Happy Thanksgiving! Last night my niece was on Skype with a 21 year old friend of hers who was just back from his first 400 day tour of duty in Iraq as a military police. She invited me to join in and we had a conversation with him that is much like what Nicolai Rostov was thinking. In Volume II, Part Two, Chapter XIX, the French and Russian emperors had met in Tilsit. Boris, the total political animal, had already adjusted to accepting Napoleon. Rostov, on the other hand, reflected as follows: "In Rostov, as in the whole army from which he came, that change in relations with Napoleon and the French, turning them from enemies into friends, was still farm from being accomplished as it had been at headquarters and in Boris. In the army they still went on experiencing a mixed feeling of anger, contempt, and fear for Bonaparte and the French. Still recently Rostov, talking with one of Platov's Cossack officers, had argued that if Napoleon were ever taken prisoner, he would be treated not as a sovereign, but as a criminal."
Jon was making similar comments last night. How difficult it was for the US troops to shift from war-making to country-building. Questioning who is "the enemy" at this point. Acknowledging that the US is in Iraq out of US military/financial interests, but also that the US is morally obligated to clean up the mess that we created by totally destroying that country. He said that only way he keeps going is to keep to his mission and orders and not question too much, because it is messy and confusing and he does his best to do what he thinks is right. All that out of a 21 year old American soldier. -- Lola
from page 513-514 of original text
collage, graphite, jelly pen
page 407-408 Pevear/Volokhonsky translation