Monday, December 7, 2009

They're Doing It for Us [July 7, 2008]

Everywhere you look at the moment, somebody, in his commercials or print ads, is pointing out terribly proud he is of our troops in Iraq. The best, most affecting one, shows a whole airport terminalful of people getting dewy-eyed and applaudy as a planeful of them arrive home.

I’m afraid I just don’t get it. I know they’re supposed to be courageous, and I certainly acknowledge that a high level of courage must be required to withstand the constant danger of annihilation, let alone to get one through actual combat. But this whole idea of They’re Doing It for Us is absurd. In view of there being no draft anymore, they’re doing it for themselves, either because they hadn’t the imagination (and/or resources, I suppose) to think of a better way to spend their early adulthood, or in order to get the goodies available to veterans, or, most scarily, because they think they’re somehow helping to protect Our Way of Life.

Would you trust one who’s signed up to serve in the American armed forces the past four years in order to protect Our Way of Life to come in out of the rain of their own volition, or leave them out there with the turkeys to drown?

An early edition of the TV version of This American Life had a segment called Talk to An Iraqi in which young Haider Hamsa, formerly of the Iraqi Ministry of Information, sets up a booth in various American cities and hears the locals’ feelings about his country. A young American vet who chats with him feels that “we” were perfectly right to attack Iraq in view of Iraq’s having attacked New York City on September 11. As for the countless thousands of Iraqi civilian casualties, well, shit happens, don’t it?

I don’t suppose that all “our” brave men and women in uniform over there are that stupid, but I’d be willing to bet a great many are. And honestly, what word other than stupid best describe someone willing to put

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