The fog of war

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Apparently, while serving in Afghanistan in 2009, Army Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl left a note in his hootch indicating he had become disillusioned with the Army and left his post. After five years a prisoner of the Taliban, I have to guess he is now disillusioned with the Taliban.

My heart as a former Marine says, “Hey, he deserted…court martial ‘im.” My civilian heart says, “He’s suffered enough.”

The whole sordid episode caused me to recall an occasion in Vietnam where a member of our unit became so distraught over damage the Viet Cong had rained down upon our comrades in arms he begged and borrowed all the frags he could carry and headed out through the concertina into the triple-canopy forest to exact his own personal justice. We never saw him again, nor did we hear of him again. I can only imagine he was killed by enemy combatants, though I suspect the mathematics did not work in their favor.

The question I would like to pose is simple enough. If that Marine, who left his post with the intent of exacting justice for harms done, was captured and held as a prisoner of war then released in a prisoner exchange, should that Marine be court marshaled? I’ve given that question considerable thought and cannot come up with a satisfactory answer. I suppose that’s why we call it, “The Fog of War.”

Which leads us to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs care. VA care is extended to those who served active duty and were not dishonorably discharged. Enhanced eligibility is extended to former prisoners of war, Medal of Honor winners, those with disabilities and so on. It’s all very succinct and exact, until we remember the old saw, “In war, there are no unwounded soldiers.” If we are to accept that maxim, then there are many more who deserve enhanced VA care than are now afforded it.

The important thing, the essential thing, is that we not make any more veterans than absolutely necessary to protect our shores. We are so quick to fight and so slow to help our wounded heroes upon their return to our shores.

The whole idea of armed conflict is so outdated, so antiquated, as to be an embarrassment. It’s going to take the young mothers to stop the pattern. Young mothers cannot continue to pat sons on the back and send them off with a wish and a prayer to fight jihads, pogroms, crusades and ill-conceived wars.

It will be the young mothers who finally shake off the yoke of imposed mental repose and shout, “Enough. We are no longer going to send our sons into battle for the sake of idolatry, political persuasion or religious zeal.”

When that day comes, and I believe it will be soon, we will see the end of chest beating, saber rattling and testing of ballistic missiles because, as we all know, “Mama ain’ happy, ain’ nobody happy.”

So c’mon, ladies, step up to the plate. It’s in your hands. Teach your sons violence is not an answer to a problem, any problem. Your example will go viral. It’s so simple.

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