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Politics At The Trash Can

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"Sorry I have not written much lately. We have had a hard couple days. We are running full tilt. And always we have lots of kids in the clinic. We are tired. But we are well."

Earlier in the day, I received this email from The Hubs a.k.a. my husband,  a surgeon deployed to Afghanistan. As someone in the medical field for over twenty years, I could only imagine what had ripped through the trauma center. Hence, I was in no mood for a round of Trash Can Politics.

"How is your husband?"

The person asking caught me as I was taking the trash cans to the curb. I've assiduously avoided her, since every inquiry about The Hubs is followed by a cutting opinion about the war in Afghanistan. She is, like many in this suburb, tucked away from the untidiness of life. Here in the land of the car, there are few amputee veterans trying to catch buses, nor in plain view are mothers raising four children while their spouses are at war. This community is voluntarily cut off from the vagaries of the larger world, mired in static rhetoric and conventional wisdom. This town is rose bushes and palm trees.

Turns out she's watched Charlie Wilson's War, her launching point at the Trash Can Summit on a hot summer day. She continued, her range extending to Blackwater, as I walked across the street to move an ailing neighbor's cans to the curb as well. Nothing was going to deter her from expressing her disgust, not my own reading and research inPackage we sent to The Hubs for the children in Afghanistanto culture, my correspondence with people on the ground, my daily review of milblogs, or my camping out in the library where such books are kept.

"And why are we doing this? For what? Are you going to change their culture?" she asked.

Such a broad question cannot be answered. Especially, while walking barefoot on the black asphalt and hauling cans to the street. But it didn't matter. She didn't really want an answer. People like her never do.

Like many, her stance is that it's hopeless. We should pull out.

As in:

"Sorry people of Afghanistan, sorry we messed up your villages, and sorry ladies … sorry we gave you a glimpse of education. Sorry, no more soccer games. The Taliban will take over the stadium in Kabul to mutilate and murder again. We have to go now. Because we as Americans don't deal with hopelessness very well. We were mistaken. Sorry for the bother. Our roses are awaiting."

Oh, spare me the knee jerk reactions. Spare the soldiers who have their asses on the line, spare the Afghans who are working with us and risking their lives. Spare the women who went to vote for the very first time. Don't even insinuate that everyone in countries around the world who has died fighting this scourge of oppression did so for nothing.Trash Cans Unless you want to stare into the abyss of hell, don't ever approach a milspouse and tell him or her that what their loved ones are doing is crap. Spare us your pontificating and inference of your higher moral ground. Watching Charlie Wilson's War doesn't give you the fiber to call the shots.

 I pushed out the last trash can, and told her that eight years ago, both houses of Congress went along with this thing. Only one congresswoman from the San Fransisco Bay Area thought to question it, and was roundly dismissed. Imagine that! Only one out of hundreds thought to raise her hand.

That wasn't a vote, it was herd of lemmings jumping off a cliff. But whether or not we agree or disagree, the reality is we are there.  Unless we start listening to the guys with boots on the ground, purely partisan responses  stall us, make us behave like Bambi-in-headlights. The only solutions lie beyond partisan politics, and beyond the mindsets clung to by the right or the left.

We are there. And no one knows that better than military families.

It was an unpleasant exchange. But in her mind, perhaps her own war was won by sniping at me. Now, she can get back to her roses until she feels the urge to do it all over again.

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About Kanani

  • Carolyn, You’re right. And thank you for your support!
    When people say, “Send humanitarian aide,” they often don’t realize that it’s the military that does a lot of delivering of both goods and services.

  • Carolyn Stark

    We can debate and argue until hell freezes over, and it doesn’t do one Afghan or Iraqi any good. We’re there and we can help by supporting the military…send clothing, shoes, etc…..that’s peaceful, and it’s an offering of understanding to the innocent victims through our military who are risking their lives for those very helpless people.

  • John Lake

    You are a pleasure to read! The war in Afghanistan is considerably more warranted than the debacle in Iraq. Obama is unlikely to do anything of a political order; a relief from the ways and means of the previous administration.
    “A herd of lemmings, jumping off a cliff” – I must grin, or shed a tear for my long gone youth.
    I hope I don’t appear in the ilk of your neighbors!

  • Yankee Mom
    Thanks for commenting. I hope your daughter is doing well. I’m also grateful for her service to the Veterinary Corps. I saw some photos of them helping to doctor goats in Afghanistan. Anyway, yes, you’re right. And you’ve been a fabulous source of support for many.
    Coffeypot, Again, Navy Nice …especially retired, is definitely on the crusty side, but needed at times! Thank you for your support as well.
    Here’s a video to watch. The video is on the middle of the page. Just click on it.

  • Ruvy,
    Twenty years ago, none of us knew the word blog. Or Blogger. And Twitter was something a bird did. There are just new words all the time.
    Milspouse…. as in military spouse.
    Milblog…. as in military blog
    Milblogger…. as in military blogger

    You’ve just coined the phrase Kilospouse! Which I must say, is mucho cool.

  • Look Baronius, I can’t help it if I come across as a brute, I have a man’s mind, after all, and don’t ever forget that!

    (Andy, sadly I’m imprisoned on planet fruitcake at the moment, where wars no one wants just spring up all over the place and force people to take part in them.)

  • #64 is right on target, Mark. I’d add that in addition, Cindy, it will only deepen your suspicion.

  • Baronius

    Andy, this is partially my fault. I was trying to find the right way to describe Cindy’s self-righteous sloganeering. I chose a wrong word. The word also allowed Kanani to say that she doesn’t feel the impact of Cindy’s actions – which doesn’t mean that Cindy wasn’t malicious, only that she was ineffective.

  • Cindy says in comment #30 Grief is part of the process we go through when we recognize we have done wrong. When we recognize we support wrong, we reconcile that through grieving.

    So, explain to me what wrong I ever did to any relative or friend of mine that’s died! How does grieving for a loved one who’s gone equate to any wrong doing? What fucking planet are you from?

  • Kalani,

    one milspouse

    Does this mean that one thousand of you equals one spouse? And that one million of you equals a kilospouse?

    What IS happening to the language I learned at my mother’s knee anyway?

    oh, i c. if u hav to ask ur 2 stupid to no.

  • Nobody wants war? Oh come on now, sure they do.

    (People no longer believe in Santa, yet they still think wars materialize all by themselves. Look over there, it’s a war that no one wants. It just appeared out of thin air.)

  • zingzing

    “Nobody wants war, not Bush…”

    i’m pretty sure that bush wanted to go to war. or at least people within the bush administration. maybe not to afghanistan, but to iraq. he had to make the flimsiest of excuses to go in there, and when people balked, he just flat-out lied his way into it (or maybe he was manipulated by his handlers). either way, someone wanted to go to war. and that’s why we have 2 of them! always wanted twins.

  • Wow. Very poignant.

    Nobody wants war, not Bush, not the people in Congress. But what’s the alternative now that we’re there? Pull out and leave them to the devices of people who really don’t give a damn.

  • Ah Kanani ~ what a lovely neighbor you have! I have experienced so many of the same kind of conversations just standing in line at the store while purchasing items to send to the troops. I have been flipped off at stoplights for the Army stickers I have on my car. I have been yelled at and told my daughter is brainwashed, duped and pathetic for joining the big bad evil military machine. That I am so very proud of my daughter for stepping and volunteering was something these folks just could not get their heads around. I never once asked these people for their politics, advice or opinions. As the above were so freely given, I freely gave forth my opinion of their very rude and insensitive behavior. Can’t say I was always “Army nice” but then I’ve never been known for my diplomacy.
    It is the height of rudeness and crassness to attack someone’s loved one for doing what they are doing, especially if one is not even going to listen to the person’s response.
    And surprise, surprise, I really don’t give a hoot what anyone’s opinions are on my daughter’s service or the war. I’m rather busy supporting her and my adopted troops and praying they stay safe.
    God bless your husband, Kanani, for all he is doing.

  • It’ll give you words with which to formulate what you suspect.

    Oh. I think I understand that. I should learn to shut up for a minute or two.

  • Clav,

    I am frequently surprised. And let me tell you, it’s not always like when someone is giving me a party.

  • huh?

  • Mark

    It’ll give you words with which to formulate what you suspect.

  • Clavos

    Stand by, Cindy.

    You may be surprised.

  • Roger,

    Les probably understands all that mumbo jumbo you and Mark are talking about–just what I’d need–to be the forth wheel of a triumvirate.

    (So, will I have a clue what you are philosophers are talking about after I read those things?)

  • Coffeypot

    You be Army Nice; I’ll be Navy Nasty.

    I would tell her, “You are basing your whole theory on a fucking movie??? From Liberal movies, newspapers and PTA Socialist Groups? You have no idea what is going on over there, what caused it, what the history of the country is or what we are actually doing there. If you don’t mind, I prefer you keep your bigoted, illiterate and unintelligent rants to yourself. Study the history and the region and forget the media and the eye candy, monitor reading morons on the news and you might come up with a though of your own. Until then, if I want any shit out of you I will squeeze your head.”

    Go Navy!

  • It’s overdetermined. “Governance” is the limit of intelligibility.

  • Mark

    All that governmentalizability stuff. The mutual overdetermination of institutions and individuals.

    Give me a moment to come up to speed.

  • Foucault speaks of the development of the “police” concept, a rather modern development. It relieves the military from the task of enforcing order.

    I’m too lazy to look up the relevant quote, but the idea is that the lower orders are co-opted (the sixties’ term) to keep the rest of the population under control.

    Just as with “criminals.” Again, the idea is to create a cleavage between the proletariat (the unwashed masses who have bought into the capitalist system of production) and those who refuse to comply.

    It’s bourgeoisie morality, reinforced by the courts.

  • Mark

    So when you ‘flip’ that you miss the real intent – killing.

  • Yes, it is “saving the world” for such as I.

  • I’m afraid I turned him off. We had a heated exchange when he accused me of fascism.

    Don’t worry about the syllabus. Just get Eco’s book. I’ll try to condense Habermas for you – the up-to-date Critical Theory.

    Lyotard, though, is indispensible.

  • Mark

    So, like, you mean, such as: the military is the hyper real version of the discipline of civilian economic life?

  • PS: I wish Les was here, too.

    Yeah, me too, I miss Les.

    (um, there seem to be another two readings added that were not on the original syllabus–but okay, if that is what it takes to save the world, I am game.)

  • No thread. It’s one on one.

    Here are the three texts:

    Umberto Eco “Travels in Hyper Reality” – the point of interest is the interpretive essay of Foucault’s Power/Knowledge, namely, “Language, Power, Force.”

    “Habermas and Modernity,” Richard J. Bernstein, ed.

    “The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge (Theory and History of Literature, Volume 10)” and/or “The Postmodern Explained: Correspondence, 1982-1985” by
    Jean-Francois Lyotard.

    This ought to bring us up to date – the cutting edge of current affairs and their most lucid elucidation.

    I figure, in between you, Cindy, and I, we should crack the case wide open.

    PS: I wish Les was here, too.

  • Mark

    Cool, Rog. Let’s rock!

    Where’s the thread?

  • I just looked that up Roger, here is a part of one of the definitions:

    …a state with three different military leaders who all claim to be the sole leader

    Sounds like fun! LOL

    (sorry, I decided to have some wine, everything seems hilarious, carry on)

  • Don’t you worry, I’ll disarm him. I’m glad you’ve joined though. You’re part of the triumvirate.

  • Oh, I am supposed to be doing what I said in # 47, see ya!

  • lol, funny (just not chatty – I’ll leave it to you to reform him though Roger. If anyone can you can.)

  • lol Mark. I find it hard to concentrate on a single task. I usually read three-five books all at the same time. But okay. I will finish the story before I come back.

    (told you Roger, he’s not very chatty 🙂

  • I don’t worry about what people think. But anyway, I want to discuss Foucault with you, and Habermas and Lyotard. Cindy is part of the group discussion. So I do ask for your participation, unless for some unbeknown to me reason, you’re too humble or not up to the task.

  • Clavos

    Get a…aahh the hell with it.

  • Mark

    I’ve been more than slightly apprehensive that the congregation might call it love and ban us to a ‘room‘.

  • So Mark, why are you eluding me? I’ve been trying to get your attention for days.

  • It is admirable, Baronous, that you offer a show of support. I do too. The question remains, what good will it do when the spouses are faced with the body bags. Will it go any further than a letter from Pentagon?

    This is a conundrum. These wars are fought on the foreign soil. Only by extension – a very nebulous extension – could they be considered as being in America’s self-defense. Self-interest, perhaps, but that’s not the same thing, is it now?

    No question, the foot soldiers have joined for a variety of reasons and, be that as it may, they are in harm’s way, for which reason not only they but the spouses deserve our sympathies. But let’s not forget all the while that there are questions – even among the military as I indicated in the above comment. It’s far from a cut and dry issue. There is a difference of opinion.

    So while our sympathies by all means should rest with all those who are stuck with the situation, let’s not take our eyes of the large issue and sweep it under the carpet. Are these ware necessary for our nation’s survival? Aren’t we sending our youth to face risks and dangers, maiming and death, for the sake of political ambitions or that other, high-sounding phrase like “national interest”? Is it a just war, absolutely necessary, and if so, why? Again, extending our sympathies is all fine and good, but not if it comes at the expense of not asking these tough, hard-ball questions. As Americans, the free and democratic society we take ourselves to be, these questions have to be asked – of ourselves, our government, and our leaders. It’s our obligation as responsible citizens and human beings.

    I just thought I’d expand on your expression of sympathy by underscoring the need for reflection.

  • Mark

    Cindy, forget this argument and its emotionalism. Just tell us what happened with the fucking chocolate! (You have to imagine this ‘said’ with the appropriate level of gonzo energy.)

  • Baronius

    Kanani & T&S, the vast majority of the country respects your husbands’ sacrifice and your own – even those who oppose our current wars. Every time you hear a complaint, remember the thousand other voices praising you.

  • Not everyone has been duped, T&A. Many had gone with best intentions. But you cannot ignore at the same time the low morale among the military, the suicide rates, the extended tours of duty. That, too, is part of the story.

  • T&S

    Cindy- Thank you for essentially telling me that my husband has been duped into fighting for the freedom of women, men and children who live in countries ruled by either ruthless dictators or militant extremists and their goons with no sense of morality or decency. Thank you for calling my husband a murderer even though the man he killed was willing to blow up an entire market full of helpless civilians simply wanting to pick up food for dinner. Thank you for telling me that my “grief” for the things he has had to endure and the hardships our family has gone through as a result of this war is really just a way for me to deal with our guilt.

    And thank you for voicing your opinion so loudly… for speaking so freely about something you could never understand and clearly don’t have the compassion, sympathy or gumption to adequately comprehend. And to think, my husband is fighting for people like you, who are willing to call him names and throw him under the bus, so that you can speak your thoughts without fear of repercussions… much like the people the countries he fights for.

  • $32,

    Of course! May I just add that all sensible people undergo consciousness shifts (or at least they should) and that not everyone is at the same level. It’s a life process. And for this reason, perhaps some people – and Kanani comes to mind – are more conflicted about the issue than you or I. Consequently, it’s easier for us to denounce this or that theater of operation than it is for her.

    I still say that a constructive dialogue among sensible people is an ever-present possibility, and I never want to squander the opportunity.

  • Well, there you have it Baronius. I’m causing no grief and your argument is moot.

    But, I’ll address it anyway. I don’t think you understand Gandhi very well. I’m also not surprised by that.

  • Baronius

    Cindy, by Ghandi’s standards, it doesn’t matter how you justify the pain you’re causing. You oppose slavery, even slavery for the “right” reasons. How do you support saying things that you know will hurt the feelings of an innocent woman, who turned to this site to vent about exactly this kind of insensitivity? Isn’t that simply bullying for the “right” reasons?

  • Oh, so it would seem I’m dealing with Cindy Sheehan.

    I think Cindy gives herself more grief than she does to others.

    I don’t accept any part of Cindy’s grief. If you’ve read Thomas Merton’s works, or his five journals, you’d know that you cause no grief with me. It’s yours to use as a sword (as you do) or to put yourself out beyond your comfort zone and use it as an olive branch.

    But it would seem you choose the sword.

  • In real life, I don’t talk to people who are in the military as, nothing I say will help and I don’t want to hear their misguided claims about how the US is spreading freedom and democracy.

    In all fairness, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a member of the armed services claim that.

    I have, however, heard numerous civilians informing them, and us, that that’s what they’re doing.

  • Roger,

    That is an interesting post. Have you looked at how the military markets for recruits?

    It basically plays on most of those things you have recognized as misguided or lacking opportunity. These ideas, you and I recognize in the individual as being misguided in some way, the govt also recognizes. That’s why all their literature is aimed at capitalizing on them.

    Have a look at any military web site. Ads are aimed at a target audience that is young (one that plays video games, actually) or desperate for a way to succeed in this cesspool of existence.

  • Baronius,

    I read (and reread) the article. I also stated that I am not in opposition to surgeons or medics. If I am causing Kanani grief, then I hope it is for the right reasons. I hope it is a grief that inspires her to understand why supporting war is wrong, as opposed to a grief that her husband’s life is being risked and I (meaning the collective I, or people like me) don’t understand. Because I do understand. My position is one that values the lives of both Afghans and the soldiers who have been duped into thinking that what they are doing is right.

    If she feels the need to justify war in order that her husband’s deeds are seen to be valuable, she doesn’t need to do that for my account. Her husband’s deeds are valuable to me, even if he is not a pacifist. Her husband is saving lives. That is a different thing than taking lives.

    Grief is part of the process we go through when we recognize we have done wrong. When we recognize we support wrong, we reconcile that through grieving. I have a lot of grief. It’s helped me keep going in the right direction. So, I hope that if I have caused grief, it’s been the good kind.

  • . . . fully-developed . . .

  • There is only one thing to add. Individuals may end up in the theater of conflict for a variety of reasons – some may be humanitarian (like the good surgeon here); others may have thought of excitement and glory, a (misguided?) sense of patriotism; others yet because they felt there were no viable options for them to advance and “better themselves” in ours, so open a society. Less than fully-development consciousness – probably. But the point to keep in mind, some of these people (not all!) may be such puppets in a marionette play that is neither scripted nor devised by most of them.

    Besides, I don’t believe Kanani was necessarily justifying the war effort. I believe she was just as torn by this conflict as many others – only trying to deal with the situation that life has dealt her.

  • Baronius

    Cindy, do you realize that you personally are causing grief to Kanani by your statements? If you don’t, you should reread the article. If you do, then how do you reconcile your harming another with your stated goal of peace?

  • Kanani,

    There aren’t two sides to the issue of whether or not it’s okay to take people’s lives. There is nothing that any military person could say to me that could provide the balanced view you are suggesting. In this case, there is a right view and an insane view.

    To have a ‘balanced’ view would be to willingly allow insanity to become a part of one’s view..

  • …and bring peace not only to the outside world but within.


    It isn’t a result of balance to accept just a little slavery, or slavery for ‘the right reasons’. The same is true of war. Say yes to peace.

    “There is no way to peace…peace is the way.” – A.J. Muste

    “I am not only a pacifist but a militant pacifist. I am willing to fight for peace. Nothing will end war unless the people themselves refuse to go to war.” – Albert Einstein

    “Support the troops who refuse to fight.” (Courage to Resist)

    “I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.” – Mahatma Gandhi

    “What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?” – Mahatma Gandhi, Non-Violence in Peace and War

    Martin Luther King, Jr. on War

    “In all history there is no war which was not hatched by the governments, the governments alone, independent of the interests of the people, to whom war is always pernicious even when successful.” – Leo Tolstoy

  • Such anger, sarcasm, doubt, hatred and intolerance dwells in the world, and indeed at times in each of us.

    And each of us travels through the fiery world. The challenge is to find balance that helps us become more informed, fulfilled, and open –even to dissent, in order carry forth and bring peace not only to the outside world but within.

    It is the quandary we all face in a very imperfect, unjust world. To find the center of our own humanity so that we may proceed.
    It is what I hope every soldier will be able to do when he or she comes home. I hope they can find those meditative moments even whilst in the midst of chaos. And I hope our leaders find the wisdom to do it too.

  • And Cindy, before you blow up in anger, remember that I was AGAINST the war in Vietnam, and were I in danger of being drafted, I would have fled – not to Sweden or Canada like a coward – but to Israel, where I could at least believe in what I was doing were I called on to fight.

    And I NEVER CALLED ANY AMERICAN SOLDIER A BABY KILLER, OR GENOCIDAL MANIAC. They went overseas to defend my ass, even if I didn’t agree with why, a fact I never forgot. And too many of them returned injured – or dead – another fact I never forgot.

  • Cindy, you say,

    In real life, I don’t talk to people who are in the military as, nothing I say will help and I don’t want to hear their misguided claims about how the US is spreading freedom and democracy.

    That is not open-mindedness. It is the worst and nastiest kind of snobbery I could think of. While soldiers may be engaged in organized killing, and may not at all be spreading freedom or democracy, they are defending the relative security you live in – a point you ought never forget.

    There are times when I am truly regretful that foreign soldiers have not been able to occupy American cities, humiliate American men and rape American women. This is one of those times. You might not like the cause American soldiers are sent overseas to accomplish, or agree with it. But you would not hold your nose and refuse to talk to them as though they were a lower species of human.

  • Neither the US nor Jehadies and Taliban,
    Long Live the Struggle of Independent and Democratic Forces of Afghanistan!

    The US and Her Fundamentalist Stooges are
    the Main Human Rights Violators in Afghanistan

    Let’s rise against the war crimes of U.S. and its fundamentalist lackeys!

    The US Government Wants War,
    the People of US and the World Want Peace!

    Those are a few selections of articles you can find on RAWA. Here is a direct link to their photo gallery. (As a courtesy, for those who manage to miss it for reasons other than being open-minded, which I am sure you all are.)

  • Andy, She’s a lovely lady with a lovely garden. Army nice is as good as it will ever get.

    Ruvy, thank you.

    Baronius, There’s no telling people who have made up their mind what to watch. Army nice is good enough.

    Cindy, I have been through the RAWA site before. In fact, there’s a local chapter in nearby SB and Mavis has long been a supporter as well. For many years I worked in equity and education for women an girls through a large NPO.

    So my question to you, why as an open minded individual, won’t you talk to people in the military? Are you closed off to the chance of the complexity of what we think could be perhaps much deeper than you assume? Boards..boards can be quite inflammatory. And unless you actually go and sit with someone for the express purpose of speaking and listening …then the boards can be no different than a curbside encounter.

    Let’s put it this way: Emma Skye, Sarah Chayse, Greg Mortenson …all take a great amount of time to talk to the military. If they do, perhaps you can too.
    It’s called balance.

  • OH and btw, John Kenneth Galbraith, the brilliant man who coined the phrase ‘the conventional wisdom’ would roll over in his grave on hearing your application of it.

  • We are there. And no one knows that better than military families.

    She didn’t really want an answer. People like her never do.

    Not being one of those ‘people like her’, you will probably be open-minded and willing to spend some time learning what women on this site have to say: RAWA. Because, clearly, you are very unlike your neighbor, who is part of a …community [that] is voluntarily cut off from the vagaries of the larger world, mired in static rhetoric and conventional wisdom.

    (Disclaimers: 1) I am uncritical of surgeons and medics. 2) In real life, I don’t talk to people who are in the military as, nothing I say will help and I don’t want to hear their misguided claims about how the US is spreading freedom and democracy. But, this is a political blog, not a curbside.)

  • Baronius

    Explain to your neighbor that if she really wants to understand Afghanistan, she should watch “Ghost Rider”. After watching that movie, she’ll never talk to you again.

  • You know, Kanani, you are not REQUIRED to acknowledge this woman at all. She knows she is being hurtful, and she is enjoying that fact, no matter what her facial expression may be when she spouts her opinions.

    I’d give here the cold shoulder and the silent treatment. She doesn’t deserve better from you. Cut her off like the cur she is.

  • I guess it’s good to live in a military town…our trash can conversations are usually pretty pleasant.

    I like that term Kanani, “Army Nice”. I take that to mean a respectful hello or hi, but no invitations to the kids birthday parties…at least that’s close to what “Navy Nice” would be…the only difference being that we’d pee in their flower beds late at night too!

    Roger, I’m not sure if you ever served, but if you did, then you’d know that those on the left have no problem coming up to someone in uniform and letting them know how much they honestly believe that anyone in uniform only does it because he or she can’t make it on the outside, or worse, spew the crap that Clavos and his mates had too when they got back…being called baby killers and worse.

    And no offense to those of you on the left, but you always seem to get louder when you have one of your own in the whitehouse.

  • Wow, what a story!

  • Roger, We’re Army nice to them, now. I think this is “good enough.”

  • Exactly, zing. Individual circumstances have nothing to do with the operation. No foot soldier is responsible for US foreign policy. Especially if they’re in the medical corps. So in cases like that, you had said it right: fuck politics.

  • zingzing

    the thing is that HE is over there, whether she likes it or not, whether he likes it or not, or whether the neighbor likes it or not. that’s not going to change based on the neighbor’s (or the wife’s, or, quite possibly, the husband’s) opinion.

    talking to a person at least twice-removed from any such decision is pointless, and telling that person that what her husband is doing is pointless is doubly stupid and could actually be hurtful (especially if the wife doesn’t believe in the cause of this war). because there’s nothing she can do. no policy decision is coming from her, so why burden her?

    and if she DOES believe in what her husband is doing (and for fuck’s sake, he’s a surgeon working on local children…) then, whatever the woman says isn’t going to change her mind. the ultimate pointlessness and potential for emotional distress is…

    well, now i’m just repeating the blog in whole, it seems.

    next time, tell the woman to write to her senator. or steal her identity and sign her up for active duty. sounds to me like this guy (the husband) has his heart in the right place, as does the writer, whatever politics are at stake. fuck politics.

  • Well, it’d seem to me you’ve got to take the initiative. And if it fails, at least you know you’ve done your best. And then you can write her off – for good.

  • Ah, but Roger, It’s her way, very disarming and she lacks that mechanism that says, “Just say hello.”

  • Why don’t you invite her for lunch or something, have a one-on-one?

  • Kanani’s story is very telling, and depressing. I hate to sound banal, but to quote a famous line, but what we have here is a failure to communicate.

  • Clavos
    I always wish I had a better response. I might come up with a list of quick rebuttals that are ten words or less.

    But yes, it always catches you off guard and usually isn’t related to anything that you’re doing at the time.

  • Clavos

    But Clavos, could you make your position clear? It was friends and acquantainces who you’ve dealt with, not perfect strangers.

    No, actually it was mostly strangers, and as in Kanani’s case, neighbors and others with only a casual relationship.

  • Clavos –Thank you for your service.
    This isn’t the first nor is it the worst pile of crap I’ve had to deal with. But invariably, it comes when I’m just trying to carry out a task –taking the trash out or buying a Rx.

    I’ll write more about the dangers of moving this off our collective radar and what that will mean to the longterm benefits for veterans.

    Roger –thank you!

  • But Clavos, could you make your position clear? It was friends and acquantainces who you’ve dealt with, not perfect strangers.

  • Very well written and engaging.

  • Clavos

    Forty three years ago this month, I came home from a tour in Vietnam. In the first few months, until I learned not to speak of my service, I was subjected to some pretty vile invective from seemingly nice, upright citizens.

    Your article really resonates with me.