RANGER AGAINST WAR: Stabo Extraction <

Monday, August 31, 2009

Stabo Extraction

He's the one who gives his body

As a weapon of the war,

And without him all this killing can't go on

--Universal Soldier
, Buffy Sainte-Marie

Before. . .murder was recognized as murder,

but now murder is a means to achieve a noble result

--J. Krishnamurti


Sometimes Ranger gets so low his bootlaces could serve as strings for a hostile LZ extraction. Sometimes jagged little pieces come together to form a mosaic.

Obviously he is anti-war and opposed to military overreach and oo-rah thinking. Yet at the same time, there is a pride of service. Ranger does not believe violence is ever justified, yet violence is in his guts. This is the basic dilemma facing all thinking veterans. We were taught to read terrain, but seldom to look at the inner paths of our souls.

A recent Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) meeting Ranger attended featured the banner,
"HONOR THE WARRIOR, NOT THE WAR." Ranger challenged that precept and was roundly criticized by the knee-jerk attendees.

Think: If you honor the warrior, then you are ipso facto honoring the war. There is no other way to read this. A warrior is the instrument through which war is executed. The two concepts are inseparable. This is a simple yet profound truth.

The question remains: How does one oppose a war and a warrior nation, yet still retain pride in one's former service? Accepting the pride is to accept the violence inherent in the activity.

Attempting this reckoning burdens me. This knot ties us all together. This is also the reason that PTSD resulting from war will remain incurable -- it is a personal expression of a schizophrenic societal construction.

We award medals and promotions for killing, yet everyone does everything possible not to deal with this aspect of soldiers after their service.
When they are coping with their PTSD, they are often warehoused apart from society in VA hospitals.

When people say, "Thanks for your service", do they follow up with, "Come to our house for dinner"; I wrote my Senator about vets benefits, or, "I volunteer at VA long-term care facility"? Not hardly. The words ring hollow.

Parades and speeches at national political conventions are the institutional expression of "Thanks for your service."

The word "sucker" is always omitted.

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Anonymous mike said...

Ranger -

Of your fellow citizens, those who are calling Senators and Congressmen about vet benefits are in fact the VFW and the DAV.

Of your fellow citizens, those that typically volunteer at VA long-term care facilities are in fact members of the VFW and DAV and many of the ladies in those organizations auxiliaries.

So I am not sure why you seem to trash those veterans groups in your last paragraph. I do not believe that helping out veterans and lobbying for veteran rights is honoring-the-war, and is certainly not glorifying war.

I am anti-war. Almost everybody I know at my local VFW post is anti-war. Did it piss me off during the years when Bush and Cheney and a Republican majority in congress pushed war and still got sucked up to by the national level of the VFW??? Yes! But then the VFW and the DAV and the American legion and other veteran self-help groups are basically Lobbyists for veteran rights and benefits. So of course they are going to kiss a$$ with whoever is in power. They are currently pushing Obama's line along with that of Granny Pelosi and Senator Reed. It is their job.

Monday, August 31, 2009 at 9:39:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

I roger your transmission but we dare differThe service organisations are enablers of the wars. Assuredly they perform useful and needed services for the membership BUT bottom line they support the wars. This is as an institution, I know members are against the wars but read the rhetoric in the rags they call magazines, there is little or no anti-war sentiments expressed by the leadership.
If the Federal govt were doing their job then we wouldn't need additional aid from the private sector.
Until the organisations come out against the wars then I will continue to express my contempt.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009 at 9:32:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I have read that in Algeria there are no monuments, no veterans organizations, no ceremonies celebrating the struggle for independence. There was too much pain.

In contrast, I remember Cork, Ireland, back in the 1970s. In the summer, bus tours were organized to visit sites where the IRA gunned down Tommies. Old men salvered at the opportunity to relive their youthful days of murder. It was obscene.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009 at 10:43:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I echo your sentiments concerning veterans organizations. I dropped out of VVA, and the VFW, sometime ago because I found that I could not fall in line with the jingoistic, "professional veterans" that I kept encountering. Why belong to something if you can't fully support it?

I am in support of veterans, vet. benefits (what little there really is), etc. But, I refuse to babel the slogans, or to attempt to have an argument (or semi-sane discussion) with those who can't be reasoned with.

Stay loose.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009 at 12:25:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Both Anns,
I have a little tale; our most talented editor Lisa is always chiding me for not wearing anything that identifies me as a vet. Specifically she wats me to wear the normal vet head gear with all the bells and whistles. I have a few given by friends over the years but they sit in a workshop gathering dust. I always talk to vets wearing theirs and do the dance but i don't lead.
In Ca i talked to a Rainbow Div Vet of WW2 and Lisa thought it was a gay pride rainbow hat that the old soldier was wearing.
My only concession is that i wear my CIB that i converted into a bracelet- and only on veterans day. Once a year is more than enuf.
Thanks for reading and commenting, I often feel lonely out here on the flank.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009 at 1:15:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, the real , and only reason to go to war is to protect one's family/country from harm.
Pick up the sword, use it, lay it down. Go home. No parade expected.

Now that's for a battle that needed fighting.

No flag draggin, no fuckin parades, no "service organizations." No sittin' around REMF Central
with the other "Professional Vets and Flagdraggers" talking about the hell that it was.

When you go over to the other man's house and start kicking it apart, you deserve the ass whippin' that you get.
Layin' around wrapped in a flag ain't gonna make it any better--ever.

There's a lake in Hanoi called either The Lake of the Lost Sword, or the Lake of the Returned Sword or the Lake of the Forgotten Sword..Any of 'em will do for the story.
As Robert Cray would say : "It goes like this:

During one of the wars of liberation against the Chinese invaders, back in the early day, say 1100 or so, the Vietnamese weren't making much headway. After a battle a general found the handle of a sword in a farmer's field. No blade.

Impressive, but not very useful.

Down in Hanoi, a turtle, ne'er seen before, rose from the murky waters of the Lake clutching a blade. No handle.
"Here, he said to a passerby, "Take this to the General. Tell him to put the sword together. Use it to liberate our country."

Lo and behold, the sword was instrumental in chasing the Chinese hooligans all the way to...
Well, at least outta' Dodge and across the state line into they own backyard.

Afterwards, all proud of himself, the General was making the rounds of Hanoi and decided to visit the the Lake From Whence.
Standing there all be-medalled and be-flagged, and filled with righteous soldier pride he was, when the turtle made another appearance and snatched that sword right out of the general's soft little paw.

Well, Generals don't be digging no holes or filling sandbags or cuttin' trail with a machete.

Do they?

No, they don't.

But the Gen. wants to know:

" Hey, whazzup, I need that sword."

Generals need weapons so they can be Generals and not stock-brokers, or dentists or fundamental preachers.

And the turtle says: " General. You were given the sword of the people while our country was filled with invaders. Now that to our nation is at peace, the sword must rest."

That's the lake into which John McCain tanked back in the day.

When asked why they can be so forgiving toward Americans, Vietnamese usually reply something like "when you greeted us with a sword in your hand, we met you with a sword in our hand. When you return and greet us with an empty hand, we greet you with an empty hand. So good to see you again."

All ever wanted was the GI Bill and the health insurance promised when I enlisted. Well, maybe a little of that Marion Robert Mitchell Morrison hero-type treatment so as to get the girls. Go fight the heathen commies, come on home and have a good life.
Smart as a brick I was.
Been trying to pick the snakes out of my head ever since.

Having been raised to take up for the underdog, and having been properly brainwashed that the "Commies were after my Mommie", I set off to a foreign land to kill the yellow man.

Ain't no parade gonna cover the mistake I made or the harm I put upon those people. Ain't no "welcome home" banner going to change it nor will any nostalgic banter with the bros at the VFW Hall either.

You're right in your contempt , Ranger.
Trouble is: It 's not enough.
Now we're in rehab with our kids.

"Problems created at one level of thinking cannot be solved at that same level of consciousness.
-Albert Einstein

Service to what? Service to whom?



I understand about you not wearing all the swag.. That makes two of us.
I hope Ovid was right.

"We two form a multitude"

there it is.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009 at 1:43:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous mike said...

Ranger -

We definitely differ on this issue. Without the VFW (or the Legion or the DAV) there would have never been a GI Bill, there would be no VA at all, privates and seamen would still be making 78$/month and no COLA in sight.

The primary purpose of the national VFW is to lobby for veterans rights. They are a mutual aid society on a national level just like the small posts are mutual aid societies in small towns and big city neighborhoods all over America. Without the VFW we vets would probably be starving and in rags and facing bayonets like the Bonus Army did some 75+ years ago.

You are dead wrong about the VFW being a war dog. Every VFW post is different of course just like every American town is different. And in my local small town VFW post the membership reflects the local population. There is one diehard dittohead in our post plus three to four lefties (including me) who give him grief, the remainder of the membership are quiet about their voter registration but most disapproved of the decision to go into Iraq. My post is small, we are basically just a veterans mutual aid group putting out flags in cemeteries on Memorial Day and helping out elderly vets or their families when we can. My post has no bar and no clubhouse. I believe that is true of 80 to 90% of posts now due to insurance costs. We basically just have a business meeting once a month to discuss funds expended or vote on future actions. For instance at the last meeting I attended we approved a small cash donation to a sick widow of a WW-II vet with no health insurance and approved gas money to one of our members who regularly volunteers to transport elderly VA patients to the nearest VA hospital (200+ miles round trip). In the past, we have also made up care packages for an adopted active duty unit in Iraq, and also donated phone time.

Good luck waiting for the Federal govt to do those jobs. Do not hold your breath.

By the way, Bush was never eligible to join the VFW and neither was Cheney who is not even eligible for the Legion.

The Legion of which I am also a member is definitely hawkish. Their monthly magazine quite frequently includes a BS article by some neo-con writer, which I suspect are subsidized by right wing mega-bucks. One of the senior editors is of that ilk also. But then that is the magazine of the national organization and does not necessarily reflect the feeling in local Legion Halls.

I have the current issue of VFW magazine in front of me as well as several old issues that somehow escaped the mulch pile - none include any pro-war articles.

You are right that none include anti-war articles. They are neutral. But they do publish anti-war letters by members, several a month.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009 at 10:16:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

i have a bone choker that i hang the medal portion of my silver star on.

all the fucking silver rubbed off. it wasn't even a good plate job.

fuck it in a bucket. it's mine.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009 at 12:19:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Peter of Lone Tree said...

"Sometimes Ranger gets so low his bootlaces could serve as strings for a hostile LZ extraction."
Sometimes PoLT gets so low he has to roll down his socks to see.
"If George Bush was/is a war criminal; then Obama is a war criminal. If Obama is not, then Bush is not. We the people cannot have it both ways." -- Cindy Sheehan, Martha’s Vineyard
Cindy has a website at Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009 at 7:27:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

In the past, we have also made up care packages for an adopted active duty unit in Iraq, and also donated phone time.UMMM?!! This sure sounds like approval of the war to my sorry, dumb ass.
Cheny wouldn't make a good boyscout let alone have the quals to join any vet organisation. For gods sake the man was a draft dodger-how quickly we forget.
I can't /won't argue about the magazines since i quit both the VFW and AMLEG. I still belong to MOPH and DAV as a life member and their mags are always printing pro war crap.Even the Chaplain.
The beauty of America is that we all have the right to be wrong.
I appreciate your viewpoint and acknowledge your position.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009 at 10:20:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Sheehan has a valid pov.
It's interesting how both O and Biden have changed their tunes over the years.But this is no less venal as Bushes becoming a nationbuilder.
I'm glad that someone/anyone understands the bootlace reference.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009 at 10:23:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


"We two form a multitude"

Ovid is good. Or, for the Christian, "For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them" Matthew 18:20

Or Mead: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

Wednesday, September 2, 2009 at 12:01:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Rez Dog said...

Any pride I take in earning a CIB always comes with a large dose of anger and regret at letting myself become an instrument of war. It's a toxic mix with a very long shelf life.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009 at 1:51:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


You stole my words, girl...

Here's the rest: they go with the christian version
• I You Thou
• The Sufis say "Love, Lover, Beloved"
• One plus one equals three
•It is more blessed to give than receive. If your cup, closet, is full you can't put any more in it. It won't hold any more.
• The gift must always move....which is the story of how the Indians got to be called "Indian-Giver." If you receive a gift from me, I hold the right to take it again and give it to someone else after you've gleaned all the joy from it.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009 at 2:37:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


Love it! It's so simple: E pluribus unum. Or the Tao: all different, yet the same.

We should write a book called "One", about all the unities of every creed and religion ever devised.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009 at 7:32:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous mike said...

Ranger - we agree about Cheney at least.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009 at 8:59:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

rez dog,
A CIB is worn on the soul and not on the uniform.
We agree on a lot of stuff but it woulndn't be fun if we agreed on everything.
I believe that you overstate your case about the VFW. My view is that we had benefits and veterans care before there was a VFW. This was when states took the lead- way back when.
Things didn't get really screwed up until after the creation of the VFW. I'm thinking bonus marchers here.
The veterans organisations endorse fucking idiots just b/c they wear flag lapel pins and give heroic speeches. Neither of us need that crap.

Thursday, September 3, 2009 at 9:32:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous mike said...

Ranger -

I like you and like your blog. But I am deeply sorry that you are so misinformed on the matter of the VFW.

The VFW endorse idiots because that is who American voters put in office. It has nothing to do with flag lapel pins and nothing to do with heroic speeches. The VFW is an equal opportunity lobbying organization - they do not care if a politician is leftie, rightie, or anywhere in between.

And your history is incorrect. The VFW was formed in 1899. One of the reasons was the 84% non-battle-related death rate of Spanish American War soldiers due to lack of medical care. That is active duty soldiers, not veterans and it does not include the death of discharged vets after the war due to yellow fever and other tropical diseases. American Army rations in Cuba and the Phillipines made millionares out of meatpackers in the midwest but they were typically rotten, full of maggots and ptomaine, and in many cases were left on the docks in high heat and humidity for weeks or months before being issued to the troops.

These vets were mustered out of the Army at their port of return. They had to find and finance their own way home. And the sick ones were denied hospital care.

The states did nothing for them either so they banded together. I for one thank them for it.

Thursday, September 3, 2009 at 2:53:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

OK, i surrender.

Thursday, September 3, 2009 at 5:13:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

As y mea culpa you are authorized to submit a short history of VFW for posting on RAW.
My penance for screwing up.

Thursday, September 3, 2009 at 5:15:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous mike said...

Jim -

Surrender is never required between allies. And besides some of your criticisms are justified as I and many of my fellow VFW members have noted and taken the National leadership to task for.

As for a history, I think I have already posted a significant portion of it here with my yard-long comments. Mea culpa, it was not my intention to hijack your blog. I will add to that history though and note that two of the latest flag-pin-wearing war hawks that were visited by the VFW are FLOTUS Michelle Obama, and Granny Pelosi.

Friday, September 4, 2009 at 10:47:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

You did not hijack the blog- you expressed a valid concern and we resolved it.
Your comments are always welcome.

Friday, September 4, 2009 at 1:41:00 PM GMT-5  

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