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A Letter from the Lurch

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Check out this letter I just received by Email:

The lurch was first mentioned in Dante's "Purgatorio," and I had always wanted to go there.  What can I say?  I'm an adventurer.  That's one reason I joined the military in the first place.  Well, that and all the lies about money and college and not having to serve in Iraq.  When I'd completed my third tour in Iraq and they stop-lossed me, it felt at least as bad as a ticket to purgatory.  How could I stay still longer in this real world hell?  

I'd hear about how supposedly if Congress were to cut off the funding for occupying Iraq it would be abandoning the troops and leaving us in the lurch, and I'd say to my buddies: "Wherever the lurch is, send me there now!"  We didn't take the talk of politicians and pundits very seriously.  They always talked about funding the troops, but we were the troops and we weren't getting any god damn funding.  We were getting lousy food and the chance to get our heads blown off.  And we knew what would happen if the military was ever forced to stop spending money on occupying Iraq.

What we expected to happen was obviously very different from what the pundits expected.  They expected, I guess, that we would all stay in Iraq with all our equipment, but with no ammunition and no food.  I suppose we would either start trading our vehicles for food or get jobs working for Iraqis or flee the place, each of us on our own, or we'd all be slaughtered by the grateful savages we kept liberating.  I guess this is what they expected, because they were always hinting at it, but I never saw any of them spell it out.  Perhaps because it's so freaking insane.

What really happened, of course, when Congress stood up on its hind legs and bit its master was what any sane person could have predicted.  Rather than discard the U.S. military in Iraq, the Pentagon made the radical decision to invest point three percent of what it had already spent there on shipping us and all our gear home.  Then, of course, it immediately abandoned us.  

But not me.  I didn't come home.  I'd set my sights on visiting the lurch, and that's exactly what I did, and that's where I'm now writing you from.  The lurch is a miserable place, desolate, and filled with doors and paths and roads that all lead nowhere.  But there's a remarkable amount of company and camaraderie.  Lots of my buddies from the Army are here, of course.  And the music is amazing, probably because the whole damn city of New Orleans is crammed into this place.  In fact, there are a lot of Americans here, especially children.  

But most of the people here are from poor countries.  The worst part about that fact is this one: you can't get left in the lurch by luck or fate.  You have to get left here by somebody.  And who has been leaving the poor people of the world in the lurch?  Americans and others with wealth.  When we spend trillions of dollars on stupid pointless wars, it turns out that anybody we could have helped with that money gets considered left in the lurch.  And here they all are, by the millions or billions.

There's a population explosion here, and people are predicting that the percentage of humans NOT in the lurch is going to shrink dangerously low, threatening the future viability of the species in the wild and producing more damaged specimens like George W. Bush, Bill O'Reilly, and every unbelievable freaking moron who says things like "fund the troops."  

When you're in the lurch already and you leave somebody in the lurch, they get sent to a place where they have to listen over and over and over again to a cheerful voice saying "we have to fund the troops."  I expect to be there soon, and do not expect to survive it.
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David Swanson is the author of "When the World Outlawed War," "War Is A Lie" and "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union." He blogs at and and works for the online (more...)
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