Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Dry Warfare

If ever you need a classic example of how the denial of basic rights makes criminals of honest men and women, look at the predicament of our armed forces currently deployed in Iraq.

I work on a dry military base in Iraq as a civilian supporting the military, and I can report that prohibition has made criminals of us all. We smuggle, we sell, we steal, we get smashed. We cache alcohol around bases like so many weapons of mass destruction. And at night, we nurse our illegal beers while watching the flashes of firefights and air assaults in the distance. When mortars land nearby, we reach for the next round and toast to the fact that we’re still around to have something to toast to, clean underwear be damned.

But we also drink in fear and in melancholy sympathy. A knock on the door from the military police could mean our jobs — or in the case of those in uniform, their rank, pension, and ability to go home soon to their wives, husbands, and kids.

For the soldiers brave enough to face the horrors of combat but too timid to face the horrors of military justice, the indignities are extreme. After hours in the desert sun under body armor, the chow-halls insult them with massive ice-cold slabs of non-alcoholic beer. It is a credit to our armed forces that these near beers go mostly untouched.

Many of you reading this remember when States were blackmailed into raising the drinking age to 21. Do y'all remember the classic argument? I do. And I'm also here to tell you that not only is that argument still valid, but the predicament is worse than ever. You know what I'm talking about.

I'm talking about the fact that our nations young men and women can die for their country but are not allowed even a modest drink!

We as a country have permitted this outrage for almost 20 years!

Even if one is of "legal drinking age," one is still risking one's livelihood, job, or military career by committing the heinous and unforgivable act of simply having a well earned beer or shot of whiskey after escaping death while defending against religious fanatics who want to kill us all for, among other things, our choice to drink alcohol. We can fight these fundamentalist lunatics abroad, but who's going to fight the fundamentalist lunatics at home who would ruin our lives for the same "offense?"

Let's talk about the guy who ran Beer For Soldiers, simply for the purpose of raising funds to legally buy soldiers over 21 a beer. Click on the link and see what became of his site and that will tell you everything you need to know.

Many of you reading this have served and know what a blessing such small comfort as a strong drink can be. Why in the hell would anyone want to deny those comforts to the very people who are defending the dwindling freedom for that comfort to exist? There can be no motive save for pure malice. And there is absolutely no excuse to tolerate this double standard any longer.

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