Casualty of War

Lucas Freshman

It is unproductive to keep up the Bush regime bashing simply because the past cannot be undone, and he has already solidified his true character effectively on his own. He is not complex, and neither are his motivations. People needn’t waste time and effort highlighting what is already obvious. Still....
Bush’s lack of humility in handling a presidency that was questionably attained has damaged so many lives and futures that the only real goal now is to try and minimize what impact he and his followers will continue to effect. With fake letters of high morale, casualties mounting rapidly, and assassination attempts on the occupying leaders in Iraq, it is unquestionable that the remaining troops, as well as the puppet occupation forces, need to be withdrawn.
My best friend is a sergeant in the Marine Corps. On returning from his tour in Iraq he gave me two things: a 250 dinar note with Saddam’s face on the front, and an Iraqi soldier’s dog tags. On the tag, which is slightly bent, there is an “M” for Muslim, an “A” for blood type, and his name written in Arabic. My friend said that he had taken the tag off of a soldier who didn’t have a stomach. Needless to say, I am having an incredibly hard time reconciling the fact that the same kid who I ran away from home with when we were 15 is now bringing me remnants of dead Iraqi soldiers.
On his return, I was too ecstatic that he was back in his own home, that I avoided uncomfortable questions about things he saw, saving that for a better time. Now was simply the time to get drunk, laugh, tell him about the absolute insignificance of my problems, and talk about the future. Later that night he solemnly told a good friend of ours that he had seen things in Iraq that had made him question everything.
This kid from a small suburban city, with a devoted family, who rose to the top 5% of his Parris Island graduating class, with decorations, recommendations, certificates, and all the rest, who was in charge of an entire unit, who ran an incredibly complex and important communications satellite, who is the kindest man I have ever met, is now faced with living the rest of his life. He is lost and questioning what he believes and what he knows.
My friend’s stories from Iraq are the closest I can possibly get to understanding what life is like in wartime. I am sure that there are countless other stories from other servicemen and women and their families that bare the same feelings. But this is all I get to know: what he saw and did and what happened to him. So my opinions and judgments are formed through a sort of secondhand experience.
It still remains true that a handful of old, wizened, mostly white policymakers have agreed that sacrifices and casualties were part of the conflict. And so my best friend and many, many others are now facing the rest of their lives questioning what is right and wrong, and more than that, what is true. These young brave men and women have been damaged for an ignominious cause, which was at best, questionably justified. And in no way does this put down those who gave their lives overseas or the grief their families must carry on with.
So, have the actions that the US has taken in the Middle East been proven necessary, or are they really tragic miscalculations that our leaders are too weak to step back from? Or are the motives for the occupation malevolent, and hidden-handed? Whatever the reason, it seems imperative that the occupying forces be withdrawn.

If there is a belief that the occupation has accomplished something, then let it stand that the ousting of the dictator whom we supplied hundreds of millions of dollars and arms to, whom the US had lost complete control of, has been removed and his influence ended. That is an undeniably positive thing. But that has already happened and to linger there in the Middle East for what can only be seen as imperialist imperatives, is illegitimate and immoral.

If the US is truly the protector of the free world, and fundamentally the greatest nation on the planet, as some of us really, really want to believe, then why must we continue to allow the killing and maiming of her people far away from home?

My best friend came back in perfect physical condition, but with a significant and serious wound in his heart. What are they doing to us?

Lucas, from Syracuse, is a recent graduate of Brooklyn College.