuming food is a distraction from losing weight, which is a distraction from dating, which is a distraction from my realistic but negative outlook on life.
He was dangerous. A naked middle-aged man except for the leopard underwear. Not boxers, briefs, tight briefs. He was drunk and yelling and screaming at my friend, stomping around, dick flailing about. He ordered her out of the room, to talk to her mother.
So he was in the room with me.
I was maybe 13.
I guess it’s not molestation. Indecent, yes. I was sitting in bed. I just wanted to go to sleep. He sat by me. I made sure to cover myself up with the sheet. I felt my heart beating, and rising panic in my throat. He pulled the sheet away and said I didn’t have to be shy.
And then I was looking at the two of us from a distance. He didn’t touch me. He rambled on, my friend came back. There was more yelling and then sleep.
He didn’t touch me, as if I’m defending him. He didn’t touch me, as if it doesn’t matter that he was clearly interested in fucking a barely-teenage girl. He didn’t touch me, but only now can I acknowledge he didn’t have to.
The fluke is happiness
which travel to your heart
and kill you
With each beat
your pulse weakens
as you do
You will die
it’s the style
in which you go
You have to keep in mind that I had to actually close my hotmail account because of the phishing. What this means is I’ve had to close the door on certain contacts, one of which is the ex. And to close the door on him means I close the door to any communication ever with him. Not that I expected to email him, but I always fantasized about letting him have it. Now that the chance of that happening is completely gone, I have to release in the only way I can.
Hey—what’s up with all the emails I keep getting from your hotmail account.
Apparently, my email has no affection to give you. But at least it didn’t tell you in bed.
Also, fuck you.