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What happens to a warrior when a protestor calls him a "baby killer"
or accuses him of being a murderer? Does he shrink in
shame or stand proud in spite of war's ugliness? Is the
price of war worth the freedom it can offer the future generations?
26, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 532
The Ugliness Of War:
Is It Worth The Price Of Freedom?
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZERO, New York City, Feb. 26--War's ugliness blinds
its purpose. It masks its ultimate benefit. It almost
makes war protestors seem just in attacking all who are part of war.
No one knows the ugliness of war more than a warrior
who has waged it and witnessed its cruel destruction first-hand.
And no one can appreciate the right of a war protestor than a former
I have been part of war's ugliness--stared at the twisted bodies
of the innocent blown to pieces by shrapnel, looked into the empty eyes of children
warily studying me as they shook the dead body of their mother, father,
grandparent. I have heard the growl of squadrons of blood-sucking flies zeroing in on a battlefield
feast where the
stench of rotting human flesh rotting invited them before the last
bullet was fired, before the last breath rattled from the lungs of
have witnessed war. It is ugly. But its consequences
if not fought, uglier yet.
Yes, I've seen the torture and brutality of war.
I've watched young men turn into Beasts of Terror, their thirst to kill
snuffing out any sense of morality or compassion for other human
beings as their innocence transformed. I've witnessed the
slow, horrible execution of prisoners beaten into bloody pulp for
answers to the location of enemy positions. I've heard
each and every bone in their body break under the brutal lash of a
beating stick, and gasped sickly as they were finally shot behind
the ear and dumped in a pit.
Few can tell me how ugly war can be. Few
can swerve my belief that it is a court of last resort, for I live
with all the victims of war. They sleep in my mind and awaken
when I least expect it. They stare at me with vacuous eyes.
They are my personal zombies
aimlessly walking in the shadows of my soul.
No, there is no justice in any
human's death. But there is purpose, however cruel its end may
seem to those who shout invectives against it.
No protestor with ruddy cheeks and hoarse shouts
about "No War For Oil" can trigger the sorrow in my soul that war is a
living hell. I know that without being addressed by placards or
rallies or spewing invectives of how America is a warmonger bent on
ravaging the world with destruction.
But I also know something the protestors don't
I know the value of what lies on the other side
of the hell of war.
I know the light at the end of war's tunnel is priceless.
So do those who are trapped in hell.
This morning I scanned the news on-line as I do
each day at 4:00 a.m.. I was struck by an opinion letter published
by the Christian Science Monitor, in which its author posed a series of
penetrating questions to the anti-war protestors.
I read it a couple of times. It helped me
breathe a little better.
Men like myself who carry much blood on their
hands seek to find ways to wash it away but never can.
Human blood never washes. It sticks to the pores of one's soul.
It fouls one's innocence forever.
Participating in and witnessing the killing of
others marks a person for life. War forces the warrior to
question if what he did had any value--was it worth the price of his
innocence? It is not an easy question to answer. There
are times in the middle of the night when the victims of war march
through the mind, shouting over and over: "Killer! Killer!
Killer!" Then there are the times the protestors awaken the
memories in the daylight and stir the pot so the dead fish of the soul
float to the surface, belly up and bloated..
have no conception of how a warrior feels and what he or she
A protestor cannot understand the feeling of a
warrior who wakes in a cold sweat with the face of a
person he has killed years ago staring at him in the mist of the
netherworld between the mind's deep caves and the light of
consciousness. Protestors have no conception of how the
warrior's human constitution quakes and the question: "Was what I did just or unjust?"
rattles about like dried bones pitching on the deck of rudderless
I know I can't answer that question alone. Only
history and a power greater than myself can
provide final judgment. But in the meantime, while I walk the earth
and try to find some semblance of humanity within the inhumanity of
past acts, I must face the question myself, I must serve as my own
judge and jury while I attempt to breathe without choking on the bile
of war's memories..
Were I to turn my prosecution over to war
protestors, I'm sure they would hang me, and all who have ever bore arms against any
enemy--justly or unjustly. To them, I am just a "baby
killer." To them, I am nothing more an instrument of
death, regardless of why I did what I did, or how much I believed the
price of my soul was worth the freedom of others.
Blood on the
warrior's hands forever fouls his innocence, no matter how just
Little do many war protestors know
that their placards and shouts serve as continuous
indictments against warriors like myself who volunteered to go to a
foreign land and offered my life for the freedom of strangers.
They forget I and others like me went to protect odd
people who ate foods I would never eat, who believed in things I
didn't understand, who looked completely different than I. Yet I
and others were willing to die for them, and for their children, and
their Children's Children's Children. And we did.
I have always found it ironic that American
warriors have gone to war and died for others but returned home empty handed.
They didn't take the spoils of war, the gold and silver of the nations
they conquered. They simply spilled their blood and left.
Historically, it is a
strange sacrifice for any warrior, for in times past the motivation of
a conquering army was to loot and plunder the land, and to haul back
its treasures as payment and enslave its populace.
American warriors like myself have returned
with only the nightmares of war, and the legacy of the faces of the dead, and
the stench of war plastered to the cells of our brains, stuck there as leeches
might affix themselves to a pulsing vein and feast eternally upon it.
Protestors open the war wounds of warriors like
myself and grind salt into them. They spit upon any belief
the warrior carried into battle that he might possibly be a liberator,
one willing to give everything he has for nothing in return except the
belief that those he has freed from the despotism and tyranny might
one day enjoy the freedom his ancestors granted him.
Freedoms are forged in the blood of warriors
It is often hard for the American Warrior
to see the silver lining in the blood clouds of war.
Protestors take that precious grain of justice away when they urinate
and defecate on the duty that Americans have shouldered to defend the
world from tyranny and oppression.
Sometimes, it makes me sick to think I am
being prosecuted over and over and over by the children liberated from
such oppression and tyranny. Americans are quick to forget their
freedoms are forged in the blood of warriors who fought and died more
than two centuries ago so that future generations might enjoy the
right to openly protest war.
It takes all my will power at times to not
explode in a mad rage and smash the protestors signs, grab them by the
throats and haul them to a torture chamber in some far-off land where
they can witness the vile and corrupt treatment of people living under
the tyranny of despotism.
I want to shout at them: "What would
you do? Watch a child beaten to death? Would you
wave a banner in the face of a Beast of Terror and tell him to stop?
He would rip off your head and eat your heart while he laughed."
But I don't do those things. Instead,
I try to hold my head high as the muck is slung in my face.
me to think about the reasons for a just war, not to dwell on its
ugliness that exists without any effort. For a war to be just, in my opinion, it has to
free the people from the clear and present danger of oppression and
destruction. To be just, it must serve the long-range
benefit of the Children's Children's Children. It must
ultimately allow the children of the future the
right to protest war as American children enjoy today. And,
it must not be fought to conquer the people of the land.
It must offer them freedom from oppression, which includes their
right to protest anyone anytime, and to have the right to vote
leadership in and out.
Our European friends who protest the
impending Iraqi war
today do so only because a half century ago Americans gave their blood
so they could spit in our face. Had we not stepped in, Europe would be
goose stepping. Children would be carrying only one
placard: Heil Hitler. In Vietnam, where we lost the war,
the children cannot march in the streets with signs protesting thier
nation's ills. However, the ones who escaped to America can.
So when I read the Monitor opinion
piece presented below, I felt a weight lifted from my shoulders.
While I can never escape the burden of death and destruction that war
scars upon the soul of all warriors, I can remember that I fought for what was
right for the future of the Children's Children's Children.
I fought to give them the right to protest.
I have never been to Iraq.
I know little about the country, but I know everything about
despotism, tyranny and oppression. I've gone face-to-face
with the Beast of Terror. I've witnessed the horror of its
presence, and the waste it creates by devaluing human life and human
When I sat in the ashes of Nine
Eleven and saw the Sentinels of Vigilance rising above Ground Zero, I
realized that the Beast of Terror in Iraq can appear anywhere at
anytime. Terrorism can be exported to nations who were once felt
immune to its violence, its vile corruption of the rights of the
While I would prefer to never
pick up another weapon and expose myself to the violence of war, I
firmly believe the value of going to war against the Beast of Terror
exceeds the horror of it. If one day the children of Iraq
can walk down the streets and protest war and their government with
immunity, and even if their acts stir within me and all
other warriors who fought for their freedom a sense of guilt and shame
for being part of war, then such a war must be fought.
My nightmares will be worth the
price of their protestations.
To publish an unsigned opinion piece is
an exception to the Monitor's policy. But the views expressed
here, if put with a name, could endanger the writer's extended
family in Baghdad. The author - known to Monitor staff - was born
and raised in Iraq. Now a US citizen with a business that requires
extensive world travel, the author is in frequent touch with the
Iraqi diaspora but is not connected with organized opposition to
Since Amr Moussa, the secretary-general of the Arab League,
started warning that a US invasion of Iraq would "open the gates
of hell," the retort that has been flying around Iraqi exiles'
websites is, "Good! We'd like to get out!"
It got me wondering: What if you antiwar protesters and
politicians succeed in stopping a US-led war to change the regime
in Baghdad? What then will you do?
Will you also demonstrate and demand "peaceful" actions to cure
the abysmal human rights violations of the Iraqi people under the
rule of Saddam Hussein?
Or, will you simply forget about us Iraqis once you discredit
George W. Bush?
Will you demand that the United Nations send human rights
inspectors to Iraq? Or are you only interested in weapons of "mass
destruction" inspections, not of "mass torture" practices?
Will you also insist that such human rights inspectors be given
time to discover Hussein's secret prisons and coercion as you do
for the weapons inspectors? Or will you simply accept a "clean
bill of health" if you can't find the thousands of buried corpses?
Will you pressure your own countries to host millions more
Iraqi refugees (estimated now at 4 million) fleeing Hussein's
brutality? Or will you prefer they stay in bondage?
Will you vigorously demand an international tribunal to indict
Hussein's regime for crimes against humanity? Or will you simply
dismiss him as "another" dictator of a "sovereign" country?
Will you question why Hussein builds lavish palaces while his
people are suffering? Or will you simply blame it all on UN
sanctions and US "hegemony?"
Will you decry the hypocritical oil and arms commerce of
France, Germany, Russia, and China with the butcher of Baghdad? Or
are you only against US interests in Iraqi oil?
Will you expose ethnic cleansing of native Iraqi non-Arabs
(Kurds, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Turkomens), non-Sunni-Muslims
(Shiite), and non-Muslims (Christians, Mandaens, Yezidis)? Or are
these not equivalent to the cleansing of Bosnians and Kosovars?
Will you show concern about the brutal silencing of the "Iraqi
street"? Or are you only worried about the orchestrated noises of
"Arab and Islamist streets" outside Iraq?
Will you hear the cries of Iraqis executed in acid tanks in
Baghdad? the Iraqi women raped in front of their husbands and
fathers to extract confessions? Or of children tortured in front
of their parents? Or of families billed for the bullets used to
execute military "deserters" in front of their own homes?
No. I suspect that most of you will simply retire to your
cappucino cafes to brainstorm the next hot topic to protest, and
that you will simply forget about us Iraqis, once you succeed in
discrediting President Bush.
Please, prove me wrong.
Feb 25--Poets Against The War--Terrorists
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