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Opinion: Are we dead or just in Kuwait?

An existential op-ed written by your squad leader in Camp Buehring, Kuwait.

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Guys, I have to come clean: I don’t think we survived this past deployment. I don’t really feel anything anymore. The color has run out of the world. All is awash in browns, grays, dust and burning, stifling, ball-sweat inducing heat. We must question our purpose, the point of it all. Are we dead or just in Kuwait?

Why are we here? Is there nothing other than absurdity in this bleached pan of our waking nightmares? Is there nothing more than watching how many Kuwaiti soldiers it takes to devour that foreign delicacy chocolate cake?

Has life been reduced to watching other living, breathing service members — not merely our own, but the entire Western world’s — go on real deployments? This can’t be Hell, can it? Hell does not have a gym or an MWR. (Or does it?)

I’m certain Hell has better chicken wings.

Was it Kierkegaard who once said, “we shall not decide which life fights the good fight most easily, but we all agree that every human being ought to fight the good fight? Unless of course they’re sentenced to this godforsaken desert by the Military Intelligence Readiness Command?”

Trust me, that was purely rhetorical.

I’m pretty sure this place was the last thing Camus saw flash in front of his eyes before the crash. We are condemned to be free, but what is the nature of this freedom? Condemned to roll our laundry into balls repeatedly, like some modern Sisyphus?

The freedom to complain about internet lag or the sheer lack of Black Panther on haji disk? Was life ever more meaningless?

Wait. That’s why I can’t remember Iraq. That was a lifetime ago, when we believed in COIN and David Petraeus. We are assigned here. This is life now. Somewhere between smelling a burn pit here and the meth back in Fort Huachuca.

We aren’t dead, but we are in hell.

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