[Hat tip to Audrey for this one.]
Here is a real situation in Iraq that is rich in contradictions and symbols, beginning with the mortar attack on the Burger King and Cinnabon. It occurs to me that in Vietnam we had no Burger King. My infantry unit had three standdowns while I was there, each less than four days, with two on fire bases, where we smoked dope in other people’s fighting positions. The rest of the time, after we went into a second counter-offensive, we spent every night (up to 60 consecutive days at a time) sleeping (if you could call it that) on the ground, exposed to mosquitoes and rain. Perhaps the Rumsfeldian notion is that if we give them A/C and Burger King and Game-Boy, they’ll take longer before the institutional rot sets in. Personally, I think our opium, skag, and pot got us through more than these corporate icons would have (Thanks, CIA!).
I wonder if this will not unintentionally create a mass critique of consumer capitalism in the ranks, if it won’t move many from opposition to the war to opposition to our ubiquitous happy-face corporate logos.
Now we have mutinies because units are afraid they will begin massacring Iraqis. Get your heads around that the next time you hear Clinton and Obama delivering their smooth high-school gym mush about all the special qualities it will take to manage the complexities of the war. This is a situation of pure structural evil. -SG
Spc. Gerry DeNardi stood at the on-base Burger King, just a few miles from downtown Baghdad, hoping for a quick taste of home.
Camp Taji encompasses miles of scrapped Iraqi tanks, a busy U.S. airstrip and thousands of soldiers living in row upon row of identical trailers. Several fast-food stands, a PX and a dining facility the size of a football field compose Taji’s social hub. The base had been struck by an occasional mortar round, and a rocket had hit the airfield two weeks before and killed an American helicopter pilot. But the quiet base brought on a sense of being far from roadside bombs, far from rocket-propelled grenades and far from the daily gunfire that rained down on the soldiers of Charlie 1-26 as they patrolled Adhamiya, a violent Sunni neighborhood in northeastern Baghdad.
Just two weeks earlier, the 20-year-old DeNardi had lost five good friends, killed together as they rode in a Bradley Fighting Vehicle that rolled over a powerful roadside bomb.
As DeNardi walked up the three wood steps to the outdoor stand to pick up his burger, the siren wailed.
Wah! Wah! Wah! “Incoming! Incoming! Incoming!”
The alarms went off all the time — often after the mortar round or rocket had struck nothing but sand, miles from anything important. Many soldiers and others at Taji had taken to ignoring the warnings. DeNardi glanced around at the picnic tables