Posted by Brad @ 1:56 am on March 16th 2008

On This Romantic War

I posted yesterday about Bush’s jaw-dropping comments on how envious he is that soldiers in Afghanistan “get” to engage in such a romantic endeavor. Jaw-dropping not even because it’s the sort of hollow atta-boy “wish I could be there with you” bullcrap that one regularly hears from chickenhawk Republicans, which is pretty standard if thoughtless, but because it strikes me as emblematic of how Bush himself views war, as some kind of agglomeration of John Wayne movies, Greatest Generation documentaries, Teddy Roosevelt biographies, and Jack Bauer mythologizing. One almost gets the sense that Bush feels he’s doing these soldiers as favor.

But my thoughts are just sideline griping compared to UCrawford at Liberty Papers, who, as a vet himself, posts a thrashing rejoinder. Read the whole thing, but the meat and potatoes of it:

When Bush talks about the “fantastic experience on the frontlines” I don’t envision WWII Rangers scaling the cliffs of Normandy on D-Day or John Wayne gunning down swarms of Japanese troops on Iwo Jima, I think about what happens to those men and women Bush “envies” after the “glory” of combat is a distant memory to the uninvolved bystanders. I think about one of my former soldiers whose marriage was falling apart after he re-deployed because his post-traumatic stress disorder made it almost impossible for him to relate to his wife and his nightmares of having to shoot a 12-year old kid in the face in Afghanistan wouldn’t let him sleep more than an hour or two a night, but who was scared of seeking psychiatric help because his previous unit punished people for doing so. I think about my best friend Tom who’s racked with guilt because he, while trying to do a counter-fire mission in reaction to an insurgent attack, ended up dropping artillery rounds on an Iraqi family thanks to receiving a bad set of coordinates and a freakish wind change. I think about the time that an officer who didn’t know anything about intel, and wasn’t in the mood to hear one of her NCOs point out that she was factually mistaken, cherry-picked one of my reports to authorize an A-10 strike that killed nine little kids and zero insurgents because she thought taking decisive action would look good on her rating. And I look at the fact that, almost seven years down the road, we’ve still yet to accomplish the one primary goal we went to Afghanistan to accomplish, or to put forth any realistic strategy for “victory” Iraq (besides stalling tactics) and I wonder, “What was the point?”

I also think about the injured or disabled vets who come back from this war who will end up needing the assistance of the often substandard military medical system, sometimes for the rest of their lives. Or the vets who will go undiagnosed for psychiatric problems and end up on the streets once they’re out of the service and aren’t the government’s “problem” anymore. Or my cousin Mike, an infantryman in Vietnam, who, 40 years after serving, still struggles with a case of PTSD so severe that he can’t discuss what happened to him back then without having nightmares for a week now and which has made him the proud recipient of a couple of heart attacks. And I wonder if that’s what the current generation has to look forward to in 40 years and whether it will all have been worth it for what we’ll have actually accomplished. Somehow, I doubt it.

Like I said, read the whole thing.


  1. Seen any war movies recently? The machine may be corrupt, but the individual soldier is a heroic unit of faith, hope and love.

    Comment by fred — 3/17/2008 @ 10:49 am

  2. A “heroic unit of faith, hope, and love”?

    The individual soldier is, by and large, just like you and me, but paid to do a different job.

    Comment by Brad — 3/17/2008 @ 12:06 pm

  3. I referred to the movies, which is where it seems Bush gets his ideas.

    Comment by fred — 3/17/2008 @ 12:10 pm

  4. Ah. Sarcasm detector busted.

    Comment by Brad — 3/17/2008 @ 12:26 pm

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