Cut & Run (and hurry the fuck up already)
Apparently this passed the Censor of The Daily/Sunday Telegraph (Murdoch/Australia) and appeared on their feedback website, because another writer, an Australian, said something nice about it. I just couldn't find my rant; if you can, please send URL.
The political buzzword about Iraq at this moment in Australia is "Cut and Run," which Prime Minister John Howard is loudly proclaiming Australia will never do.
This winter's first night for cooking for 20 homeless guests -- Prominently Featuring United States Military Veterans of a variety of past wars -- will be 24 November. I'll let you know if the Team Leader lets me cook my Famous Tomato-Free Sausage Stew. I'll post the recipe in case you have to cook for 20 people, whether they're Homeless, or Royalty, or just your relatives. I invented this dish and it's equally delicious no matter who gets to eat it. The idea is to use all kinds and ethnicities of Sausages, so each guest is certain to pull up a sausage like the sausage Grandma used to cook.
I'll also let you know if vets from Iraq-2 wander in.
I'm a US Army veteran, the last of the Vietnam War draftees/conscripts. Washington DC is my hometown, but I've never had the nerve to visit the Vietnam War Memorial to my 52,000 brothers and sisters.
It's a memorial to what happens when politicians addict themselves to a military victory which was always a fantasy and a hallucination.
It's a memorial to politicians who can't summon the political courage to cut and run.
On Halloween my town's church-alliance emergency homeless cot shelter will re-open to provide warmth, food and safety each night through our brutal winter. I've volunteered for many years. We serve all the homeless.
But most nights our guests might just as well be a Veterans' Reunion.
When the shelter opened, our guests were old movie-stereotyped Vietnam vets. But a few years later, vets from the first Iraq War -- Desert Storm -- began wandering in.
In two weeks I'm preparing myself for the inevitable: The shattered and addicted wrecks from this grotesque war, which grinds on in pursuit of its hallucinatory Victory. Bush and Rumsfeld, with John Howard's and Tony Blair's help, will have done their worst to them.
I'll serve them hot stew.
The debate over "Cut and Run" fixates on this moment's headline-grabbing crisis, and flourishes in an environment of voters with short memories. To many voters, events from 1968 are Prehistoric -- things lost in the past's haze that may as well have never happened.
But my wonderful visit to Australia taught me what happened to Australia's Vietnam War soldiers after they returned home -- the future for our veterans that dare not speak its name.
There is no Victory ahead for Coalition forces in Iraq. In lieu of a great and proud Victory, there will be only suffering and torment, addiction, alcoholism, post-traumatic stress disorder, the shattering of marriages and families, and homelessness, for decades to come.
What politicians are speaking of the future Australians will shape for their troops now serving in Iraq?
On the battlefield, Iraq's impossibility of Victory mirrors Vietnam's.
When the survivors of the Iraq War finally march home, their plight, for decades to come, will mirror the plight that greeted their fathers and uncles in uniform.
The Welcome Home for these brave soldiers will be sweetest if it comes soonest. The lifelong damage for Australia's veterans, and the shame Australians will feel, will be least if they come home soonest.
How well they are healed and re-integrated into the Australian community that sent them to war will fall to politicians not yet in office. How badly they suffer, and die before their time, will not concern John Howard, who will make thrilling dinner speeches in his retirement about Australia's great, patriotic sacrifice in Iraq.
Those who actually made the sacrifice will be eating stew in church homeless shelters.