Article Overview:  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?  


Wednesday--February 26, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 532
 The Ugliness Of War: 
Is It Worth The Price Of Freedom?

Cliff McKenzie
   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 warrior.

      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 final victim.

 I 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 know.
      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..

Protestors have no conception of how a warrior feels and what he or she endures

      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 ship.
      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 the war.

    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.

American 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.

       Protestors force 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 rights.
        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 innocent.
         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.

If antiwar protesters succeed
From The Christian Science Monitor
Link To Opinion

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 Saddam Hussein.

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 or Activists?

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