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249

Condition Echo

Bosnia, Haiti, and Liberia, 1996-1998

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Thomson, A., Postlewait, H. and Cain, K. (2006). Condition Echo. In Thomson, A., Postlewait, H. and Cain, K. Emergency Sex (and Other Desperate Measures): True Stories from a War Zone. Ebury Press, pp. 249-280

253

One day someone at UNHQ will commission an official report about this disaster, replete with mea culpas and lessons learned. But for me there's only one lesson and it's staring right at me every day as I eat lunch: If blue-helmeted UN peacekeepers show up in your town or village and offer to protect you, run. Or else get weapons. Your lives are worth so much less than theirs. I learned that the day we were evacuated from Haiti.

Srebrenica, July 1996

—p.253 by Andrew Thomson 2 years, 8 months ago

One day someone at UNHQ will commission an official report about this disaster, replete with mea culpas and lessons learned. But for me there's only one lesson and it's staring right at me every day as I eat lunch: If blue-helmeted UN peacekeepers show up in your town or village and offer to protect you, run. Or else get weapons. Your lives are worth so much less than theirs. I learned that the day we were evacuated from Haiti.

Srebrenica, July 1996

—p.253 by Andrew Thomson 2 years, 8 months ago
255

I set out to save lives and have ended up collecting the dead. Somewhere along the line, I lost sight of treating people and became obsessed with my own grandiose ideals of service. But there is no redemption in this. I've worked myself into the ground only to end up doing the very thing my parents begged me to avoid. I've ended up serving myself.

All that is left now is to hold on for that day, sometime after the first snowfall, when my deputy will radio me from the grave with the news that our backhoe has finally hit undisturbed earth at the bottom and the last of the dead are back above ground. When I receive that message, I'll drive out into the stubble of the cornfields, stand alone on the edge, and stare down into that gaping hole one last time. Then I'll get go of this millstone of belief and ideals that's breaking my neck, watch it tumble down and sink slowly into the mud at the bottom. I've had it with our humanitarian hubris. Let the dead bury the dead.

Afterward I'll give the final order of my brief but eventful forensic career, this time to the engineer. Bulldoze in this hole and bury my youthful illusions. Then I'll crack open a beer and drink a toast. Farewell death, you son of a bitch. Here's to the rest of my life.

Srebrenica, July 1996

—p.255 by Andrew Thomson 2 years, 8 months ago

I set out to save lives and have ended up collecting the dead. Somewhere along the line, I lost sight of treating people and became obsessed with my own grandiose ideals of service. But there is no redemption in this. I've worked myself into the ground only to end up doing the very thing my parents begged me to avoid. I've ended up serving myself.

All that is left now is to hold on for that day, sometime after the first snowfall, when my deputy will radio me from the grave with the news that our backhoe has finally hit undisturbed earth at the bottom and the last of the dead are back above ground. When I receive that message, I'll drive out into the stubble of the cornfields, stand alone on the edge, and stare down into that gaping hole one last time. Then I'll get go of this millstone of belief and ideals that's breaking my neck, watch it tumble down and sink slowly into the mud at the bottom. I've had it with our humanitarian hubris. Let the dead bury the dead.

Afterward I'll give the final order of my brief but eventful forensic career, this time to the engineer. Bulldoze in this hole and bury my youthful illusions. Then I'll crack open a beer and drink a toast. Farewell death, you son of a bitch. Here's to the rest of my life.

Srebrenica, July 1996

—p.255 by Andrew Thomson 2 years, 8 months ago