The War with Self: A Soldier's Lament
War, for those that have experienced it, never ends. Long after the explosions cease and the bleeding stops the screams will echo through your dreams for the rest of your nights.
As if war wasn’t enough to drive any sane man toward an early grave, it’s the lack of cause that stings the worst. This is the source of the alarming suicide rate prevalent in our armed forces. After it’s all said and done, you try to justify what you’ve been through, but with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq it’s impossible. The only Afghan locals I had interaction with had never heard of New York or the twin towers, or even Bin Laden for that matter.
Goat herders and farmers see weapon-mounted vehicles roll down their dirt path and naturally desire that they leave. If China destroyed all our defenses and government and installed a communist government in its place, we would be placing IEDs in the streets, too. We were the evil invaders in this war; our friends died, hard men cried. The question “why” is the deepest pain for those who served.
I was in Afghanistan when Bin Laden was killed. It was a day of joy and relief—the war was over. But we had been fooled; there was no intention of returning home. Not long after that I stood for over two and a half hours, salute held high, while more than 30 bodies where loaded into a plane. The promise of a return home was granted to the remains of men far braver than I. Life goes on…for some.
As I hold back tears just trying to write these words, I feel justified in my dissent. This is an opportunity to speak for those who have no voice. The question remained: what to say? I thought on that for over a year, and one more deployment. Why had these men died? Why are we still fighting?
It is clear to me now that a small group of individuals is becoming so rich off our sweat and blood that they don’t want the wars to end. It’s because of the billions of dollars being spent on drones and beans and bullets that our brothers and sisters have to fight for their lives.
This is not a war for democracy, or freedom, or justice. This is a war for profit, for stock prices, and fat dividends. To the moneyed few, we are just pawns on a chess board, ripe for strategic sacrifice. Brainwashed to believe in the honor of our cause, we march mindlessly into the meat grinder. But we are not mindless, and now we are trained in all the tactics you’ve used against us.
The truth will become clear to more and more of those you had so callously trampled. I am not the first dissenter, and I will not be the last.
A message to my comrades: These men that have claimed ownership of your body and your rights think that you will obey without question as you have been trained to do. I urge you to look in the mirror and ask the questions you can’t bear to think. Why did my brothers and sister pay the ultimate price? Why do we continue to fight? What purpose does this war serve? Why does the government fear us so much they will not allow us to speak?
Because you face greater punishment for your speech, the words you speak hold more weight. Consider the consequences of speaking out against this war, and then weigh them against your morality. Can you live with yourself when your friends’ lives are on the line for no just cause? Can you sit idly by while a few greedy men profit on your pain?
If the answer to any of these questions lead you to dissent then stand with me; peacefully, but not quietly.
Follow Micah's journey on his twitter account @unoccupier.