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Tuesday, April 1, 2003

I admit it: I have no stomach for war. It's become nearly impossible for me to watch the war news. I turn on CNN expecting to hear outrage and remorse for the killing of civilians, and all I get are clinical explanations of troop movements and bombing campaigns. I just can't bring myself to sit there and watch the talking heads giving death totals as if they were Olympic medal counts.

My town has suffered its first war casualty. A 20-year-old Marine from Santa Rosa was one of those inside that tank that went off a bridge across the Euphrates, trapping four men inside. They say it happened at night, but they don't know if the tank driver fell asleep or was shot. Not that it makes any difference. The tank was still upside down in the river with four bodies inside when it was found the next day.

He was, did I mention, twenty years old?

I don't want anyone to have died in vain in all this. Not 20-year-old Americans, and not five-year-old Iraqi children. It's too horrible to contemplate. It's numbing and dehumanizing to watch, even if you truly believe that the world will be a better place for most people after it's all over. For those who survive it, that is.

I've read all of the official justifications for the invasion of Iraq. Whether or not I'm convinced of their validity and sincerity, the war is a reality. So this is just about my gut reaction to seeing it played out on the news all day every day. I'm not sure the picture of it we're getting is telling enough of the story to make it worth the emotional impact.

Let's face it. I wouldn't have been able to watch Saddam Hussein torturing his own people, even if he had committed his atrocities on CNN. We didn't see that on television, and maybe that's why it was tolerated for so long. The fact that what he's done over the years is immeasurably worse than anything the coalition could do in two weeks doesn't make the news of dead and maimed civilians any easier to take in the comfort of my living room.


Clouds above the trees.

It's too big a fact of current life to ignore completely. It's no good pretending there isn't a war going on, and most people here know someone, directly or indirectly, who's over there. This will affect us for years, the way Vietnam is still a part of our consciousness, nearly thirty years after that war ended. There's no escape, even for an American civilian with an "off" button on his TV set. Imagine living in Baghdad or Basra or Nassiriya. Those people don't have the luxury of turning off the war.

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Obviously, my escape is baseball, and movies on DVD. Tonight it was L.A. Story, Steve Martin's only slightly exaggerated vision of Los Angeles in that kinder, gentler year of 1991. It's still very funny, and a surprisingly warm-hearted romantic story to boot.

Recent recommendations can always be found on the links page.

One year ago: Return to Sender
"Around home, I'm always the point man in crisis central. Out with folks, I just sit and let someone else take charge."

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