A US Marine veteran and practicing Catholic lashed out at the United States in a Washington Post article, describing the conflict between US policy and his Catholic faith.
Praising the Post for releasing The Afghanistan Papers, Peter Lucier criticized the United States’ role in Afghanistan, effectively claiming that those who have died there perished in a meaningless and prolonged battle.
“There has been, until now, a failure of accountability, of public acknowledgment of how deeply the war in Afghanistan failed, despite its tremendous costs in dollars and blood of US service members, Taliban fighters and Afghan civilians,” he wrote.
Lucier compared the matter to his own faith, recounting the crucifixion of Christ.
“The crucifixion, the center of my Catholic faith, is a moment of accountability,” he wrote. “The ugliness of sin, of violence, is written on the body of Christ. There is no hiding the horror of our human failings. It is there, in the nails punched into his flesh by soldiers…soldiers like me. Like the horrible violence inflicted at the crucifixion, war is the business of violence.”
Recounting his time in Afghanistan as a US Marine, he described the mangled bodies of Taliban fighters killed by cannon fire from a pair of A-10 Thunderbolt IIs, the staple Close Air Support aircraft of America’s longest-running mountain war.
“I had been in Afghanistan for three months, and I hadn’t seen a bad guy,” he recalled. “We hadn’t killed one for me to get close enough to see a face. I walked down the berm and looked at the shredded meat of the dead fighter’s back, torn apart by 30mm rounds fired from above.
I wanted to feel some kind of accomplishment, some kind of closure, some kind of justification, or even, lacking that, horror. Instead, I felt nothing. I thanked the staff sergeant and headed back to my position.”
“That was the war I knew.” he added.
Lucier praised The Afghanistan Papers, which he described as the first step in accountability.
“I knew I was a soldier of a lost war, but no one back home seemed to understand that,” he wrote. “Everywhere I went I was thanked, patted on the back, venerated for my hard work. This clashed with that confusion and emptiness I’d felt on the banks of the Helmand looking at that dead boy.”
Lucier, who has been published in Task and Purpose, describes himself as a former “infantry Marine.”
“Now a future former law student. Pay is worse. Shame is about the same,” he wrote on Twitter.
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