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Flashback: When The War Was Only 17 Days Old

20 November, 2006, Monday

The following passage is from this article, written in April 2003 by an embedded journalist: 

“It’s sobering how quickly morale can slip. Only a few days before, soldiers in our unit were mugging for photos — shirts off, muscles flexed, guts sucked in. A female private with freshly applied lipstick squealed: “War is sexy!” But our plodding progress and the growing Iraqi threat extinguished the party mood fast. “I felt a lot better when I thought this was only going to take a matter of days,” said First Lieutenant Sara Creely. “Soldiers at the perimeter are freaking out at everything, [even] when they see a dog or a camel.”

I have thought about this scene the reporter described many times since first reading it.    Hardly surprising, as one doesn’t soon forget meeting a female soldier –healthy, well-fed, ridiculously primped in make-up– who has never experienced the grueling horrors of life in a politically unstable climate, and who cluelessly giggles about the ‘sexiness’ of war.  

It’s a sickening display, a sublimely perfect example of the arrogance and stupidity of the American mindset.

It’s just 5 months til the war reaches the 4 year mark, and I wonder what those preening soldiers think now.   And if they are still alive.

I think it’s fair to say that Americans generally dislike arrogance and gloating when we see it on a personal level.  Everybody hates the guy at work who boasts about how much money he has;  we want to scratch the eyes out of our female friends who are prettier and get asked out more often; and if a reality show contestant is too big for his or her britches, we root for them to suffer as humiliating a defeat as possible. 

“That asshole need to be taken down a peg or two.” we say to our fellow downtrodden souls as they nod in enthusiastic agreement. 

But to much of the rest of the world, we are “that asshole”.  

Now that Bush has been given the signal that his war has lost major support, there will be some changes made.   Of course, all of our options at this point are bad and have negative conclusions, but still, something will change.  

And the next logical question is, will we change?   Will we take this opportunity, like the one we had –and squandered– after Sept 11, to learn any lessons while we try and wrangle our way out of the huge mess we allowed a bad president to lead us drowsily into?   

Or will we, yet again, retreat into our own safe little worlds, where it’s full of fun machines that beep and whirr,  and sports games where we raise our fists and scream to other Americans that we are Number One?

Frankly, I don’t hold out a lot of hope.   But I’ve got an idea how change could maybe be brought about.   Christians, I’m talking to you now, so listen up. 

This is a big opportunity to recover from the hits you’ve suffered recently.    And all you have to do is this:    get your noses out of our wombs, bedrooms, public schools, and city halls, and actually step up to the pulpit and preach – preach harder than you’ve ever preached before about something that Jesus Christ was quite fond of:  humility. 

He would love you for it.  And if it gets you the fuck out of my private life, so would I.

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