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Bowden and Swofford on the War
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Slate is running a series of letters written between Mark Bowden (author of Black Hawk Down) and Anthony Swofford (Gulf War I veteran and author of Jarhead). Via Charles Murtaugh.

Definitely worth a read, though I wish they'd update it a bit more.

Bowden, now in France, writes:

At dinner last night, my waiter, who noticed right away by my terrible French that I was an American, asked me when the war was going to start, as though all of us Yankees were George W.'s peeps, and he checks with us about everything. I told him my bet was 2 a.m. (Paris time).

"Our president is nothing if not eager," I said.

Swofford, who now teaches college in Portland, writes:

Yesterday my cab driver, who was at least a little drunk, said, as we entered the downtown, "I hope the freaking protesters don't jam up the bridges. The little pricks, that's their plan." I use the cab company that employs veterans: If my cabbie is this guy's age and a bit drunk, I assume he saw some crazy shit in Vietnam. I'm polite, I use the word sir, and I tip well.

My college freshman students will be among the little pricks jamming up the downtown.


During this war, I'm the guy on the couch. I watched the last desert war from a front row seat, a sniper hide. I can still feel the weight of my rucksack on my back, I feel my rifle in my hands, the thirst in my throat, the sand in my mouth and ears and nose and crotch. I still feel my gas mask tied to my hip, and I even feel the possibility of shitting myself when things begin, and now things have begun. Sphincter Factor. The higher the SF, the crazier the thing you are about to do. War is damn crazy. Current SF in Kuwait and Iraq: 1,000. Current SF on my couch:10.

Sorry for all the shit talk. But the sand and the stink and the shit are on my mind. Those poor kids, those poor fuckers. Oh, America, you break my heart. You beast, you nurse, you lover. Great conflicted bloody mess.

I hope they post more to this today.

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