In Harm’s Way

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



More articles by:

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com

March 19, 2018
Henry Heller
The Moment of Trump
John Davis
Pristine Buildings, Tarnished Architect
Uri Avnery
The Fake Enemy
Patrick Cockburn
The Fall of Afrin and the Next Phase of the Syrian War
Nick Pemberton
The Democrats Can’t Save Us
Nomi Prins 
Jared Kushner, RIP: a Political Obituary for the President’s Son-in-Law
Georgina Downs
The Double Standards and Hypocrisy of the UK Government Over the ‘Nerve Agent’ Spy Poisoning
Dean Baker
Trump and the Federal Reserve
Colin Todhunter
The Strategy of Tension Towards Russia and the Push to Nuclear War
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
US Empire on Decline
Ralph Nader
Ahoy America, Give Trump a Taste of His Own Medicine Starting on Trump Imitation Day
Robert Dodge
Eliminate Nuclear Weapons by Divesting from Them
Laura Finley
Shame on You, Katy Perry
Weekend Edition
March 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Michael Uhl
The Tip of the Iceberg: My Lai Fifty Years On
Bruce E. Levine
School Shootings: Who to Listen to Instead of Mainstream Shrinks
Mel Goodman
Caveat Emptor: MSNBC and CNN Use CIA Apologists for False Commentary
Paul Street
The Obama Presidency Gets Some Early High Historiography
Kathy Deacon
Me, My Parents and Red Scares Long Gone
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Rexless Abandon
Andrew Levine
Good Enemies Are Hard To Find: Therefore Worry
Jim Kavanagh
What to Expect From a Trump / Kim Summit
Ron Jacobs
Trump and His Tariffs
Joshua Frank
Drenched in Crude: It’s an Oil Free For All, But That’s Not a New Thing
Gary Leupp
What If There Was No Collusion?
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: Bernard Fall Dies on the Street Without Joy
Robert Fantina
Bad to Worse: Tillerson, Pompeo and Haspel
Brian Cloughley
Be Prepared, Iran, Because They Want to Destroy You
Richard Moser
What is Organizing?
Scott McLarty
Working Americans Need Independent Politics
Rohullah Naderi
American Gun Violence From an Afghan Perspective
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Why Trump’s Tariff Travesty Will Not Re-Industrialize the US
Ted Rall
Democrats Should Run on Impeachment
Robert Fisk
Will We Ever See Al Jazeera’s Investigation Into the Israel Lobby?
Kristine Mattis
Superunknown: Scientific Integrity Within the Academic and Media Industrial Complexes
John W. Whitehead
Say No to “Hardening” the Schools with Zero Tolerance Policies and Gun-Toting Cops
Edward Hunt
UN: US Attack On Syrian Civilians Violated International Law
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Iraq Outside History
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: The Long Hard Road
Victor Grossman
Germany: New Faces, Old Policies
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
The Iraq Death Toll 15 Years After the US Invasion
Binoy Kampmark
Amazon’s Initiative: Digital Assistants, Home Surveillance and Data
Chuck Collins
Business Leaders Agree: Inequality Hurts The Bottom Line
Jill Richardson
What We Talk About When We Talk About “Free Trade”
Eric Lerner – Jay Arena
A Spark to a Wider Fire: Movement Against Immigrant Detention in New Jersey
Negin Owliaei
Teachers Deserve a Raise: Here’s How to Fund It