FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

I Should be Dead

by JONATHAN CARP

Today I am a somewhat overweight, bearded suburban dad entering a comfortable middle age, but it was not always thus. Seven short years ago I was a lean, clean-shaven, heavily armored combat medic in Iraq, and today, November 11th, everyone is apparently required by law to remind me of the things I did in my youth. Restaurants offer me free food and everyone who knows about my past feels compelled to thank me for it. I get phone calls from relatives as if it were my birthday. I jokingly ask my wife for presents.

But here is something no one wants to know about on Veterans Day – I ought to be dead. Not that I intend to take my own life as thousands of my fellow veterans have, but I know that I am only alive because innocent people died. And not in an abstract sense. I saw them die, in the explosion that was meant to kill me.

In March of 2007 I was in a Humvee returning from a supply run to an American consulate in Al-Hillah, Iraq. The roads in and out of Al-Hillah were so dangerous that the only way to maintain the outpost was to fly supplies into Baghdad, 90 miles northeast, and then deliver them via heavily armed convoy. We, troops, looked forward to the trip. The food we brought the State Department functionaries was better than the food we had and, so, lunch in their chow hall was an experience not to be missed.

The trip back was always more dangerous than the trip in. The insurgents saw us come in and knew we were leaving that same day, usually, within a few hours. They could, I am sure, monitor the unloading of the trucks from vantage points outside the consulate and determine when we were likely to go. That day they were waiting for us.

The weapon of choice was a form of roadside bomb called an Explosively Formed Penetrator or EFP. These comparatively high-tech weapons were their response to the increased use of armor on our vehicles. An explosive charge would melt a disk of copper and form it into a supersonic slug of molten metal, which would punch through our vehicles’ armor like the fist of an angry god. As we left the consulate, one of these nasty things detonated.

The target was the fuel truck in front of me, which had delivered its load and thus had a container full of fuel vapors ready to detonate. My vehicle was not far behind. The insurgents were lying in wait to machine-gun the survivors. But I was saved.

A white minivan containing two women and their three children happened to pass directly in front of the EFP when it exploded. All five were killed, as was a woman I saw walking down the street. Her body was bisected along a diagonal line from her left hip to her right shoulder. She landed prone in the street. Her one remaining hand outstretched. Her black abaya gently flapping in the breeze. And we drove away. I am alive and six innocents are dead, and every moment of my life was purchased for me with the blood of women and children.

No one was a villain that day. The insurgents were acting entirely within recognized rules of war by attacking a supply convoy; and we in the convoy were acting entirely within recognized rules war by traveling in clearly marked vehicles and interfering as little as possible with civilian traffic. Atrocities happened in Iraq, but these three dead women and three dead children were part of the ordinary, unavoidable butcher’s bill of any war. In their memory I fight and call on you to fight against all wars, and against that which makes war possible – the state.

For Veterans Day, let’s try to stop making more veterans.

Jonathan Carp is a fellow at the Center for a Stateless Society (c4ss.org) and a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War. He works as a nurse in Tacoma, WA.

More articles by:

Jonathan Carp is a fellow at the Center for a Stateless Society (c4ss.org) and a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War. He works as a nurse in Tacoma, WA.

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

June 28, 2017
Diana Johnstone
Macron’s Mission: Save the European Union From Itself
Jordon Kraemer
The Cultural Anxiety of the White Middle Class
Vijay Prashad
Modi and Trump: When the Titans of Hate Politics Meet
Jonathan Cook
Israel’s Efforts to Hide Palestinians From View No Longer Fools Young American Jews
Ron Jacobs
Gonna’ Have to Face It, You’re Addicted to War
Jim Lobe – Giulia McDonnell Nieto Del Rio
Is Trump Blundering Into the Next Middle East War?
Radical Washtenaw
David Ware, Killed By Police: a Vindication
John W. Whitehead
The Age of No Privacy: the Surveillance State Shifts into High Gear
Robert Mejia, Kay Beckermann and Curtis Sullivan
The Racial Politics of the Left’s Political Nostalgia
Tom H. Hastings
Courting Each Other
Winslow Myers
“A Decent Respect for the Opinions of Mankind”
Leonard Peltier
The Struggle is Never for Nothing
Jonathan Latham
Illegal GE Bacteria Detected in an Animal Feed Supplement
Deborah James
State of Play in the WTO: Toward the 11th Ministerial in Argentina
Andrew Stewart
Health Care for All: Why I Occupied Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse’s Office
Binoy Kampmark
The European Commission, Google and Anti-Competition
Jesse Jackson
A Savage Health Care Bill
Jimmy Centeno
Cats and Meows in L.A.
June 27, 2017
Jim Kavanagh
California Scheming: Democrats Betray Single-Payer Again
Jonathan Cook
Hersh’s New Syria Revelations Buried From View
Edward Hunt
Excessive and Avoidable Harm in Yemen
Howard Lisnoff
The Death of Democracy Both Here and Abroad and All Those Colorful Sneakers
Gary Leupp
Immanuel Kant on Electoral Interference
Kenneth Surin
Theresa May and the Tories are in Freefall
Slavoj Zizek
Get the Left
Robert Fisk
Saudi Arabia Wants to Reduce Qatar to a Vassal State
Ralph Nader
Driverless Cars: Hype, Hubris and Distractions
Rima Najjar
Palestinians Are Seeking Justice in Jerusalem – Not an Abusive Life-Long Mate
Norman Solomon
Is ‘Russiagate’ Collapsing as a Political Strategy?
Binoy Kampmark
In the Twitter Building: Tech Incubators and Altering Perceptions
Dean Baker
Uber’s Repudiation is the Moment for the U.S. to Finally Start Regulating the So-called Sharing Economy
Rob Seimetz
What I Saw From The Law
George Wuerthner
The Causes of Forest Fires: Climate vs. Logging
June 26, 2017
William Hawes – Jason Holland
Lies That Capitalists Tell Us
Chairman Brandon Sazue
Out of the Shadow of Custer: Zinke Proves He’s No “Champion” of Indian Country With his Grizzly Lies
Patrick Cockburn
Grenfell Tower: the Tragic Price of the Rolled-Back Stat
Joseph Mangano
Tritium: Toxic Tip of the Nuclear Iceberg
Ray McGovern
Hersh’s Big Scoop: Bad Intel Behind Trump’s Syria Attack
Roy Eidelson
Heart of Darkness: Observations on a Torture Notebook
Geoff Beckman
Why Democrats Lose: the Case of Jon Ossoff
Matthew Stevenson
Travels Around Trump’s America
David Macaray
Law Enforcement’s Dirty Little Secret
Colin Todhunter
Future Shock: Imagining India
Yoav Litvin
Animals at the Roger Waters Concert
Binoy Kampmark
Pride in San Francisco
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail