Almost every day on this site we have a new story about another dude who leaves behind his life to go fight the Islamic State.
Meet The Man Whose Dog Died Of Carcinoma, But He Felt That Was Reason Enough To Go Fight ISIS
Man Watching Black Hawk Down Gets Such A Military Boner That He Hits Pause And Heads To Syria
Which, good for them, in a way. Mercenaries are a long-standing part of society, and they are welcome to fight for a cause they believe in.
What happens to them, though? You almost never hear a story like, Bro Who Left His Job To Fight ISIS Defeats ISIS, or even, Bro Who Dropped Everything To Fight ISIS Actually Fights ISIS.
That’s because, to a large extent, a lot of them don’t. A lot also wish they hadn’t gone. In a big New York Times profile, Jennifer Percy went to Syria to interview these people. You should read it, but the crux is that, you know, war ain’t what it’s cracked up to be.
Perhaps the most astounding part of the piece is that almost all the fighters joined via Facebook, simply messaging a Kurdish resistance group, who welcomed them. When they got there, though, most weren’t given any respect or even anything to do.
A Texan asked that I refer to him by his warrior name, Azad. He wore Oakleys and a calculator watch. He had sold his gun collection to pay for the trip to fight ISIS. He seemed disappointed in the whole journey. ‘‘I was driving a truck for the oil fields when I decided to come out here. I got a job as a brick mason to try to get in shape. But it’s frustrating,’’ he said. ‘‘The arrogance of the Kurds. They don’t know little things that could be done to save their lives.’’ He spoke in a sorrowful monotone.
He had expected to be able to train the Y.P.G. [Kurdish Resistance Group] But the Y.P.G. didn’t care. They didn’t need a Texan coming to their country to explain how to fight. Instead, they kept him on guard duty. Once they even told him to drive an ambulance.
‘‘Came all the way over here for nothing. Seems like such a waste of my life. I’ll never get the security clearance to go work the oil fields again. They will do a background check, and Homeland Security won’t like that I’m in a foreign militia. Work your whole life, finally get to the point where you’re making good money and blow that aside to do the right thing, and then when you get here, your hands are tied. It’s a no-win situation. If you go home, you will hate yourself the rest of your life, because maybe you could have made a difference.’’
Another sounds like a moody millennial.
‘‘You know what I want,’’ he said. ‘‘I want this to be a seasonal job. Go plow snow in the winter and fight ISIS in the summer.’’
Yep, war works just like that. But for you only.
They also complain about the food.
‘‘I hate this,’’ Harrington said. He was looking at the tomato he got for lunch. ‘‘I love rib-eye. As soon as I leave here, it’s big old steak time.’’ He had lost a lot of weight since he arrived, and he showed me the Leatherman he used to poke new holes in his belt, which tracked the progress of his diminishing waist.
Man. Who’d have fucking thunk?
Read the whole thing here and maybe don’t drop everything to go to a war zone.