Tuesday, July 21, 2009

#132 Dulce et ... etc. V--"Flound'ring ... in Fire and Lime"

Returning for a moment to the truly iconic (see #130) Walter Cronkite, "the most trusted man in America"--he could be trusted to give us the straight dope on the Vietnam War. As "anchor" (a term coined for him) of the CBS Evening News during the whole of that tortured era, he along with correspondents like Dan Rather in the field SHOWED us the front-line horrors of that war, up close and deadly personal. Many have said that this TV "reality show" was THE deciding factor in turning the American people against the war. We watched it every night; I believe it. Though I give a strong second to the army of anti-war MOTHERS marching and picketing all over the place. But, then again, they would have shown up on "Cronkite." An unbeatable combination!

We just haven't had that kind of coverage of the bloody mess in the Middle East. Bush/Cheney knew better. And now Obama. Only lately have we been allowed to see the coffins returned. No body bags in the field , though. You have to go somewhat "underground" to get a kind of Wilfred Owen look at how our soldiers die, literally "floundering .. in fire and lime." Get on the internet and go to, for example, liveleak.com. Click on some of the Improvised Explosive Device (IED) videos from Iraq and Afghanistan. In one, we see the fireball expelling a soldier from his Hummer about two stories into the air, silhouetted by flame, cartwheeling akimbo through his trajectory, and falling back into the burning wreck.

Another video clip supplies some gruesome audio commentary by two American soldiers, sentries maybe. They witness an IED conflagration, presumably with binoculars--we see the smoking "Bradley" truck at some distance through their fixed surveillance camera. Breathless and helpless they angrily describe the action:

They're fuckin' dead, man ... Two guys burning to death on the road ... That motherfucker is burnin' up in the road ... Two guys burnin' up in the middle of the street ... These guys are still alive man ... He's crawlin' away from the fire ... Still on fire, man ... movin' ...

We must assume the worst, since the the only witnesses were too far away to assist, and perhaps couldn't leave their posts anyway. Burned to death, unmourned and alone, by the side of the road. THIS is what happens to our mothers' sons and freedom-fighters in AfganIraqiStan.

Good news: they're replaceable! Defense Sec. Gates announced yesterday that he is increasing the size of the US Army by 22,000 troops, "temporarily." He told reporters that the increase is "intended to cope with strains from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq ... The Army faces a period where its ability to deploy combat brigades at acceptable fill rates [?] is at risk." Maybe he'll even get volunteers ... after all,

Dulce et decorum est, pro patria mori.

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