I saw a line in a recent New Yorker article about America’s endless wars, and it’s been been rattling around in my head ever since:
“In Syria, McKenzie visited the Green Village, a community of decrepit apartment blocks near a bombed-out oil facility that served as the operational headquarters for the final push to erase the caliphate, in 2019. These days, the only military action there is from U.S. forces firing a 155-millimetre howitzer twice a week into the surrounding desert, at no specific target, ‘just to say we’re here,’ one officer told me.”
U.S. forces firing a 155-millimetre howitzer twice a week into the surrounding desert, at no specific target, “just to say we’re here.”
Tell me that’s not the sexiest line you have ever read in your entire life. The poetical beauty! The ennui! The oh-so-relatable existential ache! Oh God, I need a cigarette.
I mean it just hits on so many different levels. Could you ask for a better snapshot of life within the soulless US war machine than a small cast of Beckettian soldiers, waiting around near a bombed-out oil facility for a Godot who never arrives, firing heavy artillery rounds into the desert twice a week for no reason whatsoever? You just want to hang it in an ornate wooden frame with the caption “YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK, LADIES AND GENTS” and then shove it so far up Tom Cotton’s personal anatomy that it takes an entire emergency room team to extract it.
And isn’t it such a wonderfully concrete, in-your-face iteration of the meaningless struggle so many of us are going through in this decaying fustercluck of end-stage metastatic global capitalism? Firing a 155-millimetre howitzer twice a week into the surrounding desert at no specific target “just to say we’re here” is simply the military’s version of working at a desk forty hours a week doing essentially nothing other than making the boss and the shareholders a tiny bit richer than they already were. Working to pay the bills so you can afford the car you drive to work and the food and shelter which sustains your ability to work is no less pointless and absurd than what those soldiers were doing in the Green Village in 2019.
If you think about it,