HV/Series/Episode/ Work by: Jeff Arntsen · Jess Atkins · Alix Blair · Barrett Golding
Hearing Voices from NPR®
075 Veteran’s Day: Iraq and Afghanistan Vets
Host: Barrett Golding of Hearing Voices
Airs week of: 2011-11-09 (Originally: 2009-11-04)
“Veteran’s Day” (52:00 mp3):
Voices from the Armed Forces men and woman who fight our wars:
Go to YouTube, search for: Iraq Afghanistan combat footage. You’ll get lotsa hits.
This former National Guard Specialist has “surrendered the force that I carry, the weapon to those elected officials chosen by the American people.” She hopes the people inform themselves and choose wisely.
A U.S. Army soldier reports: “When you speak Arabic, you become the interface with the local population — which is 99% of the work in a counter-insurgency.” (McCary is a Truman National Security Project fellow; his January 2009 article in the Washington Quarterly was “The Anbar Awakening: An Alliance of Incentives” -pdf.)
US and Iraqi Special Operations Forces conduct a combat operation inside Sadr city, Baghdad in order to capture known insurgents and terrorists. The operation was conducted on an undisclosed date/time in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. US Army video by: SSG Ryan C. Creel.
From an HV/NPR series: Retired Navy Captain Ed Nicholson is an avid fly-fishermen. He realized fishing would be good therapy for disabled veterans. So he hooked up with Trout Unlimited and the Federation of Fly Fishers, and with private donations and volunteer guides, they began teaching wounded vets, including many amputees, how to fly-fish. Project Healing Waters, now regularly takes vets on these therapeutic fishing outings. These interviews were recorded in 2007 on Virginia’s Rose River Farm.
From an HV/NPR series: A Specialist in the Missouri Army National Guard reads from her email to family and friends about her first few days in Iraq, part of the NEA book/writing project Operation Homecoming. Guitar by Jess Atkins. (Read Ms. Gerhardt’s NYTimes article “Modern Love; Back From the Front, With Honor, a Warrior’s Truth”.)
From the HV/NPR series: Corporal Neil Frustaglio, US Marine Corps spends a day with fellow Wounded warriors getting their wheelchairs wet chasing Rainbow Trout on the Rose River in Virginia, as part recreation & recovery program Project Healing Waters.
The well-known, mostly Blackfeet drum group from White Swan, Washington perform Veterans’ Honor Songs on their 2004 CD.
Troops from Alpha Company, 2nd Platoon, “Red Devils” from Edmonton, Canada are ambushed as they conducted battle damage assessment in the village of in Sangin, Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan on 15 July 2006.
From the HV/NPR series: Sergeant Diane Cochran, US Army, was seriously injured in Afghanistan. Now, for recreation and recovery, she’s learning to fly-fish with Project Healing Waters. She spent the day catching rainbow trout on the Rose River in Virginia.
From an HV/NPR series: A Staff Sergeant in the Special Forces team of the Illinois National Guard reads from his essay about exchanging bizarre cordialities between bitter enemiesin Afghanistan, published in the NEA book Operation Homecoming. Guitar by Jess Atkins. (Clint Douglas writes about about defense and national security for the Washington Post Intel Dump blog.)
This vet also fought in Afghanistan; he’s an Iraqi, and former Taliban, captured by the Northern Alliance in 2001 and held for a week with hundreds of others in a warlord’s basement. Ali Abdul Matar was recorded near Mazar in November 2001.
While in Iraq, former U.S. Army Sergeant Matthew McCue witnessed the power and peace of agriculture. He now works with the Farmer-Veteran Coalition. This story was produced that story for the SpeakeasyDC Storycast. Music by Baghdad oud master Salman Shukur (mp3s at Mike’s Ouds) and A Perfect Circle covering Nick Lowe’s “Peace Love and Understanding” (2004 eMOTIVe).
In May 2008, for the first time, boots-on-the-ground soldiers testified before Congress (C-SPAN) about how the Iraq war is being waged. Those testifying were members of the Iraq Veterans Against the War. A couple months earlier the group had gathered to record soldiers and marines “giving an accurate account of what really happens day in and day out.” They called the event Winter Soldier, named for a similar 1971 movement of Vietnam vets.
Winter Soldiers (audio, video and photos)
Winter Soldier testimony by former marines Jon Turner and Michael LeDuc, and former soldiers Clifton Hicks, Garrett Reppenhagen, Jason Hurd and Kristopher Shawn Goldsmith. More HV audio excerpts of the testimony are at HV Winter Soldier. Music: Jeff Artnsen.
A reading from The History of the Peloponnesian War, written 431 B.C.E by an Athenian general, Thucydides. His observations on a “deterioration of character” during times of war apply today to both U.S. and middle-Eastern conflicts and Sunni and Shia tensions.
[Thucydides describes the the civil wars across Hellas in the war between Athens and Sparta…]
In times of peace and prosperity cities and individuals alike follow higher standards, because they are not forced into a situation where they have to do what they do not want to do. But war is a stern teacher; in depriving them of the power of easily satisfying their daily wants, it brings most people’s minds down to the level of their actual circumstances.
So revolutions broke out in city after city, and in places where the revolutions occurred late the knowledge of what had happened previously in other places caused still new extravagances of revolutionary zeal, expressed by an elaboration in the methods of seizing power and by unheard-of atrocities in revenge. To fit in with the change of events, words, too, had to change their usual meanings. What used to be described as a thoughtless act of aggression was now regarded as the courage one would expect to find in a party member; to think of the future and wait was merely another way of saying one was a coward; any idea of moderation was just an attempt to disguise one’s unmanly character; ability to understand a question from all sides meant that one was totally unfitted for action. Fanatical enthusiasm was the mark of a real man, and to plot against an enemy behind his back was perfectly legitimate self-defense. Anyone who held violent opinions could always be trusted, and anyone who objected to them became a suspect. To plot successfully was a sign of intelligence, but it was still cleverer to see that a plot was hatching. If one attempted to provide against having to do either, one was disrupting the unity of the party and acting out of the fear of the opposition. In short, it was equally praiseworthy to get one’s blow in first against someone who was going to do wrong, and to denounce someone who had no intention of doing any wrong at all. Family relations were a weaker tie than party membership, since party members were more ready to go to any extreme for any reason whatever. These parties were not formed to enjoy the benefits of the established laws, but to acquire power by overthrowing the existing regime; and the members of these parties felt confidence in each other not because of any fellowship in a religious communion, but because they were partners in crime. If an opponent made a reasonable speech, the party in power, so far from giving it a generous reception, took every precaution to see that it had no practical effect.
Revenge was more important than self-preservation. And if pacts of mutual security were made, they were entered into by the two parties only in order to meet some temporary difficulty, and remained in force only so long as there was no other weapon available. When the chance came, the one who first seized it boldly, catching his enemy off his guard, enjoyed a revenge that was all the sweeter from having been taken, no openly, but because of a breach of faith. It was safer that way, it was considered, and at the same time a victory won by treachery gave one a title for superior intelligence. And indeed most people are more ready to call villainy cleverness than simple-mindedness honesty. They are proud of the first quality and ashamed of the second.
Love of power, operating through greed and through personal ambition, was the cause of all these evils. To this must be added the violent fanaticism which came into play once the struggle had broken out. Leaders of parties in the cities had programmes which appeared admirable – on one side political equality for the masses, on the other the safe and sound government of the aristocracy – but in professing to serve the public interest they were seeking to win the prizes for themselves. In their struggles for ascendancy nothing was barred; terrible indeed were the actions to which they committed themselves, and in taking revenge they went farther still. Here they were deterred neither by the claims of justice not by the interests of the state; their one standard was the pleasure of their own party at that particular moment, and so, either by means of condemning their enemies on an illegal vote or by violently usurping power over them, they were always ready to satisfy the hatreds of the hour. Thus neither side had any use for conscientious motives; more interest was shown in those who could produce attractive arguments to justify some disgraceful action. As for the citizens who held moderate views, they were destroyed by both the extreme parties, either for not taking part in the struggle or in envy at the possibility that they might survive.
As a result of these revolutions, there was a general deterioration of character throughout the Greek world. The simple way of looking at things, which is so much the mark of a noble nature, was regarded as a ridiculous quality and soon ceased to exist. Society had become divided into two ideologically hostile camps, and each side viewed the other with suspicion. As for ending this state of affairs, no guarantee could be given that would be trusted, no oath sworn that people would fear to break; everyone had come to the conclusion that it was hopeless to expect a permanent settlement and so, instead of being able to feel confident in others, they devoted their energies to providing against being injured themselves. As a rule those who were least remarkable for intelligence showed the greater powers of survival. Such people recognized their own deficiencies and the superior intelligence of their opponents; fearing that they might lose a debate or find themselves out-manoeuvred in intrigue by their quick-witted enemies, they boldly launched straight into action; while their opponents, over-confident in the belief that they would see what was happening in advance, and not thinking it necessary to seize by force what they could secure by policy, were the more easily destroyed because they were off their guard.
—Thucydides The History of the Peloponnesian War (Rex Warner translation, Penguin, revised 1954)
YouTube Playlist of Iraq/Afghanistan combat videos: