I saw a line in a recent New Yorker article about America’s endless wars, and it’s been been rattling around in my head ever since:

“In Syria, McKenzie visited the Green Village, a community of decrepit apartment blocks near a bombed-out oil facility that served as the operational headquarters for the final push to erase the caliphate, in 2019. These days, the only military action there is from U.S. forces firing a 155-millimetre howitzer twice a week into the surrounding desert, at no specific target, ‘just to say we’re here,’ one officer told me.”

U.S. forces firing a 155-millimetre howitzer twice a week into the surrounding desert, at no specific target, “just to say we’re here.”

Tell me that’s not the sexiest line you have ever read in your entire life. The poetical beauty! The ennui! The oh-so-relatable existential ache! Oh God, I need a cigarette.

I mean it just hits on so many different levels. Could you ask for a better snapshot of life within the soulless US war machine than a small cast of Beckettian soldiers, waiting around near a bombed-out oil facility for a Godot who never arrives, firing heavy artillery rounds into the desert twice a week for no reason whatsoever? You just want to hang it in an ornate wooden frame with the caption “YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK, LADIES AND GENTS” and then shove it so far up Tom Cotton’s personal anatomy that it takes an entire emergency room team to extract it.

And isn’t it such a wonderfully concrete, in-your-face iteration of the meaningless struggle so many of us are going through in this decaying fustercluck of end-stage metastatic global capitalism? Firing a 155-millimetre howitzer twice a week into the surrounding desert at no specific target “just to say we’re here” is simply the military’s version of working at a desk forty hours a week doing essentially nothing other than making the boss and the shareholders a tiny bit richer than they already were. Working to pay the bills so you can afford the car you drive to work and the food and shelter which sustains your ability to work is no less pointless and absurd than what those soldiers were doing in the Green Village in 2019.

If you think about it, aren’t we all in our own way firing a 155-millimetre howitzer twice a week into the surrounding desert at no specific target “just to say we’re here”? Lost and despondent in the wilderness, boxing with shadows, firing giant guns at imaginary enemies, watching our expensive artillery shells disappear into the emptiness and wondering why it hurts to live? Screaming a loud, violent noise into the abyss just to show we exist, and then seeing the abyss roll its eyes like an annoyed teenager and return its attention to its iPhone?

We are such silly, confused little ape mutants. We could be using these giant brains we just evolved to create a chill, harmonious world where everyone has enough and we work in collaboration with each other and our ecosystem, where creativity has space to flourish and art gushes from our heads like the air we exhale. Instead we’re coasting to armageddon under the thumb of an empire that pours its wealth and resources into an endlessly expanding worldwide military campaign while impoverishing its people at home and keeping them in line with an increasingly violent and militarized police force.

We could have paradise on earth; there’s not one single valid reason why we cannot. Instead we’re letting governments controlled by a few idiotic sociopaths wave nuclear weapons at one another in the name of an imaginary god called unipolarity. Instead we’re letting ourselves be pressed into an absurd competition-based model where we must step on our neighbor’s head just to keep our own above water while destroying the environment we depend on for survival. Instead we’re firing a 155-millimetre howitzer twice a week into the surrounding desert, at no specific target, “just to say we’re here.”

This world is so silly. So beautifully, insanely, bittersweet cup of extinction noodles silly. We hurdle on a spinning rock we do not understand, through a universe we do not understand, made of particles we do not understand, and we behold one another in a field of consciousness we do not understand, and we shrug.

God I love us. I love us so much.

I really hope we make it.


New book: Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix.

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45 responses to “Meditations On US Forces Firing A Howitzer Into The Empty Desert “Just To Say We’re Here””

  1. Kubrick-style idiocy.

  2. Caitlin, the image of colonial troops firing howitzers into an empty desert – what a great metaphor. However, Conrad beat you to it in Heart of Darkness:
    “In the empty immensity of earth, sky, and water, there she was, incomprehensible, firing into a continent. Pop, would go one of the six-inch guns; a small flame would dart and vanish, a little white smoke would disappear, a tiny projectile would give a feeble screech—and nothing happened. Nothing could happen. There was a touch of insanity in the proceeding, a sense of lugubrious drollery in the sight; and it was not dissipated by somebody on board assuring me earnestly there was a camp of natives—he called them enemies!—hidden out of sight somewhere.“

  3. I did this Caitlin… if you hate it, I’ll remove it.

    1. Actually, they’re “zeroing in” on America. Won’t we be safer when when they bring home the weapons and tools that operate them?

      Rock on, Patrick!

    2. I don’t know what Caitlin makes of it, but I definitely think you should do more like that! I appreciate Caitlin’s stuff, but audio-visual versions would probably reach a wider audience.

    3. Thanks for lending your voice to this Patrick Stay well brother!

  4. Big nations insist on doing “big” things. Because they can. Whether right or wrong never enters the discussion among the Psychopaths In Charge except regarding how to sell it. And the more they are in charge of the more dangerous they are. Nations as large as the US, China, Russia, and the EU, place them in charge of a lot. The US has been in the cat bird seat since WWII, but is fast fading. If it doesn’t decide to go out in a blaze of glory and sterilize the planet, one or more of the other three will assume the role. Our condition may indeed improve, until whichever gang of psychopaths having assumed the role decides it needs to reinforce its position. A nation grown big enough to rule the world is NOT going to be governed by saints, or even the sane, for that matter.

  5. line up the last 10 Aussie presidunts: hook up their brains in parallel or whatever works and against your easy flow they would’ve all crumbled into dust trying to keep up.
    what a perfect planet for a poet. i say that to myself every day. each time i read your poetic takes i say to myself oh, jimmy, that’s her best one. but they cannot be. only my mood changes. someone to agree with. all the way every time any time.
    it’s really quite charming if it wasn’t so seriously existential.

    good for your hubbie for seeing the light and wisdom of support. i wrote or heard this quote:
    a woman is for inspiration and a man is to serve.
    great couple at work here

  6. BRAVO! Great language melange.
    I will use some of these lines in my emails.

  7. GUARD4HER, someone made another attempt on my life today was that you? I’m guessing that no doubt in someway it was. I’m very sensitive to truth & consequences, I speak truth and within hours yet another attempt is made. But, hey!!! Thanks for the compliment, hopefully, God too, will give you a big shout out like he gave the Prince the other day. We all love no doubt, obviously you need to get more sleep.

  8. You can take your “we” and shove it right up where the sun don’t shine. You are only talking about you.

  9. You knocked it out of the park with that one, Caitlin.

  10. As long as man has kept records, we have lived with war. Man is incapable of living in peace with one another.

    1. Ian Keith Pennack Avatar
      Ian Keith Pennack

      The dominant mind is incapable of living with their fellow human beings. They want more, then more and more until they have it all.

  11. Here is the US Navy doing the same thing to our “ally” India: Sailing through India’s economic zone shooting off weapons just to let India know that we will blow stuff up their butt.

    Just to remind India if they tried “Freedom of Navigation” 135 miles off American Samoa we would sink the entire Navy of India, cripple their economy and starve their people.


  12. “Christopher Wylie, who was the director of research at Cambridge Analytica, said that “with the right kind of nudges,” people who exhibited certain psychological characteristics could be pushed into ever more extreme beliefs and conspiratorial thinking. “Rather than using data to interfere with the process of radicalization, Steve Bannon was able to invert that,” Wylie said. “We were essentially seeding an insurgency in the United States.”
    Both Mr. Bannon and Andrew Breitbart had been startled earlier by the real populist power that they witnessed in the Tea Party. The latter had emerged in response to the 2008 Financial Crisis, as Tea Party members saw ordinary United States of Americans having to pay to clean up the mess, whilst its perpetrators went away, further enriched: “[The Tea Party] was something totally different. This was not… this was not standard Republican Party. This was a whole new deal. You had the-you had the-you had the huge Tea Party revolt in 2010, in which we won 62 seats. The Republican Party did not see that coming”, Mr. Bannon said.
    “The inability of the Republican Party to connect with working-class voters was the single biggest reason that they were not winning.” And that is what Mr. Bannon told Donald Trump: We take “trade” from being number 100, right? It is not [now] an issue. The whole Republican Partys got this fetish on free trade-they are like automatons, “Oh, free trade, free trade, free trade”-which is a radical idea, particularly when you are against a mercantilist opponent like China.
    This telling article can be read here:
    Mobilisation Politics in the Post-Persuasion Era – What It Means for Geopolitics by Alastair Crooke!

  13. Beautiful, Caitlin. Thank you.

  14. I’m afraid my only hope is that I will die before the whole thing collapses. To hear people talk here in Australia about China China China and the “inevitability” and “need” to deal with China shows how valiant but near hopeless Caitlin’s efforts are. Sleep walking to Armageddon, convinced that “we” are on the right side.

    1. I read so many Western liberals from many countries who criticise Trump’s or Biden’s or whoever’s policy on China, but still take it for granted that we need to ‘deal with the threat’ of China.

      1. Yeah it’s insane how often I run into this. I think what you’re describing happens because the anti-China propaganda didn’t just start, it’s been going on for decades in the background. It’s just getting louder now, but because there’s been so much narrative manipulation acting as a primer people just swallow it without thinking.

        1. I’m sure that’s a part of it – it’s easy to demonise a country that’s been demonised for ages already. But I think it’s mainly the idea that if China (or anyone else, but it’s going to be China) becomes the world’s biggest economy and so on, that’s necessarily bad news for the USA.

        2. Perhaps the reason for the ever expanding hostility toward China perpetrated by the West is that domestically at least, the West grows ever more similar to what it accused China of being in previous times. China must be put forth as “far worse” than the West in order to maintain the illusion that the West is “free”. Never mind that the single largest difference between China and the West is how much the US spends on “defense”.

  15. An excellent and detailed account of how the US leads the world in war and weaponry, at home and abroad:
    Slaughter Central – The United States as a Mass-Killing Machine – Tom Engelhardt

  16. “We are such silly, confused little ape mutants. We could be using these giant brains we just evolved to create a chill, harmonious world where everyone has enough and we work in collaboration with each other and our ecosystem, where creativity has space to flourish and art gushes from our heads like the air we exhale.”

    So we come to a big question. The question is, “How on earth have we evolved giant brains that we don’t use?”

  17. My prediction- those guys will probably be moved to Kabul this year so Biden can declare “mission accomplished”. Like Iraq, it will be green zones, contractors and convoys disguised as a withdrawal. The politicians will be happy, Afghanistan will still be colonized, and the troops will still be making these kinds of pointless gestures with no end in sight.

    1. Oops, that photo was taken in Syria! Though I’m pretty sure we’re gonna make things worse in both Syria and Afghanistan.

      1. I think making things worse is the intention.

  18. Ah, the Buddha Ms Caitlin speaks the undeniable truth about the total absurdity of United States foreign policy and its violent forever wars! Eventually Uncle Sam is going to realize that its goal goal of total worldwide domination is a pipe dream that is doomed to failure. I think that Uncle Sam would rather blow up this entire planet than finally accept the reality of global failure. If humanity and the entire planet are destroyed no one will be able to say that ” Uncle Sam lost “.
    The United States of America contains 5% of the world population; its allies are abandoning it one by one; the only way that ” Uncle Sam ” can win is to blow up this entire planet. Such a policy is insane; Uncle Sam is insane: of that we are certain!

  19. “]W]e behold one another in a [spirit] we do understand, and we [embrace this knowledge, as fact]. [There is a] God [who] love[s] us. [He] love[s] us so much.

  20. Michel Bélisle Avatar
    Michel Bélisle

    “We could have paradise on earth”

    The key to paradise is to lower our pants to receive a vaccine. We all know that, don’t we?

    We are living the return of the days of Noah just before the return of Jesus. I cannot explain the situation we are in except to acknowledge that the end of the world is near. Decadence is everywhere. No faith, only fear.

    This article is quite accurate about our situation:


    Keeping my Rosary on hand!

    1. If the end of the world is near, why do you care one way or another about COVID, vaccines, or lowering your pants (not, incidentally, how vaccines are usually administered, but each to their own)?

      And if, as that article suggests, “The idea is to gain control over the majority, ‘vaccinate’ them, and then go after all the dissenters and non-vaccinated,” why are so many companies refusing to waive patent rights on their vaccines, thereby ensuring that half the world will remain unvaccinated for perhaps several years to come?

  21. Brent Raycroft Avatar
    Brent Raycroft

    Afghans know you are there.
    Lights, conversation, food cooking, vehicles coming and going.
    So the blind firing of explosive shells into the desert
    (who knows — you might get lucky!)
    is to remind YOURSELVES that you are there
    and WHY.

  22. Caitlin,

    Only the title of your piece prevents me from reading what you write. Such absurdity is unacceptable. If you wish to be taken seriously, you should stop forever your biased rants. Not only against America but against everything you personally dislike. Otherwise you’re doing exactly what you don’t accept other Media outlets do.

    Howitzers and the great variety of cannons, mortars, rocket launchers produced by many countries are ALL tested in the desert (better than testing them on populations!) . No country is saying “we are her”. They are just testing. The demonic US presence is in the American military bases that litter the world, including to in the country of their associates in crime, Australia.

    1. The USA has plenty of deserts of its own in which to test its weaponry, if indeed 155-millimetre howitzers need testing twice a week. As a common, standard NATO weapon, they’ve undoubtedly been extensively tested already.

    2. NO other country has killed so many – it doesn’t matter to the US – Bombs – land mines – drones ‘ sanctions- starvation – economic genocide – chemical weapons – Agent Orange – Atom bomb – chemical weapons – Fallujah – weather warfare – guns !!

      Over the last 200 years they have started a war on average every 22 months ( not including the ‘covert’ wars using PROXIES ) and have created – armed and sponsored EVERY terrorist group that has EVER existed !

      Caitlin is being kind to them !

    3. Frank Thompson Avatar
      Frank Thompson

      Alberto, the quotation of one unnamed officer was that it was being fired ” ‘just to say we’re here,’ one officer told me.”

      He was not reported to have said it was for “testing,” that is just a bullshit excuse you are making up for the war machine.

    4. She is crushed, I am sure.

    5. Alberto: I’m a US veteran of the Vietnam war. The US rulership have done stuff like this in all my memory. In Vietnam, under the McNamara regime, the various elements of the occupation military had to regularly justify their allocations of weapons. For the artillery, under the “Zero-base budgeting,” that meant using up all the artillery shells allocated. Failure to do so, via the algorithm then operative, would reduc the number of shells delivered for the next month.

      The brass and NCOs in my unit had managed to site our company area right under a little rise where a battery of self-propelled 155mm howitzers were emplaced. At the end of every month, and at other random times, these guns would be turned to one of the many “free-fire zones,” parts of Vietnam that were designated unalterably lost to the Viet Cong/NVA, and any;thing living there was subject to random murder by aerial bombardment. https://thevietnamwar.info/free-fire-zone/ And the guns would fire until the gunners had used up their allocation.

      The same stuff went on in Korea, and of course now the entire planet is subject to aerial bombardment via Hellfire missiles and “smart bombs” delivered by Reapers and other air assets.

      Amazing how deep the conviction that the Empire is “exceptionally good” seems to run. Or how many apologists are ready to leap to defend the True Faith of “democracy, American style>”

    6. One does feel the emptiness of what we are doing in Syria through this article.

    7. The empire’s military, which runs rampant over the globe, is an exceptional problem that requires extra special attention, which few other than Caitlin are willing to provide. Get off her case and start recognising the keen logic of her “biased rants,” as you foolishly call them. There are a lot of working parts to the American global killing machine and an intricate operating procedure that governs its use. There is much to fear and loathe about such prodigious evil. I applaud her for trying to erode the monstrosity at both the macro and micro levels. Think of the battle against these demonic forces that might NOT be lost if somebody makes sure to sweat the small stuff… like the lamented horseshoe nail in Shakespeare’s original epigram in Richard III.

  23. No, God does not love the evildoers.

  24. “We hurdle on a spinning rock we do not understand”

    You remind me, intentionally or not, of the Grateful Dead’s song Throwing Stones.

    Picture a bright blue ball just spinning, spinning free
    Dizzy with eternity
    Paint it with a skin of sky, brush in some clouds and sea
    Call it home for you and me
    A peaceful place, or so it looks from space
    A closer look reveals the human race
    Full of hope, full of grace, is the human face
    But afraid we may lay our home to waste


  25. Tim Richard Glover Avatar
    Tim Richard Glover

    Great existential take 😀

  26. When the Canadians were in Afghanistan, maybe they still are, they used to fire shells they called the “flying Ferrari’s”. I’m not sure if they hit anything however the shells were over $100,000 each.
    I wonder if anything could have been done to actually help the people in that war torn country other than spending $100,000 a pop on shells designed to kill them?

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