Let’s all take a deep breath and repeat after me: Give war achance. This is Afghanistan we’re talking about. Check the map.It’s far away. — Thomas Friedman, New York TimesBut what if tomorrow, turning the corner, it’s not that streetwith those elegant two-story homes & luxurious lawns,but a gutted-out havoc of empty door frames & ruinsof what once had been walls. Overhead, the shrieksof B-52s diving back thru the clouds. A smothering hazethrough which you see women in burkhas down on their kneesdigging their dead from under the rubble. Two blocksfrom home & it’s suddenly Kandahar, the Kapisa Valley,Mazar-i-Sharif. That wreaking of vengeanceyou were so pleased to watch on TV.But it’s you now who cannot stop coughing, whose mouthhas dropped open in terror, whose eyes smartin that acrid smoke; you who are scurrying, shuddering,hugging the shadows. Till you manage, somehow, at last,to find your way home: that snug little duplexwith its nifty flag decal stuck on the window over the door.Still shaking, you manage to get the key in the lock& stumble into your favorite chair, though it’s hours beforeyour heart stops pounding inside your chest& you’re able to breathe, till you no longer retch overthe toilet, till you’ve got yourself calm & all but convincedit must have been some sort of vertigo, seizure, deliriousdream. But now — thank the Good Lord — you’ve cometo your senses at last & are more or less clear whoyou are, where you live, what it is you’re supposed to believe.
Because our sons adore their plastic missile launchers,cybertronic space bazookas, neutron death-ray guns,a decade down the pike it won’t prove difficultto trick them out in combat boots& camouflage fatigues,rouse them with a frenzy of parades, the headyrhetoric of country, camaraderie & God —the drum & bugle & the sudden thunderof the cannon as they marchinto Hell singing.Which is the order of things.Obedient to a fault, the people will do as they are told.However dispirited by grief at the gravesof their fallen, the mother returns at last to her loom,the father to his lathe,& the inconsolable widow home to raise sonsardent for the next imperial bloodbath:Ilium. Thermopylae. Verdun. Pork Chop Hill.