When Tommy Went Marching Back . . .
Vol: 41 Issue: 19 Saturday, February 19, 2005
The October 10, 2003 Omega Letter bearing the title, “When Tommy Came Marching Home Again discussed what my friend [ret. Marine] Captain John called, “Tommy’s Hooyah Party.”
“Tommy” is S/Sgt. Tom Kurek, USMC, Captain John’s son, and the “Hooyah” party was to mark Tommy’s return from Iraq after completing his tour of combat duty as a member of Iraq’s liberators from Saddam Hussein and his tyrannical machine.
I live between the two largest Marine Corps bases on the East Coast, about halfway between Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, home of the 2nd Marine Division, and Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, home to the 2nd Marine Air Wing.
Most of my friends and neighbors are either Marine Corps veterans, or the sons and daughters of Marine Corps veterans who settled in the area after they retired.
As a consequence, I know many veterans, as well as many active-duty Marines who are either in Iraq, have returned from Iraq, or are scheduled to deploy to Iraq.
Yesterday over dinner, Captain John told me that Tommy is back in Iraq, stationed in one of the insurgency ‘hot zones’ north of Baghdad.
I mention Tommy for two reasons; the first is to ask you to agree with me before the Lord for His provision and protection for my friend S/Sgt. Kurek and his men. [And a sense of peace and comfort for John and Mary].
The second reason is to add a human face to what we collectively refer to as ‘our troops’. It is important to remember that what the media calls ‘US forces’ is made up of the sons and daughters of men like Captain John.
Earlier yesterday, another friend of mine, [who is neither a veteran nor the son of veteran — the exception that proves the rule] came over for coffee and opened up a discussion of what ‘our troops’ are doing ‘in our name’ and how upset he was about it all.
He had just watched a World News Tonight broadcast, anchored by Peter Jennings, that, at its conclusion, left him totally incensed about the ‘government lies’ about both the mission in Iraq and the way ‘our troops’ were conducting it.
He related the accounts [I didn’t see the report] of wounded veteran’s interviewed for the broadcast, how badly they were treated by our government, both during their tours of duty, and after they returned to an insensitive and uncaring Veteran’s Administration.
I suppose there is considerable instructive value to be found in the fact that I didn’t see the report, because it enabled me to see the effect, rather than picking at the cause, of much of the negative public perception about the Iraq War and its aftermath.
My friend explained to me that, despite government protests to the contrary, the war was a fraud, that we went to Iraq for our own purposes [to secure Iraqi oil for ourselves] and that in the process, we are running roughshod over an Iraqi people who are sick and tired of living under ‘occupation’.
At this juncture, it might be useful to point out that my friend isn’t particularly liberal — actually, he isn’t particularly political — so he arrived at his conclusions devoid of any particular partisan bias.
A former Jehovah’s Witness, he was raised to believe all government is evil and that national citizenship is wrong and national patriotism is of the devil. (Although he is now a Christian, a lifetime of indoctrination can’t be dispelled in the two short years that have passed since God afforded me the honor of leading him to Christ.)
That being said, my friend related horror stories from veterans interviewed on the broadcast, which convinced him that even our own forces opposed the war, and that they were forced into combat to advance the agenda of ‘the government’.
He asked me how I would feel if some foreign forces invaded OUR country, started patrolling OUR streets, and whether or not, in such a case, I might find myself a member of an insurgent movement like the one now fighting our forces in Iraq.
I was dumbfounded, because my friend is [ordinarily] a fairly bright guy who is truly dedicated to following the truth, wherever it might lead. That hunger for the truth is what finally caused him to abandon his life-long membership as a Jehovah’s Witness and turn to the Gospel and salvation by grace through faith.
His favorite verse in Scripture is a quote from Jesus, as recorded in John’s Gospel; “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:22)
But here he was, earnestly contending that the Iraq war was a giant conspiracy foisted on an unsuspecting America for nefarious reasons he couldn’t quite put his finger on.
All this, from a single broadcast on ABC News, ‘where more Americans get their news, than from any other source’ as their promo department puts it.
We discuss propaganda, its application to the prophecies concerning the antichrist, and its growing acceptance among the citizens of the most freedom-loving people the world has ever known, often enough that you are probably getting a little bit sick of hearing it.
So, too, have I had dozens of conversations with this same friend, on exactly the same subject. The war to topple Saddam Hussein has been over for almost two years. Saddam’s crimes are exposed for the entire world to see.
The global opposition to his deposal has been exposed as a cynical effort to hide evidence of the most massive conspiracy and theft in history, and pretty much every reason offered for the war in the first place has been vindicated by evidence that our forces uncovered in the aftermath of the war.
(I acknowledge that we didn’t find a massive arsenal of weapons of mass destruction, but we DID find mass graves, hundreds of missing scientists and researchers, and aerial photographs of military vehicles streaming from suspected weapons sites into Syria. As Rumsfeld observed in one press conference, the ‘absence of evidence is not the same thing as the evidence of absence’ — so, to my mind, the jury is still out on that one).
Leaving the WMD issue aside, it is fair to say that the reasons for war have been subsequently established as being so transparently legitimate that even the lunatic fringe has stopped chanting ‘Bush lied, people died’ and are looking for a new slogan.
But with all of that, my friend watched a single broadcast and came away sounding like Howard Dean on steroids.
Consider, for a moment, the power of the propagandist. We’ll begin with the convincing arguments that were offered by those wounded veterans interviewed by Peter Jennings.
Keeping in mind that my friend also lives in a military community, surrounded by veterans and active-duty Marines, I asked him if he had met even one Marine who expressed doubts about our mission in Iraq.
He thought about it for a minute, and admitted he had not. I asked him if he had met a single veteran of the Iraq War who expressed regret at his participation. He admitted he had not.
I asked him if he had met a single Marine who did not express a willingness to return to Iraq if necessary. (He brightened up on this one, and mentioned a mutual acquaintance that had.)
Then I reminded him that our mutual friend had a wife and four kids and hoped he wouldn’t have to spend another year away from them — rather than saying he was ideologically opposed to it.
I asked him if he had met any returning veterans who DIDN’T relate stories of efforts to build hospitals, schools, playgrounds and so on. (He admitted he had not.)
Keep in mind that my friend KNEW all this BEFORE he watched the ABC broadcast.
I asked him then, how can it be that 100% of those interviewed said exactly the OPPOSITE of what he KNEW, from personal experience, was the prevailing military opinion, as expressed by PFCs, corporals, etc., [not administration officials], in the context of casual conversations over a game of pool?
Where did Peter Jennings find them, and how could it be that ABC was unable to find a SINGLE veteran whose views reflected the viewpoints of the veterans he had personally met?
Addressing the likelihood that the war was just a conspiracy to get our hands on Iraqi oil, I asked him to name the world’s richest nation. He immediately (and correctly) identified the United States.
I reminded him that the US maintained an embargo on Iraqi oil for twelve years, despite the fact the UN, French, Germans, Russians and Chinese used the embargo as leverage to cut their own backroom oil deals with Saddam. And that we didn’t, not because we couldn’t, but because it would have been wrong.
I asked him if he thought we could afford to BUY oil from Iraq, and, of course, he acknowledged that we could.
Why, then, I asked him, would we fight a war so that we could NOW buy [since we didn’t seize it or steal it when we got there] Iraqi oil, when we could have bought all we wanted, all along, had we so desired?
Why would we expend billions of dollars, sacrifice thousands of men and women just like Tommy, and face down unanimous global opposition, just so we could BUY [not take] oil Saddam would have only been too happy to sell us at any time during the entire period between the wars?
Addressing his contention that America is ‘occupying’ Iraq against their will, I asked him to explain to me who ‘they’ might be?
The Iraqi government now in place was not appointed by the US, but was elected by the majority of Iraqi voters, who went to the polls at great risk to themselves.
Has a SINGLE one of the Iraqi politicians — put into office by popular vote — asked America to leave? On the contrary, they have unanimously expressed fear that we might leave too soon.
He pointed to the number of ordinary Iraqi civilians who have died since the invasion, suggesting it was America’s fault.
He also agreed that most of them were the victims of insurgent car bombings, with the richest targets being the scores of Iraqis standing in line to join either the new Iraqi military or the Iraqi police.
Why were they in line in the first place? They knew the risk. Did Americans herd them together at gunpoint?
The point is, my friend knew all this — intellectually — before he sat down to watch the ABC report.
In fact, he knew it better than most, because, as I noted, one couldn’t throw a rock into a crowd of locals here without hitting either a veteran or a veteran’s family member.
He watched what was, in fact, a mirror image portrayal of what his eyes, ears and personal experience told him was fact, and, despite his objective knowledge to the contrary, blindly bought the whole argument, hook, line and sinker!
It took longer for me to deprogram him with questions like those above than it took Peter Jennings to program him into believing everything he KNEW from independent observation [and that is a key point] was wrong — and that the exact opposite was true.
Americans are among the most sophisticated and well-informed people on earth.
Thanks to the foresight of the Founding Fathers, America has, not just a tradition, but, via the First Amendment, an absolute legal responsibility to the truth.
I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard somebody ridicule Bible prophecies about the Mark of the Beast or the ‘strong delusion’ by saying it could never happen here.
During the Nazi era, using only the power of the press to accomplish it, the Nazis were able to turn the most sophisticated and cultured nation in Europe into a nation of mass murderers who willingly — even cheerfully — consigned millions of innocent men, women and children to the gas chambers, fully convinced that they were doing the right thing.
It couldn’t happen there, either. Until it did.
All it took was a German version of Peter Jennings and his colleagues who were as ideologically committed to their version of events as Josef Goebbels was to his.
“And as He sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto Him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3)
In reply to that question, Jesus identified a single generation as one that would be characterized by wars, rumors of wars, famines, earthquakes, pestilences, signs in the sun, moon and stars, ethnic unrest and ‘the distress of nations’ so overwhelming that He said that it would cause ‘men’s hearts to fail them with fear’. (Matthew:24, Mark:13, Luke:21)
But He began what scholars call the Olivet Discourse this way:
“And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.” (Matthew 24:4)