I'll have my war after all.
The C-17 banks hard, twisting through the air in an approach toward Bagram Air Force Base. This is something I was expecting, not so much for the rest of the plane. There are two across from me who appear to be seriously considering an escalation of force against the last meal we ate in Kuwait. The plane slams into the ground, engines roaring into reverse thrust and jostling cargo and passenger alike.
I think I knew things were serious when I finished strapping myself into the seating that ran along the wall of the aircraft. The dull yellow lettering on the green canisters spells it out in the typical sterility of military linguistics. Rocket, 2.75-inch. HEDP. Four pallets of this, followed by four more of 155mm artillery shells, and a single pallet of baggage for the 23 passengers and four crew.
It occurs to me that if some jackass decides to take a pot shot at us the first thing to get dumped will be everything that I own on this side of the Earth.
I've spent a month so far here. It's like the wild west. It reminds me of why people followed Colonel Kurtz into the jungle of Vietnam and didn't want to come back in Apocalypse Now. We have motorcycles, painted in camouflage and jolly rogers, with infra-red lighting systems, gun racks, and piloted by men with fuck-off huge beards armed with highly modified M4 rifles that exude very serious business. While people I went through training with are worrying about eating another donut in the goddamned DFAC, I realized the other day that the reason why the water shut off in the middle of my shower was that I'd forgotten to plug in the well pump. The two days I spent sleeping on the floor of the Bagram (to be pronounced Bag Ram from now on as this is what happens to you when you go there, you are repeatedly rammed in the bag,) are a million miles away.
My home, two cats, wife. All of it is on a different planet. This isn't Afghanistan. This isn't Earth. It's Planet Motherfucker, where your food rains out of planes piloted by men more concerned with the weather in Qatar than they are with lining up with your DZ properly. Most of the rest of the world is troubled by how the dog got out, the mud here is ankle deep, why the kid is getting a C- in English (again,) we didn't know if the Dutch knew we were over there when they were shooting off that 30mm cannon, when they're getting a new cellular phone, Jesus woman pick up the phone I just want to talk to someone who isn't in a uniform right now, and what it would be like to screw that guy from the Apple Store after hours, holy shit - a working flush toilet.
Tuesday night the President of the United States will say some rather interesting things that will get the pundits fingers all quivering like the erect dicks they really are.
You will likely argue, discuss, pontificate, and then walk away disgusted when your coworker disagrees with your ridiculous hippy-liberal absurdities or nazi-conservative propaganda. I'll be here, waiting for a Pred to call for clearance so everybody and their brother can watch shit explode. I don't care what the President says because this die has already been cast. Not by Obama, Bush, Clinton, or anyone else. The Rapacity of Empire put me here.
And for this I hate you.
I hate you and everything you stand for because you just don't know, you don't want to know, and you want to be absolved of that nagging guilt stemming from this abdication of responsibility by saying that 'I support the troops I just don't like the war' or 'thank you for your sacrifice and my freedom.' You don't know what words like rapacity and empire mean because you were too cool for school and now you want the government to come along and fix your lives. The shitty part is you can't even understand what I am talking about and are probably sitting there at your screen with a full head of steam sputtering about how you're human too and that you matter. Right.
You want to go to Tea Party Rallies, you think the Balloon Boy's parents ought to be charged with endangerment, you want Bush should be impeached immediately, you want your Second Amendment Rights protected. Forgive my cynicism if I suggest that your priorities are on completely backwards.
You are not worried about your kids getting blown half to fuck and gone trying to buy vegetables in the market.
Let me put an image in your head. Imagine your child, screaming in abject panic and sheer primal terror, after they see an arterial spray from their own ruined body shoot a jet of red the diameter of a pencil onto the blue flaking paint of the ceiling some six feet away. Picture yourself, emitting a smell of equal parts burnt hair and seared steak, trying to make sense of the fact that you can't wipe that blood out of your eyes because the arm that had been attached to your shoulder for the last however many years just isn't there anymore. It's almost funny, as maybe if you flip that shitty ragged stump around enough it will quit hurting so much, stop smelling that way, sprout another arm, or some combination of the above.
Legs, faces, arms, shredded by ball bearings, nails, steel, and bone fragments from the bomber and victims lucky enough to die immediately and not wind up bleeding out in the American clinic on a base the occupying the equivalent area of an comfortably large California house lot.
You know the people leaning over you and your child are trying to help, but you fight them anyway, because violence is all you've ever known.
A friend of mine, an Apache pilot in Germany, said it best: "You go to those mountains with some shit, and you bring some shit home. But these things aren't the same."
O Lord, how I hate it here on Planet Motherfucker. And I never want to come home.