Sunday, September 13, 2009

#154 Strange Fruit: One Dead Marine and Other "Body Counts"

Since last post, there have been rumblings in Congress about reducing troop levels in Afghanistan. On Friday 9/11 to be exact--did he deliberately choose that date?-- Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan urged Pres. Obama to submit a TIMETABLE to get our TROOPS out ... but even though "he opposes sending more combat troops, he's open to sending more U.S trainers." Further, reports ABC News, "he doesn't rule out sending more combat troops in the future." Hard to argue with that bit of double-speak. Nonetheless, his announcement led to fitful echoes of assent from Democrats in the House, even including some talk about reducing FUNDING--as if they hadn't voted to increase funding just this last June! Alas, Oh my Representative Government, is it possible to be--what's a good word?--even more fecking feckless ... than you have been already?

And so very too late to save a marine halfway around the world from the U.S. Senate. He's twenty-one-year-old Lance Cpl. Joshua "Bernie" Bernard, killed less than 24 hours after this photo-op from an Associated Press camera-lady (9/4). That's him, "walking point" in what's left of Dahaneh, a small town in Kandahar Province--part of that danger zone straddling Afghan/Pakistan. Forgive the dark humor, but don't the "walls" in front of that soldier named Joshua look like they just done come a-tumblin' down? On second thought, no forgiveness necessary ... nor apologies on my part, not neither. There's more dark humor in this post below--BECAUSE ... maybe it's getting to the point where it's hard NOT to think of the Middle-East War(s) as a cruel cosmic joke. One played on us over and over again, because we never seem to learn. Like the venerable Banana Peel shtick, we slip on Korea, Vietnam, Somalia, "Yugoslavia," Iraq--you name it--and then we go right ahead and take another pratfall in Afghanistan.

Another species is on stage here, however, another "strange fruit" to be harvested--pace the Billie Holiday song. The Kandahar region is famous for producing among the highest-quality pomegranates on the planet. It was from a pomegranate grove, not far from the devastation pictured above, that the fatal gunfire and missile barrage was launched--ironically, since the Marines had just spent 3 days "clearing" the village itself of Militants/Insurgents and whomever was within gunshot--exactly as Cpl. Bernard is doing (is there any doubt in your mind that Bernie is ready to kill anything that makes a move behind that darkened doorway) ... and as we tried to do for an eternity in Vietnam. The company had, in fact, just taken some "downtime" from their own blood-thirsty occupations, in all senses of that word.

The irony proves to be even more fruitful than that. Simply add it to the poetic justice that punishes us daily in the Middle East. "The pomegranate grove looked ominous," thought the AP reporter before the attack. As well he should--and this is what stuck me first about the whole affair--I'm guessing no one was there to tell him that the direct etymon of "grenade" is pomegranate = the "apple" of blood-red "grainy" seeds inside. The look-alike fruit--the stem resembles a fuse--had been tossed around for centuries before the the French thought to name (sans pomme-"apple") a new explosive-device after it: la grenade. (That's what the French grenadiers carried, not to be confused with the red-colored syrup for a not-quite-so-deadly Tequila Sunrise.)

And so the morbid comedy plays out: it was to be payback time for the marine point-man. At first they thought it was a land-mine that blew-up Bernie's legs. But no, it was an RPG--a rocket propelled grenade--one of the many that then began to explode upon the small company, lethally arced from amongst the nearby pomegranate trees. (more)

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