Apocalypse Redux ~ An Uncle’s Lament

I fear the unknown…

I would never have thought I would be writing a story about one of my close relatives who has chosen to go off to war.

I never thought that I would feel such anguish for my sister’s youngest child…

As a “baby boomer”, a “Whitlam-ite” (a young adult during the Whitlam years when conscription was abolished), and protester associated with the Vietnam Moratorium, I would not have thought in my wildest dreams that this country would be once again sending young men and women off to an unjustified war, a war that is simply a civil war, the same as the Vietnam War.

My sister’s youngest, at 22yo, is a full-time member of the Australian Army is going to Afghanistan. He is a “combat engineer”.

Last weekend, he rang his mum and told her they all had just been to a briefing with military lawyers about completing their wills – at 22yo.

They were told in words that came across as not “if” they get killed, but when – at 22yo.

They were asked to consider what they wanted to happen to their remains – at 22yo.

He asked his mum, would she and his Dad agree to have his “power of attorney” – at 22yo.

He told his parents that if he was seriously injured that he would be flown to a US Army Hospital in Germany and that the Army would fly one of them over there to be with him.

He told his parents that they were invited to fly to the base in early November to get a full day briefing on what they should expect their son to experience in the dusty, unfriendly and dangerous environment, and the Army would also tell them that their son was now a man and no longer belonged to them but belonged to the Army – at 22yo.

He told them that in a few weeks time he would be sent to the South Australian desert (the same place where a young soldier was killed a couple of days ago in an exercise where they used live ammunition) to learn desert warfare and to acclimatise them – at 22yo.

He told them that he would be given leave so that he could spend Xmas and New Year with them and that he had to report back to his base in early January to await his embarkation orders – at 22yo.

He told them he would be driving his car down to Canberra, where his parents live, just in case he didn’t come back – at 22yo.

My sister could not sleep for days … a mother is always a mother.

His live in girlfriend of 4 years, school yard sweethearts, separated from him just a few months ago because she could not cope with the prospect of him not coming back.

At only 22yo, he is too young to fully comprehend and understand what he is going into.

At only 22yo, he is full of optimism, healthy, handsome, bravery, and at the very precipice of his adult life, but too naive to understand that the Army has sucked him in with their propaganda about the war on terror, and too young to make a real informed decision.

At 22yo he is too young to comprehend the difference between the “fantasy” of a pretend war, on a pretend battleground, against a pretend enemy when he is training and the reality, and brutality of a real battlefield.

The so-called war on terror is a “crock”. All the US and the UK have done in Afghanistan and Iraq has made the world more unsafe, and provided a “fertile bed” to allow evil men to recruit innocents into the fray.

The invasion of Iraq was promulgated by a lie.

The invasion of and war in Afghanistan, which was initially was a success, has been allowed to become a quagmire, of which most analysts believe has been lost due to the fact that the policies and actions of the western forces there (mainly the US), has completely and irrevocably alienated the general population.

The war in Afghanistan has, since the original invasion by the US, become a civil war with rival clans, ethnic groups and warlords scurrying over the crumbs and the money that the west has poured in for so-called reconstruction.

How illogical and sick is it when the west spends millions of tax payer dollars destroying the country and its infrastructure and then spends millions of dollars of taxpayers money undertaking reconstruction, but is actually going into the pockets of corrupt officials.

Sending Australian troops in Afghanistan is not only wrong, but immoral and unjustified under all arguments.

The Federal Government should pull our troops out, and let’s concentrate on our obligations to our Pacific neighbours and on defence rather than offence.

I am not happy about my nephew going into battle. I am not happy about the prospects of him be killed or injured, which includes psychologically. I am not happy with the government’s justification for this unjustifiable foray and once again sucking up to the Americans…

Of course I cannot share all of these thoughts and feelings with my sister and his Dad for fear of causing them even more anguish than they already have, and I have never debated the issues in detail with my nephew – this would be wrong. I debate and discuss my views with friends and colleagues and with the Government.

I fret for my sister and her husband, and I worry about those lonely moments, in the middle of the night, when her worst nightmares come to visit her…

Above all, I fret for my nephew at only 22yo, going into the unknown…

I don’t want him to go.

Submitted by a reader. Name withheld upon request.
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