Then another steel door opens in front of you, you step through it and find yourself in "The Unit".
Iraq used to be like that -- hardcore imprisonment. And then they had the Sunni Awakening in Anbar province and things got better. Living in Anbar stopped resembling living in San Quentin and life started to get back to normal. I know it did. I was there. Anbar province started to shed the look and feel of a jail.
And then on Tuesday, April 22, 2008, CNN reported, "A suicide bomber detonated a truck at an Iraqi police checkpoint near Ramadi Tuesday morning, killing two U.S. Marines and wounding 24 people, according to the U.S. military. The wounded included four Iraqi police officers and three children, according to senior Awakening leader in Anbar province."
Not very many people noticed this short mention of the death of two Marines in Anbar. What with the Obama-Clinton excitement in Pennsylvania and the news that former "View" co-host Star Jones was filing for divorce, it just seemed yet another minor incident in a country far away that had already endured over 4,000 other such "minor incidents". But I noticed it. And I called up a friend. "After approximately a year of peace and quiet over in Anbar, now Marines are suddenly getting killed again? What the freak is HAPPENING over there right now! That area was totally safe."
"Things are falling apart all over Iraq right now," my friend replied, "so it's not surprising that the insurgents in Anbar are stepping up their game too." NOOOO! Not Anbar. Not the Marines!
As everyone on the progressive left must have figured out by now, I love the Marines, I'm a big fan of the Marines. And it's not just that they wear cute uniforms either. The Marines did an incredibly good job of bringing peace to the Anbar region in the last year or so. I am really proud of our Marines. Nation-building is just not their thing but they bit the bullet and went in there anyway and freaking built hospitals and police forces and schools. "Semper Fi!" And even when, the other night, that Marine colonel's daughter got voted off the Big Brother reality show, I was totally pissed off! "Sharon, we love you. Sharon, we love the Marines!"
And now, after Maliki went into Basra and stirred up a hornets' nest and Mosel is falling apart and Baghdad -- Baghdad's a whole other story. Sadr City is in flames. And the blowback from all this ill-timed craziness has finally hit Anbar. That's why the deaths of these two Marines are so important. It's not just that the deaths of two more soldiers doesn't matter for their own sake or the sake of their family's great pain -- they really, truly, achingly do -- but these two deaths also matter on a international-level strategic scale as well: That the fire has leaped out of the frying pan. Again.
Why can't the leaders of America, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Israel, etc. freaking GET IT TOGETHER! How freaking long does it take to stop a freaking "war"? It's easy. You just take all that oil money back from Bush, Cheney and Enron, er, I mean, Exxon and freaking buy people off! You give $30,000 of their own money to every single man, woman and child in Iraq -- if they will promise to "play well with others". End of problem.
Two Marines died in Iraq this April. But it wasn't just Marines that died. It was also the hopes and dreams of the ghosts of the other 4,042 soldiers who have died in Iraq too -- hopes and dreams that they have not died in vain and that the incompetent leaders of this gruesome so-called "war" can finally put down their petty greediness and STOP THE KILLING. How hard can it be? Peace can be BOUGHT. Go ahead and buy it. Or else I personally will go out and kick all your butts.
You guys are hurting the Marines again now. And that's just not cool.
I woke up in the middle of the night last night and started thinking about those two Marines -- and Abraham Lincoln. "It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom; and that this government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." Go, Abe!
The ONLY way that we can consecrate the deaths of these two Marines is to make sure that they have not died in vain. That's a pretty tall order. So let's get to work. And for starters, let's throw Bush and Cheney in jail. I wanna walk that long, echoing hallway down to "The Unit" and see for myself that the men that have caused this nightmare conflagration are there in their cells, finally appeasing the ghosts of 4,044 decent and good American fighting men and women.
It's time for us to make it perfectly clear to the people in the White House that they need to stop acting like those monkeys who have their hand trapped in a bottle while holding onto their nuts but can't figure out that the only way to get their hand out of the bottle is to let go of their nuts -- before they bankrupt America, cost us our precious government by, for and of the people and starve us all to death because they can't let go of their nuts.
"....we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow this ground," said Abraham Lincoln. No, but we CAN demand that the greedy and treacherous men who maliciously, mendaciously and deliberately covered this sacred earth with the blood of OUR Marines get what they deserve.
PS: How do I know so much about jails? In my down-time from being a globe-trotting hard-hitting (unpaid) investigative reporter, I work in one.
PPS: I just applied for permission to embed with the Marines in Ramadi in May. I want to find out what the Marines are doing to counteract the insurgents' spill-over into Anbar from Baghdad and Basra. I bet they gots lots of interesting plans -- unlike Bush, Cheney and Maliki.