20 April 2008

Time to Reflect…

It has been four months now since my return from Iraq. As I look back on the last few months, my time in Iraq seems so many years ago… almost a different lifetime. I get the same feeling now as I got when I had returned from Desert Storm… remembering is like recalling an old movie; an actor I saw, not really something I did. I guess the mind has its own way with dealing with memories.

15 months away from family and the comfort of the environment I grew up in was very difficult. 15 months of working seven days a week and 16-18 hour days, no holidays, was demanding. Living 15 months in a combat zone was not enjoyable. But was it worth it? It saddens me to say that only time will tell. There is the possibility that our efforts in the Middle-East may be the single greatest endeavor our country has been involved with since WWII and the Marshall plan… but our next president will have to close the deal. There is also the possibility that Iraq and the Middle-East will revert back to the way it was ten years ago, all our efforts, blood and treasure wasted.

But are we winning? I say yes, for two reasons: (1) Iraq is no longer in the headline news. Good news does not happen in spectacular fashion (ie large explosion with hundreds dead), it is often the lack of news that is good (ie no explosion, zero dead). This does not play well in the media. And, (2) not only has their not been a terrorist attack in America since 9/11, but the world is at relative peace. I freely admit that people are still not playing nice in the world - but it is much better than our fathers or grand-fathers can remember. Even I grew up with the fear of the USSR and US on edge with the capability to blow the entire world up several times over.

Over the past four hundred years, the world has only gotten better at killing. General estimates place lives deliberately extinguished in the 1800s by politically motivated carnage at around 45 Million compared to 170 million in the 1900s. Heck, since 3600 B.C. the world has known only 292 years of peace. During this 5,600 year period there have been almost 15 thousands wars, in which over 3.6 billion people have been killed. To put this in perspective, the current population of the world today is around 6.6 billion.

The good news is that the world is becoming a better place to live, but we have a very long ways to go.

I'm now in Ft Leavenworth, KS in the Command and General Staff College until December of this year. It is very much like a school environment, and in fact I am also working on another Masters degree while I am here. I have picked back up my hobbies of making beer, getting out in the yard, exploring the area, and just gathering with friends. There is plenty of time to relax, reflex and recharge.

I want to thank you for all the support you've given me during the deployment - I hope to expand my travels this summer and fall and even make some speaking engagements… please let me know if you'd like for me to try and stop by.

Take care!

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