Similarities of war

Yesterday, I read “I didn’t deserve my combat pay” by Michael Cummings in The Washington Post My blog is about writing — the interesting experiences, people I meet, books I read, ideas, etc. — so I am not posting this in support of, or opposition to, his proposal. For me, the editorial’s reference to Victory Base Complex in Iraq triggered a memory. I had written Cologne No. 10 for Men starting about 1980 and it was twice as long as the 2007 published version. After some initial attempts to get it published, I had shelved it as I became more involved with my day job. Around 2004, I wrote Well Considered, partly in reponse to some historical information I had recently learned, but also for the challenge of writing an entertaining story. I remember following news of the war in Iraq on television in 2005 just as I was revising Well Considered. I had seen several reports which made me think, “This is more and more like Vietnam.” There was even once when it seemed that the Iraq war was beginning to focus on body counts, such as I satirized in Cologne No. 10 for Men. Fortunately someone realized that the technique was heading toward the absurd situation we had in Vietnam, so evaluating the progress of the Iraq war by creating a ratio of military deaths did not materialize. In Vietnam we divided the number of enemy troops killed by the number of U.S. troops killed. A ten-to-one kill ratio was considered good, even if no territory was taken and held in the process, and score-keeping invited all kinds of gaming. (Counting military casualties does not even attempt to address the hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths in Vietnam. But they don’t count.) It was when I started to hear about permanent bases in Iraq that I wanted people to realize the many ways in which the Iraq war was similar to the Vietnam war. I remembered the Army base at An Khe, Vietnam, which contained a library, chapel, clubs for officers, NCOs and enlisted men, putt-putt golf course, commissary, and a PX that sold clothing, luggage, electronics, perfume, and other civilian goods, and I said to myself, “I have to set aside Well Considered and work to get Cologne No. 10 for Men published.”

This entry was posted in Relating to Cologne No. 10 for Men, Relating to Well Considered, the novel and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Similarities of war

  1. Eric C says:

    Hey, nice little post. We linked to it back on our home blog at On Violence. (

    Keep up the good work.

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