Friday Night Story


This is not what I signed up for.

Don’t get me wrong- I’m not a bleeding heart blue helmet, but I’m no xenophobic stars and bars lover, either. The UN and the ICC are a natural extension of the idea of Federalism, which I support. But, like Federalism, it’s important for Internationalism to cede most control to countries just as the Feds cede control to the States, which on most days, the UN does just fine.

This is the Hague. Some things ought to be sacred. But here I am, rolling plastique around detcord in the shape of a door, because this is where our information puts him, and thermal imaging confirms there’s somebody detained here. If it ends up being one of those Ugandan pricks, we can always just tranq em, throw him in the recovery position and try again some other day.

What’s funny is Congress passed a law says we’ll come get our boys if you take them, and the one thing they outlawed in that operation was bribery. Least violent and offensive tactic, at least under the panacea of “all means necessary and appropriate.” Of course, if my boys were ever caught out they could always plausibly deny that our means were appropriate, regardless of the means we chose to use.

I guess I just wish this were a journalist, someone detained for telling the truth, or an ambassador spoke out too loudly for some tin pot. On most days, I like double jeopardy- that it keeps me only facing one trial for the bad things I do for my country- but that’s the line I draw. The things I do for my country, well, I figure the least they could do is what they can to see I rot in a prison back at home. But this boy, things he did weren’t for America; only one seeing any benefit from what he did was him- certainly not any of those girls.

If he were any other idiot, he’d have been burnt by court-martial, but his step daddy was a Colonel somewhere, pulled strings to get the case fast-tracked and into an Iraqi court through the new Stats of Forces Agreement. You can afford to bribe a jury in Iraq on a soldier’s pay. Army and the Feds were happy to have the excuse not to retry him publicly, just to get him the hell out of the headlines, even if nobody liked what he’d got up to. And that’s when the International Criminal Court stepped in, very reluctantly, because of the situation. You could say much the same for us, now.

And I know I’m not the only one with trepidation; Mullins has been antsy since we got clearance, said we’d be better off just sniping the SOB and blaming it on Al Qaeda. Asshole gone, conflict solved, and we get one get out of jail free card on a terrorist target anywhere in the world. That’s why I asked him if he was sure he was only using enough C4 to open the wall, and that I’d leave his ass in that cell if the explosion killed somebody. His eyes flashed mean a moment, before he responded, “Sir.”

The wall came tumbling down, kicking up dust and dirt. The kid was on his knees, coughing, trying to wretch. You been at this long enough, you know where to kick someone to keep them from vomiting. He blinked at me stupid when I told him to get up. I bent in half to speak at him. “You’re a disgrace to every man and woman who serves in this Army, every man and woman who served beside you as peacekeepers, and worse, you’re an affront to every American- you put each and every one of the people you were swore to protect into the firing line you were supposed to be occupying because you couldn’t keep your pecker in your pants. On your feet.”

I leaned in close, and my voice went low the way it does when I’m explaining to my Chessie just who’s bed it is, but it stayed loud enough the others heard. “I may not have the pull to see you prosecuted, but I’ll put my career to it that I’ll have you discharged so dishonorably that even Blackwater won’t give you a second look. And if I ever run into you in the world, and I have even a moment without eyes on me, I’ll put you down like the diseased mongrel you are. Now, march.”

I’d refused, from the brief to now, to refer to him as a soldier. Does damage to my soldiers, humanizes him at their cost. He stumbles, with his head down, face pinched like the world’s been picking on him. He’s no soldier, just someone’s sniveling brat. No decency. No honor. And no goddamn sense of duty.

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