Will they bring themselves home?
Stuck in an endless, bloody war troops will sometimes simply pull up the proverbial stakes and go on home. In 1917, Tsar Nicholas' troops told him in effect to go screw himself (or Alexandra, or Rasputin, or whomever) and headed back to their towns and villages.
Is it conceivable that something similar will happen in the current so-called 'War on Terror?' Despite the ubiquitous danger, troops in the battle zones have sufficient time to reflect and to realize that 1) they're trapped in a war that's based on lies, 2) they've been made to destroy the lives of many innocent people, and 3) they're stirring up a lot of hatred that isn't doing themselves or their country's reputation any good.
One school of thought justifies staying on by saying: "We broke it, we own it." This is mercantile logic which overlooks the crucial fact that the invaded country was not a store item waiting to be sold. The other pretext for staying on runs something like this: "Whether or not it was wrong to invade, we're here now and it would be irresponsible to leave." This calls to mind some of the Japanese war promoters of 65 years ago who solemnly declared that it would be as irresponsible for Japan's troops to leave China as it would be for a man to leave a woman after having made her pregnant.
So the troops now face a momentous choice. On the one hand, they can persist in a stubborn attempt to impose "freedom and democracy"-i.e. fiefdom and plutocracy-on recalcitrant and understandably ungrateful people. This will entail interminable battles, constructing and guarding widely resented colonial fortresses, and much killing and dying for years and years to come.
Or they can decide that their CIC-more correctly known as ICI, Internationally Certified Idiot-can in effect go screw himself (or Condi, or Rumsfeld, or whomever) and they can head on back to their cities and towns. If the soldiers in significant numbers resolve to bring themselves home, who will be able to stop them? Once the rank and file start to move, the wiser officers are likely to join the happy exodus.
So, who knows? Some day soon, having put up with all that they're willing to put up with, the troops may just pile into their vehicles (the ones still functioning), decorate them with bilingual signs saying "No RPGs please, we're leaving!" and head for the border. The stateside population will surely support them, and many of the local people may even shower them at last not with bullets but rather with those long-awaited flowers.
Zeljko Cipris is a professor at the University of the Pacific, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.