14 December 2007

Ranger - The Devil


The purpose of the military is not to build nations. It is to destroy them. Sometimes, I think differently, but I am reminded that eventually - if you have done your work properly - every imperial power is at the wrong end of a patriot's rifle.

All of us long for a delineation between good and evil. And so we question ourselves and our work at times. Only in the bleakest of worlds does what we do began to lose its imprimatur of wretchedness. Only then is the evil we perform revealed for its greater good.

I should have paid closer attention to Cody's photo. On the back, in a relatively simple code, were the coordinates. Once I arrived I only asked if we had been asked there by Ottawa. Sarge shook his head no. I don't know if Darfur was intended for his benefit, for my benefit, or for some other, unrevealed reason. If the last time I saw him he had a death-pallor, he now had a halo.

I hear Antonov in the distance, and smile. Soon the village homes will empty and the janjaweed will arrive. An observer from the Sudanese government lays in wait with us. Of course, as our guest, he has been treated to all of the comforts we have to offer. He has until recently been blindfolded and handcuffed. He has no idea who we are, but clearly knows what he is about to watch. He begins to writhe and attempts to break free of his bonds after the blindfold is removed. Though we are masked we have offered him enough of a glimpse of our light skin and pale eyes to terrify him further.

“They will not find us here.” I assure him. “And we have no intention of killing you. On the contrary, we intend that you report on what you have seen.” This comment does not seem to put him any more at ease.

Within a number of minutes, two score of armed men appear in the village. They are confused by the dozen or so individuals who appear out of their homes, expecting to find hundreds more who lived here a few days ago. Only the bravest remain. The camel riders fire their weapons, and begin setting fire to several of the homes, finding hearth fires burning but no inhabitants. Our prisoner attempts to speak.

“Did you think you were here to see these bandits destroy another village?” I asked. A few pops of gunfire ring out below and we see three villagers fall. Several of the men dismount and began approaching an old woman who told us she has been dead for over two years, since the last time she met these men. “You already know that story. Let me tell you another.” Sarge's outstretched hand signals and there is a flash of light followed by a cloud which descends over the village.

When the air clears, I remove his gag. “What?”

The camels are dead. One or two of the rapists and murderers continue to scream and twitch, rolled into the fetal position on the ground. No bullets. No burn marks. Their final cries are strange. “I assure you VX is quite painful.”

“You jihad” he asserts.

No. “Those men are no more true Muslims than I am Christian. And I am no Christian.” Sarge slammed the but end of his gun into the man’s head before his drive home. “Remember UNAMIR?” I asked him.

“I remember Dallaire” he said. Then silence.
It was an hour before he began to speak again. He told me that the Medicine Man was passing through North Kivu on his way to kill me. He told me one of Nwargo's wives had betrayed him in a moment of indiscretion. He told me more about the men you brought to Kukes. It has been a long time since I have seen him speak in such length. I am to deliver a package to Marble Arch, though for now he and I will enjoy our injera.

Jus belli


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