Saturday, October 21, 2006

One soldier's view

When Pat Tillman left a multimillion dollar NFL career on the table to go join the army Rangers after September 11, he was hailed as a larger than life hero. Then when he was killed in a friendly fire incident in Afghanistan, the cover up began almost immediately. And his family, led by his mother Mary, could have simply accepted the silver star that Pat was awarded posthumously and played along with the charade. But a charade it was, and is. So Mary Tillman continues to press for the truth-- the whole truth.

And it is well known by now that Pat himself was critical of the war in Iraq, believing that it was a dangerous and unjustified diversion from the job of finding and fighting terrorists. As an army member however, we have learned his views over time as the men he served with have left the army and been free to share the conversations that he had with them.

What some people still don't know is that when Pat joined the Rangers, he joined his little brother Kevin in doing so. What does Kevin think about the war in Iraq? He couldn't say anything about that until he was discharged from the army last year.

Well, he is now free to talk about it, and he has posted what he thinks, as a guest poster on the blog,, in a post called After Pat's Birthday

It is Pat’s birthday on November 6, and elections are the day after. It gets me thinking about a conversation I had with Pat before we joined the military. He spoke about the risks with signing the papers. How once we committed, we were at the mercy of the American leadership and the American people. How we could be thrown in a direction not of our volition. How fighting as a soldier would leave us without a voice… until we got out.

Much has happened since we handed over our voice:

Somehow we were sent to invade a nation because it was a direct threat to the American people, or to the world, or harbored terrorists, or was involved in the September 11 attacks, or received weapons-grade uranium from Niger, or had mobile weapons labs, or WMD, or had a need to be liberated, or we needed to establish a democracy, or stop an insurgency, or stop a civil war we created that can’t be called a civil war even though it is. Something like that.

Somehow our elected leaders were subverting international law and humanity by setting up secret prisons around the world, secretly kidnapping people, secretly holding them indefinitely, secretly not charging them with anything, secretly torturing them. Somehow that overt policy of torture became the fault of a few “bad apples” in the military.

Somehow back at home, support for the soldiers meant having a five-year-old kindergartener scribble a picture with crayons and send it overseas, or slapping stickers on cars, or lobbying Congress for an extra pad in a helmet. It’s interesting that a soldier on his third or fourth tour should care about a drawing from a five-year-old; or a faded sticker on a car as his friends die around him; or an extra pad in a helmet, as if it will protect him when an IED throws his vehicle 50 feet into the air as his body comes apart and his skin melts to the seat.

Somehow the more soldiers that die, the more legitimate the illegal invasion becomes.

Somehow American leadership, whose only credit is lying to its people and illegally invading a nation, has been allowed to steal the courage, virtue and honor of its soldiers on the ground.

Somehow those afraid to fight an illegal invasion decades ago are allowed to send soldiers to die for an illegal invasion they started.

Somehow faking character, virtue and strength is tolerated.

Somehow profiting from tragedy and horror is tolerated.

Somehow the death of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people is tolerated.

Somehow subversion of the Bill of Rights and The Constitution is tolerated.

Somehow suspension of Habeas Corpus is supposed to keep this country safe.

Somehow torture is tolerated.

Somehow lying is tolerated.

Somehow reason is being discarded for faith, dogma, and nonsense.

Somehow American leadership managed to create a more dangerous world.

Somehow a narrative is more important than reality.

Somehow America has become a country that projects everything that it is not and condemns everything that it is.

Somehow the most reasonable, trusted and respected country in the world has become one of the most irrational, belligerent, feared, and distrusted countries in the world.

Somehow being politically informed, diligent, and skeptical has been replaced by apathy through active ignorance.

Somehow the same incompetent, narcissistic, virtueless, vacuous, malicious criminals are still in charge of this country.

Somehow this is tolerated.

Somehow nobody is accountable for this.

In a democracy, the policy of the leaders is the policy of the people. So don’t be shocked when our grandkids bury much of this generation as traitors to the nation, to the world and to humanity. Most likely, they will come to know that “somehow” was nurtured by fear, insecurity and indifference, leaving the country vulnerable to unchecked, unchallenged parasites.

Luckily this country is still a democracy. People still have a voice. People still can take action. It can start after Pat’s birthday.

Brother and Friend of Pat Tillman,

Kevin Tillman

This is not the first such testimonial we've seen from former soldiers who have left the service after going to Iraq, though it is certainly among the best written and from a name that people will recognize. And as more and more of them muster out and are no longer muzzled by their service agreements, you will see more of these testimonials. Our soldiers are doing the best job they could be given the circumstances they have been sent to war under, but the lie that the right has perpetrated that the war is uniformly supported by the soldiers who have fought in it, is starting to unravel.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I don't believe that anyone on the right ever said the war was uniformly supported by the troops - but it is supported by the overwhelming majority, as idicated by re-enlistment rates in combat units.

Mr. Tillman lost his brother and there's no way any of us can make that right for him - but for him to take his hurt at the death of his brother and buy into absurd conspiracy theories about why we're fighting this war is to cast shame upon what his brother did.

Mark Noonan