I must get two things out of the way that have been bothering me for several years:
1. I think George W. Bush has been and is a terrible president.
2. I can say that as much as I want and nobody can complain at all.
The first of those has been true at least since January 2003. The second has been true since, well, about 11:30 this morning. It is good. And it is bad. And there's more after the jump.
Switters would want me to embrace my inner contradictions, rather than attempting to resolve and eliminate them. I hate the Air Force, and have for years. I miss the Air Force, and will for years.
Buddha would want me to take the lessons from the past six years, but to forget, or ignore, the pain, the anger, the hatred, but also the joy and the excitement. Forgetting the emotions, I could draw from the past and use the lessons in the present to inform my choices and live better.
Switters had the easier plan. Buddha was probably right. I don't reckon I'll get either of them fully in hand.
Still, I am out. A few days of roadblocks and annoyance later, I am out. It was almost as if the Air Force's last gasp was to remind me why I wanted to get out so badly, why the endless stream of bureaucracy and the endless line of "no because" "it's not my job" clockpunching caged rats were reason enough, in the end, for me to get away. There were other reasons. No doubt over the next few months I'll be writing about them here. I kind of look forward to it. I have conflicting emotions about my time in the service: I'm proud of having served, certainly, proud of my service. I don't think what we've been doing for the last four and a half years was a good idea. Proud of my service though I am, I don't think it compares in the half to what folks in the Army and Marines and even the Guard are seeing and doing.
Some servicemen complain about "missing the war." In every war this is the case, airmen who are left behind manning the pursestrings and supply chains, sailors who deploy but ride a desk, soldiers who go to the desert and do nothing but schedule patrols instead of going out on them; there are always people who feel like they didn't do enough. To some degree that feeling affects everyone who's served and hasn't seen combat, and even some of those who have. Plenty of people are glad not to have had to fire a shot in anger, but when asked what they did in the war, these folks always shuffle their feet, inspect the tops of their shoes, and mutter something about logistics and enabling the war effort. I don't want to be one of those shufflers, but as the experience in Djibouti shows I was most definitely an enabler and not a fighter.
So be it. If I'd wanted to carry a gun through the desert and shoot people I'd have joined the Marines. I don't think I could shoot somebody anyway, not without being real damn scared, and I've never been that scared so I don't really know what I'd do. I hope not to find out. Enabler I was, but that was enough for me, if not all I could have done. I should be proud of that. I may not have done much in my time in Djibouti, but it was a cog that had to be filled, and by filling it I opened a space for somebody with actual skills to go out and build the schools and train the troops and drill the wells, and that was good. I may not have dropped the bombs that started the Falluja offensive in 2004, but I refueled the guys who did so, and they couldn't have done it without our crew. (That was a fun flight. I'll tell the story later.)
Still, the memory of the "enabling" that I did, over Iraq if not over Afghanistan (which I still maintain is a "good" war), is tainted somewhat by my fervent and longstanding--indeed unchanged for those who remember my rant following the 2003 state of the union address--disagreement with and disapproval of the war in Iraq. I helped with that whole Iraq thing; now please tell me why, again?
But I served during the middle of the 2000s, the Aughts, and this is what we're doing now, we're fighting to maintain some semblance of peace in a civil war we enabled in a country with no value to the world apart from its oil, a product our president's family made much of its money extracting and selling. I might as well have been in the Ugandan military, which did the same thing to the Congo. (The only difference is that Congo was right next door to Uganda, so the war was a lot cheaper. You didn't hear it from me, but Canada and Mexico both have oil.)
But I don't want to be stuck thinking that for the rest of my life. After all, regardless of how I feel about the actions underway while I was serving, I did at least join up and serve and do something. A small and decreasing percentage of Americans do that--even, if not especially, among the vocal right-wing hawk minority on college campuses (or should I say grad school campuses, which is where all the wingers go when they realize they've been supporting the war for four years and all their friends are going to expect them to actually go fight in the damn thing after graduating).
Which is not say that I disrespect or hold anything against people who don't or haven't or won't serve. Most of my good friends are in the group, and I respect what they do and have done in their lives every bit as much as they respect what I've done. The only people who bother me are those who stand in the back shouting "Go, Go, Go!" and never actually go themselves. Support the war or not, support the troops however you think you can (a yellow magnetic ribbon on your car, made in China no doubt, I don't really think does much, but that's just me; a tin of cookies, on the other hand, instantly and measurably boosts morale), but if you're going to stand up and declare that we MUST fight this war or MUST fight that one, and you're able-bodied, you had damn well better wedge yourself into a uniform and go fight it. Otherwise shut your yellow mouth. (And if you dare vote to send people out to die you really ought to be encouraging, if not demanding, that your own kids go off to war, too, you filthy hypocrites.)
Man I've been waiting a long time to say that. Congress can suck my dick!
That feels good. And I don't mean Congress doing you know what, I mean utilizing my right to free speech, which I apparently had to give up for a few years even in an unofficial capacity.
I know the regs. I can say whatever the fuck I want to as a private citizen and if my CO gets his panties in a wad and wants to call in the goddamned NCIS because I called the president a weiner, he's a fucking moron who doesn't know what's legal and what isn't and he should talk to the fucking lawyers first before sending me off to do it. God damned fucking piece of shit. And then try and make up for it by saying "sorry about your cat." Lameass motherfucking cocksucker.
Whee! Sorry about the language there but that's been stewing for 15 months. The longer it cooks the worse it gets, I swear it's not my fault.
Anyway. So that's that. I've already started the job search, and while I know I'll soon have to get used to a new set of must-do's and can't-say's, I look forward to it all the same. Truth be told work gives structure to our lives. Shame, that, but so it goes, we aren't living in the Magic Kingdom. I hope that some day I'll get to be a grown up, and say what I think (after thinking about it) instead of holding it in until it becomes an impotent profanity-laced diatribe. Maybe someday. Where is the post-scarcity economy anyway? Is it coming soon? I thought we'd be there by now, I want my Whuffie!