The Mirror Test

The Mirror Test

America at War in Iraq and Afghanistan

Book - 2016
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"In a powerfully written firsthand account of the human costs of conflict, the author challenges Americans to address hard questions about America's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,"--NoveList.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2016
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780385351126
0385351127
Branch Call Number: 956.7044 We
Description: xix, 585 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : color illustrations, maps ; 25 cm

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r
roystreet
Jan 23, 2017

Eventually, my black footlockers arrived stateside. It was, at long last, time to unpack. As I emptied the dented, dirty, and once mini-padlocked containers and my hands sifted through their contents, it all came back.

Surprisingly, strangely, gratefully, and, yes, finally, I felt ready to go through what was inside them. . . inside me.

r
roystreet
Jan 22, 2017

The base [Helmand, Afghanistan] was set in the middle of a gray-yellow desert that turned orange at dusk and dawn. The place looked like Mars, but instead of Martians, I saw only hundreds of Marines whose uniforms bended into the landscape. It was like landing on "Planet of the Marines."

r
roystreet
Jan 20, 2017

Over cups of hot tea on that hot day, I played at being a good host. A fan blew hot air around the room, disrupting the flight of a few non-aerodynamic flies trying to land on the sugar spoon.

r
roystreet
Jan 20, 2017

Richard Holbrooke: "No one in Washington knows anything about Afghanistan. And what they do know is mostly wrong."

r
roystreet
Jan 19, 2017

Our convoy departed well before sunrise. It was late afternoon when we arrived in Musa Kehl District, but the slanting rays of the sun still felt hot. Low-swooping hawks soared on the dry wind blowing peak to peak.

The day seemed primed for lightning strikes. No thunderstorms had been predicted, but I knew they could come fast, rolling down from the far-away, mirage-like mountaintops: a spiked, curved spine of rock like the back of a giant stone Stegosaurus.

r
roystreet
Jan 17, 2017

I was going from one war [in Iraq] right into another [in Afghanistan], because I wanted to justify my country's actions. . . . Most of all, I wanted to convince them what the United States of America still stood for -- not what we risked becoming because of Iraq. . . our national mirror so cracked. . .a countenance scarred and increasingly unrecognizable.

r
roystreet
Jan 16, 2017

Iraq had taken a toll on me, too. I saw it in the mirror. . . . But I also felt resilient in a newfound and unexpected way. . . . A forging of something deep inside, a soul, a spirit, made larger, in a way, amid all the broken parts.

r
roystreet
Jan 16, 2017

A question I should be asked. A question both Republican and Democratic policy makers should be asked. . . and asked not once or a few times, but repeatedly.

"Did you kill anyone over there?"

r
roystreet
Jan 15, 2017

Congressman Walter Jones (NC): "Congress will not hold anyone to blame. Lyndon Johnson's probably rotting in hell right now because of the Vietnam War, and he probably needs to move over for Dick Cheney."

r
roystreet
Jan 15, 2017

A friend recounted a post-9/11 CODEL [Congressional Delegation] to Paris [as part of a visit to the Middle East] that has since entered State Department lore. A group of House representatives and "spouses" stayed at the Hotel Intercontinental (635 euros, or over $1,000, per night). Before arriving in France, the politicos sent a forty-four-page fax detailing what every member wanted in their minibar. "Not Smirnoff Vodka, but Grey Goose. Not Seagram's gin, but Tanqueray. Not Johnnie Walker Black, but Johnie Walker Blue. Red Bull, fresh-squeezed pomegranate juice, and Pop Tarts, as well as a premium selection of French wine and cheese upon arrival."

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r
roystreet
Jan 09, 2017

Vital, informative, and devastating; but could dearly have used an editor.

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