I was four years old when I had my first experience with surgery. A birthmark roughly the size of a Mrs. Field’s cookie graced my left forearm then, and the doc’s weren’t too sure that was a good thing.
After consulting with my parents, a decision was reached to remove it over three different surgeries – each spaced a year apart so my skin could accommodate the stretching. Got a great scar out of it. Damn near circumnavigates my arm. It also helped me remember my right from left, and made possible later heroic escapades involving shark bites, knife fights, and other assorted adventures that never really happened but seem plausible to gullible barmates.

As a bonus, Mom and Pop bought me new Lego’s after each surgery. One of the big sets – lunar stations, castles with moats and such. Got special treatment at school, had the sling and the cast for everyone to sign – three years in a row! All this and more just for being a “trooper.”
Eventually it all had to end, though. Perhaps figuring that I’d been coddled enough, the parentals eased up on the bribery following my third go-around. Got me a magic kit, instead. Magic kits are cool. But they are not Lego’s.
Nevertheless, my parents’ lesson in incentives worked, I got to continue living, the doctors got their bloody specimen – everyone was happy. We wouldn’t have to worry about that particular swatch of epidermis shortening my lifespan. Given the choices my parents were then presented with, I’ve little doubt most people would’ve made the same decision for their child. Why, indeed, would anyone knowingly opt for uncertainty and potential malignancy when that threat could be removed while it was still benign?
It makes me wonder about these people who claim that US policy is bringing more terrorists “out of the woodworks.” As though their appearance in the terrorist visage was spontaneously inflicted upon them, by the Crusader Bush and his destabilizing warmongering. Driven to perpetrate revenge upon us for having been dragged, kicking and screaming, from his “woodworks”, Internationalman’s den of impoverished bliss. He was incited to kill because he had no other choice. Left alone, he bothered noone.
If terrorists seem to be coming out of the woodworks, it’s only because we just recently – the last two years – started paying attention. We got serious about detecting, thwarting, and eviscerating the rabid bastards after we saw what they were capable of when left to their own devices. It rightly scared the shit out of us.
The ambush squads we’re hearing about in the Sunni triangle, attacking US troops as well as Iraqis – there ain’t no going back for these people. They’re lost to civilization and it’s time we grasped it. Call it an advanced state of malignancy. The only option we have now, is the surgical removal of these individuals from the world around them. A difficult, but necessary task, with few promises save hope for a future with fewer of them in it.
The good news is, the vast majority of Iraqis are responding favorably to their Baathectomies. And like a little four year-old boy I once knew, just need a little sugar to help the medicine go down. They’re determined to make this work because they have everything to gain. And incidentally, they’re more accustomed than most to the concept that real progress takes time to achieve. Sooner or later the sling and cast will come off and they will be free to…be free.
And maybe like me, they’ll find some comfort in their scars. Their personal reminders of what was and now isn’t. What could’ve, would’ve been, were it not for the efforts of infidels and their mighty scalpels.
(Cross-posted at Velvet Hammers)