Monday, November 29, 2004

"You disgust me"

We have some areas on the ceilings where there are water stains, which I assume contain biota. However, painting over the stains seems to be ineffective, at least in the study (the area right above my head as I type this). The stain just bleeds through again. You might think this indicates the continued presence of moisture. But we had the roof fixed some months ago, and there has been no leaking despite all the rains. Painting over the stains appears to have worked much better with the surfaces in the dining room (both vertical and horizontal ). So, the behavior differs. What I am thinking is that I will need to scrape away the thin layer of plaster that contains the stains, re-plaster, and then repaint. That ought to do it. In the bedroom, and in the study, there was some peeling in small blooms less than two inches in diameter. I scraped those away, then repainted. It looks pretty good, but since I did not try to re-plaster, there is an obvious peeled area that has been repainted. If my lovely wife does not approve of this effect, I suppose that I can put that thin layer of plaster back on, and repaint. And if I do any more peeling for the purpose of stain removal, I'll re-plaster after I peel.

So I was listening to NPR this morning, and they were talking about American and Iraqi National Guard units in Mosul picking up the bodies of ING and Iraqi Police who have been killed by the insurgency. It has been said that you cannot win an occupation. The occupations of Germany and Japan went OK, but there was no resistance. So I would modify that to say that you cannot win an occupation in the context of a guerilla war.

And one of the things an American colonel said in the radio piece disturbed me, and pointed out to me the lack subtlety in our occupation, and it's doomed nature. He was admonishing some Iraqi civilians for leaving alone the bodies that the insurgents had dumped in the streets as a warning. If I may reconstruct the quote, he said something like: "I'm amazed that you wouldn't bring in your own countrymen. You disgust me." I may have paraphrased the first sentence, but the last three words are a direct quote.

They say that soldiers are not police. They are also not diplomats. Military force can be used to destroy and deter, but not to nurture. Nation-building is possible, but not in the context of a guerilla war. Our military will never defeat the insurgents. If the insurgents are defeated, and it would be nice if they were, it will not be due to military action, but some other factor. All we are doing now is rushing like a bull from one end of the ring to another, bleeding, always bleeding, though none can stand in our way. It is conceivable, in a hypothetical way -- if we wound back the clock -- that the United States and world community could have conducted a legitimate and successful liberation of Iraq. But it would have to have been conducted in an effective and competent, intelligent way. That opportune moment for those smart choices has long since passed, and now we are in a quagmire.

I am aware that in most wars, and certainly in guerilla wars, it is the civilians who suffer most. Children lose mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, brothers and sisters. Babies. But I also have empathy for the young American soldiers who have been sent to Iraq. Some are only 18. Fresh out of high school, knowing nothing about the world. Many of them, and some of their families, believe in this war as a just war the same way we saw World War Two. It is going to be so painful for them to realize that it is simply another Vietnam. Some of them are very idealistic, some of them are very sincere. It is going to be a scar across a large part of a generation. Their sense of isolation will be worse than in Vietnam, given that so many of us will have been completely untouched and unconcerned, including many of those who will pat the veterans on the back and thank them for their service. To a deception.

Here's a interesting article for you all: Cruel Irony.

Last night before I went to sleep I thought about not being able to stand up. I had this defiant impulse to stand up on the bed and throw my arms up in the air. The mature part of me said to just go to sleep, then, maturely, decided to honor the impulse. I stood up in the dark like a winning boxer. I hate this disorder. I am getting weaker and more wobbly. But I have no guilt at all about the fact that I am going more slowly than the typical profile. After reading this article about the ALS doctor getting rapid ALS, I have an urge to go down in the garage and break some things with a sledgehammer or other implement. In his honor. Excuse me a moment...

Wow, that felt good. I captured it on videotape and will put it into the video project I am leaving for my kids for when they are teenagers.
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