Indigo Insights

Tuesday, April 13, 2004
Nathan of Brain Fertilizer answers Andy Rooney

My Answer to Andy

The questions:

1. Do you think your country did the right thing sending you into Iraq?
2. Are you doing what America set out to do to make Iraq a democracy, or have we failed so badly that we should pack up and get out before more of you are killed?
3. Do the orders you get handed down from one headquarters to another, all far removed from the fighting, seem sensible, or do you think our highest command is out of touch with the reality of your situation?
4. If you could have a medal or a trip home, which would you take?
5. Are you encouraged by all the talk back home about how brave you are and how everyone supports you?

I'm in the USAF rather than the Army, and my post is in Qatar rather than Iraq, but I'll take a swing, too.

1. Yes. I willingly and uncomplainingly gave up being at home for my 6th Wedding Anniversary, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's to work 12-hour shifts for 65 days straight (no days off) in order to support this action. It is a necessary step in the Global War on Terror. In fact, even though I just got back in January, I volunteered to go early again. This time it looks like I'll get to miss my birthday, my wife's birthday, and Independence day. But I'll be celebrating Iraq's independence, so it will be worth it.

2. Andy, simple questions are best. Within the very first line of this question, you distorted the issue. We are in Iraq for several reasons. We have already eliminated a significant source of funding for terrorism in the Levant and the world. We have eliminated multiple training locations for international terrorists. We stopped a depraved butcher from slaughtering his own people and continuing his own plans to someday attack the US on its own soil. That's now: we pulled up the weed. Now we are spending time there to bring about an environment that will prevent such a noxious weed from springing up again. We've already won the most important, quickest, and most difficult part of the battle there. Now we face a test of wills, and patience, and restraint. We are winning this phase of the war, too, but it doesn't always look like it in the middle of the battle, just like the Battle of the Bulge you took part in.

3. Another distortion. The US Military allows an unprecedented latitude to the commander in the field, the guys with boots in the dust. Nice attempt to draw a Viet Nam parallel, but while that might float in the toilet, it doesn't float here. To address the basic issue, however: yes, our leaders have made some mistakes, because no one is omniscient or omnipresent or omnipotent. They've also made some stunningly correct decisions. Despite the "unbiased" media trying to politicize the deaths of soldiers, the death toll for the entire year is still far less than was originally predicted we would lose just tring to reach Baghdad. Try to have some perspective, will you? If that's too hard, at least try to remember the cockamamie predictions of disaster you armchair generals had at the beginning, will you? You lost credibility a long time ago; sniping and carping does nothing to bring it back.

4. If you really wanted to learn anything, rather than just trying to score cheap points with a "Have you stopped beating your kids yet?" blatant cheap shot, you might ask, "Would you prefer a medal or a ticket back?" You'd be suprised at the number of guys who would rather continue fighting for the US there. Sure, there's always some who don't. Selfless Service is the military ideal, but sometimes it takes a few years for the individual to actually adopt that attitude. But we are a team. I'm going back, willingly and ahead of schedule. If confronted with the enemy, I'll fight like hell to make sure he's the one who doesn't go home again, but if fate results in my death, it is a willing sacrifice. You may spit on my grave, but my children will know who the hero is.

5. We don't do it for the glory and thanks, no. We do it for the well-being of the nation, the safety of our loved ones, and the Brotherhood of War. But we do accept thanks from anyone who can do it without a sneer. We don't need any of your false gratitude.