A Soldier's Story
By Matt Condon
t r u t 0ah o u t | Perspective
Tuesday 11 November 2003
I am a veteran of the United States Army. For three 0ayears, I served as an armored crewman in the third armored division, stationed 0ain Germany. It is arguable that I served my country to protect her. That is what 0aI was taught to believe and I shall believe it to this day. I am proud of my 0aservice and would like to think it was a benefit to the citizens of this 0acountry.
You see, I trained to protect the Fulda Gap. This 0awas before the Berlin Wall came down. There were Western ideals and Eastern 0apressures. There was, or at least there was perceived, a true Communist Threat 0ato Western civilization. Arguably, that same threat was a threat to the American Way of Life.
I was trained to believe, rightly or wrongly at the 0atime, that there was a real threat poised right over the border. Mere kilometers 0afrom my post stood The Enemy. The Fulda Gap was regarded as the likely entry 0apoint for The Enemy at that time. I walked the perimeter of one of the largest 0amissile silos on that border pulling twelve hours on, twelve hours off. 0aThrough snow and sleet, facing wild boars and the ever-impending threat of the 0aenemy, we guarded those missiles in defense of the United States of America and 0aits way of life. Yes, we were on foreign soil, but I truly believe that, at that 0atime, we were working for the good of our nation. We trained by living in our 0atanks, by supporting the Infantry and by being supported by Artillery units. We 0afroze, crawled through mud and snow, and somehow survived it all.
What does it mean to protect your nation? It means 0athat you are defending not only your soil, but also your way of life, your 0aideals, your identity and yes, you family and every family that resides within 0ayour borders. It means that soldiers are defending their soil from an inherent threat. A threat is defined as an external force, identified by intelligence 0aand ideals, which directly threaten a free and peaceful society. At the time, we 0awere defending the Fulda Gap, and Western Europe, from that very threat.
We now find ourselves in the year 2003. I am no 0alonger in the service, but have pondered what life would be like if I were. Oh, 0awhat a different time we find ourselves in. What do our soldiers believe in 0atoday? What would I believe if I were still manning the 120mm cannon of an M1A1 0atank?
The Fulda Gap incursion is no longer a threat. 0aMainland Europe is relatively safe, as are the shores of these United States. Oh 0adon t worry, this former soldier remembers 9/11 like it was yesterday. I spent 0athat Tuesday glued to my television like every other world citizen. I was angry. 0aI wept. Then I started to read. And what I learned shocked me as a veteran, 0ashocked me as a citizen and shocked me as a human being. Pushing aside any 0aconspiracy theory that these attacks were not committed without complacency, a 0atheory that I happen to subscribe to, our soldiers and our public are faced with 0aa dilemma. How should we respond - with diplomacy or might? If we respond with 0amight, then who or what should be our target?
Waging war in Iraq? Exactly how are our soldiers defending America by preemptively striking Iraq?
They aren t. Iraq was never a threat to these United 0aStates. There was never a threat to these or any shores. No Uranium from Niger. 0aNo Weapons Of Mass Distraction. No Nukes. No Bombs. There were experts who told 0aus this, but did we listen? I challenge you, the reader, to make one case for 0awar based on a direct threat. Show me the evidence.
A soldier s responsibility is to defend America, 0aat all costs and with his or her life if necessary. It is an oath. It is a 0acreed. However, on this Veteran s Day, this Veteran has to wonder exactly how 0aour troops in Iraq are defending this nation, defending our way of life, or 0aare defending our shores. This is not a defensive war. There were no Iraqi 0acitizens on those planes that fateful day in September. There were no Iraqi 0acitizens infiltrating our shores. This war didn t have to happen and we are no 0asafer as American citizens because of it. Our soldiers are being forced to kill 0arather than protect. Yes, there is a huge difference. As a veteran, that does 0anot make me proud at all. In fact, I feel used.
This war, and the death that is the result, is the 0adirect fault of the President of these United States. He decided that he had a 0ascore to settle (for numerous reasons) and it is evident that his decision 0aserves the self-interests of his business partners. This is in no way a defensive war, nor are our troops protecting this country or its citizens. 0aAmerican forces are not protecting our way of life. They have been misused and 0athey are now dying as are their enemy, which includes many civilians. This is 0aa war created by Americans so powerful and wealthy that one could call them 0ademigods, who preemptively invaded a region of the world they neither understand 0anor respect. They have turned the men and women serving in our Armed Forces into 0acowboys wearing black hats, the same black hats you saw on TV worn by the villains in old Western movies.
Ultimately, someone has to take the blame for this 0atravesty. I do blame someone. I blame George W. Bush.
Live with it Mr. Bush. You are a disgrace to this 0aveteran.
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