Thursday, August 31, 2006

I’m Back and Ready To Leave Again

As I stepped off the plane in Kuwait City after 2 weeks of leave I was hit with a wave of hot sandy air and I remembered why I hate the Middle East. Of course I am glad that I am here helping the Iraqi people but I long for the day to get back to America.

I spent several days traveling on Qatar Airways to get to and fro from the UK and hope to never ride on a plane with Arabs again. Racist statement? Nope. You just gotta trust me on this one. To be fair the plane was full of Arabs, Indians, and Asians. All of them were loud, obnoxious, and generally rude. I was constantly amazed at how the bickered between each other, pestered the stewardesses, and treated those around them. I am not sure why they behaved this way but it was all rather childish and unbecoming of grown adults.

I was already on edge traveling as I was taken off my British Airways flight that was supposed to arrive in London Heathrow Airport the same day as the other British Airways planes were supposed to be blown up by terrorists. I was subsequently placed on a Qatar Airways plane, which right before I got on the plane I heard one of their other planes was hijacked coming out of Jordan. From one jihad plane to the next I supposed. “If you Arabs don’t start behaving yourselves we are gonna revoke your privilege to ride on planes and you'll have to walk to Mecca.”

Every Arab on the plane was a possible terrorist to me and I suppose all of the other passengers. Sorry it has to be that way and until little old white women start hijacking planes I am going to continue to focus my attention on 18-40 year old Arab men. Although I am sure the little Asian guy that kept rubbing himself all over me while we were standing waiting to get off the plane posed more of a risk then any of the Arabs did. “Um I don’t think I can get pregnant but I sure don’t want to find out. Please remove your body from my backside before you meet the backside of my hand.”

One thing fun about riding on Qatar Airways was the GPS controlled Mecca tracker. At anytime you could access the TV in the chair in front of you or look up to the big screens in the middle of the plane and find out what exact angle you needed to pray in order to be pointing toward Mecca. "This is your Captain speaking, please remember that no one is allowed to pray in front of the emergency exits and if you have a problem with sitting by the exit let that American boy have your seat because I know he wants nothing more than to be the first one off this plane, thank you and have a good flight. We'll arrive at our destination in seven hours inshallah." I think maybe all the terrorists have their own version and it is called the Iraq Tracker. It points them towards Iraq and shows them the closest mass of innocent civilians trying to live their lives in peace.

After 4 hours of security checks at the Middle Eastern wing at London Heathrow with lots of heavily armed Bobbies (“Um hey can I have one of those automatic weapons please?”) I boarded the plane from London back to Kuwait where I would then get a flight to my base in Iraq. Once on the plane I was surrounded by Arabs, which was okay because the seat right next to me was empty…or so I thought. After an hour or so of flying bliss the Arabic man one seat away from me thought it would be a good idea to move right next to me so that a lady could have his seat and her baby could lay down next to us. Great idea Ahmed. So now I have to cramp up while his feet are on my lap because he just has to sit cross legged and the kid in front of my has to put his seat all the way back in my lap. After an hour of this I decided to take measures into my own hands. “Stewardess, bring me a bottle of Scotch please.” I must have downed all the alcohol on the Muslim flight. That made things more tolerable and I even started to laugh about the situation 4 glasses later.

All in all I had a great time on leave and it has rejuvenated me to be able to endure the end of my second year in Iraq. I look forward to writing for the rest of my time here and hope I can find some decent things to talk about. I am definitely not excited to be back here and am looking forward to the day when Iraq is something I did and am not doing. Not to sound too down but the little taste I had of civilian life in London has got me wanting to go back home where the girls are pretty, the grass is green, and the planes don’t have to hand out complimentary socks so that Arabic man’s bare feet in your lap can stay warm during the flight.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

More Moral Than God, Part 2 (last)

You may wonder what motivated me to bring ‘religion’ to a blog devoted to one soldier’s honest appraisal of a war against a religiously motivated enemy. I mean, isn’t one set of fanatical religious ideas enough of a problem? Why pour gasoline on a raging fire? What could I hope to accomplish by bringing Christianity to the discussion other than to renew the passions that resulted in the Crusades?
Actually, I hope and pray that this war never comes to that, not that it’s very likely it could. My reason, conscious or not, had more to do with what I regard to be the undermining of America’s effort to defend itself by purported Christian groups. My church, the Presbyterian Church USA, has taken the official position that the war in Iraq is "unwise, immoral and illegal". To the extent that this position influences its members and conflicts the conscience of soldiers and their families, it serves to work against America’s ability to defend itself from a proven dangerous enemy. This foe is intent on the destruction of non-Muslim nations as a necessary step toward achieving Muslim dominance throughout the world. That Christians would make themselves a liability to any nation wishing to defeat this evil (if you object to this terminology, see previous post), I believe, is to misrepresent God himself. In terms of the Ten Commandments, this falls under #3- taking the Lord’s name in vain (and you thought that one just applied to what you utter when you miss the nail and hit your thumb).

I ended the last post citing some teachings of Jesus that seemed to suggest he condemned all forms of war or even self-defense. I intended to begin this one by balancing those statements with others Jesus made that seem to suggest the opposite. Several commenters have done that for me. One of you astutely offered Matt.10:34, "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword." Now, you don’t have to student of the Bible, let alone a New Testament scholar, to recognize that this statement seems at odds with what most everybody knows about Jesus. How can that statement not contradict Matt.5:9, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God." Perhaps you have better answers to that than I have but here are a few thoughts.
1) What does it mean to ‘make peace’? Have you ever gotten into a "fight" with a loved one that resulted in things ultimately being resolved for the better? Wasn’t that making peace by one party pulling out the sword? By analogy to the U.S. Civil War, who ultimately was the peacemaker- Lincoln or Lee? Both? Neither? (I don’t know the answer but my money’s on Lincoln).
2) Jesus was known for his acute awareness and promotion of "heaven". He continually asked his hearers to consider their "spiritual" or "eternal" life and not just their "physical" life. Which realm did he have in mind when he uttered these words? One, or the other, or both?
3) To what extent is Jesus using hyperbole? After saying that to look on a woman lustfully is to have committed adultery, he goes on to say that if your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. Good advice? Or is he using strong language to make a point? (Hmmmm, maybe that’s why God made me left-eye dominant.)
Its fairly clear from the context that when Jesus says we are to turn the other cheek, he is teaching that we are not to seek revenge, not that we aren’t to defend ourselves (or others). Paul seems to make this point in Rom.12:17-19 when he says "repay no one evil for evil" and also "never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God". Between these thoughts is found this, "If possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all." Now sometimes ‘peace’ doesn’t depend on you, such as when your home is invaded and your family threatened, or when hijacked airplanes are flown into your office buildings. I’m sure many people want payback. I’ll be happy with deterrence. Unfortunately, the only way to deter some people is to kill them.
What other clues does the New Testament (the second half of the Christian Bible) give us? The story of the Good Samaritan, Luke 10:30-37, indicates that the suburbs of Jerusalem at the time of Jesus weren’t immune to violent crime. Even with big, bad Roman soldiers providing the Pax Romana. It might not have prevented his mugging, but the man in the parable might have benefitted from another bit of advice Jesus gave his disciples, about the time that it was getting dangerous to be identified with Jesus- "And let him who has no sword sell his mantle and buy one." JESUS SAID THAT? Must’ve been hyperbole. Peter must’ve missed the nuance then because what do we find him doing in the garden of Gethsemane the night Jesus was betrayed? Packing heat! (John 18:10) Now its clear Jesus didn’t approve of Peter whacking off the guy’s ear, and it was nice of Jesus, according to Luke, to put the severed ear back where it belonged, but from the context, it’s clear Jesus’ anger with Peter was that he lacked faith in Jesus to believe that Jesus had the situation under control. Interesting, isn’t it, that if Jesus was the proto-pacifist, after 3 years of hanging with Jesus, Peter would still be carrying a sword?!?
One more consideration from a New Testament perspective which caught my eye several years ago when all this became more than a theoretical matter. Luke 3 tells us about John the Baptist, whom Jesus called "the greatest of those born of women." Given that John and Jesus were both teachers in the rabbinic tradition (that is, teachers of Torah, Jewish doctrine and law) its fairly safe to conclude a great similarity in thinking. Anyway, a soldier asked John the Baptist, "And what shall we do?" The question was asked in response to John’s admonition to "prepare the way of the Lord" by "bear(ing) fruits that befit repentance." John’s answer to the soldier was "Rob no one by violence or by false accusation, and be content with your wages." If doing what soldiers do, defending their nation by killing their nations enemies, was an offense in God’s eyes, surely John would not have said, in effect, ‘be a soldier but have high ethical standards." John recognized the need of a society for soldiers, just as a functional society needs tax collectors. Jesus, I believe, endorsed John’s answer, as did Luke in recording this and the early church in receiving this as Holy writ.
This brings me to my final argument. Most non-Christians, and I believe the majority of Chr.s, preeminently think of Jesus as kind of an extra-terrestrial who walked among Jews but taught like Plato. He is seen as ethereal, not truly connected to this world, and as one whose message was 99% heavenly/ 1% earthly. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Jesus was a Jew, born in the line of King David and therefore an heir to the covenant which God made with Abraham. The descendants of Abraham (the Israelites, later, the Jews) were not the Amish of today, or the Puritans of yesteryear or the Ascetics of ancient Greece. Though their covenant with God required a distinct lifestyle from the polytheistic cultures around them- they were still very much part of the world. They lived, moved about and participated within the same Mediterranean culture as their neighbors.
The culture that the Hebrews developed, practiced and refined was functional and had the strength to remain intact through the millenia against the forces of absorbtion and disintegration. It was founded on Moses and the Ten Commandments. It was a society that sought no conquest beyond the land promised them by God. It was rich in culture, in agriculture, in learning, in religious devotion, in the prizing of ethical behavior (if not always practiced) and in a highly detailed system of justice. It was very this-world oriented with actually only minimal regard for the afterlife (this was developed late by sects such as the Pharisees). The common dream of the Israelites was to have a vine and fig tree, to beat their swords into plowshares and to enjoy the mercies of God. It was as enviable a society, in concept if not in actuality, as history records.
But in a fallen world, violence abounds. To survive meant to protect oneself from wild animals, from marauding enemies without and from the criminal within. Killing was differentiated from murder early on (Gen.9:5-6). Family defended family (Gen.14, John 15:14). The Book of Judges is about the Spirit of God anointing individuals to conduct war for the preservation of Israel. In Ecclesiastes, Solomon says "to everything there is a season,.... a time for war and a time of peace." Israel had to take possession of the promised land by conquest. Usually the attacks were made by the Canaanites; after Joshua they often became agressive (preemptive). There was compulsory military service and a command structure to the military. [Could God have given them the land by other than violent means? Sure. Did he? No.]
It is the clear teaching of the Old Testament that God used violent defeat as a corrective for Israel’s waywardness. Seems harsh but without maintaining their covenant with God they would have ceased to be an identifiable people. Without taking up the sword they would have simply ceased to be a people.
Every writer of the Bible, certainly the O.T. but also the N.T. (which, for the Christian, are simply divisions of the same book), had a profoundly Hebraic perspective on life and the world. In other words, the O.T. is the foundation for the New. Therefore, the most important single source for understanding the N.T. is the Jewish Scriptures, the O.T.
The apostle, Paul, states that "the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body" (Eph.3:6). For Christian Gentiles, Israel’s history is their history. In the early Church, Jews and Gentiles claimed a common spiritual ancestry with the Hebrews of old.
Which brings me back to Jesus. Christians believe he was not merely a Jewish carpenter/rabbi, but a Jew he most certainly was. He knew Judaism like Tiger Woods knows golf. "Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them." One can find parallels in Rabbinic literature to a high percentage of Jesus’ teachings. Jesus was the first to say "You shall love your neighbor as yourself", right? Wrong- Leviticus 19:28.
There’s an historical reason why the early Christians- Jews and Gentiles- parted company with the Jewish community but it was not due to a rejection of them by Jesus. His repeated call for Jews to ‘repent’ was not a call to convert away from the ancestral Jewish faith but to become renewed and restored in God’s forgiveness within that same community. The major question confronting Peter, James, John, Paul and the 1st century Church was not whether Jewish believers in Jesus could belong to this new, Spirit-born community but whether Gentiles could, upon repentance from sin, belong to a totally Jewish community.
My argument is, you can disconnect Jesus from the Jews if you want to, but you’d be going against all the evidence. The role of the appropriate use of force in the preservation of the Jewish people, throughout its biblical history, is built into the warp and woof of its society. We would be hard pressed to know the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob if not for the Bible and the God we find therein, treats force in the suppression of evil as a necessity. It is beyond ludicrous to me, that Jesus would have any other view than that of his ancestral people and his Father, God. For followers of Christ today, to condemn this biblical precedent, is to me, the height of arrogance and a misguided attempt to be MORE MORAL THAN GOD.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

More Moral Than God, Part 1

Well folks, that was a bit of an exciting week for us Sgt TF Boggs fans, wasn’t it. For TFMom and I, that was the first time we’ve ‘seen’ our young’n in 9 months or so. He didn’t look particularly malnourished to me. His mom was happy he didn’t need to have any incidents of ‘soldier-potty-mouth’ bleeped. When he started his first answer with “Wellll Neil,...”, I thought he might have taken the advice I gave him earlier in the day to have a pint of Guinness one hour before the interview. Got to love the compliment he paid Cavuto at the end. Never hurts to suck up a little, agreed?

Just got an email today from him, the first since his network debut. It was not, as I expected, telling us that he’d signed with the William Morris Agency, but rather that “he’s having a blast”. The weather in Scotland has been 17-19 C (low 60's for us). Nice change of pace, for sure, but I hope his system can take the shock of end-of-August Iraq that he’ll be experiencing in a week or so.

We were somewhat worried, when Buck Sargent ( got extended with his unit, that Tim’s might also get extended. His reply to that was, “Don’t think they really need battle-hardened main gate guards, Dad.”

Thanks to everyone for the grand conversation you all were having. I hated to end it with a new blog, but feel free not to respond to the actual post and free-associate merrily away.

I sort of promised the Sarge that, during this time while he’s gone and I’m minding the store, I would attempt to lay out an argument for this war from a Christian perspective. That is, I would try to present as compelling a case as I can for why a Christian has strong reasons to be in favor of what America is attempting to do in response to the declared imperialistic intent of radical Muslims to destroy the non-Muslim world.

I don’t mean to state a just-war theory that would be found philosophically cogent by the intellectual crowd. I believe that truths that matter most ought to be capable of being explained to and understood by any intelligent 12 year old. I also don’t think such an argument should be found compelling only to Christians but to anybody who has not given away the common sense he was born with in exchange for the muddled mush of post-modern thought. If you don’t think, for instance, that a hatred of your enemy that exceeds your love for you children is evil and wrong and self-destructive, then we don’t speak the same language. If you believe you have both a right and a duty to kill fellow human beings because they don’t believe in your God, then you have determined that human discourse is irrelevant and impossible.

It saddens me to increasingly find that Christians too, have been brainwashed by the effects of post-modernism to the point that they can’t recognize the difference between good and profound evil. In Scott Peck’s book People Of The Lie, he tells of different case stories of such people; people that all suffered from extreme narcissism. One set of parents gave, as a Christmas present to their only son, the rifle used by his older brother to commit suicide. When Peck asked them why they would do such a thing they had no clue as to the inappropriateness of the ‘gift’ and replied, “Why not, it’s a perfectly good gun!”

If you can’t see the difference between 1) an Israeli doctor who treats Arabs and Jews in his emergency room as equally deserving his care and 2) the terrorist who soaks the nails in rat poison before packing them in a suicide belt to be strapped on the body of a retarded teenager and sending him to a pizza parlor; or between the two societies that each come from and by which each are regarded as great and moral persons, then you have lost something crucial to your humanity. Are all Americans, all U.S. soldiers, all Israeli’s always morally good people? No. Are all Palestinians, all Arabs, all Muslims morally bad people? No. Is there at present a fundamentally moral difference between the two cultures out of which these two sets of people come? Very definitely- yes!

If you can no longer see these distinctions or if you think that I am too simple to grasp that life simply is not that black and white, then I say “fine. We are at an impasse and our ways of reasoning are incompatible and further discussion is a waste of time for both of us. This may be sad but it’s a fact. Have a great life!”

My plea is to those who can and do make these distinctions.

So, I think the question is, How can Christianity not be incompatible with warfare?

Sorry for the double negative but the presumption today is that Christians ought to be passivists. Jesus, after all, was the one who said- “Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Matt 5.39) He also said- “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (Matt 5.9) And also, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matt 5.44) How can these and other similar sayings not decide the matter and the answer is, Christianity IS incompatible with war?

Well, class, I think that’s enough for tonight. See you back here in a couple days. Feel free to discuss....

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Live From London

So the people from the Neil Cavuto show on FOX News finally tracked me down and I'll be doing an interview for Neil tomorrow on his show (Aug 16th) from 4-5pm EST. Be sure to tune in and check it out. Here's hoping I don't make a complete fool of myself.


I know some of you already know this but for those of you who don't and who didn't see my interview on FOX you can view it either at FOX or at You Tube. Thanks for those of you who brought these sites to my attention and also for posting the video at You Tube. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Desultory Post

The ‘bored soldier’ has made it to his destination and is enjoying the sights and sounds and refreshments of the mother country. Bauer’s whereabouts are currently not known. What follows is another broken-bat single from your pinch-hitter, TFDad.

desultory\DES-uhl-tor-ee\, adjective 1)Jumping or passing from one thing to another without order or rational connection.

Had to look this word up the other day. Its one of those words I’m sure I’ve read a hundred times but can’t recall ever looking it up. Who wants to go get a dictionary when its easier to look at the context and guess what it probably means. Or maybe there was a time when I looked it up and for a time knew what it meant but now I forget. My favorite saying is, "I’ve got a good memory, its just short." Since I say it about every day, there’s no doubt its my family’s least favorite saying of mine.

Anyway, ‘desultory’ (which also means, ‘disgression", but I digress). When I discovered what it meant, I thought- "Exactly. That perfectly describes my current sense about the various things flittering about my mind that somehow seem connected, but probably only in a way that would be comprehended by a daily user of medicinal marijuana." Which by the way, my church- the PCUSA (Presbyterian Church in the USA)- recently voted at General Assembly to approve, right after apologizing for previously passing a Divestment From Israel statement (which they continue, I guess, to pursue) and after backing away somewhat from their previous endorsement of partial birth abortion and after affirming the standard for ordination that precludes avowed, practicing homosexuals, though the ‘Peace, Unity and Purity Report’ was adopted which will make it easier for churches so wishing to ordain avowed, practicing homosexuals (not, heaven forfend, that there’s anything wrong with that). The upside to this is that on the golf course, when I use an expletive deleted to describe my satisfaction with a shot, I can apologize by saying, "Forgive me, I’m a Presbyterian and I’m under a lot of stress", and all heads nod understandingly.

"At any rate," he said desultorily. Let’s start with this thwarted plot to blow up British planes either a) over water so the evidence is irretrievable, or b) over New York, LA, Boston, or anywhere except Dearborn Michigan. I haven’t yet read a coherent account of this whole thing, and probably won’t anyway, but it seems to have begun to unravel when the Pakistani Intelligence (I won’t do it, but any Muslims care to say, "Is that an oxymoron"?) got hold of two British muslim suspects. Apparently they spilt the beans (more on this in a minute) which led to the identification of the rest of the ring, which was put under surveillance and, as we know, were eventually arrested.

I’m no expert on these things but it seems I’ve heard that Pakistan’s intelligence services have a bit of a reputation for disdaining the disapproval of Human Rights Watch. Might we suppose that due to this reputation, the two unlucky bad guys- Nabeel and Umir (or perhaps Assan and Waheed, or Abdullah and Muhammed) might have thought it the better part of wisdom to cooperate than to see whether they, Nabeel and Umir, are as tough as they’ve always prayed to Allah they would be. Or might we suppose that the Paks beat the living tar out of them for the sheer sport of it (they are, after all, Euroweenies. Who among us could have resisted just one whack with a 2 X 4 upside their heads) and then called in the stenographer. I didn’t spend last night in a Holiday Inn but I’ve been watching a lot of poker on ESPN and I’m betting there was some "rough interrogation" involved.

Back in January, I believe it was, Christianity Today had as its cover story, "Why Torture Is Always Wrong". Besides the shoddiness of their logic, not to mention their misunderstanding exactly what the Bible does and doesn’t say about these matters (ever wonder what Peter was doing with a sword in the Garden of Gethsemane?), they assumed as fact the common myth that torture never produces actionable information. I sent them my copy of ‘Guarding Tess", starring Shirley MacClaine and Nicholas Cage. I suggested the editor and his staff watch it some afternoon and discuss whether they really know enough about these matters to make such bold statements. (Of course, maybe they’re all Presbyterians and the lack of knowledge or actual expertise is not a factor in deciding whether to shoot their mouths off.) The little prick never acknowledged my letter or my gracious gift.

Gitmo. Have you heard of how much fun it is to guard these (fill in the blank) and thought , "How could I get a job like that where you’re subjected to having feces and urine thrown at you and you can’t do a damn thing about it?" I can tell you that if the BoredSoldier ever worked Gitmo and had that happen, his mother would organize all the other mothers and they would knock Cindy Sheehan on her code pink ass to get past her to the Top Brass at the Pentagon to give them a little much-needed reality check. Really, how many votes would a politician loose that refused to get exercised by one of those Marine drill sargents I saw last year at Paris Island (I swear they don’t make biceps that big in the NFL!) explaining in his own inimitable way, that Achmed ought to behave a little better as a special guest of the U.S. of A. I understand that doing the suicide belt thing might have a certain appeal for one itching to meet one of those 72 year old virgins, but I don’t think a half hour with Sgt Rock is quite as appealing. In fact, I can’t imagine that it would take more than 72 hours to solve that problem!

After 3,000 civilians and 2,600 or so of our fighting men and women lost so far in this war, not counting the many hundreds lost before we admitted we were in a war, how many more will it take before this country accepts this prescription. Don’t doubt for a minute that we will gladly take the gloves off and untie the hand we’ve tied behind our backs when we reach that number.

Is it 10,000 more? A hundred thousand? Or will it take a larger number such that its too late?

Here’s an idea that I read Michael Reagan come up with recently. He said if he were President, his first act would be to get rid of all embedded reporters. His second act would be to declare a news blackout on the war for 6 months. He asked a Lt Col. how long he thought it would take to end this war if that were to happen. The Lt Col said, "30 days!"

Thursday, August 10, 2006

What Makes Tim Tick

Hello everybody. TFDad filling in as threatened.

For some reason that now escapes me, I thought some insight into Tim (aka Sgt TF Boggs) might be of interest, at least to those of you who have come to appreciate his writing and have become his internet friends. First, a heartfelt word to you from his family- we really appreciate the kind things you have done for Tim and the supportive comments you have made to him, not to mention the many prayers you have said to God on his behalf. Thank you, thank you, thank you. We really appreciate all of you. As you know, this is Tim’s second deployment to Iraq. It has been much less stressful for us, probably for many reasons. But one reason certainly, is this blog. Tim has wanted to maximize the experience of this deployment, which is likely to be his last. I think this blog has enabled him to accomplish that by allowing him to share with you what he sees, what he has come to understand based on what he has seen and what he thinks we must know and do to win this fight.

Before I get to the question, WMTT?, there’s a somewhat easier question- What Ticks Tim Off? Many things, I assure you. His old man is terminally cranky so how could he help but have a long list himself? Certainly one thing that’s near the top of that list is being embarrassed by his parents, which includes but is not limited to- fussing over him. And so, let me here say to Tim, "Tough darts. Maybe you should have thought about that before giving me your blog password!"

So, WMTT? This is probably the fundamental key to Tim- he likes interesting things, especially interesting people. He doesn’t mind solitude but he hates boredom.

Tim had a pretty standard midwestern city-upbringing. He played sports, mainly baseball, though he dabbled in golf, boxing, soccer, football (flag in college) and basketball. He hunted and fished and shot guns more than most city kids, but a lot less than country kids. He was lucky to have an older brother. He really liked acting in school theater and having fun friends. (I am sure he will find the theatre while in London.) He still loves Shakespeare.

I managed to get him into bars to hear great musicians that I thought might not be around when he was older. (I was right about a couple- Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown and Warren Zevon are no longer with us.) [This, by the way, is a great way to demystify alcohol- get your kids around adults who drink without getting stupid. Sorry Buck.] His musical tastes remain pretty eclectic- Van Morrison, Zevon, Dylan, all the blues greats, Johnny Cash, Louis Armstrong and, my personal favorite- hip hop crap. Black kids would try to copy his dance moves. (OK, that’s bull, but not by much.)

Last year he put a nitrous oxide unit on his VW, so I guess you could say he likes fast cars.

Tim loves to read. Shakespeare, philosophy, history, American literature. He’s got an English/Philosophy/Religion major going at his university, if Uncle Sam would just let him finish. He loves teachers that know what they’re talking about and make it interesting. He hates political correctness and professors who don’t know half what they think they do. He’s an anti-frat guy (his flag football team were the ‘Master Betas’). He detests liberal white guilt and refuses to walk on eggshells and because of that, has more black friends than most white people do.

Even while going thru the trials and tribulations of youth, Tim read the Bible from front to back and over again. He did so, I think, realizing that the God found described in its pages, is the God before whom we live, now and forevermore. This didn’t make him a wimp or a prick. It did make him someone who knows what love is, and how to hate injustice. I think that pretty much describes his politics, too.

I think the reason I wanted to write this is for Neatie, whose son is thinking about joining the military. There’s a lot of idiots who belittle our troops and assume ridiculous things about them. I happen not to think Tim is a special case. Oh, he’s special to his family but then they all are, aren’t they. But, excluding the terminal buttheads who are in the military just as they are in any large organization, the soldiers and marines I’ve met are pretty typical of any sample of young Americans that want to actually do something with their lives and are willing to take risks to see that it happens. The remarkable thing about this current crop of military personnel, is that they either enlisted or reenlisted after 9-11-2001. In my book, this puts them on par with those who answered the call of WWII. I don’t know where to look to find greater reason to hope for the future of America, and indeed the world, than to these young men and women who are VOLUNTARILY serving our country and are the finest AMBASSADORS America could hope to have.

So, Neatie, if your son decides to enlist in any branch of the military, be extremely proud of him. If you’re a person of faith, put your money where your mouth is and trust that God can take as good care of him in enemy territory as back home. We have seen a couple of Tim’s friends die in innocuous circumstances here at home while Tim’s been deployed. Don’t focus on the danger but on the majesty of life. Without ‘sheepdogs’ such as police, firemen & soldiers, we’d all live in anarchy. What sane person would want that?

And thanks for raising a kid that has enough of a positive view of America to even be considering this decision.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Goodbye…For The Time Being

At last it is time for me to take a break from the desert. I am gearing up to go on my two weeks of leave and have to say that I am pretty excited to escape from reality if for only a brief time. Leave is reserved only for soldiers in the Army as we are the only branch in the military to stay in the combat zone for longer than six months at a time. Anywhere from the third month up until the tenth month in country we are allowed to travel anywhere in the world on the government’s dime. Thanks to all of those taxpayers back in the states. I’ll drink one to you next week.

Most soldiers choose to go home for their leave but not I. I figure since I don’t have a Mrs. Boggs or some little Boggs’ running around I’ll go check out some part of the world other than my little corner in Ohio. I’m off to the UK for two glorious weeks of going here and there to drink tea and warm beer (or is it ale?) If you are out and about in the UK I would be more than happy to let you buy me a dinner so just let me know.

Any and all suggestions as to what I should do while I am there are welcome. I have never been to the UK so let me know if there is anything that I simply shouldn’t miss.

Fear not faithful readers I will not be leaving you completely alone for I have a guest blogger in line to take over for me-my father. He has some great stuff lined up for the next couple of weeks so be sure to check back often and while you are here leave him a comment and then link to his posts.

Peace I'm outta here.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

An Unfortunate Truth

A lot of people ask me what I think about what is going on in Israel right now and how I feel about their actions. I guess they want to know the viewpoint of a soldier who is fighting in a similar war in the same region. I don’t think my opinion on the matter holds much more weight than anyone else’s but I do have strong feelings about what is going on. The short and skinny about my beliefs is that I think Israel is a peace loving nation that is doing what it has to do to protect itself from a people who want to see it, along with all it’s people, destroyed. Jewish people have been mistreated for one reason or another wherever they have lived throughout history and now that they have their own country it is no different. They afford non-Jewish people the same rights they enjoy while no Arabs are willing to do the same for them. I believe some of the hatred for the Jews to stem from jealously on the parts of other nations who could only wish to be as successful as the Jews are. They have turned a desert wasteland into a booming country while the lands around it still languish years behind. Of course I could go on and on but this post is not about how I feel about Israel, instead it is about the conversation I had today with the Iraqis I work with about Israel.

The conversation started when one Iraqi army soldier told me that: “Israel is trash.” As I choked on some water I asked him to repeat himself. He said again “Israel is trash, they kill babies and women.” I tried to prod him and ask him exactly what he meant but due to the language barrier some random words like Lebanon, kill, bomb, and civilians had to suffice for his explanation.

Later on in the day when our interpreter came back I asked him what he thought about Israel right now. I respect his opinion much more because he is a college educated man and has spent three years with Americans so he knows how we operate. I was disappointed though when he echoed the same thoughts as the soldier.

He began by asking me what I thought of Israel so I told him about the history of the Jewish people and also about what they are up against now. I covered the highlights from Abraham to the Holocaust and touched on their wars from 1948 on. I must have talked for five straight minutes before he said “But do you really believe all that?” I should have figured something like that would come out of his mouth but it caught me by surprise. How do you convince someone of your point when they think everything that comes out of your mouth is a lie? I responded by explaining to him that I am always up for a good argument and that I hope he doesn’t feel different about me because of my beliefs about Israel and that we would still be friends after our talk was done.

With that understood I started tackling sensitive subjects such as Iraq’s expulsion of Jews and Arabs hatred for all Jews and those who support them. I explained to him that Hamas does not want “Palestinian” land back but rather, they want the extermination of all the Jews and won’t be happy with anything less. I told him about Arafat’s denial of the peace plan offered to him by Clinton and the ensuing terrorist activity that took place instead. His response to all of this was typical of the Arabs I have come in contact with: “But they kill babies and civilians and stole the land from the Palestinians.” He gave no thought to the millions of Jews slaughtered over the years and couldn’t see past the inevitable deaths of civilians that come along with any war. I told him that if terrorists would quit hiding behind civilians than they wouldn’t die. I don’t think he understood.

Our conversation came to a close when the next shift came to relieve me from my post. I know neither one of us was satisfied and were probably equally dissatisfied with each other. As I walked away I wanted to excuse him for his ignorance because of the piss poor education in Iraq. I wanted to blame Al Jazeera for the propaganda they show each day on TV. I wanted to blame everyone but the soldiers but at last I realized that the real fault lies with them. Until they learn to seek the truth instead of blindly hating Jewish people they will never understand why I could possibly support “baby killers” and “trash.”

What discouraged me most were the comments that the interpreter had about America’s support for Israel. He explained to me why Arabs hate America and why terrorists love to fight against us. To put it simply it is because of our support for Israel. If we can support trash we must be trash ourselves. If we can support those who “oppress” Arabs then we must want to oppress them too. If the majority of Arabs think as he does, which I believe they do, then I fear for our future influence in the Arab world. Of course we will have “allies in Iraq” but the general populous will probably never get behind us until the Jews are wiped from the face of the earth. It is as he said to end the conversation: “This is a problem that will never be solved.” He is right inasmuch as Golda Meir said “There will never be peace in the Middle East until Arabs love their children more than they hate Jews.”