In Harm’s Way

by MISSY COMLEY BEATTIE

In harm’s way. This phrase originated with John Paul Jones in 1778 when, during the Revolutionary War, he wrote, ‘I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail FAST; for I intend to go in harm’s way.’

In harm’s way.

Today, we hear this said over and over, so much so that it almost has become a lulling.

George Bush speaks the phrase often. Here are a few examples:

During a 2003 visit to wounded troops at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Bush said, "We put a lot of fine troops into harm’s way to make this country more secure and the world more free and the world more peaceful."

In 2004 when Bush was campaigning in Colorado with Gen. Tommy Franks at his side, he vilified John Kerry and John Edwards: "There were only four members of the United States Senate who voted to authorize the use of force and then voted against funding for our troops in harm’s way-two of whom are my opponent and his running mate."

And this past week in a taped Christmas message to the armed forces, Bush thanked the families of our soldiers and said that he prays for the safe return of their loved ones in harm’s way.

In harm’s way.

Army Reservist James E. Dean had already been in harm’s way in Afghanistan, having served 18 months. When he learned that he would be deployed to Iraq, Dean became depressed. He barricaded himself in his father’s house on Christmas Day and threatened suicide. He was killed by a police officer after aiming a gun at another officer.

Neighbors said Dean was "a good boy."

In harm’s way.

War is so much more than this phrase. It is straddling the edge of physical mutilation, psychological lesions, and death, always. From bullets to improvised explosive devices to not knowing who is friend or foe to being taken captive and tortured, our troops have the constant fear of never seeing their loved ones again or never seeing the baby born during their deployment. War is seeing your buddy’s face blown off. It is nightmares and flashbacks. It is forever. War is not being able to relate to those who haven’t lived through the soul-searing experience. How could any encounter, from the mundane to the extraordinary, have the same meaning it did before?

Over a million Americans have served in Iraq since Bush/Cheney’s illegal invasion and occupation of the country. Some have served three tours of grave danger in Iraq.

And if they return and sever their ties with the military, they cannot separate from the memories. In more than harm’s way, they will have as their companions the scars of war for the rest of their lives.

And so will the people of Iraq who survive the hell committed in my name and yours.

Missy Beattie lives in New York City. She’s written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. An outspoken critic of the Bush Administration and the war in Iraq, she’s a member of Gold Star Families for Peace. She completed a novel last year, but since the death of her nephew, Marine Lance Cpl. Chase J. Comley, in Iraq on August 6,’05, she has been writing political articles. She can be reached at: Missybeat@aol.com






 

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
August 04, 2015
Vincent J. Roscigno
University Bureaucracy as Organized Crime
Paul Street
Bernie Sanders’ Top Five Race Problems: the Whiteness of Nominal Socialism
Ramzy Baroud
The Palestinian Bubble and the Burning of Toddler, Ali Dawabsha
Herbert Dyer, Jr.
Is White Supremacy a Mental Disorder?
Pepe Escobar
Reshuffling Eurasia’s Energy Deck — Iran, China and Pipelineistan
L. Michael Hager
The Battle Over BDS
Eric Draitser
Puerto Rico: Troubled Commonwealth or Debt Colony?
Colin Todhunter
Hypnotic Trance in Delhi: Monsanto, GMOs and the Looting of India’s Agriculture
Benjamin Willis
The New Cubanologos: What’s in a Word?
Matt Peppe
60 Minutes Provides Platform for US Military
Binoy Kampmark
The Turkish Mission: Reining in the Kurds
Eoin Higgins
Teaching Lessons of White Supremacy in Prime-Time: Blackrifice in the Post-Apocalyptic World of the CW’s The 100
Gary Corseri
Gaza: Our Child’s Shattered Face in the Mirror
Robert Dodge
The Nuclear World at 70
Paula Bach
Exit the Euro? Polemic with Greek Economist Costas Lapavitsas
August 03, 2015
Joseph Mangano – Janette D. Sherman
The Atomic Era Turns 70, as Nuclear Hazards Endure
Nelson Valdes
An Internet Legend: the Pope, Fidel and the Black President
Robert Hunziker
The Perfectly Nasty Ocean Storm
Jack Dresser
The Case of Alison Weir: Two Palestinian Solidarity Organizations Borrow from Joe McCarthy’s Playbook
Ahmad Moussa
Incinerating Palestinian Children
Greg Felton
Greece Succumbs to Imperialist Banksterism
Binoy Kampmark
Stalling the Trans-Pacific Partnership: the Failure of the Hawai’i Talks
Ted Rall
My Letter to Nick Goldberg of the LA Times
Mark Weisbrot
New Greek Bailout Increases the Possibility of Grexit
Jose Martinez
Black/Hispanic/Women: a Leadership Crisis
Victor Grossman
German Know-Nothings Today
Patrick Walker
We’re Not Sandernistas: Reinventing the Wheels of Bernie’s Bandwagon
Norman Pollack
Moral Consequences of War: America’s Hegemonic Thirst
Ralph Nader
Republicans Support Massive Tax Evasion by Starving IRS Budget
Alexander Reid Ross
Colonial Pride and the Killing of Cecil the Lion
Suhayb Ahmed
What’s Happening in Britain: Jeremy Corbyn and the Future of the Labour Party
Weekend Edition
July 31-33, 2015
Jeffrey St. Clair
Bernie and the Sandernistas: Into the Void
John Pilger
Julian Assange: the Untold Story of an Epic Struggle for Justice
Roberto J. González – David Price
Remaking the Human Terrain: The US Military’s Continuing Quest to Commandeer Culture
Lawrence Ware
Bernie Sanders’ Race Problem
Andrew Levine
The Logic of Illlogic: Narrow Self-Interest Keeps Israel’s “Existential Threats” Alive
ANDRE VLTCHEK
Kos, Bodrum, Desperate Refugees and a Dying Child
Paul Street
“That’s Politics”: the Sandernistas on the Master’s Schedule
Ted Rall
How the LAPD Conspired to Get Me Fired from the LA Times
Mike Whitney
Power-Mad Erdogan Launches War in Attempt to Become Turkey’s Supreme Leader
Ellen Brown
The Greek Coup: Liquidity as a Weapon of Coercion
Stephen Lendman
Russia Challenges America’s Orwellian NED
Will Parrish
The Politics of California’s Water System
John Wight
The Murder of Ali Saad Dawabsha, a Palestinian Infant Burned Alive by Israeli Terrorists
Jeffrey Blankfort
Leading Bibi’s Army in the War for Washington