Of Fistfights and Falloojah

An interesting thing happened at the Halloween party I went to last night. Apparently, there was a disagreement between a friend of mine and another person. I don't know for sure, but my friend says there was some harsh talk about race involved. Anyway, offense was taken by my friend (who is not white), and one person jumped the other and they started going at it. I thought nothing of it at first as they wrestled on the ground. I was tired and it was late...and there was some wasted girl trying to speak to me about nothing. Then, it started getting considerably more vicious so I jumped up and ditched the fabulous conversation. At about the same time another other guy with a solid frame was also running to break up the fight. So, the two of us quickly ended it after untangling them.

The guy that helped me said he just got back from Falloojah where he was serving with the Marines. How ironic, I thought. Unbelievable. Fate had it that something like this should happen. He was saying, "I don't want to see my brothers fighting here in the US. That's not what I'm fighting for in Iraq. It really gets to me seeing anybody fighting like this." He then began to tell stories of blood, death, and rescue in Falloojah. 77 of 127 of his company were killed. He told us that they're going into Fallojah soon. (He prefaced it with saying that he couldn't tell anybody about it, but it was true.) Shell-shock was evident (he later admitted to this problem), as his right hand or trigger finger was shaking while holding his beer as if he was shooting a 240. That was really strange.

Another thing that I thought was curious was that he started talking about mustard gas and said that there were chemical weapons in Iraq, but because of the elections the administration didn't want to reveal that now. I find this completely implausible, but he went on about it while never directly admitting to there being mustard gas inside Iraq. He just mentioned its effects. and that there were chemical weapons in Iraq and now they have been taken to Syria. Which, ding ding ding, means that the government could be cooking a case against Syria. This is insane. So the weapons have legs and conveniently are moving to the country that could be attacked next? I find this ridiculous.

But he is sincere about his beliefs in helping Iraq and Iraqis, so I listen and look at him semi-shocked as if he were a ghost. He served 2 tours. He said he was one of the first Marines to cross the border and "kick down doors". And they fought in Nasariya. On his second tour he was in Fallojah. It was chilling to hear how he talked about his gun and how when his friends got wounded he couldn't stop his suppressive fire to help them. He found this to be the most terrible thing about his time there besides having one of his best friends die 3 hours after he rescued him. He told me about how he carried this wounded friend 300 yards. He said he couldn't see in front of him more than two feet because his friend's blood was dripping all over him and was in his eyes.

I posed the question, "Do you think it has been worth all the deaths of your friends, your 77 comrades-in-arms, and the deaths of countless innocent Iraqis to "help" the Iraqi people in this way?" He gave me a non-answer. He couldn't answer...and I understand. But he did think it was a noble cause. He said to me, "It's kind of like...you have to take life in order to protect it." This is precisely the kind of mentality that will get the US forces no-where in Iraq. Attacking Falloojah will be a huge mistake. And I believed him when he said it was going to happen soon. He even told me why. And it makes no sense to me beacuse there will be an enormous loss of lives.

He spoke fondly of Iraqi people, still. And that wasn't surprising to me. He spoke about how good it feels for a little girl to come up to you, thank you for coming, and give you a hug. I even admit his stories were touching. We talked and talked until we were forced to leave. He made it a point to give me a huge hug and I said that I hoped he didn't have to go back to Iraq. He was injured. The shell-shock was overtly apparent in the beginning. And it made me feel bad for him. I didn't know how to react when I first heard him speaking about Iraq. He began shaking uncontrollably at one point right after we broke up the fight and was talking to the guy who had provoked my friend. He convinced that guy that it wasn't worth fighting. In fact, with his reaction he got us all sober real-quick. It affected him greatly to see people fighting over petty verbal infringements of honor here in the US (even if they were drunk).


-I was just remembering a few more things about last night. I was stunned when the Marine said loudly, "What would you do if somebody tried to kill your father?" He was referring to Saddam trying to kill W.'s father. He seemed to empathize with putting American and innocent Iraqi lives on the line to avenge the attempt on his father's life. That didn't make any sense to me. And if it's the case. Bush needs to be out of office. He's using the armed forces to settle personal scores?

-He also mentions when a friend of his got hit by a grenade. "He had frags all up and down his body" It made me cringe when he went on about this...

-The look in his eyes was one of sincerity, but he was obviously disturbed by his actions and the outcomes of many fire-fights. Being a gunner made him worried about the person's who's job it was to switch the 240's barrel. That was the person's only job, he said. And he's unarmed standing behind the gun ready to change it when it gets red hot. I don't know jack about such heavy artillery. So, learning this stuff from a guy who was just in Falloojah is creepy as hell.

-My basic conclusion from this encounter is that there are a lot of people with a lot of delusional visions that are animated by fear of the unknown, still...even after people like David Kay have said there were no weapons in Iraq. Regardless, this Marine cared about the Iraqi people. I just am so appalled that in order to care for somebody you *might* have to kill them or their mother, father, sister, or brother. I can't compute it.

So, while I believed much of what this Marine was saying, I also could not possibly believe some of what he was saying. I felt bad he didn't know a damn thing about things like Depleted Uranium. I felt bad that he had 8 months left to serve and only another week left of rest with his friends and family. I felt bad for the coming storm in Falloojah. I feel bad about it all right now.

All I know is that I have been convinced that the shit is going to hit the fan very soon. I suggest everybody in Iraq do anything possible to be safe in the coming days. And they will have carte blanche because of the inflated Zarqawi issue. Remember everybody, the Lancet's numbers were a conservative estimate. The death numbers could well be in the range of 200,000 not 100,000. So, nobody can tell me that these numbers are not legit.

Where will this all go? Here in the US we will be electing the Emperor tomorrow. Let us hope he'll be wearing clothes. Any change would be good at this point. Even if it would have no immediate effect on the situation in Iraq. I have this hope that if Kerry gets elected that there will be no attack on Falloojah, but I'm afraid the decision has already been made.

Update: Iraqi freelance photographer for Reuters, Dhia Najim, was killed this day in Ramadi by sniper fire. [RSF yahoo/pic]. More and more, Iraqi reporters are becoming unsung heroes in this war. Their deaths are unacceptable.


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