"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."

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Kuwait, day 5: yep, still sandy

I was really looking forward to my first post from Al Asad, waxing about what had changed, what hadn't, how it was like I never left, etc. Unfortunately, I can't do that yet, because I've spent the better part of a week sitting on my ass at our layover spot in Kuwait. I don't want to complain, because there's really nothing to complain about. We can sleep as much as we want, exercise as much as we want, watch movies and play games to our heart's content and no one cares; and we're getting paid for it. In fact, the only real gripe is that the cots we're sleeping on are so ungodly uncomfortable that our whole advance party has chronic muscle spasms in the exact same spot on our backs. But I still have this vaguely guilty feeling about living so aimlessly. And I think it's because when I goof off, I like to have done something to earn it (or, in the case of many a day in college, knowing that in about an hour, I'd have a paper to write, so the earning was retroactive). And we've done nothing but eat and sleep and wander around and sleep again in the confines of this few square miles of tent and sand. A day or two of this would have been fine, and it's certainly helped us get our bodies shifted to Middle Eastern time. But, believe it or not, we just want to get to work and get this deployment going so we can get it over with. Actually being in Iraq helps with that.

But like I said, I really can't complain. On the plane ride over here, I began my deployment with what's become a tradition of mine on the way out (if I'm allowed to use 'tradition' to mean 'this time and last time'): watching 300 and Transformers, and reading a Steven Pressfield novel. This year's novel was Last of the Amazons, in which Pressfield takes some ancient historical fragments from Plutarch and Homer and weaves together a bloody and glorious tale about Theseus, his seduction of the Amazon queen, and the resulting Amazonian invasion and siege of very ancient Athens. From pretty spartan historical material, the story is quite riveting, taking us from the walls of Athens to the wild shores of the Black Sea and down through a literal lake of fire in the Underworld. The man's damned entertaining when it comes to the classical world, and I hope I run out of deployments before he runs out of novels.

Well, my internet card's about to run out. Time to get back to the tent and see which movies on my hard drive I haven't watched yet. I'm running out of them. Oh, and by the way, for anyone who hasn't yet seen Clint Eastwood's Flags of our Fathers: save yourself two hours and go mow the lawn instead. I didn't think it'd be possible to take the battle for Iwo Jima - one of the Marine Corps' bloodiest battles, its most famous battle of the 20th century, and one that gave us the most iconic photograph in modern American military history - and make it boring. But Eastwood does. I don't know if it's the flashing back and forth between the battle and the survivors' aftermath, or the fact that I couldn't tell who half the characters were before they were killed off, or that the ending dragged on about twenty minutes longer than it should have; but taken together, Eastwood took a great book and turned it into a tedious film.

Hopefully my next dispatch will be from Al Asad itself. Until then, you stay classy America. Thanks for stopping by.

P.S. Our first sandstorm is starting outside. Yay.


Pat Brown said...

Keep us posted, bro! Glad to hear all is well. For the record, I'd rather put my tax dollars towards recreation for Marines than economic stimuli any day of the week.

Anonymous said...

Transformers 2 is due out in the near future, and, so long as they still cast Megan Fox, I'll be dutifully watching. Stay safe, keep the posts coming and stay outta the sand.

Cincinnatus said...

Pat, I'm so glad you feel that way. Because while your tax dollars for us might not directly create jobs, it certainly makes it easier to do things like call home and get decent meals three times a day. Also, if you have some spare cash lying around, you might want to consider giving some to the USO; they have an amazing morale tent here, with phones, internet, movies, and all kinds of game platforms to keep us busy, and all of it's free for us.

I believe Meghan Fox will be reprising her role from Transformers. That in and of itself is reason enough to watch, but you'll also see some of my brother 53 pilots out of Miramar flying their machines in this new installment. I really wish I'd been able to land that gig for my squadron, but someone down the road has connections I don't. Anyway, it should still be cool.

Winefred said...

Greetings, oh marooned one. Hope this delay doesn't mess things up for you at the other end, pre-wedding! Just read an instalment of "Big Hollywood" blog which alerts you to the coming of a band called Cowboy Mouth coming to Kuwait and various points in Iraq in early March. Keep an eye out.