|April 21, 2006|
Boss of the World? Or, Green Island in a Sea of Blood
by John R. Bomar
They say life in the Green Zone is pretty cushy for the leaders and troops of the occupation army and their Iraqi minions: manicured lawns, air conditioning, good chow, and a “businesslike” atmosphere of bureaucratic and administrative duties. Inside the stockade, behind the multiple layers of blast wall protection and three-deep guard posts, aside from the isolation, it’s good duty.
I was fortunate to serve in a similar “bubble world” in Vietnam. Our half-buried, heavily fortified intelligence-gathering bunker was just behind the South Vietnamese military headquarters in Saigon. It was a cloistered world of state-of-the-art telecommunications, highly secret enterprise and complete isolation from the reality of war. The fancy Plexiglas map of the country, where we briefed the generals, was lit up with neon markers and symbols. It was the beating heart of the place and on it we tracked enemy movements and kept up with the latest developments on the ground, like a surgeon monitoring his struggling patient.
I reckon today’s mood in the “Operations Center” in Iraq is a desperate one: the patient is struggling, its organs failing at an alarming rate, its pulse pressure dropping away, its physiology at war with itself. It was the same in Vietnam when I got there. The 68’ Tet Offensive was a year behind us and most of us knew that the writing was on the wall: it was probably a terminal case and we were only the somewhat helpless caretakers, awaiting the inevitable.
Unfortunately for those involved, with increasingly desperate counter-measures, the patient held on for six more years, bleeding untold billions of dollars and more hundreds of thousands of human lives. It was a tragedy for all. Of my group, the ones who seemed to suffer the most were those who had bought the “Big Lie,” that we were there for the noblest of purpose, that our cause was just. None knew of the seeds that had planted us there: helping the French try and re-colonize Vietnam after WWII, and later, thwarting a countrywide, internationally supervised democratic election.
It is indeed a sad irony that we now find ourselves attending a similar patient in Iraq, laid low by one whom, like before, had no personal knowledge of war. In my time it was LBJ’s fear mongered rallying lie of “Gulf of Tonkin Incident!” that gave the green light. This time it was Mr. Bush’s more ominous “Weapons of Mass Destruction!” If only we had known more of the history of the patients, we may have had the wisdom to defer taking on the case.
Forgive me, but the word imperious: “marked by arrogant assurance,” comes to mind for any nation that would try and play “boss” of the world. It seems this assumed mantle has always been the first step into a dark abyss for all who would strap on such presumption. And it can with certainty and truth be said: Those who have never smelled or tasted war…rush quickest to its rotting banquet, and stay longest at the feast.
John R. Bomar
A BUZZFLASH READER CONTRIBUTION
John R. Bomar is a decorated Vietnam veteran and student of history. Arkadelphia, Arkansas is his home town, where he practices complimentary and alternative medicine. He describes himself as a moderate centrist and political independent.
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