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Friday, October 04, 2002

Wild Speculation. Serious journalists are not supposed to engage in it, but I'm not a serious journalist! My speculation du jour is that the sniper shootings in Montgomery County, Maryland and the parachute-cord cuttings at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina are the work of soldiers or marines recently returned from Afghanistan, just as at least three of the wife killings at Fort Bragg were earlier this summer. I believe that the disillusionment and frustration on the part of servicemen that was so widespread among Vietnam vets, which also affected Timothy McVeigh after the Gulf War and the soldiers in Somalia described in "Black Hawk Down" (book and movie), is bound to be epidemic among soldiers returning from Afghanistan, Iraq, and other targets of the "War on Terrorism." I recall back in February or March when Rumsfeld was visiting US troops in Uzbekistan, and one of them asked "How long will we be here, sir?" Rummy answered flippantly: "As long as it takes." He didn't say for what, and these poor GI's are stuck in Uzbekistan indefinitely, which as far as I can tell is pretty much Antarctica without the nightlife. So, just as with McVeigh and Nichols, we will once again be treated to the return of a bunch of angry, disillusioned people who are highly trained in the use of weapons. I'm speculating a military killer in Maryland in large part because of the accuracy: Five bullets, five fatalities. I certainly don't mean to imply that most returning soldiers are or will be dangerous or should be treated with fear or any disrespect. Just that there are always some people on the edge, and giving them advanced weapons training and sending them on a disillusioning mission is a good way to push them over.