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.


Yukkione said...

Thanks for the story. I have friends that carry a similair burden.

quixote said...

Somehow, we think it's the victim who suffers. The person on the other side is supposed to suffer less, or not at all. People keep trying to be at the "right" end of the gun. But the people I've met who've achieved that, they all felt they'd lost part of themselves, and it sounds like your friend feels that way too.

(Minor quibble that struck me recently: An asshole is actually a very useful thing. It's too good a term for some people.)

Anonymous said...


Let's say I put up the biggest freeway-blogging sign ever, a banner with 4 foot high letters, on the correct side of a chain link fence that faces over a highway. BUT! Instead of zipping away in my car, I stay to defend the sign. Would that work? If I left, the sign could obviously be taken down by anybody. But what if I stay? I wouldn't be permanetly affixing the sign, it would be hanging via hangers on the fence. I wouldn't be littering. People put up signs for garage sales. This is the same thing, but bigger, with different letters. Can anyone comment?

PTCruiser said...

I guess it depends on how long you're willing to stay and "defend" the sign. Let them take it down, you can make more.

enigma4ever said...

Don't you think it is more powerful if it keeps coming back, over and over ....a messege that can and will not be silenced...??

And good post above...Shock and Awe my ass...Bush and his cronies are Criminals...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the comments to my question about staying to guard a highway blogging sign. Let me provide some more info about my idea:

What I would like to do, either with 1 sign, or a series of up to 4 signs along a highway (this would take more people & coordination, of course) is stay and guard the sign through the morning rush hour - say from 5:30 AM to 8:30 AM. One thing about staying with the sign(s) is that I get to keep them when I'm done and re-use them again. It wouldn't be a loss to put in the effort to make a good sign, because I'd stick around to defend my right to free speech.

If I had a series of signs along the highway, they might go like this (imagine, 3-4 foot tall letters)




If you have any more thoughts on htis I would appreciate it.

Freewayblogger said...

About large signs and staying by them. Great, if you can pull it off. If a cop comes up his word, alas, is law for the moment, no matter what the law actually is, so you have to do what he says (He has a gun.)

If you can coordinate the ten or twelve people necessary to do it, by all means do. PLEASE get pictures.

Also, if you can get them to freewayblog as well, instead of the one toll road you could get the word "Impeach" in front of half the northeastern United States.

Pissedoffcabbie said...

Thanks for taking on this task. Where there's a will, there's a way.

This is not a Quixotic mission- we know the power of the billboard, and we have the opportunity use it to our advantage.

Anonymous said...

I don't have time to stay and defend a sign for more than an hour, so I'll just keep painting them. I did my first this morning. It really doesn't take that long. I have time to make two or three a day average, and I can get out to hang them two or three times a week. If someone takes them down, so be it, it's still not a wasted effort. My next set I'm going to get out of the house about 4:30 (1.5 hrs before usual) and catch rush hour traffic into Seattle on 3 or 4 overpasses. I looked into the State Code today and I know for a fact that this is not a criminal enterprise in Washington, so I'm armed with that info if I am approached by a cop - basically I'll say "If you want to ticket/arrest me, go ahead, but I know the code." Once it has been established in the precinct that you are not violating anything, they can't mess with you again. Not to get long-winded, I'll relay a story:

I'm the guy who drives the SUV a few posts down with the stickers all over. I was pulled over only once in the very conservative town I work in. It was a couple of weeks before the '04 Selection. Cop says I gotta take off my rear window stickers because its a view obstruction. I started to argue, noting many types of vehicles with no rearview. He says "Do you want a ticket or just the warning I was going to give you?" Real prick. So I shut my mouth while he ran my license and plates. Clean, of course. Like I'd have a rap sheet with that car. I didn't takeoff the stickers there although I said I'd comply at the time. Went home and checked the State code and there is no regulation on rear view, only side view being unobstructed. So I went into the station the next day and filed a formal complaint against the officer for harassment, intimidation, and suppression of first amendment rights. The desk sarge (good cop) agreed that my rights had been violated, I got a formal apology, and the station had a "sensitivity training" on the issue. My point is, I guess, that you should know the state code: if I had known the code I would have said "Go 'head, beeatch, ticket me." Then I would have gone after him in court because it was clearly a politically motivated stop.

Blog On!

Anonymous said...

I am reading this blog in japan. I am sure war make anyone who relates with it unhappy. I have heard japanese soldiers got really paranoid and killed innocent japanese citizines in the end of world war. I think that is the reality of the War.