"But war, in a good cause, is not the greatest evil which a nation can suffer. War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse. When a people are used as mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets, in the service and for the selfish purposes of a master, such war degrades a people. A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice – a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their free choice – is often the means of their regeneration. A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever-renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other."

Friday, October 26, 2007

Iraq: apparently sandy too

Well, we've been here at lovely Camp Cupcake for a few days and are slowly getting acclimatized to all the changes. For one thing, my brain has finally figured out that it's not in San Diego anymore; for the first time since we got here, I woke up this morning at the decent hour of 0600, rather than 0400 like I have the last few days. A little Ambien before I went to sleep certainly didn't hurt things.

As for the base itself, for a dried-out wadi in the middle of the desert, it's not bad. The chow hall is reputedly the second-largest structure in all of Iraq. I believe it; it's the size of a super-Walmart and serves an astounding selection of food. Most of the original Iraqi army buildings are a little rough around the edges, but the new additions are modern and well-maintained. And the effort it takes to supply this base with electricity and water is beyond imagining; but somehow, out here in the middle of nowhere, we have lights and water for showering and basic hygiene (though you'd be well-advised to use bottled water to brush your teeth; potable by Iraqi standards doesn't mean the same thing to Americans). But it's still the desert, as evidenced by the sand that's near our little housing unit, the squadron buildings, the runways, the chow hall . . . funny, though, from what I'm told the soil itself is actually quite fertile (guess there's a reason it was called the Fertile Crescent back in the day). When it rains here in the winter, you apparently see green stuff growing everywhere. But there's no water to sustain it, so without serious irrigation it doesn't last.

Scorching heat makes any attempt at green-thumbing hard too. We're here after the heat of the summer, but it's still pretty toasty. It cools down quickly in the evenings though, and is quite comfortable at night. Of course, that will turn into "freeze my ass off " cold in the winter, but ah well. This isn't exactly a nation of comforts (proof of this is the long list of critters posted around the base that can bite/sting/give you a bad day).

Well, this long day is almost at an end, as I am. We're here in the Sandbox. More to follow.


Patrick said...

glad to hear you're mellow in Mesopotamia!!! keep us posted!!

and, just so you won't forget...


Ammianus Marcellinus said...

Ian, my parents would like to know your mailing address so they can send you a care package.

Ammianus Marcellinus said...

I realize that this isn't a good forum for transmitting your address; if you could e-mail it to me at nhdemocrat@gmail.com. My parents send care packages to all of Danny and I's friends serving overseas and would like to send you one as well.