In a Corner of the World Nobody Cares About

When I was young, I didn’t understand war. I knew that war could make you dead, and that I didn’t want to be dead, at least not until I was old and preferably so mentally addled that I didn’t understand that death was happening to me. So, from that standpoint, I didn’t understand war, and generally opposed it from a practical, I didn’t want to die, attitude.

But I grew up.

Now war, massive displays of violence, genocide, widespread oppression, these things get to me, and I get emotional. I view the world through a different lens, and perhaps a complex one. Ten years in the military has given me at least a glimmer of insight into the business of war from a militaristic standpoint. I can’t claim to know what it’s like in the trenches, but I’ve known people who do. I’ve talked to seals and marines, often times out on the smoke deck, and it’s the strangest thing. They’re totally normal people.

Some of them believe in what they do and when they fight, they believe in what they’re fighting for, others fight just so that they and their fellow soldiers can stay alive long enough to see their families again.

But my perspective was also changed by fatherhood, by having a family. Having other people that depend upon me, and taking that responsibility and cherishing it so completely. I think about our normal lives, getting groceries, deciding what to have for dinner, whether or not my four-year-old behaves in school or not.

And then I think about it all shattered.

That’s the gut check right there. Take your nice and easy life, and then imagine your door getting kicked in, long obsidian rifles sweeping the room, the harsh tramping of combat boots and unintelligible shouts that your mind refuses to process. Not that it needs to.

In any language you know what they’re telling you; get on the ground and get on the ground right fucking now.

Imagined screams fill my ears, my wife’s screams those of rage, my children, of fear. Having three beautiful women in the house, all of whom I love so dearly, makes me appreciate what it must be like to have them ripped from my life, and to be helpless to do anything about it.

This is what chiefly aggravates me about our policies in the Middle East; the architects of our foreign policy do not appear to see the world through this lens. John McCain, when he sang out, “Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran,” did not seem to have the slightest bit of a clue of what the repurcussions for such a thing would be. When you think about the families that would be torn apart, when you think about turning Iran into another Iraq, that shouldn’t be cause for clever humor; that should make you sick.

And of course there’s Iraq. A country we invaded and ultimately ruined and continue to refuse to get out of the way, for what? Threats that didn’t exist? That the evidence that they didn’t exist had always been there and been available for anyone who wasn’t hell bent on going to war there? To hunt down an enemy that didn’t exist there in the first place? To track down weapons whose existence were confirmed by the flimsiest of sources?

Really?

This is what we chose to shatter families over?

Meanwhile, in a corner of the world that nobody cares about, there was an opportunity for America to do good, to be exactly what it proclaims to be, a beacon of hope and freedom and peace. In Darfur violence has raged for years now, women and children brutally raped and beaten and killed. Millions have been affected, sent fleeing from their homes, many of whom likely will never be able to return.

And, as the UN reports it’s only getting worse, the death toll in the hundreds of thousands. What is almost as bad is that no one is stepping up to stop it. The UN reports that it’s slow to deploy its paltry peace-keeping forces that don’t even extend to thirty-thousand, and they’re stringing this thing on donations.

Donations?

We’re currently in a war that most of us don’t want to be in, selling off huge chunks of national debt to China to do so, and the UN is hoping for enough donations to try and establish peace in Darfur? How does this make sense?

Logistically, I suppose. It’s not like there’s a bunch of oil in Darfur ripe for the taking. No vital resources. Just a whole bunch of people whose lives were shattered by violence when most of them wanted what we all want; to take care of our children, spend some time with our wives and husbands, put food on the table, and wake up the next day to see a happy and healthy family.

I just want to know why we let this happen.

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