They Said It Better Than I Ever Could...

These words that I write, they keep me from total insanity. -Charles Bukowski

Who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived, or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed? -Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

Dec 5, 2008

R.I.P. Cheena, And Is The Pen Mightier Than The Sword?

Friday, December 5, 2008 2330 hrs.

Yeah, Cheena got shot the other day. Unfortunately for her it was probably entirely too easy for the bastard that did it because of the fact that she had no fear of man. She probably walked with the fucker while he took her out to do it.

I can't say anything about it either because Army regulations state some shit about we can't have any kind of mascots or animals on military installations in a combat zone. Kind of funny how a little bit of ink on a piece of paper can hurt so badly.

What is really unfortunate is the fact that I cannot really voice my true opinions on the subject because if the wrong person reads this I could get myself into some hot water with good ole' Uncle Sam because we aren't allowed to say what we actually think of those appointed over us. Disrespect and all that shit. Well at least when this is over I'll be able to write everything that I really wanted to say to, and about these people.

So don't send any stuff for Cheena because she doesn't need it anymore.

It never ceases to amaze me just how attached you can become to an animal, and it never ceases to amaze me just how little time it takes to get that way.

Well if we're all lucky she is somewhere better...

Shit, she's not here and anything is better than this.

Suffice it to say I have been, and will be pissed off for quite a while about this one.

And my mood has definitely colored my views on this place and this war. Well so be it, I have always been a moody person. Just ask my ex-wife.

Looking out over this whole thing, and what we are doing here it just seems like it has degenerated into a big game of "hold what you got". I mean there is always shit going on here where some General looks at his maps and intel reports and gets all the briefings and all the other shit and decides that he thinks he knows where these guys are and there is some operation, or offensive or whatever you want to call it, and it goes off and there are a lot of explosions and bullets flying this way and that, and in the end nothing really changed. Nothing has really been accomplished.

I don't know what would make this place better but something has got to give sooner or later.

Let me ask you a question, as a westerner, could you imagine your life without school?

Could you even fathom a life lived without the benefit of words and literacy? I sure as shit can't imagine, nor would I want to live a life devoid of learning.

I wonder why the U.S. hasn't placed a school at every base we have in this country. Put one in, get the teachers in here and guard the schools with American soldiers. Make sure that these assholes can't roll up on their motorcycles and throw acid on the girl’s faces.

Offer a free public education to all the people of Afghanistan. If they want to come in and learn they can, and we will make sure that no one hurts you as you learn.

Q: Hey, how you going to pay for it?
A: Pull every dollar of foreign aid from Pakistan and tell them to kiss our ass the Afghani's need to learn to read.

Now you couldn't force an education onto these people. They don't respond well to being told what to do. But make it available to anyone that wants an education.

Why should we pay to educate these people? Simple, the guns and the bombs and the helicopters and the soldiers and all of the other shit will never be able to break their will to fight. And who says that we do want to break their will. These people have proven over and over again throughout history that they don't give a fuck how big you are, or how many guns you've got or how many planes, and helicopters you can throw at them.

However, you give them an education, and you start to change their minds. We always hear that bullshit about winning hearts and minds, and then they put a sign up that says soldiers shouldn't give things to the locals. Well fuck you. If I got a bag of skittles and some 10-year-old kid wants it I am going to give it to him. Court martial me, it'll be fun.

But how about winning the minds by altering the minds. I am not talking about brain washing. Respect their religion and their culture but show them what is out there. My education is easily the most important thing I have ever done (for myself) in my life. It has opened doors that I wouldn't have ever known were there without it. It showed me the depth of the human condition. My education taught me tolerance of others. It taught me to always fight for the underdog. (I take that back, that was my mom) It showed me the beauty that the world has to offer. It opened my eyes to such a myriad of things I couldn't even begin to list them all. It is one of the most valuable things that I have.

And it filled my life from the ages of 4 or 5 until I was 28 and managed to finally graduate from college. I couldn't even begin to imagine my life without it.

These people don't even have the opportunity to go. I mean it isn't even an option. They have no choice. They don't even know any better.

But think of what could happen if you educated a few thousand Afghanis’. You would have people who could think for themselves and decide how they want to live. Decide how they want to worship, how they want to think, and how they want to act. Right now all they have is what is dictated to them by archaic religious notions from 2000 years ago.

Open up the world to them. Right now all they see or know of the world is an endless succession of powerful foreigners who show up in their country and build bases and blow shit up and shoot people. If I were them I wouldn't want much of anything to do with us either. I would actually want to kick a little ass.

Instead of doing all of that, show them what the world really has to offer. Teach them to read and open up the world of literature. Teach them to write and they can spread ideas, debate and improve those ideas and therefore improve themselves and their nation. Teach them arithmetic and they will be able to set up a real monetary system that has some substance to it. Teach them history and they will be able to learn from the mistakes and successes of previous generations. Teach them, so that they can discern between a good idea and a bad one. Teach them, so that they can discern between a benevolent leader and a malevolent one. Teach them, so that they can build a life for themselves, their families and all the future generations of this country.

Would this take a while? Hell yeah, it would probably take a couple generations. A good 40 years or so. But it would be a real change here, from the inside out. Instead of the forced change brought by military force. I mean what was the mission here? To find and destroy all those who would support or perpetuate terrorism. At least that's what I think it was. Well why not change the society so that terrorism can't take root or grow here anymore.

Of course you aren't going to get the old farts, but the children you could get them. And as those children grow and mature and have children of their own they will want all the more for their future generations and hopefully, they would leave all this shit behind. Terrorists would not only have Americans to deal with, but they would also have the children of this nation to contend with.

The greatest tool that any despot or tyrannical regime or religious zealot ideology or terrorist organization has is the ignorance of those being oppressed or co-opted. If they don't know any better why would they stand and fight?

How do you fight ignorance? Education. Simple, not an easy solution or whatever, but it is simple.

I say we give it a shot. Put a school in every one of these provinces, cities, and villages. Stock them to the brim with books. Bring the teachers in. Let KBR, or Halliburton, or Blackwater, or who the fuck ever have the contract so they can make a zillion bucks off this shit. Build the schools, guard them with American soldiers, and educate this nation. Hell, they could make the schools a mission for the soldiers. Have a patrol go out in the morning with a bus and pick up everyone who wants to go to school, maybe even give them a few bucks a month to go to school. I mean the Army bribes its soldiers with education benefits to get them to enlist and fight, why not pay people to go to school? Then have the patrol bring the people back after school is over with.

I don't know, maybe I am just letting hopefulness get the better of me. Maybe I am just naive. But what we have been doing hasn't quite had the effect we were looking for, so maybe its time for trying something new. I say we put that whole, "pen is mightier than the sword" theory to the test.

Who knows? I sure as hell don't, but it’s an idea and we all know a good idea can change the world, but a bad one can destroy it.

Ahh, now my head hurts, something funny better happen tomorrow or I am really going to be pissed. Its time for bed.

Goodbye, Cheena it was fun while it lasted.


I love you mom...and thanks for teaching me to read.


  1. Great Rant. You are dead on that the right approach is education. Not sure if getting soldiers to escort school buses would work...might make the students targets.

    This is a case where you can't avoid working with the society you are trying to change, but you sure can romance it.

    Stay safe, sorry about your pet. Don't let the CO know you have a college degree or you'll end up making power point slides.

  2. Good night, Cheena.
    Mudpuppy, your words hold such a simple truth.
    Stay Strong!
    Pray Hard!

    ~AirmanMom returning to her blog...

  3. I got my first library card when I was 5. Thanks Mom. If we said we were bored, she sent us to the library. You make an awful lot of good and very valid points. At one time Kabul had some very good schools and everyone was educated. They had many women professors, school teachers, doctors etc. I'm not sure what came first Taliban or the war with Russia, but it has been down hill ever since. Religious zealots never build a society or lift people up, they just tear down....Very sorry about Cheena. You may not be able to write your feelings down for the blog, but write them anyway.

  4. I am so sorry about Cheena! It always hurts so much to lose a pet, that unconditional love will get you every time won't it?

    You are right about the education thing. I think you make too much since though.
    I don't know how to do it all pretty like but I have posted your blog as one that I enjoy reading on myspace page. If you mind I'll take it off, let me know :)

    We are praying for you, every day!


  5. I completely understand your despair over Cheena. I have my Buddy who no matter what is happening always is there to help me through. Even though I am not in some foreign land fighting a seemingly unfightable force, I understand what a good pet can do to help you through.

    I just recently found your blog and just finished catching up on it yesterday. I was saddened but also uplifted by your post today. We have to continue to look to the good side and help others to do the same.

    Please keep your head up and also down when needed. I will pray and think about you. I have a son in the military. I love how you end your posts. I love you mom...means so much to us.

    Thank you - hugs to you

  6. Very good post. A lot of common sense and thought went into it I am sure. Sorry for your loss. I would be very sad without my DC on my lap while working on my laptop and reading your posts.

    Keep your helmet on and butt close to the ground.


  7. I have recently found your blog and I am so sad to hear about Cheena. I know how a pets can be good therapy and lower a person's blood pressure too. In addition to schools, the military should allow you to have a pet! Some things just don't make sense!
    I am glad your mom encouraged your education and that you love her! You are a good son. Keep your chin up and know you have a lot of people praying for you! If you need Skittles, let me know! :)

  8. So sorry about Cheena. Sometimes thats all there is to say. It's a good blog and you have a good heart. You know I was thinking about your blog where your mom sent you the spiderman sheets, and you said you are are not so mature...I have to disagree, you know, only those who are honestly mature, can embrace the suck.
    Stay safe.

  9. Rest in Peace Cheena. God bless you Mudpuppy and know that at least towards the end Cheena enjoyed her time with you and your unit.

  10. Dear Mud Puppy:

    I've been traveling and haven't been able to read your blog for a while - missed ya ;) But you have been in my thoughts and prayers nonetheless.

    I just got caught up - well, I am truly sorry about the dog. She was most likely one of your best defenses - physically AND emotionally.

    As to education - you are spot on. We should be doing more of this - we are doing some but surely not enough.

    There is an organization called Operation Dreamseed that was started by some soldiers who served in Afghanistan and they supply books etc to school children but they have also sponsored the building of some schools - so as is the American way, it is the American people getting together to do things - just like you are doing for the kids there. I guess I am so cynical in that I don't think the Government can do as good a job as ordinary people.

    Hang in and the chocolate covered sun flower seeds are on their way :)

    All my best,

  11. Mudpuppy,

    My sincere sympathies in the passing of Cheena. I love dogs and know that you and she had become very attached.

    Thanks for all you're doing over there. Stay safe in body and spirit.


  12. Good points on the education issue Mud Puppy. I'm sorry for your loss of Cheena. Stay as safe as you can.

  13. The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 12/08/2008 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

  14. Hello,
    I stumbled upon your blog through Airman Mom's and I must say that your writing is fantastic and I am really enjoying your blog and all of your opinions and insight.

    This post was great and I agree with you in that the best way to fight ignorance is with education. These thoughts are also in the original principals of America's democracy. So why not exercise this aspect of it while we're in Afghanistan as well?
    Sure, you might have some controversy as to where our priorities are invested, but that argument will most likely be from the uninformed or unversed masses.

    Thank you for your service and my prayers and thoughts are with you!

  15. What's up with shooting all the dogs here? I understand the health concerns, but what I don't understand is how they can always find someone who is incredibly eager to do the shooting. I really like the company commanders who hide the dogs in the motor pool when the battalion commander visits...

  16. Sorry about Cheena. That happened to my buddy Casey's dog on their FOB too. They couldn't get any of the soldiers to do it, they think they got locals.

    It's always really shitty when it happens, and I'm sorry. And sorry your chain of command were such jerks.

  17. Dude, I am so sorry about Cheena!!! And you are right about education. It is truly the only thing that works in the long run. You're a good man, Mud Puppy. Stay sane.

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