"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

They ARE Soldiers

In an excellent article in the June 19 issue of the Weekly Standard, Mike Fumento has documented the extraordinary courage, wisdom, decoency, and fortitude of our troops in Iraq. Fumento's article, also available on his website, is particularly valuable in documenting that our current-day soldiers are just as fine as those who fought in World War II, as the latter have been honored by a string of books, movies, television programs, and the like during recent years. Whereas our WWII troops were mostly draftees responding impressively to a situation they did not choose to be in, our current day troops are all volunteers, whose extraordinary courage and self-sacrifice should be h0nored by all, regardless of one's opinion on the merits of the war.

Fumento went to " [t]errorist-infested Ramadi in the wild west of Iraq[,] . . . for U.S. troops the meanest place in the country, 'the graveyard of the Americans' as graffiti around town boast," to live among these soldiers and tell their story. This brings out a tale rather more revealing than most reports from Iraq. As Fumento notes (entirely without rancor),

The Iraq war is covered mostly by reporters who hole up in Baghdad hotels and send out Iraqi stringers to collect what the reporters deem news, as an article in the April 6, 2006, New York Review of Books described in great detail. The reporters convert these accounts into prose and put them on the wire. Except for that all-powerful "Baghdad" dateline, they might just as well be writing from Podunk.

The piece is not a slam against the press, however, but instead an up-close view of the on-ground realities:

[H]ere in this hellhole, I found men who would have made their famous World War II forerunners proud. They are no longer paratroopers but are brave, bold, and elite in every sense of the word. The actions of these men in fighting an enemy less skilled than the Germans yet far more vicious and fanatical tell a story that has remained largely ignored.

Fumento, at some serious risk of his own life and limb, has gone right to the source to report on this story that has indeed been insufficiently reported on. Read it here.

1 comment:

James Elliott said...

I cannot recommend enough an Iraq War memoir entitled "The Last True Story I'll Ever Tell," by John Crawford. Crawford spent over a year in Iraq while a member of the Florida National Guard (He is also a veteran of the 101st Airborne.), attached to 3rd ID, 1st Marine Expeditionary, 108th PIR, and 1st Armored during their time in Iraq. They went over the berm on the first day of the invasion, fought in Nasariyah, and patrolled the streets of Baghdad. It's a moving and powerful account of the occupation. I couldn't put it down and finished it in two sittings. It really let's you see how terribly messed up war is for the soldiers and the kind of horrible things they have to see and do without ever losing a tone of love for his comrades.

Another good one is "Generation Kill" by Evan Wright, a reporter for Rolling Stone, who was embedded with First Marine Recon during and right after the invasion. Wright clearly respects the hell out of the Marines he rode along with, and his descriptions of taking fire while barrelling through the streets of Nasiriyah or taking whatever brief respite was available are second only to Crawford.