“Why some U.S. soldiers feel at home in Iraq,” Lawrence Kaplan, Slate

Christmas isn’t the best time to ask your Marine stepbrother whether he’s going back to Iraq or not. After — what, six years? — B’s term was up; he initially signed on the the reserves to put himself through college (a bachelor’s in exercise science, of little use unless one wants to be a gym rat for life). He was on the front line invading Iraq (driving a truck that was fitted to detect landmines) and returned once (or was it twice?) to the country, fighting a war he didn’t want to understand, but coming back for occasional holidays, when he would tell us he was sure he saw Saddam Hussein driving around in a taxi (“I should have just fucking shot him, I should have just fucking shot him”) and then describe, using the Thanksgiving turkey as a guide, how to quickly kill a man with little more than a pocket knife. He’s gruff and blunt and never shies away from what he feels is his duty; when they asked him if he wanted to reenlist, he deferred for a bit to think about it, because he didn’t want the new guys to go to Iraq without someone there who “knew” the place. Noble, or maybe foolhardy; a way of reenvisioning his hastily chosen displacement?

(I still don’t know what he decided; I could e-mail his girlfriend, or ask our parents, but I almost don’t want to know.)