"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."

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Let it snow

Ah, the quiet of the night shift. It let's you focus on the things that are really important, like blogging, catching up on email, exercising, playing Rome: Total War, and watching Entourage. Entourage is making life almost bearable out here. I know I'm a late-comer to the show, but I'm getting spun up quickly since all the seasons are available on our network's massive shared drive of entertainment. It's a fun show, and while I'm not saying I'd want to trade my life for theirs, every now and then they do something cool and I think to myself: surely I deserve that too. Like when Ari gets Johnny Drama front-row tickets to a U2 concert for his birthday; not only that, Drama gets a birthday shout-out from Bono. So not fair.

On the other hand, does Drama get to brag about running in the snow in the Iraqi desert? No, but I do. I just got back from a little midnight jog around some of the taxiways, and it was snowing the whole time: big, thick flakes like you get on balmy January evenings in New Hampshire. It was glorious. Of course, the days are still relatively warm, so none of the snow stuck to the ground; but between the blowing snowflakes and the low clouds reflecting the lights of the airfield, it was about as close to being back home as I'll get out here. Hopefully this isn't a one-time thing.

In other interesting news, apparently we're turning over
this province to the Iraqis in March. That doesn't mean I get to go home early; in fact, even if we started pulling every American out of this country tomorrow, the 53 community would probably be the last to leave since we'd get tasked to haul everyone and their gear out first. Still, it's a big step in the right direction, especially considering a year ago this place was considered a lost cause.

Also, buried more deeply in the headlines, was the story about Iranian patrol boats playing chicken with Navy vessels in the Straits of Hormuz. One of our pilots has a close association with another pilot stationed on one of those ships (well, they're married, I guess that's close) and he said that she described the incident pretty much as the media did: the patrol boats came screaming toward our ships, dropped things in the water ahead of them, and generally acted like they were about to start something serious. So serious, in fact, that apparently the ship's commander was about to give the Iranians a dose of .50 cal before they decided to call it a day. And so no one thinks that the commander was being a cowboy, I'll point out that we have pretty restrictive rules of engagement out here: if he was ready to pull the trigger, then he believed the Iranians were out for blood. All in all, it seems to be a very strange incident, and hopefully an isolated one. But it's a friendly reminder that our neighbors to the east don't like to play nice, and are worth keeping an eye on.

ADDENDUM: apparently the snowfall last night was more widespread than I though; Baghdad hasn't seen snow for 100 years. Cool stuff.

1 comment:

BB1 said...

Yea man! How freakin cool is that that you got to see the first snowfall in Iraq in 100 years?? Chalk that one up on the "to do in life" list eh?