Memorial Day Blues

Martin Truex Jr. after winning Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 this past Sunday. Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk, Getty Images, courtesy of NASCAR.com.

It’s hard to feel festive on a national holiday when your country’s going to pieces. On Memorial Day, we’re supposed to honor fallen members of the U.S. Armed Services. They died so we could be free, we tell ourselves, even as our freedom has crumbled around us since 9/11 and the beginning of our never-ending regime change wars across the globe.

Americans will continue dying, in conflicts ranging from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya to Niger. Americans will also continue killing, further ringing up a death toll in those conflicts that combined already runs well into millions of people since 2002.

As candidate Donald Trump once famously posed, what do we have to show for all of this? Nada. We didn’t even take Iraq’s oil. He ran as an antiwar candidate. That’s one of the reasons why I voted for him.

But Trump has proven no match for the real Deep State, the military-industrial-intelligence complex. He’s upped the ante in most of the conflicts he inherited from his neoliberalcon predecessors, presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and now proposes further targets for our wrath: Venezuela, Iran or perhaps North Korea, if President Trump and Chairman Kim should fall out of love.

I couldn’t help pondering this dim state of world affairs while watching the NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 on Fox Sports this past Sunday afternoon. I’m a motor sports fanatic, and I traditionally spend my Memorial Day Sunday watching the Indy 500, the Coca-Cola 600 and the Formula 1 grand prix from Monaco in succession, which is roughly nine hours of motor sports.

At the American events, one expects some patriotic displays before the start of the race, perhaps a military jet flyover, followed by hundred of miles of exhilarating circle-track racing. But several seasons ago, NASCAR determined that the patriotic displays should last the entire length of the 400-lap race, and began placing the names of fallen soldiers across the tops of the windshields of the 40 cars in the event, calling it “600 Miles of Remembrance”.

I watched as the drivers went round and round and round Charlotte Motor Speedway, one of the sport’s most iconic tracks. The race commentary was periodically interrupted by short stories about family members of the fallen meeting with NASCAR stars. The commentators did a pretty good job of squeezing all the names in, but after 400 laps, it was all a blur.

As twilight descended, Martin Truex Jr. took the checkered flag and his second Coca-Cola 600 victory. The first thing he did after the race was honor U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Nicholas Null, killed in action in Afghanistan in 2011, whose name was on Truex’s windshield. Null’s family members were at the race, predicted Truex would win and were scheduled to have beers with the winner later.

Chief Null, an explosive ordinance disposal technician as well as an expeditionary warfare expert, free-fall parachutist and diver, was one of 17 U.S. Navy SEAL team members killed when Taliban militants shot down their CH-47 Chinook helicopter with a rocket-propelled grenade, killing all 38 people on board, most of them American special-ops troops, in August 2011. He was 30 years old.

Null served in Iraq from the very beginning in 2003, when explosive ordinance disposal technicians were in high demand. He earned two Bronze Stars, one with Valor. He was survived by his wife and his mother.

Remembering the fallen: US Navy Chief Petty Officer Nicholas Null. Photo courtesy of militarytimes.com.

I’m a U.S. Navy veteran; I served during the Cold War years, 1978-’82. I was a “hole snipe,” nautical lingo for “a guy who works in the engine room,” so I didn’t see much daylight when we were floating around the Persian Gulf during the Iranian Revolution and subsequent U.S. embassy hostage crisis.

Just stand watch and sleep and stand watch was all we did. Just like all the hole snipes standing watch on the two U.S. carrier strike forces gathered in the eastern Mediterranean right now.

I didn’t meet too many Navy SEALs during my tour, but every sailor learns in boot camp that SEALs are bad-asses and not to be messed with, which no doubt applied to Null.

I did meet a few members of Delta Force after President Jimmy Carter launched but then aborted Operation Eagle Claw, a failed hostage rescue attempt that fell to pieces in the Iranian desert. We gave a them a ride home after the debacle, but kept our distance in the mess hall. Our cargo also included wreckage from two Chinook helicopters and several bodies of soldiers killed on the failed mission.

They were guys just like Chief Petty Officer Nicholas Null and the 16 Navy SEALs killed after the Taliban downed their helicopter in 2011, 31 years later in Afghanistan. Bad-asses, the men and women who volunteer for dangerous duty, which is never in short supply in our many never-ending conflicts.

NASCAR’s “600 Miles of Remembrance,” which included 30 seconds of silence for the fallen at mid-race, during which you could hear a pin drop, was at times genuinely touching, and paid families of the fallen a much-needed tribute. Several Memorial Day stories this past week emphasized that the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces fighting our wars are just a small sliver of America, less than 1 percent of the population.

But for me, remembrance of the fallen must go a little deeper than “thank you for your service.”

Am I supposed to forget the Bush administration, aided and abetted by mainstream media, lied the country into the Iraq War after 9/11? That Obama merely continued Bush’s policies in the Middle East, invading one country after the next?

What was Chief Null doing in Afghanistan in the first place, 10 years after 9/11?

Our original grievance against the Taliban, sheltering Osama bin Laden, had been mooted months earlier when members of SEAL Team Six killed the fugitive terrorist in Pakistan, where he’d been hiding out in relative comfort for years.

Ironically, six members of Seal Team Six who participated in the bin Laden raid were on board the helicopter and killed with Null when it was shot down.

Did any of them really have to die? Bin Laden was kaput; shouldn’t the war have been over? Why not? It’s not enough to say the fallen knew what they were signing up for. What’s the mission here? Defending our obviously diminishing hegemony over the world against the rise of globalism and mutual cooperation?

Does a mission even actually exist, other than to maintain the Deep State’s momentum?

Of course, we Americans have been trained since at least 9/11 not to ask such questions, particularly on something as sacred as Memorial Day.

Watching the cars coated with their shiny corporate logos going round and round and round at the Coca-Cola 600, hearing the bios of one fallen solider after another at roughly 10-lap intervals for 400 laps, I began to understand how we have collectively sanctioned the killing fields in the Middle East for the past 20 years.

We’ve become numb to it.

That’s why I’ve got the blues.

R.V. Scheide
R.V. Scheide has been a northern California journalist for more than 20 years. He appreciates your comments and story ideas.
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62 Responses

  1. Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

    We always watch the Memorial Day program on PBS: stories, songs, tributes, tears, hugs, patriotic music. But like you, R. V., I am blue during the program because the presenters always say of the fallen, “He gave his life for his country.” And I wonder, from Viet Nam forward – maybe even from Korea, actually – what the hell are we doing over there except having our troops serve as cannon fodder? Will the next POTUS – even if it’s the current doofus – see the light and bring all of our troops home? When will they ever learn . . .

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      I’d say every war since WW II that we’ve fought in, beginning with North Korea, was unnecessary. Not coincidentally, the rise of the Deep State began just after WWII.

  2. Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

    On Memorial Day we honor those who have fallen. I also celebrate those who survived. My oldest daughter joined the Army upon graduation from Anderson. She spent two uneventful years in Germany, mostly testing beers. For her 21st birthday I had a party ready at the Sports Bar in Anderson to celebrate. Just before she was to come home President Clinton sent troops to Bosnia to help prevent the ethnic cleansing of Muslims. She celebrated her 21st birthday in the mud of Croatia and patrolling streets in Bosnia to prevent the ethnic cleansing of Muslims.
    Her husband was also in the Army and retired after 24 years of service in Russia. He doesn’t talk about it much other than to say the Russian Mafia was a bigger threat than Russia itself.
    My wife’s brother, from Hayfork, served on the Enterprise during the Vietnam War. When he wears his Enterprise hat strangers will thank him.
    While I honor those who died I celebrate those who lived.
    Regarding the military complex, America is a policeman to the world, and many times does the job badly. But if America wasn’t there Russia or China would be. What would happen to Taiwan if America wasn’t backing them? The drug wars in South America were a disaster. The Middle East is a quagmire that nobody, least of all America, is going to solve, but do we stand on the sideline while their dictators gas and kill thousands of their own people? The way those middle east countries treat women, gays and minorities should be challenged.
    American bases support many small American towns. I do know that Warren Air Base in Cheyenne brings in $35 million a year. That is a lot of money for a town of 70,000.
    Again a good article, RV.

  3. Avatar sue says:

    A wonderful writing, RV. Thankyou.

  4. Avatar Doug Cook says:

    I was also on my chair watching the Coca Cola 600. I always loved the tributes to fallen soldiers during the race. My wife, however would never let me sit and watch TV for 9 hours…too many chores. Having spent most of my adult life in the military, it breaks my heart when I hear about another military member killed in Afghanistan, Iraq or Syria. For what? What is our mission? I, too thought that Trump was going to quickly end the war in Afghanistan. The fact is, nobody really cares. Afghanistan is never in the public eye, a death of a service member rarely makes the news anymore.
    I remember prior to the first Gulf War…I was at my favorite restaurant at the bar eavesdropping on a couple of middle aged men talking about how we should immediately attack Iraq. I finally had to butt in. “That’s easy for you to say, You’ll be safe and sound in your own home, while I will be over there fighting. ” That’s the problem with an all volunteer military. If there was a draft…Americans would be up in arms about the longest war in US history.
    Like Bruce says, I also feel the importance of the US being a policeman of the world, there are a lot of evil regimes out there, and although we are not not perfect, we fight for what is right. The reality is, though. The day after we pull out of Afghanistan, the Taliban will take over. So it is time for a president to explain our mission. Will we have a long term presence to tamp then Taliban down? Give them the countryside, but maintain order in the cities? Or do we want to exterminate the Taliban? Just let us know what the mission is.
    I, of course naturally have a disagreements with RV…you said, “the Bush administration…lied the country into the Iraq War after 9/11. That is not true. Now, if all the intelligence agencies said to Bush, “Sir, there is no evidence of WMD in Iraq, and the president came out and said the opposite…THAT would have been a lie. But that isn’t what happened. Intelligence from the US and all our allies, Russia too. was convinced that Iraq had WMD. It wasn’t a lie…it was faulty intelligence.
    I always feel uncomfortable when someone says, thank you for my service. I don’t know how to respond. I think the best way to thank someone for his/her service is to raise your voice and demand to our politicians that we need to end these seemingly endless wars.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      I completely agree with you that if there was a draft, this nonsense would end today. I disagree with you about WMDs and Iraq, and so does Trump.

      • Avatar Tim says:

        If we had a true volunteer army – unpaid – this nonsense would also end today. If I volunteer for the soup kitchen I don’t expect wages alongside free room & board, free college, subsidized home loans, subsidized medical, etc.

        • Avatar Doug Cook says:

          How many Air Force pilots, like me, would join the military if they weren’t getting paid? Being a highly trained military pilot is a bit different than slopping mashed potatoes on a plate in a soup kitchen.

        • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

          Tim, bad comparison. I volunteer at food banks and don’t get paid but I don’t risk being shot or driving over a land mine.

        • Avatar Tim says:

          Continental regulars made ~26 pounds/year – about $5000 in today’s dollars. Militiamen made much less. And they had to pay for their own supplies & weapons (today’s soldiers are provided with about $15,000 worth of battle rattle). The average colonist joined because they believed the cause was worth dying for, not to advance their economic interests.

          After the war of 1812, the US began building a true standing army which necessitated the transition to out current mercenary military. An ambitious man with no social standing could rise through the ranks and make something of himself. An ordinary soldier, after one campaign, could be granted as much land as he might earn in a lifetime of honest labor.

          Without these soldiers of fortune – opportunists like Abraham Lincoln – the US would never have “conquered” the west and made manifest their destiny of capturing all that sovereign land. We would never have spread our tentacles across the Pacific where US entanglements would later lead to us into declaring economic warfare on Japan (prior to their retributory attack on Pearl Harbor).

          We wanted to be like Switzerland in 1800, but our baser desires yearned for an empire. A renumerated military paved the way…

  5. Frank Treadway Frank Treadway says:

    Great article…if I recall correctly Bin Laden had a multi-million dollar bounty, I wonder if the families of those 6 downed Seals got any of it ? War is a result of male egos, desire to monopolize a region and its strategic resources. I wonder how Switzerland, and similar size countries, have managed to skirt this madness, yet remain at peace and successful ?

  6. Avatar Tim says:

    You didn’t get duped, you were just mad about Bernie and wanted to piss on the campfire by voting for Trump. As a reminder, here are some of “antiwar” candidate Trump’s proposed policies:

    When discussing Obama’s plan to leave Iraq in 2011: “You heard me, I would take the oil. I would not leave Iraq and let Iran take the oil.”

    When discussing Libya and Gaddafi in 2011: “I would go in and take the oil — I would just go in and take the oil.”

    “I would say I’m the most militaristic person on the stage” – Nov 2015

    In December 2015 when Cruz promised to Nuke ISIS saying “I don’t know if sand can glow in the dark, but we’re going to find out,” candidate Trump said that was an option. Trump also said “We will be defeating ISIS big league,” and promised to being back torture even if it doesn’t work, saying “they deserve it anyway for what they do to us.” He even suggested going after the families. When asked how he would prevent service members from refusing to follow unconstitutional orders Trump replied: “They won’t refuse. They’re not going to refuse me. Believe me.”

    Trump then promised to take the war effort home, saying “We’re going to do things that were frankly unthinkable a year ago” — things like creating a Muslim database, monitoring mosques, and banning all muslims from entering the US.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      It’s true that I was mad about Bernie. It’s also true that Trump said the things you say during the campaign. As all of us know now, Trump will say one thing one day and the exact opposite the next day. But what’s even more true, and the real reason I voted for Trump, is that Hillary Clinton was the worst candidate ever put forth by a major party. She’s the quintessential neoliberalcon, as is Joe Biden.

      • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

        A vote for Clinton would have basically given us four more years of Obama, which doesn’t sound so bad when you consider that we would have been spared the loss of jobs and the higher prices Trump’s insane tariffs are forcing on the American public, the two Trillion dollar debt to finance his temporary fixes (and that primarily benefit the wealthy), the loss of our international allies and reputation, the in-progress violation of 60 years of civil and human rights advancements, and the seizure of our federal agencies and courts by religious extremists. None of this was unexpected. I also think that sexism played no small part in Clinton’s defeat. Had Joe Biden run in her stead, I firmly believe we would now have President Biden.

        https://www.forbes.com/sites/howardgleckman/2019/05/14/for-many-households-trumps-tariffs-could-wipe-out-the-benefits-of-the-tcja/#3d3111b73fca

        • Avatar Doug Cook says:

          Patricia, “…which doesn’t sound so bad when you consider that we would have been spared the loss of jobs” It does sound bad..another 4 years of Obama failed policies. Loss of jobs? You mean the now almost lowest unemployment rate in US history? The rising of middle class wages? There was no sexism in Clinton’s loss…she gained way more votes because she was a woman than she lost. She lost, as RV said…because she was a horrible candidate.

          • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

            Doug Cook,

            Do you believe every self-serving lie that eminates from this deranged president and his regime? Check out the graph in the Fact Check below, which makes it apparent that Trump simply inherited Obama’s successes, and on-going trends from the Obama administration. And throwing the country into an additional two Trillion dollars in debt to effect some temporary give-aways (mainly to the wealthy) is hardly an accomplishment.

            Also, there’s no evidence to support your claim that Clinton “got way more votes because she’s a woman”. The country is unfortunately still full of sexist men and white “Christian” women who wouldn’t vote for a woman (unless she was some extreme right-wing apologist for the patriarchy) if their lives depended on it.

            https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2018/09/18/trump-economy-versus-obama-economy/?utm_term=.cccf13a54fc5

        • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

          As I’ve said many times, I made a mistake voting for Trump. I let my near-pathological hatred of the Clintons get the better of me. Of course, my vote in California didn’t affect the election outcome–but other antiwar voters like me in crucial states made the same error.

          I don’t think anyone could’ve predicted the degree that Trump would kowtow to right-wing evangelicals as much as he has. I expected a move to the middle, as he indicated he might in his inauguration speech. I think it’s entirely possible he might have moved to the center, and that the Russia-gate investigation in large part prevented this.

          Every time Trump has attempted to project his antiwar instincts, he gets redirected by the Deep State, which is an entirely bipartisan affair. I don’t think our foreign policy would be much different than it would have been with Clinton.

          • Avatar Doug Cook says:

            Clinton would have been much more Hawkish than Trump…we would be more involved militarily by now under a Clinton administration. I used to poo-poo the whole Deep State theory. I am coming around to begin to believe their influence on foreign policy.

          • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

            Doug Cook,

            Trump has endlessly beat his chest and threatened further military action against one country after another (and is doing everything he can to incite that possibility). Even during the campaign it was evident that Trump (demented child that he is) was fascinated at the prospect of having a nuclear arsenal at his disposal. I just hope we can get him out of office before he breaks free of whatever control the saner members of his administration have over him and destroys the world.

          • Avatar Doug Cook says:

            Patricia, but yet…here we are coming towards the end of his term, and he still hasn’t started WWIII which you were convinced would have happened by now. Instead, he is pulling troops out of Afghanistan and Syria. He is seeking peace in the Korean peninsula. It’s odd that President Obama bombed more countries than Trump has, built up more overseas troops than Trump has…but it is Trump that is the war monger, hmmm…

          • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

            I always felt Clinton fell into a trap that often happens to female politicians in DC: in order to counter the notion that she might favor peace over war, i.e. she’s “weak” because she’s a woman. So she talked tough and got in on the action and the world soon learned she’s a bloodthirsty warmonger. Despite Trump’s bluster, he still has anti- interventionist impulses and is currently feuding with NSA director and arch-neocon John Bolton over Iran, Nort Korea and Venezuela. My fear is Trump might let Bolton and Pompeo off the leash to distract the country if any of the numerous investigations into his finances turn up any dirt, which they undoubtedly will. Fun times!

  7. Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

    What the military needs to do is quit training all members to be killers. Those that want to be Seals and do specific missions would be fine. The majority need to return to Cold War tactics of espionage. My daughter learned tech which translated into good post military career. My son-in-law was in espionage and was able to use his language skills in post military career. My own brother, fifty years ago, was sent to Russian language school and spent two years in Turkey where he monitored radio calls. He said the biggest threat he faced was when from enormous sheep dogs on his walks. He too was able to use his language skills. The military needs to teach technical/computer skills because that is the face of war fare now. The enemy is learning that fast and I am afraid our military is still stuck in boots on the ground when it should be eyes and ears to the wall.

    • Avatar Doug Cook says:

      It is the advancements in technology that has reduced the number of deaths of military members. 58,000 military killed in Vietnam. Around 7,000 American soldiers have lost their lives in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Pakistan since 9/11. Still too many, of course. Technology is in fact the face of war right now. Only a small percent of the military are the ‘killers’ you speak of, not all members. I spent over 20 years in the Air Force and never considered myself a killer… I never fired a gun…I was a flying gas station. You’ll never stop having soldiers on the ground. We still have to kill the bad guys when necessary.

      • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

        Well, I was a machinist mate 2nd class, and when I got out I went straight to the shipyards of SF, where I had a good run for 10 years or so. Then the shipyards closed down, and I got a journalism degree and started working for newspapers. Then the newspapers started shutting down …. and here we are.

  8. Avatar Candace C says:

    R.V. GREAT article. I fear people aren’t so much numb as complacent and willing to blindly go along with whatever narrative is being pushed about countries they know very little or nothing about and have no interest in researching beyond what they hear on the news. It’s frightening to me how easy it is for people to stop seeing people in other countries as human beings when they’re being portrayed as “other” in the name of patriotism. There’s no mistaking that there are monsters masquerading as human beings in this world but that doesn’t translate into an entire country of monsters.. Fear mongering seems to be the name of the game and sadly, historically speaking, it works. Military hawks such as Graham and Bolton are not by personal idea of a representation of patriotism.

    • Avatar Doug Cook says:

      Having spent an inordinate amount of time overseas in Middle East countries, I never knew any service member that considered the entire country filled by ‘monsters’. I had the belief that we were there to help the citizens, to deal with the monsters that are damaging their lives and country. I met many citizens , became friends with many of them and for the most part they appreciated our help. I do agree with you that it is complacency that has set in. No president, from Bush, Obama and now Trump wants to be the president that lost the war…so they just want to pass it on to the next guy, and our country just doesn’t want to talk about it. How many candidates have come out and said they will end the Afghan war? None that I can recall.
      Meanwhile…our friends and family members are still being killed.

      • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

        All of us are responsible for the millions of people we’ve directly and indirectly killed in the Middle East. There wasn’t much killing going on during my tour, but we did rescue thousands of boat people off the coast of Vietnam. I got a ribbon for it! Some of those people are now citizens with second generation families.

        • Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

          My employer hired 45 Vietnamese pilots who escaped the country during and after the fall of Saigon. Their experiences in getting out of Vietnam were often the stiff of screenplays.

          One gentleman, Bien Le, couldn’t get his family out of the country before the North Vietnamese rolled into Saigon. He was able to hide out successfully for a few days. Before dawn one day, he dug a hole under the fence of a North Vietnamese compound, moved his family to a captured Huey, started the helicopter, then took off toward the ocean.

          As he crossed the shoreline with his wife, toddler and infant aboard, he realized that it was a one-way trip–if he couldn’t find a U.S. vessel within minutes, the Huey would lack the fuel to make it back to land.

          “The visibility was bad,” he said. “I didn’t see any Navy ships, the low fuel warning light had been on for five minutes, and I thought, ‘I may have just killed my family.'”

          Ten minutes into the low fuel light, Bien spotted a Navy vessel. He landed, crewmen whisked his family away, and Bien helped push the still-running helicopter into the ocean.

          All of the Vietnamese pilots with PHI are retired now. I miss them.

          • Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

            What a story! Thanks, Hal.

          • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

            That was an awesome story Hal. I once wrote a story about a top South Vietnamese general who’d risen up the ranks while working with the Green Berets from the very beginning of our involvement in the war. He and his family got out, but because of a paperwork SNAFU they were denied entry to the U.S. so they wound up in Toronto where he washed dishes for 20 years until his Green Beret buddies finally convinced Congress to let him in the U.S. They ended up in the Sacramento suburbs.

  9. Avatar Eleanor Townsend says:

    Excellent article, as always R.V., but especially touching, too. Yesterday was a weird day, heavy and strange. Memorial Day, so many losses and griefs. This tiny little speck of a planet in the Cosmos, each of us here for a milli-second, and everyone duking it out everywhere you go, big and small. Thanks for the story about Officer Null. I am glad NASCAR pays this tribute; we cannot have too many remembrances for ‘the fallen’. (Another odd phrase……..)

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Thank you Eleanor. I hope the more we remember the fallen, the more we’ll speak out about these never-ending wars.

  10. Avatar Judith Salter says:

    My father was a Navy fighter pilot during World War II, flying from the deck of the USS Cabot in the Pacific When I was growing up, he always told me – war is the greatest failure of mankind. I agree

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      A lot of guys who’ve seen action say the same thing, if they can talk about their experiences at all.

  11. Avatar Robert Scheide Sr. says:

    My Blues run deep every day. Having spent a lot of years in the Navy I am saddened by the state of today’s Navy. Recent reports have outlined the sad state of readiness, due to lack of training time, poor leadership, lack of maintenance, etc.

    The idea the US can be the hegemon of the world is total nonsense and yet we try. We haven’t won a war since WW2 and started each one by lie after lie. We like to start wars we just don’t know how to end them. We seem to think we can win by dropping bombs. Sure you can level a country but that doesn’t mean you wiped the will of the people and they are going to be pissed. Think Afghanistan.

    We currently have at least 4 wars we are waging and are pushing for war with Venezuela and Iran..and are supporting several more think (Saudi and Yemen). We are the major supplier of military hardware in the world. At a cost North of 700 billion a year, many times what any adversaries spends, we aren’t winning many.

    We are being led by a bunch of people who are at best mentally challenged and downright stupid on occasion. When the talk that a FIRST STRIKE NUCLEAR ATTACK is doable and being bandied around by folks who never did a day in the military and obviously don’t have a clue about what they are proposing, they are going to destroy the world. That might be exactly what the fundamental Christians want.

    If we don’t wake up and throw these fundamental idiots under the bus we are not going to survive.

    I would advise you to start reading on what a war with Iran would look like. First off we don’t have enough troops to do a land attack, which leaves us with missiles and bombs and of course your nukes. We could lose a lot of sailors as Iran has lots of means to sink ships and the same weapons can close the Strait of Vermuz.

    We have hard sanctions on much of the world trying to force them into trade deals they don’t want and pull regime changes if others.

    We want to be the policemen of the world when we can’t even police our own country. The idea that we somehow have to be the savior of the people of the world has gotten us nothing but trouble and hasn’t been good for the people we were savings.

    With Climate Change starting to hammer us hard it’s time to turn our thoughts to saving this country and perhaps the world will follow. If we don’t get busy and solve this problem nothing else matters.

    So yes I’m blue. turning black.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      You’re right Dad, it’s not a pretty picture no matter which way you look at it. There are many historical parallels to this, most of them having to do with collapsing empires. If America is indeed collapsing, it may be too late to stop it, and if history is our guide, that means more war.

  12. Avatar Candace C says:

    Doug, I wasn’t referring to service members, I was referring to the general populace.

  13. Avatar Candace C says:

    Judith, my father served in the Marines on the USS Hornet aircraft carrier in WWII. He was very proud of his service but I think if he were alive today he would agree with your father’s sentiment.

  14. Avatar Linda Cooper says:

    R.V. Your article blew me away. Thank you so much for taking on this topic. I too have mixed feelings about Memorial Day. I am encouraged that so many on this comment section have expressed their reservations about war. I just don’t think it’s effective.(Ha) Unless one owns a bullet factory etc. And yes, WWII an exception in my mind.

    Two aspects come to mind that I would like to respond to. The first is Osama bin Laden. I have held reservations about his assassination. Without trial. I am a “big liberal.” And yet the application that Obama took has never settled with me. Secretly, I feel like an American. By that I mean, a trial by jury. It just has never felt “right.”

    Second is your notice of people being “trained since 9/11 to not ask questions.” I was working then. The “climate” was loaded. This was very serious. If a person expressed any idea that in any way appeared to be against the government, all hell broke lose. Actually, those were scary times to me. With the Trump vibe, the social climate remains scary. Gee, just like the Civil War, it hasn’t really been civil. My sister “un-friended” me on FB. Really?

    Anyway, regarding my two mentioned aspects after reading your article, I don’t think the comments have addressed them. I was wondering if you could elaborate on your views in these two matters.

    Again, thank you for your boldness with the expression of your views. Also the comment people. For me, it’s been so deeply appreciated. Uh, nice to know I’m not alone.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      I was 100 percent convinced for years that Osama bin Laden was dead, killed in Tora Bora during the Afghanistan invasion. No one was more surprised than me when he turned up in Pakistan. Assassination is the right word for what we did to him. A trial would have exposed the many inconsistencies in our government’s 9/11 narrative so he had to go.

      One month after 9/11, I got an airplane in Sacramento and flew to LAX to write a story about airport security after the terror attack. I took a photo of the National Guard at LAX and was suddenly surrounded by men with machine guns. I was questioned by the airport cops, the LAPD and the FBI, and I’m still on the FBI’s watch list to this day. I did get a fairly great story out of the ordeal, and I didn’t learn my lesson. I’ve been speaking out about our never ending wars ever since.

      • Avatar Linda Cooper says:

        “A trial would have exposed the many inconsistencies in our government’s 9/11 narrative so he had to go.” I seriously never thought of this perspective. Thank you. I think. How does one know if they are on the FBI watch list, by the way?

    • Avatar Doug Cook says:

      Linda, We were at war with OBL and Al Qaeda. To be brutally honest, we don’t put enemies on trial…we kill them. Through our troops and our drone program that President Obama used effectively, we killed many Al Qaeda leaders without due process. That is war.
      If OBL had been taken into custody, what followed would have been the most complex and wrenching legal proceeding in American history. The difficulties would have been endless…military tribunal or criminal trial? Abroad…at Guantanamo?…or inside the United States? Would bin Laden have been granted access to the evidence against him? Who would represent him? What if he represented himself, and tried to use the trial as a propaganda platform? All those questions faded into irrelevance with bin Laden’s death. Bin Laden didn’t get a trial and didn’t deserve one. But the number of people for whom that is true is small. At least it should be.

      • Avatar Linda Cooper says:

        Doug, I really have no clear way to address this issue. It all seems so “seedy” to me. Smoke and mirrors without the fun aspect. I do understand that the assasination was the easier path. Of course it was. My question mark is what’s up with doing easier, or following a time honored process? An American process. Now, let’s see. How many in my past could I add to a list? Dark humor kicking in. I’m a sixties gal, “what if there was a war and nobody showed up.” And before/if you respond, of course I am acknowledging all those who have served.

        • Avatar Doug Cook says:

          Linda…Like I said to RV, it is easy to second guess the acts of the brave special forces members that went in to that compound. I don’t call this an assassination, it was killing an enemy combatant on the battlefield of war.
          Remember…it was Osama Bin Laden and Al Oaeda that attacked us (really, it wasn’t Dick Cheney) You do agree that it was appropriate to respond, correct?

      • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

        With all due respectDoug, Osama bin Laden was not assassinated because trying him would have been too complicated. We tried the previous WTC terrorist, the Blind Sheikh, who spent the rest of his life in prison.

        • Avatar Doug Cook says:

          RV, That is not really what I said…I said that he was killed because he was an enemy combatant, just like the many Al Qaeda members that were killed on the battlefield. My comment about putting him on trial was just me ruminating about the difficulties of putting him on trial. We shouldn’t really second guess the brave special forces members that had to make instantaneous decisions whether to kill him or take him alive. I’m more than happy that he wasn’t able to spout his propaganda in court. Good riddance.

        • Avatar Doug Cook says:

          P.S. … the Blind Sheikh wasn’t killed because he was arrested in the US, not on the battlefield in the Middle East. That was why he was put on trial here.

  15. Thanks, R.V., for digging deep for this column that opens a meaningful conversation about the U.S. military and Americans’ relationship with the topic of service and sacrifice.

    I’m always grateful for those who served their country (thank you, R.V.) but it sickens me when troops are put in harms way for no apparent rational reason. So sad, pointless and unnecessary.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Thanks Doni. I was feeling blue and came up with the headline first. I didn’t really know what I was going to write, but this is what came out.

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