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HEADS THEY WIN, TAILS WE LOSE


photo by Buck Sargent

Nothing is more dangerous in wartime than to live in the temperamental atmosphere of a Gallup poll, always feeling one’s pulse and taking one’s temperature.
-Winston Churchill

Do you get the feeling sometimes that we just can’t win? You know the drill: no matter what we do, no matter what transpires, no matter what the eventual outcome, our efforts in the Middle East will be construed as a loss irrespective of the truth on the ground. Haven’t we played this game before?

Two Severed Thumbs Down
It’s been barely a month since When Abu Met Allah emerged as the top dramatic comedy title from Bunkerbuster Video, and already the critics are falling all over themselves to dismiss it as a bomb dreamt up at the Fox office. Their tastes must run more toward romantic tragedy, I suppose.

There They Go Again…
Shareholders, start your engines. The way it looks from here, America’s newspaper industry won’t be satisfied until the only one left on their subscription database is the al-Qaeda mailing list. Not content with subverting the ability of the NSA to monitor the phone calls Middle Eastern sheiks are placing to their "brokers" in Dearborn, the NY and LA Times have now swiftboated the
SWIFT program that our government has been clandestinely utilizing to track terrorist financial networks. The only way the double-crossing double-Times can now top themselves would be to publish the transponder code to Air Force One. Dare I smell a scoop? "Secrets… Git yer national secrets, here… Read all about ‘em…"

Texas Hold ‘em While I Shoot ‘em
It does appear the Collateral Damage Control Freaks finally have the Long War on Terrorism right where they want it -- on the ropes, blindfolded, with one hand tied behind its back. I must admit there are times when wearing the uniform during this war feels about as rewarding as working as a body double for the Weekend at Bernie’s trilogy. It’s not being in Iraq that scares me, it’s coming home to a country I’m not entirely sure I can stomach anymore. The throngs of insatiable Iraqi children have given me an up close and personal sample of unbridled celebrity that I now know I could just as soon live without. But that first American military-age male with the pot-smoker’s cough and NO WAR FOR OIL tee shirt that sidles up to me at the bar and asks me how many innocent civilians I killed "over there," I’m probably going to have to punch in the throat. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Looking Out For a Few Hundred Bad Men
I noticed on the chow hall TV the other day that the Supreme Beings have also gotten into the act, applying their usual fuzzy math to Hamdan v. Rumsfeld -- aka Al Q. Aida versus the Honorable Donald H. "I Browbeat More Generals Before 6am Than Most Senators Do All Year." You know, that prickly septuagenarian SecDef that engineered the obliteration of the Taliban and Baathist tyrannies in less combined time than it took for all the WWII troopships to cross the Atlantic? Apparently SCROTUS deems him not even fit to hold Osama bin Laden’s camel jockeys.

Loser’s Justice
The ACLU and Amnesty (for terrorists) International and all the sorry rest refuse to shut up about Gitmo, spelling the inevitability of having to close it all down. Fine, we’ll let them out, provided they all attend a mandatory behavioral seminar first: "Don’t Go Away Bad, Just Go Away." Although, I do believe there still may be time for them to register for the fall semester. Ladies and gentlemen, I offer to you the Yale freshmen class for 2006!

Because you see, everyone knows the Air Force only flew them halfway around the world to incarcerate them on a tropical island and force them to pray five times daily and eat nothing but culturally sensitive meals for no other reason than because they’re Muslim. You don’t see too many Irish Republican Army types turning pink in the blazing Cuba sun, do you? Besides, like the Stupid White Man says, you have a "better chance of being struck by lightning than being a victim of a terrorist attack." (But that’s little consolation to those poor souls who’ve been struck more than once.)

I have only one condition: that those like Mr. Hamdan first be remanded to the personal custody and "eminent domain" of one John Paul Stevens. As a lifelong bachelor, surely Justice Stevens must have a spare bedroom or two he could convert into a halfwit house, or at least a space above his garage for a few natural born cabbies. The Odd Couple meets Driving Miss Daisy meets The Occidental Terrorist? I’ll bring the popcorn.

Scratch that, I have a better idea. It would only be proper to drop them back off precisely where we captured them in the first place -- you know, the battlefield? I’m sure Mr. Karzai’s new government will amply provide them all the proper accommodations befitting foreigners of such high standing. Do you suppose those soccer stadiums in Kabul are still taking appointments?

'Strategic Redeployment,' Hell!
"Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress," quipped Mark Twain, as less the acclaimed novelist than the politically acerbic
Mark Steyn of his day. "But I repeat myself."

Congressman John Murtha -- the token liberal "war hawk" who fought in Vietnam before it was cool -- has an all-new new plan to end the war. He’s advocating that all U.S. forces in Iraq be repositioned "over the horizon" to the tactically advantageous twosome of Okinawa and the Kuwaiti desert. (It would bequest a staffer to point out to Professor Murtha that the islands of Nippon are actually closer to "below the equator" than "over the rainbow.") Geographically-challenged or not, you’ve got to hand it to Old Mirthless. He’s so old school, not only does he think we should reliberate Kuwait City -- we need to reconquer the Japs! "Didn’t you get the memo, Yamamoto? No Blood for Embargoed Oil, Mister!"

I find it instructive that Murtha finds it instructive that President Reagan found it instructive to "change courses in Beirut," just as "Clinton changed courses in Somalia." Our "strategic redeployment" from a scary late-seventies Iran notwithstanding ("m-m-m-my, shari’ah"), it was precisely our own Black Hawk Down’s Syndrome in response to militant Islamist aggression in Lebanon and the Mog that bin Laden quite specifically cited as his raison de Neuf-Onze. Ultimately, those who forget their Osama quotes are doomed to have me repeat them.

But come now, Okinawa? Has the Viagra finally gone to Murtha’s brain? I have never met a single solitary soldier who, if he must be away from home and family, would rather be sweating his sack off in the Sandbox or cooling his heels in the Orient than doing his job and taking his chances on the battlefield. (There’s a reason why we didn’t join the Navy, you know.) Either way, the risk of boredom-induced suicide would easily make up for the reduced threat of roadside attack. Perhaps such sunshine soldiers do still exist, but if so, I don’t have the foggiest who or where they are. Perhaps I am just naïve or simply too gung-ho for my own good. But please, stand up and be counted. Yes, all five of you.

Overcoming Postbellum Depression
So let’s take stock of where we find ourselves at this point: Saddam’s regime has been toppled, his prodigal sons killed, himself pulled out of a hole in the ground, a new constitution approved by the people, a consensual government installed, an army and police force reconstituted from scratch that has quietly assumed responsibility for most of the country, a new prime minister who has been all but Churchillian in his tenacity to reclaim the high ground against the insurgents who’ve threatened his homeland with perpetual ruin, a people who’ve courageously refused to be goaded into civil war despite the encouragement of every pundit in the world to just go ahead and do so, U.S. losses after three years still less than were vaporized in three hours on Blackened Tuesday…

I should have known we couldn’t possibly win this fight.

Freedom: Now 99% Sacrifice Free!
At some point during this past July 4th weekend as you were poolside sucking down a few cold ones, stoking up the grill and wondering which would start first: the city fireworks or your hangover, I hoped you at least contemplated for a moment or two precisely what it took for our society to progress to the point where the biggest worries many Americans have is whether or not their Tivo caught the season finale of Lost. Our own Independence was bought on credit and spread across a number of not-so-easy payments over several decades and considerable blood and treasure. Two centuries later we’re finally starting to pay down the principal on the loan, but we’re still not debt-free. Not when so many cosignatories are in default on their share of the mortgage.

De Oppresso Liber
Much is made over the enormous civilian cost of the Iraq War, as if Saddam could have been removed by a simple vote of no confidence at the UN. The Arab world concedes that it is a good thing to be rid of the Butcher of Baghdad, yet lectures us that it is something that Iraqis should have done for themselves. But what do you suppose the toll of a true Iraqi revolution would have been? Assuming they could even have pulled it off in this lifetime -- a stretch by any imagination -- would not a bona fide civil war have been the result? And not simply a low-intensity cycle of revenge killings and random violence as we’re seeing now, but a Lebanese-style wholesale shelling of neighborhoods and annihilation of cities? Is there any doubt that out of the ashes would have arisen yet another monstrous power-mad tyrant? That the hard decision we declined to put off was between a bad choice and a worse alternative?

The U.S. military could have about-faced and got the heck out of Dodge after the statues came down and returned home en masse to another Gulf War parade with less than 150 flag-draped caskets. And then we could have flipped on the tube and watched the genocidal bloodletting from the comfort of our couches just like most of our countrymen do today. It’s not like we haven’t done it before.

But that was then, this is now.

"War," according to Thomas Paine, "involves in its progress such a train of unforeseen and unsupposed circumstances…that no human wisdom can calculate the end." (Unless, of course, you’re Nostradumbass.)

Bet On Iraq
Still, I find it mildly disconcerting to be pinning our hopes solely on the rope-a-dope strategy, wagering that the disloyal opposition will wear themselves out with their relentless pummeling while conditions on the ground quietly meet up with long overdue expectations to little or no fanfare. But that is the predicament we now find ourselves in. We’ve placed our bets and rolled the dice. It would be a shame at this late stage to only now discover they’ve been loaded from the start.


But for the record, my money’s still on Iraq.

Suppose you’re publicly against the war, and suppose you’re privately hoping it ends in failure. But I repeat myself.

COPYRIGHT 2006 BUCK SARGENT

Are you already redeploying back to the States? In recent media photos im seeing 2nd Infantry Div. in Iraq. 3rd BDE 2ID are replacing the 172nd right?

Sgt - please rest assured that the majority of the American people would be FAR more likely to sidle up to you at the bar and offer to by your drink, dinner, dessert, and profusely thank you for your service and sacrifice. And in my town (yea, we're Aggies....LOL) you wouldn't have to punch a guy like you described all by yourself......You'd have help!

echoing daykay here....

we'd all be there kickin ass too.

Buck Sargeant~
You wrote "it’s coming home to a country I’m not entirely sure I can stomach anymore" and somedays it is difficult here. I've lost a great many "friends" - well, acquaintances - that don't want to speak to me anymore, because of my views (pretty much the same as yours.) But, there are a great many of us who are grateful for all you are doing for us - and will never be able to repay you.
Thank you!

An old Viet Nam Vet who knows the unhappy drill all too well. There are a lot of us back here who hope very much that when you and the other troops come home there will be a little bit of "cleansing of the Shire". And many of us are most eager to help.

You write a mans blog but we (women) love it too. What you said in this blog hit home right here in Texas. We were in a little store and the owner, a foreigner, said something we didn't take to about the war. Words passed. My friend tore up her check and said I won't do business with you so you can spend it to assist those who would cut our throats. We turned and were surprised that 3 men stood behind us. They said YEAH! and walked out with us. We got back pats and they talked about the war for about 15 minutes. So there are people in this country like you say and sometimes we don't like what is going on here either but we found out that if we take a stand it seems there are many Americans to back us up. But we can kind of relate to what you said Buck. Being women we don't understand all you write about totally but we understood this one just fine. Come home safely and we'll be pulling for you all the way.
two texas women

STANDING O.....

And ditto to all our friends above.


Way to call out the naysayer on TFB's recent post, too:-)

We must remember to thank Al Gore daily for his invention - the internet.
Thankfully, we can get the full story from Iraq. That the US and its allies have done a load of good for the Iraqi people.

We shall overcome the lunatic left and support the Iraqi people in their quest for freedom.

We must remember to thank Al Gore daily for his invention - the internet.
Thankfully, we can get the full story from Iraq. That the US and its allies have done a load of good for the Iraqi people.

We shall overcome the lunatic left and support the Iraqi people in their quest for freedom.

You go, Buck! As the others have said, you have more supporters back here than you think. The trick is to rarely turn your TV on, don't read most newspapers, & continue using your common sense. Oh, & give a holler if you'd like some company punching out some big mouthed idiot. You'd probably have more help than you'd think!

::raising hand to join the club::

Great post as always. We're here & I, for one, am losing the "silent" part of the majority label. As a law student, I have LOTS of opportunities to, ah, express myself. :)

As the other commenters have said there are a lot of us at home who not only support you but are grateful for all the men and women who volunteer to defend our freedom. We're not as noisy as the anti-war crowd but we're here.

Keep the "call it as you see it" prose coming, Buck. There are vast numbers of Quiet Americans who support what our troops do for us and who will be there when it counts when you return from duty in Iraq. "We've got your back" here at home, rest assured. God bless.

I'm going to agree with all the above posts. But what I don't understand is, why do we "quiet Americans" remain so quiet? We need to start sepaking out in support of the men and women in uniform who keep us free. And if a baked hippie were to come up to Buck and ask him how many innocent civilians he killed "over there", I hereby pledge to aid an assist the gallant infantryman in chucking said hippie out the window onto his arse. That being said, good post. By the way, where's that picture at the top from?

Buck Sarge: Well if I were in this hypothetical bar, I'd offer to buy you and the missus the adult beverage of your choice. Fear not, most Americans would never dream of asking you such an assinine question. Should someone be so stupid to do so and if I were there, I'd be more than happy to testify that they tripped and fell...a few dozen times (how clumsy!). Keep the faith BuckSarge, you and the rest of the military has more supporters than ya'll are aware of!

Hey Buck Sarge, maybe this vid with Zell's greatest speech ever will help cheer you up:

http://averagegayjoe.blogspot.com/2006/07/us-armed-forces-liberators-defenders.html

I still love that speech...

Not redeployed yet... but soon.

The photo is actually one I took of a signpost here in Tal Afar on the FOB. It's one of numerous irritating "you better not be parking your Stryker here!" signs that litter this place. Thought the message suited my purposes pretty well in any case.

I know there's a heck of a lot of y'all out there that support us. I'll be returning home to a fairly military-friendly city when I return anyway (Ft. Richardson/Anchorage, AK), so I shouldn't have to worry about having to assault any hippies. Just bears and moose.

But I cringe at the thought of eventually rejoining the kind of metropolitan areas I grew up and lived in for many years. I just don't think I'd be able to stand it. In the last four years, I've simply changed too much and they've likely changed too little.

Just reading the LA Times's Joel Stein in his recent column about the "icky flag" he discovered planted on his lawn kind of rammed this home for me. There's millions and millions of Americans out there that are virtually space aliens to me. I cannot possibly identify with them in any imaginable way.

Buck,

Great blog! Some comments in the archives seem to be written by the usual suspects like Joel Stein, whose commentary about not supporting the troops (either late last year or earlier this year) was reprehensible. I think Ben Stein (see American Spectator) expresses my feeling towards you guys and gals best.

A friend just got back from Fallujah (he was commander of II MHG) and a relative is currently serving with JSOG near Baghdad. They seemed to like the candy, coffee and magazines so if there's anything we can do besides pray for your safe return, please let us know.

Say it aint so Buck:

"But I cringe at the thought of eventually rejoining the kind of metropolitan areas I grew up and lived in for many years. I just don't think I'd be able to stand it. In the last four years, I've simply changed too much and they've likely changed too little."

You went and got all active duty on me Buck. Yeah there are some dumbasses in our country but don't let that get you too down. Most people mean well even if they don't "get it." When I first went home everyone looked like a bunch of out of shape hippies but after 2 or 3 months I was able to accept it.

Remember that uncle that used to molest you comment? Well time heals wounds so just give non-military America a chance.

When are you ETSing anyway? Real life is waiting for you back home Buck, don't let the active duty mindset take over.

Oh yeah and I liked the post.

I know there's a heck of a lot of y'all out there that support us. I'll be returning home to a fairly military-friendly city when I return anyway (Ft. Richardson/Anchorage, AK), so I shouldn't have to worry about having to assault any hippies. Just bears and moose.

Good. I hope you and the missus are able to spend a lot of time together. Savor the moments.

But I cringe at the thought of eventually rejoining the kind of metropolitan areas I grew up and lived in for many years. I just don't think I'd be able to stand it. In the last four years, I've simply changed too much and they've likely changed too little.

You're probably right. Wish I had some words of wisdom for you on that, but I don't. Yet, forgive people's naivete most mean well. Those who don't, well they're assholes anyways so...um...the heck with them let's say.

Just reading the LA Times's Joel Stein in his recent column about the "icky flag" he discovered planted on his lawn kind of rammed this home for me. There's millions and millions of Americans out there that are virtually space aliens to me. I cannot possibly identify with them in any imaginable way.

Oh yeah, I know that p.o.s. column. Stein is an asshole. He's too stupid to realize what an asshole he really is, but everyone else knows it. And you're right: millions and millions of Americans ARE virtually space aliens, or better known as liberal nutjobs. Of course that's just my own totally unbiased view...

I can tell you this Buck Sarge, you guys over there have inspired more people than you realize. I won't go into my own life, but I will say that I'm proud to say that my cousin has joined the Guard as a medic and volunteered to go to Iraq. Some may call her a lil' crazy to do this, but she wants to help out and I love her for it.

Take care, BuckSarge, and God keep you guys always.

I just came across this blog and watched the videos and read your post. Absolutely amazing. I'm going to link to your site asap.

Thank you so much Sargent for your service to our country!

Brother, I just spent 5 hours reading most of your posts. As a former 11B1P in the 101st I loved your stories! Made me feel right at home. If it wasn't for a single point landing in 93, I would be downrange with Ya-all. Your one of the most engaging writers I have ever read. I really hope you'll write a book about your time in the Army. I'll be waiting for it. God speed on your re-deployment. Any thought to staying in? The Army and our country are lucky to have such a dedicated and intelligent NCO as yourself. Thanks for all the sacrifices you and your loved ones have made for the Nation over the past four years.

Hey Buck Sarge, I have a feeling you might relate to the trailer for Young Americans:

http://averagegayjoe.blogspot.com/2006/07/young-americans-trailer.html

Buck-

Will miss you, but am glad to hear of your impending return. Do so hope you will find some time to continue to write, in any form. Would love to see a book by you, too.

God speed and from a fellow American earthling---THANKS. If you and the Mrs. ever find yourself in the Ft. Knox area-give a holler! Dinner and drinks are on us!

Here's a good idea that'll never happen- when all those jerks in Gitmo are to be released, release half of them in NYC, and the other half in L.A.

I just found out from the comments section on Tim Boggs' site that your going home in three weeks. Thanks for sharing everything with us. Thanks for serving. Can't wait to see the video. All the best to you and your wife and your life in Alaska.

MAJ said:

"Here's a good idea that'll never happen- when all those jerks in Gitmo are to be released, release half of them in NYC, and the other half in L.A."

Please don't....I'm already one of two conservatives left (maybe one of three) in NYC, and I don't need terrorists running around making it worse.
Think of how much easier it'd be for the New York Times to enable them of they were already in the city.

Oh, Buck,

Godspeed on your return. I can understand you must feel about the moonbattiness that has infiltrated our country.

However, keep in mind that it's usually the smallest of people that scream the loudest, and in this case I hope I'm not wrong to say it's the smallest minority of people that scream the loudest.

Thanks for everything.

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"Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it, nothing can succeed." -- Abraham Lincoln