Thursday, March 02, 2006
Shock and Awe
A friend of mine flew A-10 Warthogs for the Air National Guard during the first Gulf War. This is how he described the last three days of battle:
"We'd load up with everything we had, fly for about twelve minutes and then just unload it on them. Everything. Then we'd fly back, load up and do it again. Over and over. Those poor fucks didn't stand a chance." The Iraqi retreat out of Kuwait was a rout. Tens of thousands of Iraqi soldiers were killed by air bombardment. When I asked him how many people he thinks he killed he said "Hundreds." And he said it in a way that didn't mean two or three hundred, but some number in the unthinkable beyond.
My friend is, and always was a good guy. He joined with the Air National Guard because he wanted to fly. He knew that it might require him to kill, but he had no idea he'd end up killing so many. The result, as he put it, was "I'll never be happy again. Not like you, or other people... not like I used to be. I'll have good days, better days, good things can happen. But happiness... no. That's never really gonna happen again."
Even by the most conservative estimates, some 55,000 Iraqi soldiers lost their lives in the first Gulf War. Add to that however many tens of thousands were killed in this last go around, and we're talking a lot of men in uniform who died without a chance: blown to pieces by people like my friend who can only guess at how many they killed.
Next time you want to "Get" someone like Saddam Hussein, Mr. President, you do it with a goddam exploding cigar or something. This bullshit where we "get" someone by dropping high explosives on tens of thousands of people who aren't that guy... that's just got to stop. All this multi-billion dollar whiz-bang shock-and-awe technology isn't making us safer, it's making us assholes.