November 24, 2002


Anthony Swofford, a Marine sniper in the Gulf War, has an article in this month's Harper's. It's similar to, but much better than, his op-ed piece from the NYT last month, and presumably like his upcoming memoir due out this spring. His take concerns both the terror of war generally and the absurdity of the Gulf War in particular. So he writes about both the personal effect a Blood for Oil policy has on the soldiers ordered to carry it out:

"We joke about having transferred from the Marine Corps to the Petrol Corps, and while we laugh at our jokes and think we're damn funny jarheads, we believe we might soon die, and this is not funny. We have been deployed to protect oil reserves and the profits and rights of American companies, many of which have direct ties to the White House and oblique financial entanglements with the secretary of defense, Dick Cheney, and the commander in chief, George Bush, and the commander's progeny."
and what happens when you come under Iraqi rocket attack:
"I stand in place and piss my pants again, piss all over and running into my boots, thighs both, knees both, ankles both, bottom of my feet both, clear piss and no underwear, because otherwise chafed crotch because Vaseline only works to mile ten and all wars and battles occur farther than ten miles from all-safe points, and rotten balls if you don't remove your underwear at mile ten, and rockets landing red glare and more rockets, hitting everywhere around us, but they haven't hit us, so far they have only caused great amounts of terror and oblivion."
It's interesting the response Swofford is provoking in the converative press/blogworld. Some seem only blithely aware of the larger point being made while others are embarrassed for a soldier made afraid by battle.

Ah, the marketplace of ideas.

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