Tuesday, March 27, 2007

To What End?

(look closely and you will see two bald eagles snuggled in the branches on the left-hand side. Photo by Aaron Langley 1/07)

I presume everyone here knows I am now, and have always been, against the War in Iraq--for myriad reasons. When the war began, my limited knowledge of history, culture, and politics suggested that the result of our invasion would be pretty much as it has turned out to be. That powerful, highly-educated people with far greater access to the nuances of foreign policy could not see the writing on the wall if we went forward with this invasion and subsequent US-centric blueprint for "rebuilding" Iraq, baffles me.

I don't really want to engage in a dialogue about the war, though. I am more interested in examining the fallout. Therefore this article regarding the suicide of Colonel Ted Westhusing has greatly impacted me--it is rife with the Greek elements, ethos, pathos and mythos! A quick synopsis of the story is of a man of lifelong steel-clad values; not only a true soldier, but an intellectual (professor of English and doctorate in Philosophy teaching at West Point Academy), a father of three children and a staunch supporter in not only the war, but our post-invasion techniques, who took the call to service, and then became so utterly disillusioned with what he observed in Iraq that he committed suicide. The burden of contradiction of reality with his idealistic vision was far too great for him to bear.

The article tells the story far more meticulously than I can, but crediting alternet.org and Robert Bryce of the Texas Observer with source citation, I will simply quote and copy the Colonel's suicide note here for you to ponder:

"Thanks for telling me it was a good day until I briefed you. [Redacted name] -- You are only interested in your career and provide no support to your staff -- no msn [mission] support and you don't care. I cannot support a msn that leads to corruption, human right abuses and liars. I am sullied -- no more. I didn't volunteer to support corrupt, money grubbing contractors, nor work for commanders only interested in themselves. I came to serve honorably and feel dishonored. I trust no Iraqi. I cannot live this way. All my love to my family, my wife and my precious children. I love you and trust you only. Death before being dishonored any more. Trust is essential -- I don't know who trust anymore. [sic] Why serve when you cannot accomplish the mission, when you no longer believe in the cause, when your every effort and breath to succeed meets with lies, lack of support, and selfishness? No more. Reevaluate yourselves, cdrs [commanders]. You are not what you think you are and I know it.

COL Ted Westhusing

Life needs trust. Trust is no more for me here in Iraq."

I can think of no better narrative by which to illustrate the more subtle ways in which the reckless actions of our administration will initiate residual tragedies for decades to come.


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