The observant will have noticed that we hear little from the troops in Iraq and see almost nothing of the wounded. Why, one might wonder, does not CNN put an enlisted Marine before a camera and, for 15 minutes without editing, let him say what he thinks? Is he not an adult and a citizen? Is he not engaged in important events on our behalf?
Sound political reasons exist. Soldiers are a risk PR-wise, the wounded a liability. No one can tell what they might say, and conspicuous dismemberment is bad for recruiting. An enlisted man in front of a camera is dangerous. He could wreck the governmental spin apparatus in five minutes. It is better to keep soldiers discreetly out of sight.
The years will go by. Iraq will fade into the mist. Wars always do. A generation will rise for whom it will be just history. The dismembered veterans will find first that almost nobody appreciates what they did, then that few even remember it. If—when, many would say—the United States is driven out of Iraq, the soldiers will look back and realize that the whole affair was a fraud. Wars are just wars. They seem important at the time. At any rate, we are told that they are important.
These men will come to hate. It will not be the Iraqis they hate. This we do not talk about.
It is hard to admit that one has been used. Some of the crippled will forever insist that the war was needed, that they were protecting their sisters from an Islamic invasion, or Vietnamese, or Chinese. Others will keep quiet and drink too much. Still others will read, grow older and wiser—and bitter. They will remember that their vice president, a man named Cheney, said that during his war, the one in Asia, he “had other priorities.” The veterans will remember this when everyone else has long since forgotten Cheney.
People say that this war isn’t like Vietnam. They are correct. Washington fights its war in Iraq with no better understanding of Iraq than it had of Vietnam, but with much better understanding of the United States. The Pentagon learned from Asia. This time around it has controlled the press well. Here is the great lesson of Southeast Asia: the press is dangerous, not because it is inaccurate, which it often is, but because it often isn’t. So we don’t much see the caskets —for reasons of privacy, you understand.
In 15 years in Washington, I knew many, many reporters and intellectuals and educated people. Almost none had worn boots. So it is. Those who count do not have to go, and do not know anyone who has gone, and don’t interest themselves. There is a price for this, though not one Washington cares about. Across America, in places where you might not expect it—in Legion halls and VFW posts, among those who carry membership cards from the Disabled American Veterans—there are men who hate. They don’t hate America. They hate those who sent them. Talk to the wounded from Iraq in five years.
Arms, legs, eyes, horrible burns, a terrible price to be sure, but the butcher's bill from Bush's stupid and unnecessary ego trip has yet to be presented to the American people - and it will be with them for generations.
Please read the whole article. Print copies and give them to any supporters of Bush's war that you still talk to. Let them know the damage that irrational ideology has done in the name of all Americans and will continue to do throughout our lifetime.