Back From the War
by Alex Carnevale
There was a brief shudder last week as the number of U.S. casualties in Iraq passed 4,000, as if that were a large number. It’s not.
Modern warfare takes the lives of so many less people, and while this is no doubt a fortunate evolution of warfare, it leaves a lot more veterans alive to enjoy the pleasures of returning to civilian life.
The left and right are in a constant struggle to decide who is really honoring our troops. Say something bad about the military, and you’re defaming our troops – heck, say something bad about the war at all and you’re not helping the men and the women in the field. The only people really going over the line seem to be the folks at The Nation, who actively rejoice in despotism and probably have pro-Kim Jong Il bumper stickers on their cars.
In Vietnam this situation came to a serious cataclysm. Veterans were not treated with the respect and dignity they deserved. After all, it wasn’t their war.
In other civilizations, a standing army hasn’t historically been rewarded with as much trust. In our country, the military may have a political agenda, but both sides cater to the military, and in this country it’s never approached a political party in and of itself.
“The Ongoing Horrible” – Maps & Atlases (mp3)
Our military is the finest of its kind in history. The breathtaking speed with which it overwhelmed the Ba’athist forces was largely taken for granted by both sides of the aisle. It was an extraordinary display, and if the aftermath hasn’t been handled nearly as successfully…well, it couldn’t have been.
“Go to Hell” – David Ford (mp3)
winning the 2006 pulitzer prize in photography
While Iraq isn’t stable as of yet, there’s much hope that despite that instability, the iraqi people may yet create a pseudo-democratic government, the finest of its kind among the Arab nations. It is already freer than most of its cowardly cousins, who have set a low bar.
explaining hearing loss
War has become a strange new battlefield of public relations. Both Operation Iraqi Freedom and the Islamic insurgencies have their own website. Web 2.0 will defeat terrorist insurgencies quicker than armies, or so the saying goes.
“Christmastime” – Noah and the Whale (mp3)
Then of course you have a number of soldier blogs, most of which are depressing monotone reports interrupted by briefs moments of insanity. I enjoy our civilian population being surprised by what happens in the theater: come on, it’s war, it’s not fun and games.
Here are soldier blogs I enjoy, not just from Iraq.
Winter Soldier the film
further list of warblogs
Steven Bochco took a shot at this madness with his FX series Over There, but it was a little too soon. War films have gotten a lot better at making war appear ugly rather than fun in recent years, and the new HBO miniseries from a few of The Wire people Generation Kill is set to prove that point. I wonder if it won’t all be evident the only thing that makes sense in such a strange canvas is military rule.
Supposedly it’s the bureaucracy that gets the short end of the stick in this portrayal:
Essence of the project, according to net, is how elite members of the Marine Corps confront the military bureaucracy in the midst of a war.
David Simon was paired with the project because, similarly, “The Wire” focused on cops and civil servants and how they deal with the Baltimore city bureaucracy in the face of gang warfare.
Tome also focuses on how today’s military personnel differ from their WWII and Vietnam forebears. Wright wrote that Marines are “on more intimate terms with videogames, reality TV shows and Internet porn than they are with their own parents.”
shooting generation kill
The image from the preview, one that the military loves to include, are American soldiers playing soccer with Iraqis. This personifies a desirable view of the miltary presence – that our forces are benevolent and willing to play along. While I don’t doubt the former premise, the whole thing is doubtless more photo op than reality.
buy the book here
The United States military is a fine organization, and our peacekeeping mission isn’t entirely an undesirable one. Usually a war helps the economy, but as ours is in the dumpster, it seems like educated people are still joining up voluntarily. And why shouldn’t they? The majority of employment opportunities for recent college grads are more vapid than combat is tragic. Well, almost.
There’s a big difference between wanting to be a part of something, and actually taking part in it. Pulling out entirely is in all likelihood way worse for the Iraqi people than a slower transition. Still we want these men and women out of danger.
Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.
iraqi boy doing a frank calliendo level impression
EDUCATE YOURSELF WITH THE FOLLOWING LINKS
Samantha Power in Triple Canopy
A more sober assessment
Don’t Worry About Iraq: Victor Davis Hanson
The delicate successes in Iraq
whether to execute Saddam’s aides together or apart
L. Paul Bremer admits mistakes
Reading Vonnegut in Iraq
the war on gays in iraq
Clinton’s Iraq vote five years later
McCain heads over there to shake hands
Bedbugs attack Fox News
Generation Kill producer talks to Reason
Tom Tomorrow keeps going on
Faces of the Dead
our senior contributor shaking some hands
Richard Perle and the left wanted a quick pullout, what a shock
The Nation tackles the economic consequences
Candidate positions on Iraq
Jon Stewart standup in 1996
WFB on why the war failed
Chuck Hagel on the war
Hitchens on what would have happened if we didn’t stick around
PREVIOUSLY ON THIS RECORDING
Gary Snyder and Han-shan
Beck Hansen and Peter Walker
Andrew Zornoza and Alex Rose.