Not long ago, someone else from my section and I were reading Stars & Stripes. Now, there may not be a lot of people who know what Stars & Stripes is, and for them I will elaborate.
Stars & Stripes is a well intentioned newspaper designed for U.S. service members assigned to overseas locations. Since we don’t occupy (read “assign soldiers in,” a less anger-inducing term) a lot of foreign countries that produce native English speakers, Stars & Stripes is usually the only paper that prints its articles in English. Thereby, it is the only newspaper of choice, and owns a monopoly on what the service members read (less they use the internet, ah ha!).
Stars & Stripes are usually abused by liberal non-military members of being too far to the right in order to cater to their military demographics. Also, they probably more so abused from conservative service members of being too far to the left in order to recruit more liberals to destroy America. In addition to all this, they are abused by me of being a half-assed publication, whose only worthwhile articles are usually those stripped from the Associated Press. Basically, everybody thinks they suck, we just read from them because we have no other choice, as pretty much no papers printed in the U.S. are willing to set up a press overseas for soldiers, sailors, and marines. Cool. Way to support the troops.
Now that’s out of the way. Being in the middle east, I am forced to read the middle east edition. It came to the attention of another in my section (mentioned earlier) that a lot of the writers in “To The Editor” were from Kuwait. Now, I’m in Kuwait, and I really don’t even consider it being deployed. There’s only two things that truly suck about being here: No booze and slow-as-fuck internet. That being said, there’s not a ton of people stationed in Kuwait to begin with, especially when compared to Iraq and Germany. (Germany has over 60,000 service members, Iraq peaked with over 170,000 troops, while Kuwait houses a few tens of thousands.) He said “Somebody needs to write in to these guys and say ‘If you’re from Kuwait, enjoy the amenities and shut the fuck up.’” I said the person who writes that should be from Kuwait themselves, and should write “Stop publishing letters from Kuwait. Sincerely, Sergeant Douchebag, Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.” He laughed and said I should do that. Then I did. What follows is the letter I had planned to send into Stars & Stripes.
Dear Stars & Stripes:
It seems to me that an awful lot of the letters in Opinion/To the Editor are coming from people stationed/”deployed” to Kuwait. And I mean “an awful lot” in both senses; that is to say there are many of them, and they are all terrible.
Most of the letters from people in Kuwait are filled with complaints and do not really hold any significant value. Nothing is remarkable about them or their authors. They write little tedious nothings and they still get published. I think everybody stationed in Kuwait should simply count their blessings and shut their “pie holes”. Or maybe they should fill them with desserts, such as pie.
I don’t want to hear or read the expressed opinions of some logistics and administration “experts” located on some beachside Kuwait resort that they call a camp. Some people might say, “Well just don’t read that part of the newspaper then.” If only it was that simple. It’s not so much that these worthless notes from Kuwait appear in the newspaper; the problem is really that they take away space for letters from the warfighters.
Anybody with a high IQ who is reading this is agreeing with me right now. Stars & Stripes, we want to hear from infanteers, scoutsmen, and an assortment of knights who are all fighting from places like Baghdad, Karbala, and the 15th century. That brings up another point I want to make: flails are cool. Buy one, or three.
We want to get the opinions from these skilled warfighters. We don’t really care for the opinions of some lackluster logisticians. I’m not saying logisticians aren’t important, but when I’m reading about a war, I want to hear from the guy fighting it, not the guy who shuffles paperwork and fills trucks with food, fuel, or both. Yes, both jobs are critical and very important, but whose opinion is more important?
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that the opinions coming from service members in Kuwait don’t count. They certainly do count. But it’s just like voting for the president: Sure your vote counts, but does it matter? I usually vote just so I can say, “Don’t look at me, I voted for the other guy,” a phrase which has been invaluable as of late.
Stars & Stripes, I can’t tell you what to do, but I can definitely give you some advice. The next time you get some cumbersome, tediously whiney letter from a service member in Kuwait who is overflowing with opinions, think twice about publishing it. They are probably just trying to feel important or get some attention.
A Concerned Logistician
Camp Arifjan, Kuwait
Now I gave a copy of this to pretty much everybody in my section and they liked it. They encouraged me. Even the people who I thought would be total douchebags and downers; they gave me praise, too. Then I took it to the Public Affairs Office. It’s suggested that any letters we send into the paper goes through the Public Affairs Office just to make sure it’s kosher.
Well, they thought it fucking sucked. The lady in charge told me “Uh, a logistician would find this offensive. They work very hard at their jobs, and they would be offended by this.” I pointed out how I mentioned the logistician’s job is just as important as the line-man’s job. She said “Yeah, uh, they’d find this offensive.” She kept pointing out how hard they work at their jobs, and how very important those jobs are, no matter how much I told her that I and my letter agreed with her. I also mentioned that the intent of my letter was to create irony by poking fun at people writing from Kuwait, not to poke fun solely at logisticians. This concept was beyond her. Way, way beyond.
Furthermore, she said The Command would be embarrassed by it. I would be an embarrassment to the command. Holy shit. With this she then warned “PAO will not endorse or support this. You still have to right to freedom of speech, but just be ready to accept to consequences coming down from the command regarding your letter… It will not be pretty, and you will not like it.”
So basically, you have the right to free speech; You just have to pay for that right, that’s all. Or at least I do.
Post Script: Why do people refuse to re-enlist again?