|In May, 1988, Russian forces left Afghanistan after 10 years of fighting.The U.S. attacked in October of 2001 and signaled the beginning of America's longest war.|
It has been 26-plus years since the Russians retreated from their ill-considered war in Afghanistan and yet the scars of the conflict still weigh on Russian veterans much as the scars of Vietnam and various other American war-time adventures weigh on American veterans. Souls torn up; physical wounds; nightmares ... it's the same shit on a different day in a different country: Everywhere the blood is precious and everywhere men wearing lapel-pin flags speak of "heroism" without considering what is precious. Again, Russia dips its military oar in the Middle Eastern waters of Syria and again the United States follows suit and again what is precious will be lauded on the tongue and spit out in uncaring disgust.
But there are reasons and excuses ... again:"Every soldier who was there thought about life and death," Vladimir recalls. "We all thought we might not make it out alive. I felt such a need to leave something of me behind on this Earth. So I began writing songs."The main lesson of Afghanistan is that politicians should think twice before getting involved in a military conflict. War is always bad. It shows the weakness of politicians."
And as always there is the chorus:Russia resents being told by the West who are the terrorists and who are not."Do you remember 9/11?" asks Ms Zakharova. "Did Russia ever ask America who exactly it was struggling with? No, we didn't. We understood that this was a threat for the United States and we fully supported their struggle against international terrorism. We provided all our help to struggle with this evil."
We just have to make sure it never happens again.Right -- "never again," the remembering Jew may chant with little or no acknowledgment of the precious blood that others (Palestinians, perhaps) may shed; "never again" the American may scream as his politicians put in just a few more "advisers"; "never again" the Russian soldier growls as his country commits to air strikes against an ill-defined terrorism that, yes, seems to have some precious blood as well.
Everyone else has got it wrong when it comes to "precious blood" but we have it right.
The soldier knows, assuming s/he's alive to know it.