Pink clouds were closing in on the waterfall that streaked down the face of Makaleha and a rainbow shaft had just touched the top of Waialeale when the dogs and I headed to the beach this morning.
Strolling on coarse sand washed clean by the receding tide, I made the unusual find of two golf balls and thought of a golf bag I'd spotted just 10 minutes earlier sitting, oddly enough, in the tiny outdoor foyer of the post office at Anahola. It seems, sometimes, like the universe is trying to tell me something, though I'm not always sure exactly what it is.
To my right — or starboard, as I recently learned — big waves rolled in, frosted with glossy bright-white icing. The ascending sun cast a long silver shimmer across the water, where Paele and I swam, and onto the rocks, where I sat and watched turtles graze on the reef and recalled an article I'd read on my iPhone when I found myself awake at 2 a.m.
It was about the wind-down — it's hard to say "end" when the last troops that left this morning are still massed across the border in Kuwait, just in case, and 16,000 Americans will remain in our fortress-like embassies — of this nation's nine-year war on Iraq. One paragraph in particular caught my attention:
The mission cost nearly 4,500 American and well more than 100,000 Iraqi lives and $800 billion from the U.S. Treasury. The question of whether it was worth it all is yet unanswered.
I'm not sure that's true.
I imagine you'd get an enthusiastically affirmative reply if you asked the folks who grabbed some of the $12 billion in American cash that disappeared, or the war profiteers like Halliburton, Blackwater and KBR, among others, that made out like bandits, or the art collectors who nabbed some of the priceless stolen antiquities, or repugnant media cheerleaders, like the late Christopher Hitchens or that creepy cabal in the Bush-Cheney administration that deliberately and deviously sold us a bill of goods about weapons of mass destruction and exporting democracy.
The American public, on the other hand, has already been polled, and two-thirds of us say no.
It's likely you'd get a similar response from the 30,000 Americans who were wounded, or the families of the thousands more who committed suicide or suffer from PTSD, or the Iraqis who are still enduring the death, destruction and disarray of an American occupation, not to mention the lingering effects of depleted uranium contamination.
Or as Warrant Officer John Jewell put it: "The innocent always pay the bill."
Can we remember that, and stop ourselves, the next time we're tempted to go in?