THE ENEMY OF THE GOOD
Nothing says 'welcome' quite like flowers in expended tank rounds.
Livening up the place, as only a Baghdadi could.
photo by Buck Sargent
Those who do not do battle for their country do not know with what ease
they accept their citizenship in America.
-Dean Brelis, The Face of South Vietnam
Nobody likes you,
Everyone left you,
They’re all out without you,
-Billie Joe Armstrong, Homecoming
THE ENEMY OF THE GOOD
A Buck Sargent Epilogue
As the dense fog of war clouded uncommon senses
Amidst a drumbeat of electoral media spin,
Did the war Propheteers begin to swing for the fences
Knowing only on YouTube could a victory they win.
With the battles for dual capitals garnering nightly news play
Only then were homebound Strykers thus rerouted to stay,
The Shinseki Shintoists, they still clamored for more troops
Forcing us to jump through ever more and tighter hoops,
An unchecked inferno we were expected to douse
Futilely spitting on a flashpoint too late to salvage the House.
Though contentional wisdom had long since absentee voted
A conflict "drifting sideways" having duly been noted,
All over but the gloating and the measuring of curtains
The Biennial Defense Review of the electorate most certain.
Rumsfeldian intransigence ran ultimately afoul
Of a reluctance to neither escalate nor throw in the towel,
Staying the course in force discarded as fundamentally flawed
By an atonal majority who’d rather make war on the DOD
The enemy of our enemy are our friends it’s been called,
Uncharted waters demand further study-grouped fodder
More or less boots to suppress those thugs of al-Sadr?
Profiles in discouragement whose concept of leadership
Is only to grumble and grouch,
If have their say our forces we’d return right away
In toto straight back to Ft. Couch.
Though if perchance they deliver a sliver of some long-AWOL oversight
Of a conflict our own McClellans have so driven to distraction,
Have we simply bought another round of the usual 20/20 hindsight?
Bitter acrimony and pompous Capitol Hill intraction?
It remains to be seen if the new Washingtone will be serious
As class war traditionally the preferred combat experience,
A broad mandate did resonate across a far-reaching strata
An election year cheered by Al Gore and Al Qaeda.
Having passed off the reins to the new head of their state
Great pains have they taken to show our puppets they ain’t,
Al-Maliki to Arbusto: I’m not "your man" in Iraq
Just ask the Sadrmasochists pulling the strings in his back.
The rare enemy indeed have we had lined in our sights
Despite their daily exploding handiwork in this lopsided of fights,
The sound of one hand being tied down -- a familiar refrain?
Setting ourselves up for failure,
Remember won’t get fooled again?
Forced to tiptoe ‘round Ramadan to dodge lingering offenses
Still no rest for the wicked as they harden their defenses,
When the dozens of bodies that surface anew mainly
Serve no higher aim than above the fold of our dailies.
Not the best of Times nor the first of times
Their torturous logic as a stab in the dark,
A Tale of Two Papers in a turbulent era
Faulting our rejoinders for inspiring the terror.
A full-court press levied upon public opinion
Hysterical headlines that often read like the Onion,
"Nothing to fear but fear itself," their instruction
Ignoring the wrathful clearly seeking our destruction.
Comparisons newly made between Tet and today
Left untold & unmentioned: what it meant to that fray,
For it was not in the trenches where Charlie prevailed
But in American parlors once support jumped the rails.
Those foolhardy boys again would have us turn tail in disgrace
One public negativity scene they’d wholeheartedly embrace:
Repeating scenes of retreating choppers from another embassy roof
Of the human costs of gratification they remain shockingly aloof,
Hurry up and quit: the meme that dictates what is news
Their best Stratego move to end the war,
Still being for us to lose.
Al Jazeera "West" rates jihadi snuff films newsworthy
To them, propaganda: just what slanders the enemy,
Those cable newsful idiots feigning surprise at the controversy
Over aiding, abetting, and providing comfort to our anomie,
Kept far afield from returning flag-covered caskets
They’ve stooped to lower passion plays of cause and effect,
Surely a ratings bonanza in the heartland this must be
Film at eleven: soldiers shot through the neck.
Will we again see a conflict our fourth estate chronicles fairly?
One of triumphs and/or heroism
Not just base acts of terrorism?
Combining cons of the present with stilted prose of the past
To get us the hell out of Dodge and beat the horse to do it fast.
Watch them wait til ‘08 to abruptly notice we’ve not lost
A heritable albatross quickly shed at a veritable modicum of cost,
Saved up turgid praise for the inaugural gaze of a former First Lady
A "Fiasco" soon downgraded from virtual certainty to a maybe.
* * *
As for the ones truly caught between Iraq and a hard place
Her people so tired of pandemic death and corruption,
Of promised results from our sweep operations
Frustrations vented freely during foot-patrolled visits
Betrayed when rogue militias remain strictly off-limits.
Mahd squads of death roam free for Shia "protection"
Their presence pinned on our failure to crush the Baath insurrection,
Though neither side will back down until the other blinks first
A coin flip could settle whose deadly tactics are worse.
Festering wounds over Mohammad’s rightful successors
Have lay dormant under a veneer formerly masked by oppressors,
This sectarian bloodsport violently bubbling to the surface
Of a Mesopotamian smelting pot precariously balanced on a furnace
Where familial tribe feuds and millennial hatreds
Do continue to vex the Joint Chiefs of the service.
Iraqi foot soldiers, statesmen, and constabularies,
Have indeed grown in number as assure grinning four-star generals,
Though when quantity over quality remain the goals a priori
The only measurable progress: a steady uptick in funerals,
And as the go-to Five-O in this disturbing domestic dispute
We’re still balming all-too-common haji death blossoms to boot.
Every angle of this tangle been slyly stoked by noisome neighbors
Iran, Turkey, Syria -- please, don’t do us any more favors,
Each desperate to further a sense of martial lawless disorder
Lest the promise of self-government spilleth over their borders.
* * *
Three years and counting will tend to make realists
Out of even the loftiest and most committed of idealists,
The constant drippity, pity-drip of antiwarrior defeatism
Dovetailing in accordance with UNaccountable elitism,
All their tired Ugly American’t neocon trashing
Betrays the true State of Denial: our Rubiconian crossing.
We’re we soon to flee the field, World Opinion would it laud us
The EUnuchs, the Mullahs, the Turtle Bay City Rollers…
Once again would sing our praises and exultantly applaud us.
But can we afford once more to project such vacillation as a nation
Adding to Beirut and Somalia another "paper tiger" reputation?
Perhaps herein lies a shortcut for upholding one’s grit,
Reckon, What Would Jacques Do?
Then select the path most opposite.
Clowns to the Left of us
Jokers to the Right
Here we are,
Stuck in the Middle with you.
As public support troopwires the next political third rail
See: Freudian slips at our expense along the campaign trail,
The condescenti assume smugly our mental fatuity
Their tolerance of our kind a bare naked gratuity,
Though if ever they be willing to match IQ’s face to face
A heady challenge readily accepted any time, any place.
Would it that war is the Lord’s way of teaching Americans geography
And that only the mental homely could become "stuk n Irak,"
This institutional second class citizen soldiery
Was it not what volunteerism was meant in deed to redact?
Moxie warfare as proxy welfare?
We thought our service was sacrifice,
"Halp us," Jean Luc Kerry
Ketchup to the best and the brightest,
Until all can jet to Paris with our heiress meal tickets
The proud rabble that man the pickets:
¿Non, America’s finest?
Whereas some broods take leave to meander the Continent
A handful delay futures to shoulder million dollar equipment,
Not necessarily a matter of job insecurities
Young adults often detour on the spiral path to maturity,
As the sublime while away time between pubs, clubs, and hostels
Our rank and file are preoccupied with bloody hostile insurgencies.
But within our life vested nation,
The young and the listless,
The failures to launch,
This day cared generation,
So vulnerable to the worst of the print media distortions
That support less our cause than most late term abortions.
* * *
With our extension expiring and new return date drawing near
The photo finish of Secretariat: to enact his Santa clause this year,
We Sloppy 172nds -- of late Uncle Sam’s Choice --
To generically clown sandbagging units of renown:
"Ivy" league fobnobbing name brands of brothers
For whom 101 damnations could easily be voiced.
While it’s "Stryker this," and "Stryker that," and "Strykers go around,"
But it’s "Please to stay behind, sirs," when there’s trouble on the ground.
Nearly gone twice as long as time served in the womb
Billeted like cattle while Hang Man Walking still
Provided his very own room,
Were this a divine trial by fire of the limits of compliance
Testing our patience, our commitment, if not our defiance,
All the good, bad, and ugly entailed with a surrogate male family
Then friends, Groundhog Year doesn’t even begin to describe it:
Stale eleven bravado,
We Suck the Least: our clandestine motto,
Latest of the BOHICAns: the story of our lives.
"Bend Over fellas, ‘cause Here It Comes Again…"
"That‘s a big ‘nay’"
"Laa laa shukran,"
Popped smoke, cut sling load, done shucked our last mag
Tagged out with the Cavalry left holding the Bagh.
* * *
In a headlong rush to cross more off the doctrinal list of to-do
Forced to swallow whole a vast commitment and toll
The size of which we’d be hard-pressed to chew,
A firsthand recommendation: drawdown all great expectations
Our aim trained no higher than it should,
And cease and desist from insisting the perfect
Remain forever the enemy of the good.
The loss of good men can make one question the why
Spurring a search for the answers for what did they die?
On behalf of ungrateful nations have our kin repeatedly bled
Over countless generations spanning acreage of war dead,
But for those who have fought for it has freedom truly been tasted,
On account of what otherwise would most assuredly amount to
Mere killing time well wasted.
The past is authored ultimately by the victors it’s said
In lieu of pseudo-scholar gossip so often first to be read,
We trust posterity will depict this vital period in our favor
As we’ll suffer not public scorn nor prattle scars of Vietneighbors.
Spurious blame and dubious claims dispatched Swift-ly
With spot-correcting truth serum verbatim,
Of our travails the annals shall be most kind indeed
For intend fully do we to write them.
This is the concluding Buck Sargent dispatch from the combat zone. (No really, he means it this time.) Final Tales from the Front is currently in development and will be posted within a few weeks upon arrival on American soil, after which Buck will be taking a well-deserved blogging hiatus to reconnect with his wife, family, and friends.
Regular progress reports will be forthcoming on the nascent documentary film project Give War a Chance. Continue to monitor American Citizen Soldier for updates. As always, Buck Sargent can be reached at email@example.com
He is thankful for each and every one of you and your unwavering support on this glorious Thanksgiving Day. Next stop: Home.