07 December 2006

Ohio Native is Airhead cum War Correspondent

"Lebanon native tells of war in Afghanistan"

Or at least that's what the heading says. But it's less about war, Afghanistan, or the war in Afghanistan than it is about how cool it was to hang out with military for a little while.

There was no shade, and the troops were rationed five measly bottles of water a day. Don't ever let anyone tell you the men and women in our military don't sacrifice for us.

...last week I drove around Afghanistan with a two-star Army general in a fleet of armored Ford Excursions.

From the outside, they look like your average civilian vehicle. But the windows are two inches thick, and each door has a tiny little slot just big enough for a gun barrel to fit through. Just a guess, but I imagine they cost $100,000 or so.

Just a guess? You imagine?

That's great reporting, chief. I guess it was too much to contact the oldest and largest vehicle armoring business in the world which happens to be located in Fairfield, about 15 minutes from where you grew up.

Oh, but there's more. This choked me up:

...there's also a vibrant Western community here, and the countryside is beautiful — all in all, an exciting opportunity.

There are inconveniences, to be sure. My family and friends are far away, Western food items are a rare find and an "overnight" FedEx envelope costs $120 — and takes four days to get to the states.

And that 9.5-hour time zone difference meant I had to beg a military friend to sneak me onto the NATO base in Kabul and then stay up until 5 a.m. to watch the Buckeyes beat Michigan two weekends ago... At the end of the game, we all slapped high-fives.

I can't help but contrast Staziuso's vacuous meanderings to Chris Hedges' visceral insight. Staziuso is exactly the person Hedges' book was written for:

I learned early on that war forms its own culture. The rush of battle is a potent and often lethal addiction, for war is a drug, one I ingested for many years. It is peddled by mythmakers-- historians, war correspondents, filmmakers, novelists, and the state-- all of whom endow it with qualities it often does possess: excitement, exoticism, power...

War makes the world understandable, a black and white tableau of them and us. It suspends thought, especially self-critical thought. All bow before the supreme effort. We are one. Most of us willingly accept war as long as we can fold it into a belief system that paints the ensuing suffering as necessary for a higher good, for human beings seek not only happiness but also meaning. And tragically war is sometimes the most powerful way in human society to achieve meaning.


ohdave said...

'Nother great post. You're on fire. And this is right down the road from me. You scooped me.

WestEnder said...

My favorite line: "There are inconveniences, to be sure."

Indeed. War is hell.

TravisG said...

[W]ar is sometimes the most powerful way in human society to achieve meaning.

Yes, and no one appreciates life more than a man with a gun pressed against his temple in a robbery attempt, or perhaps a rape victim with a knife held to her throat.

But a walk in the park on a beautiful day will produce similar, if somewhat less visceral, results. What a douchebag.