"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."

Sunday, September 09, 2012

A change in the weather

There are clouds in the Helmand sky today.  This may not seem like much, but we haven’t seen a cloud since the squadron got here six weeks ago.  There’s been nothing but haze and painfully bright sunshine.  I think summer’s over.

 

Not much new to report, so this will be short and sweet.

 

The temperatures are finally dropping.  Mornings here are now quite pleasant, almost cold.  And the mid-day heat has dropped from hell’s kitchen after a busy dinner service to a mere California wildfire-inducing heat wave.  But the change hasn’t made me any less sunburnt.

 

I’ve flown outside the wire a couple more times, and further, but in the direction we go for test flights there’s nothing to see but more desert.  The famous ring highway is pretty close, and there’s a good amount of traffic on it, though I’m sure most of it is for supplying our base and not stimulating the Afghan economy.

 

Prince Harry showed up out of the blue.  We didn’t even know until I was sent a news link describing how he was here – and magically an Apache pilot; we don’t generally do grunt-to-pilot transitions in the Marine Corps but I guess when you’re a prince, no one’s going to tell you “no” – but I suppose that’s one way to get a naked romp in Vegas out of the headlines.  I really don’t have much use for royalty, or celebrity, or any combination thereof, but I will say this for the Brits: when they decide you need to do some penance, man, do they pile it on you.  The Helmand province is about as far from the temptations of Vegas as you can get on this earth. 

 

That wouldn’t be a bad idea for any number of American celebrities/political royalty.  Instead of getting your own reality TV series, or political talk show, how about Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton, Elliot Spitzer, whats-his-face Weiner, and the like come to Afghanistan and strap on a flak jacket and rifle for a few weeks.  Make them walk point.  Every day.  That might induce a little humility.

 

Speaking of the Apaches, I don’t think I’d ever seen them in flight until coming here.  I was running yesterday when two of them were coming in for landing, and their approach made it look like they were lining me up in their sights.  If I were a Taliban, and I saw that with the knowledge that they WERE lining me up in their sights, I would wet my explosive-lined loin girding.  Those things are built like tanks, look like black demons, and can deliver an ungodly amount of firepower.

 

The second half of season one of “The Wire” has taken longer to get through, due to operational commitments.  It’s still really good though.  It may end up being the only cop show I watch (relax Mom, I’ve got “Republic of Doyle” too, but he’s a PI, not a cop).

 

All the mail I ordered what seems like weeks ago has finally started to trickle in.  Box one is a little disappointing – a pair of tan Crocs so I don’t get shower fungus – but hell, I ordered it, and the next few should be better.  I especially look forward to “No Easy Day”, which I hope is a little less self-congratulatory than “Lone Survivor”.  Oh, Lutrell’s book was good, no doubt, but I grew tired of every second sentence being “(insert random training/operational event here) is why I’m a great American and patriot.”  I also look forward to a birthday package Bree sent which she has described both so vaguely and at length that I have no idea what it is, but I feel like I might be the proud new owner of my own life-sized Transformer CH-53 when I’m done putting it together.

 

That is all.  Stay classy.  Don’t forget we’re out here.

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