Walking into the memory of war in “Redispatch”
The United States is a young country, but it has a consistent belligerent tradition. Its independence, expansion, and hegemony cannot be separated from war. Where there is war, there must be anti-war. Correspondingly, many excellent anti-war works have emerged in American literature, such as the National Book Award-winning work Redeployment (2013). The 12 short stories in this novel collection are all based on the Iraq War. The protagonists come from multiple arms of the US military. The author Phil Klay (Phil Klay, 1983— ) is a replica of his experience in the Marine Corps. Clay served as director of public affairs in Iraq’s Anbar province (2007-2008), and after retiring from the military, he obtained a master’s degree in fine arts from Hunter College of the City University of New York. As its debut work, “Redispatch” has won many awards.
dispatch and redeployment
It took the United States seven or eight years to defeat Iraq, but it failed to find the so-called weapons of mass destruction. Instead, it achieved its two real goals: overthrowing the anti-American Saddam regime and maintaining the hegemony of the dollar. The novel collection “Redispatch” begins with a short story of the same name, highlighting the importance of “dispatch” and “redispatch” in the work.
After 9.11, in the name of anti-terrorism, the United States packaged the Iraq war as an “American jihad”, exaggerating its “noble” motivation and purpose of participating in the war. The armored vehicle soldier Harvey in the novel “Action Report” firmly believes in the “Jihad in the United States”. He regards the 16-year-old Iraqi boy who has just been shot dead by his comrades as a terrorist, and regards the mother who witnessed the murder of her son as a birth terrorist. “Bitch”. He has no sympathy or compassion for Iraqi women and children in dire straits. All he needs is the halo of a war hero and the convenience it brings. This highlights the blindness, hypocrisy and cruelty of the so-called “jihad”.
More than 200 years of militarism in the United States has created a tradition of fighting in many families, and it seems natural for sons to inherit their father’s career and fight overseas. In “War Story”, the female soldier Jessie’s father is a veteran of the Vietnam War, and her grandfather is a veteran of the Korean War. It can be said that the three generations of the family are witnesses to the history of American global hegemony. They regard war as a glory, and they only want to wipe out countries that do not obey the command of the United States. Jessie is the only female in the infantry. She lost a finger in the Iraq war. Her friend Jenks was disfigured by the bombing. After 54 surgeries and tens of thousands of pains, Jessie never had any thoughts of anti-war. Hope to expand the scale of the war. Asked if U.S. troops “should be withdrawn from Afghanistan,” she laughed and said, “You know me…I want a national draft. Seriously.” War and killing seemed to be a part of her life, and bloodthirsty became her instinct.
Hollywood’s beautification and exaggeration of war heroes is an important incentive for many young people to choose to join the war. The 18-year-old protagonist of “Flesh” decides that joining the Marine Corps is the best way to escape his small town, believing that the battlefield will “make him a man”, and he is willing to break up with his girlfriend of two and a half years. The irony is that instead of making him a man, his work in the mortuary department has greatly affected his physical and mental health, making him farther and farther away from “man”. Despite this, he was inexplicably reassigned one after another. He finally realized that “the experience in Iraq was like a passing cloud, leaving no trace. I don’t think the war made me better than others. It’s just a tragedy that repeats itself day after day.”
In order to attract young people to voluntarily go to the battlefield as cannon fodder, the U.S. government also uses veterans’ student allowances as bait. The psychological warfare special soldier in “Psychological Warfare” bluntly said, “If you don’t join the army, you can’t afford to go to college.” He doesn’t want to be a hero, but just wants to get a student allowance as soon as possible and enter college smoothly. Coincidentally, the protagonist of “My Iraq War” just wants to “be a logistics soldier among the logistics soldiers, and then go to college to study business…just to get the veteran’s student allowance smoothly.” Unfortunately, every payment meant leaving the safety of a forward base and driving onto dangerous routes of operation, making him “the most restless man in all of Iraq.” In a bomb attack, two of the five people in the car were killed and three were injured. He was lucky enough to survive the catastrophe, but he changed his original intention and destiny because of this. He felt that “‘dead in battle’ means that they have given up everything, and ‘injured’ means that my mission has not been fulfilled.” He even decided to stay in the Marine Corps, and even “wanted to go to Afghanistan. The fighting there is still going on.” The battlefield is like a melting pot, unknowingly changing the life trajectory of many people. In contrast, the civil servant in “Unless It Hurts the Damn Chest” is one of the lucky veterans who realizes his college dreams, but he knows he wouldn’t have gotten in without his experience in the Marine Corps: “To NYU Say, I’m a veteran, a veteran with two deployments. That carries a lot of weight in their eyes.” He also had more job options. The various honors and benefits of soldiers are the great motivation for many young people to risk their lives to go to the battlefield.
In addition to student subsidies, there are still many people who take the initiative to go to the battlefield to gild or gain benefits for other self-interests, and even kill innocent people for this. The protagonist Nathan in “Money as a Weapon System” did not believe in the Iraq war from the beginning, but he believed in government officials and knew that “experience in Iraq is good for career”; while his comrade-in-arms Bob “only cares about the 25 An annual salary of US$10,000 and three paid vacations.”
Regardless of the reason for joining the war, American soldiers voluntarily signed the enlistment agreement and went to the battlefield voluntarily, just as the chaplain in “Prayer in the Furnace” said to Rodriguez who kept complaining: “This is The life you choose. No one forces you to join the army.” If the first dispatch was forced by reality or had some idealistic beliefs, then after experiencing and feeling the cruelty, absurdity and inhumanity of war, many soldiers seemed to be Addicted to the battlefield, it is quite incredible to ask for “re-dispatch”.
In fact, the collection of novels tries to solve this mystery from the very beginning. In the first “Redispatch”, Sergeant Price returned to the United States after completing the difficult seven-month dispatch mission in Iraq, but he began to look forward to “returning to the position” within a few days. Why? The first thing he can’t bear is the emptiness of losing his gun. In Iraq, “there are countless corners of the city with hidden murderous intentions”, so the soldiers during their service never leave their guns, and they are always in an orange state of high alert; and when they returned to their hometown, “after handing in the rifle, I was caught off guard by an inexplicable sense of loss… I don’t know where to put my hands.” Secondly, what makes Price even more uncomfortable is the safety of his hometown and the indifference of the people around him to the battlefield. He felt alienated from his hometown, and people around him “didn’t know that three soldiers from my platoon died there. These people stayed white all their lives”. However, in any case, the sense of loss without a gun and the discomfort of a safe environment are not sufficient reasons for him to return to the battlefield. It can only be said that the inhuman war has left veterans with inescapable war trauma. Like the Iraqis who were massacred, they are all victims of war.
man is cheaper than dog
Even if you are reluctant, you can’t help yourself when you go to the battlefield. Killing people is a matter of time. “Psychological Warfare” bluntly stated that “no one wants to be the only rookie in the class who hasn’t killed anyone, and no one joins the Marine Corps to avoid shooting”. What’s more, in the eyes of the U.S. military with a sense of superiority, Iraq is just a small country in the Middle East, and the lives of Iraqis are cheaper than dogs.
The opening chapter of “Redispatch” is full of violence, killing and death. This is undoubtedly the normal state of war, but it echoes from beginning to end, using the image of a dog to express the time before and after Sergeant Price of the Marine Corps completed his first dispatch mission and returned to the United States. What he thinks and what he does is shocking. The beginning of the story focuses on the killing of dogs by American soldiers in Iraq: “We shot the dogs. It was not accidental, but intentional, and we called it ‘Scooby-Doo Operation’.” End of the novel, complete the 7-month dispatch After the mission, Price “thought a lot, a lot” on the way back to the United States, “thinking about Vicca and Scooby-Doo all the way.” When he got home, he found that the old dog Vika adopted two years ago had tumors on his legs, and he often vomited. From the skinny scavengers in Iraq to the tortured old dogs at home, the imagery of dogs runs through the story, just like the lingering Iraqi street fighting: “You carry a rifle with a range of 550 meters and sweep the streets block by block. In the past, several people could be killed in one room.” When killing a man, he feels at ease, but when killing a dog, he feels more unbearable and uneasy. The hypocrisy of the U.S. military is undoubtedly exposed. The lives of those innocent Iraqis who have been ravaged are not as good as those of the skinny Iraq dog.
Iraq War Wreckage
Many places in the book exaggerate the enthusiasm of recruits to kill, which is in stark contrast with Price’s all kinds of intolerance of killing dogs. “Prayer in the Furnace” succinctly sums up the soldiers’ longing for killing and the sense of glory of killing the enemy for the first time; the recruits in “Psychological Warfare” are often in high spirits and excitement before going out, “their months of hard training are just for going out At this moment”, “the eyes of the short and stocky soldier who killed for the first time were shining, and his expression was mixed with fear and excitement”; after the artillery team in “10 Kilometers South” fired two shots at the designated target, “either smile, or Laughing”, everyone was excited about the first firing in Iraq, the 19-year-old quasi-corporal protagonist couldn’t believe the shooting because he couldn’t see the rebel corpses… Some American soldiers even took pride in turning into “mad dogs” : The 1st Battalion of the 9th Regiment in “Unless It Wounds the Damn Chest” regards itself as a “mad dog” with strong lethality, and likes to be called “walking corpses”. The highest death rate in the history of the team”, “many marines have been dispatched three, four, five times”. They are addicted to fighting and killing like hemp, they are indeed like “mad dogs”.
The streets of Iraq are not safe, and Iraqis will suffer sudden disasters while sitting at home. Ramadi’s father in “Prayer in the Furnace” was watching TV with his wife when suddenly a group of Americans broke into the door, dragged his wife out by the hair, beat him in the living room, “they poked him with a rifle face, kicked him in the ribs, and yelled at him in a language he couldn’t understand”. In the eyes of the arrogant and brutal US military, the lives of Iraqis are cheaper than dogs, and they don’t have to feel guilty about violence and killing.
Although it is under the banner of “American jihad”, it cannot conceal the fact that the United States has deliberately launched a naked war of aggression in the name of counter-terrorism. The innocent Iraqi people rose up and resisted. As the casualties on both sides increased, so did the mutual hatred.
The chaplain Jeffrey in “Prayer in the Furnace” borrowed the sermons of Augustine (a Catholic thinker in the ancient Roman Empire) to express his same feelings. When Augustine’s beloved city of Rome was sacked, he could only repeat helplessly in his sermons: “The terrible news came: massacres, burnings, plunderings, ravages. It is true that many things we heard were full of roars and Crying. Our grief is inconsolable, and I cannot deny, yes, I cannot deny that people have committed many, many crimes in that city.” Jeffrey faced the same sense of helplessness and powerlessness, except that he Being in the camp of the aggressors, I witnessed many similar atrocities committed by my comrades in arms.
The reason why U.S. soldiers started killing in Iraq, regardless of rebels and civilians, is that some crazy U.S. military officers are the culprits. Rodriguez in “Prayer in the Furnace” brazenly declared: “They are all the same to me. They are all enemies… We sent those bastards to heaven.” And his company commander Borden The captain was even more a madman, a drunkard, with a “ruthless and foolish determination”. In order to stimulate the blood and fighting spirit of the soldiers, Borden made a “firefight leaderboard” for the killings of each squad, and “the squad with the most number of firefights is the most respectable.” Rodriguez’s second class has been at the top of the list for a long time, leaving the other classes far behind. Compared with the lunatic Borden, Lieutenant Colonel Phil, who disregarded the rules of engagement, was even worse. During the recruit training, Lieutenant Colonel Phil loudly refuted the rules of engagement taught by the instructors, claiming that “when we shoot, shoot and kill” and “Marines never fire warning shots.” So the whole unit learned to ignore the rules and do what the colonel intended: to kill. Major Ekron, who unconditionally supported Lieutenant Colonel Phil, believed that “Phil trained Charlie Company very well…they came to Iraq to kill people”, the accidental casualties of civilians “were not our fault”, and the marines “shot is To save the lives of fellow soldiers. . . even if you later find out that it wasn’t al-Qaeda that killed a nine-year-old girl and her parents.”
While the classic symptoms of “post-traumatic stress disorder” — “high nervousness, depression, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, and, most intensely, a sense of extreme helplessness that overwhelmed him” — were more common among U.S. soldiers It is extremely common, but under the “tuning” of the murderous Lieutenant Colonel Phil and Captain Borden, the soldiers transformed this traumatic stress into a stronger desire to kill. They “could hardly suppress their fear and anger, and could only deliberately Suppressing good thoughts, longing to be tougher and crueler than the environment.” In “Prayer in the Fire Kiln”, a quasi-corporal has been emotionally unstable due to the death of two friends. He often has violent rage and insomnia. Even if he takes a lot of sleeping pills to fall asleep, he will dream of the death of his friends or himself, and violent scenes. And he “the only thing he wants to do is kill Iraqis.”
In the eyes of soldier Rodriguez, Ramadi is like an evil madhouse, “I am also doing evil things. I am surrounded by evil things.” However, the pastor wrote in his diary: “I feel this land is more sacred than our home. A paradise of gluttony, fatness, lust, overconsumption, hedonists, where (hometown) we are to our own shortcomings. Turn a blind eye. But here, at least Rodriguez will seriously worry about going to hell.” This seemingly light sentence satirizes the arrogant, immoral, and hedonistic invaders to the fullest.
All kinds of naked provocations, insults, and massacres by the U.S. military are disgusting, and they make the Iraqis even more angry. Although the Iraqis are only a vague background in reality and literature, they are threats and enemies of the US military, and they are the targets they need to eliminate. However, in Clay’s works, there are still sporadic signs of angry Iraqis rising up to resist the invaders. For example, in the “Operation Report”, the 16-year-old boy pointed a gun at the invaders. Unfortunately, in front of the US Marines who had undergone rigorous training and were armed with live ammunition, the boy had no chance. Another example is Ramadi’s father in “Prayer in the Furnace”, holding his severely burned daughter to the Americans in desperation, just because they have the best doctors, and he is not grateful to the American troops who rescued his daughter. “The turmoil caused by the US invasion” caused him to lose his son. When he went to the streets, he feared that innocent people would die. His relatives in Baghdad were tortured to death. What he hated most was that he and his wife were beaten by the US military in their own home… …
Behind the loss of voice of the Iraqis in the novels of the Iraq War, what we see is that the United States uses its hegemonic advantages in culture, information, and media to confide its war trauma to the world, and the psychological trauma of the Iraqis who were innocently invaded and massacred by them is They were silently ignored like their lives, which are as cheap as dogs in the eyes of the US military, and were “killed” again at the language level. Just as an anti-war novel, “Redispatch” does not analyze why the Iraq War happened, and rarely mentions the disasters and traumas the war brought to the local people, which is somewhat regrettable.