What Are We Fighting For?

From an Army journalist/blogger who is returning from 11 months in Iraq:

“This war started out as a means to find weapons of mass destruction. Then, it was let’s give the Iraqi people freedom. Now, politicians say let’s fight the terrorists there and not on American soil. To be honest, soldiers don’t care about the cause. We’re not fighting for any of the above; we are fighting for the guy on our left and right. You form a bond so tight with fellow soldiers that you never want to let them down. I’ve seen it displayed every day for a year.”

Later in the same post, the blogger (whose observations are certainly worth reading, whether you agree or not) talks of his resentment that wire services and newspapers have seldom picked up on the personal stories of American troops killed in Iraq:

“We learned our lesson of spamming a memorial story to the larger outlets like AP. The editors deleted the story and used the photo of a crying soldier hugging the memorial display of an M-16 bayoneted into a box with the soldier’s helmet on the buttstock and dog tags on the hand grip. The photo cutline read: A soldier mourns the loss of a fellow comrade. Elsewhere in Iraq, 14 killed in a large explosion outside… you get the point. Just a single sentence. No name. No family. Just a sentence and then elsewhere in Iraq. That’s hardly justice for a soldier who gave that reporter the freedom of press.”

It’s the last sentence of that paragraph — especially in combination with the sentiment expressed in the first quote — that really gets to me. “We’re only fighting for our buddies and their survival … but we’re giving all you media ingrates (and those who express questions, doubts, criticism or outright rejection of the war) the freedoms you enjoy.” It’s as if, yes, the corruptness of the reasons given for going to war in Iraq — and for putting all the troops at risk there — is recognized. But at the same time, there’s a belief that the fight is preserving our rights.

I don’t get it. “Soldiers don’t care about the cause” (can’t help but think of the Country Joe lyric here: “One two three, What are we fighting for? Don’t tell me I don’t give a damn, Next stop is Vietnam. …”) Yet, as one person lectured me a couple months ago, they’re keeping me safe to sit here and blog my brains out.

You know, I don’t believe any of this is keeping us safe. And as for rights, I think the people who launched this war with their campaign of untruths are a bigger menace to our future as a democracy than Saddam ever was.

One Reply to “What Are We Fighting For?”

  1. Nice post, Dan.
    Interesting on the feelings that the press isn’t doing its job in telling personal stories of fallen/wounded soldiers. From the wires this may be true, but I see a lot in my local papers about fallen troops.
    I see a different problem, however. This war isn’t about individuals (except for Saddam and Osama, and maybe Pat Tillman). The fight is about terror vs. freedom — us vs. them — good vs. evil — ideas vs. oppression. Miniskirts vs. burqas.
    The government won’t allow the press to take photos of flag-draped caskets. The President hasn’t been to a single American soldier’s funeral. Don Rumsfeld sends letters home to the families of fallen troops “signed” with a rubber stamp. It’s tough to get accurate numbers of the wounded. Getting a count of Iraqi civilian deaths is impossible. Nobody is accountable for prison abuse and torture.
    It goes on and on, and the press shouldn’t be blamed first.

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