I’ve always been fond of Bill Mauldin’s “Willie and Joe” cartoons as a good check on the heroics that predominates in so much of written history.
And it leads me toward the point I made in slagging Matt Yglesias’ defeatist (defeatist? defeated!) post a few days ago…
The troops in Vietnam turned against the war before the mass American population did. As a ‘chickenhawk’ (and as a snarky sidenote, given the recent column about the wealthy and tax-avoiding Norm Chomsky – I’ll go back to my [buddy Duncan] Black and suggest that when he advocates that Chomsky or George Soros pay what would be ‘fair’ for his taxes, as opposed to what he owes under law – I’ll gladly make a ‘chickenhawk’ pin and put it on the site), I guess I just ought to keep listening to the troops.
And I can’t reccomend that you do as well…the voice of the troops, unvarnished & direct is the best indicator of how we’re doing.
Which leads me to an email I got today from Jean-Paul Borda, who is building a directory of milblogs at http://milblogging.com .
Go check them out yourself and see what they are saying. I can’t suggest strongly enough that you spend some significant time reading what these men & women have to say.
Because if you wait to read their words in the New York Times, they’ll Dowdify them to invert their meaning.Take this story (via Michelle Malkin):
Yesterday’s New York Times on-line edition carried the story of the 2000 Iraq US military death[s]. It grabbed my attention as the picture they used with the headline was that of my nephew, Cpl Jeffrey B. Starr, USMC.
Unfortunately they did not tell Jeffrey’s story. Jeffrey believed in what he was doing. He [was] willing put his life on the line for this cause. Just before he left for his third tour of duty in Iraq I asked him what he thought about going back the third time. He said: “If we (Americans) don’t do this (free the Iraqi people from tyranny) who will? No one else can.”
Several months after Jeffrey was killed his laptop computer was returned to his parents who found a letter in it that was addressed to his girlfriend and was intended to be found only if he did not return alive. It is a most poignant letter and filled with personal feelings he had for his girlfriend. But of importance to the rest of us was his expression of how he felt about putting his life at risk for this cause. He said it with grace and maturity.
He wrote: “Obviously if you are reading this then I have died in Iraq. I kind of predicted this, that is why I’m writing this in November. A third time just seemed like I’m pushing my chances. I don’t regret going, everybody dies but few get to do it for something as important as freedom. It may seem confusing why we are in Iraq, it’s not to me. I’m here helping these people, so that they can live the way we live. Not have to worry about tyrants or vicious dictators. To do what they want with their lives. To me that is why I died. Others have died for my freedom, now this is my mark.“
In quoting Cpl Starr’s letter, the Times left out the part in bold.