CXXII – An Open Letter to Col. Boylan

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To:  
Lt. Col. Steve Boylan
Director,
Multinational Force Press Center
Re:  2,000
Dead Soldiers

The
media inform me that you have sent an e-mail to news
reporters asking them not to treat the 2,000th
American serviceman killed in Iraq as u201Ca milestone.u201D 
You reportedly asked journalists u201Cto think about the
effects on the families and those serving in Iraq.u201D 
You added that the 2,000 figure was u201Can artificial
mark on the wall set by individuals or groups with
specific agendas and ulterior motives.u201D  You
then echoed the party line about these men and women
dying u201Cto ensure freedom for a people who have not
known freedom in over two generations.u201D You concluded
with the plea to u201Ccelebrate the daily milestonesu201D
of the war and to u201Clook to the future of a free and
democratic Iraq.u201D

I
don't know that there is ever an appropriate moment
for spokesmen of the war system to lecture others
on ethical matters.  Every war is an abomination
to life, and those who choose to participate in the
systematic slaughter of men, women and children in
order to advance the interests of the politically
ambitious, have sufficient cause for soul-searching
of their own. 

But,
to paraphrase Shakespeare, methinks you doth protest
too much when you chastise the media for choosing
to report truthful matters concerning a war that has
been built upon nothing but a pyramid of lies, deceit,
forgeries, and other forms of what the state's public
relations boosters refer to as u201Cdisinformation.u201D 
It has long been said that the first casualty in any
war is truth.  Your statement ranks right alongside
the government's current practice of not allowing
the flag-draped coffins of dead soldiers to be seen:
the real casualties must not become known to the public.

I
suspect you are a career military person.  As
such, your life has been lived in a socialistic environment
in which many of the costs others of us have to incur
in life are borne by the state.  Housing, food,
medical and dental care, on-base retailing, schools,
and other services whose costs civilians must incur
in the marketplace are, for the most part, provided
you by the state.  Perhaps these experiences
have made you less sensitive to the fact that life
is not a cost-free experience.

If
one is to live a responsible life, he or she must
be prepared to incur all of the costs associated with
the pursuit of one's interests, and not to impose
such costs upon others.  War is the very essence
of irresponsible behavior, for it is always conducted
against persons who, apart from the fortuities of
geography, have no interest in the contrived disputes
by which competing political systems manipulate and
control people.  If Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice,
and the armchair neocon war-whoopers; along with the
top officials of the Halliburton/Bechtel/KBR corporate-state
alliance; had truly believed in the moral necessity
for this war, they would have been in the first planeload
of paratroopers to descend upon Baghdad, rather than
ensconced in their plush offices or underground bunkers.
Your bosses don't even believe in the nonsense
you have had the poor judgment to send to members
of the media.  Their unwillingness to personally
incur the costs of this obscene undertaking should
be a tip-off to their irresponsibility.

In
the face of all the politically self-serving, war-profiteering,
and other conspiratorial purposes that have engineered
this collective atrocity, I find it difficult to accept
your casual dismissal of its critics as people u201Cwith
specific agendas and ulterior motives.u201D  Have
years of working within the state apparatus allowed
you to absorb such Orwellian corruption of language
and concepts and to truly mistake propaganda
for reality?  Perhaps you are aware that
the milksop character of most journalists will allow
for your expectations to find expression.  You
will doubtless not be disappointed with the crowd
at Fox News. But did you truly expect intelligent
people to be bamboozled by your efforts to project
the u201Cspecific agendas and ulterior motivesu201D of the
political establishment onto the critics of this war? 
Do you really believe the administration lies about
this war u201Cgoing well?u201D 

The
2,000 dead military people are neither a u201Cmilestoneu201D
nor u201Can artificial mark on the wall.u201D  This number
represents what collectivists always want suppressed:
knowledge of the personal costs individuals end up
having to pay for political behavior.  The 20th
century added some 200,000,000 corpses to the grisly
history of the state. There is a semblance of humanity
in your statement that u201Cthe first that died . . .
will be just as important as the last to die in this
war.u201D  Please keep that thought in the forefront
of your mind: if it is wrong to kill millions of people,
it is just as wrong to kill one person. 

The
costs of war go far beyond the material expenses associated
with it.  Of far greater significance are the
spiritual and other human costs that degrade both
the souls of individuals as well as the fragile nature
of our social relationships. If we do not pay attention
to its machinations, war can make us ugly and depraved.
People who are psychologically, philosophically, and
spiritually centered may, as Viktor Frankl, Carl Jung,
and others have demonstrated, survive such hideousness. 
But for mankind generally, wars help to destroy the
civilizations upon which they feed, which may help
to explain why increased militarism has long been
seen as the final stage in the collapse of hitherto
great societies.

If
you are not prepared to assess these deeper costs,
then at least accept the recognition of 2,000 dead
soldiers as the most basic cost, in human life, of
this war.  You might add to that number figures
that the American government refuses to acknowledge,
namely, the number of Iraqi men, women, and children
who have thus far been killed. Some independent sources
estimate the Iraqi victims as being in excess of 100,000.
 The state wants us to disregard such numbers.
It asks, as do you, that we bask in some pretended
glory that will arise from the butchery and destruction
visited upon innocent people, and to ignore the costs. 
The state is never comfortable having us consider
the consequences of its actions.

You
offer the phony argument that journalists ought to
u201Cthink about the effects on the families and those
serving in Iraqu201D when reporting on the number of dead
soldiers. My god, don't you think the soldiers and
their families are already aware of the dangers
faced in Iraq?  Do you think there are many parents,
grandparents, or spouses of soldiers who are not terrified
when the telephone rings or there is a knock on the
door that might bring them news they dread each hour
of every day? 

And
do you think that the people of Iraq are any less
concerned about the lives and well-being of their
loved ones; that they worry any less than do Americans
that their children might be blown to pieces by a
bomb or felled by a bullet?  As our minds become
infected with the divisive thinking of political systems,
we can become morally lobotomized robots.  Thus,
was Madeleine Albright able to find the deaths of
500,000 children an acceptable price to pay (albeit
not by her) for American boycotts of Iraq. I ask you
to extend the thought I raised earlier, namely, that
if it is wrong to kill one American soldier, it is
equally wrong to kill one Iraqi civilian.  Until
you — and the rest of us — can regard the systematic
killing of any people as an offense against all of
humanity, we shall be fated to the carrying out of
the mutual suicide pacts that governments regard as
u201Chonor and glory.u201D

But
if you are truly concerned about the effects on soldiers
and their families of reporting these costs of war,
you might wish to consider an alternative course of
action.  I will admit to having a u201Cspecific agenda
and an ulterior motiveu201D in opposing the war system. 
My purposes are to help us discover the thinking and
the social systems under which we can live productively,
peacefully, and freely with one another.

If
you share these sentiments, and care to end the death
and suffering now being endured by Iraqis and Americans
alike, then come home, and bring your fellow Americans
with you. Put your creative talents and skills to
work in the marketplace, helping to produce the values
that sustain life, rather than continuing in service
to the slaughter and devastation practiced by the
state.

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