Sunday, May 14, 2006

Historical comparisons ...

... as I have said here before, are frequently dubious and usually apocalyptic: "America is exactly like the late Roman Empire and soon we will be entering a new Dark Age." (Comparisons are made between the blogospher and the Reformation, but I think Glenn Reynolds is nearer the mark in thinking of 18th-century London's coffee and chocolate shops.)
That said, Victor Davis Hanson has a point in this alternative history: In the Eye of the Beholder. (Hat tip, Lars Walker at Brandywine Books.)
I was talking the other day with my colleague Marc Schogol, whose son just returned from Iraq (he was a reporter with Stars and Stripes. Marc and I thought it interesting that one hears so little in the media about how large a number of the armed forces in Iraq opt for second and third tours of duty. These are people experiencing the war more directly than any of us and they voting - in the ost meaningful way - to stick with it. Isn't that worth looking into?
Just a thought.


  1. Those opting for further tours are to be commended. Those not opting for further tours are to be commended for doing it at all.

    I admire so many of my generation, many of them not what is supposedly the "best and brightest" going into the military and fighting this war to the best of their abilities. I know I couldn't do it; I'm just a pansy-ass with an English degree. (Plus, there's the whole "don't ask, don't tell" thing.) I think our country has and will in the future benefit from the contribution of Iraq War vets to society.

    Still, I'm not sure, Frank, what you're extrapolating from the fact that many are resigning. That the dastardly "liberal media" is making things sound worse than they are? That they're better people because they don't want to "cut and run"? I think all it means is that they want to see it through to its conclusion, they want to help as much as possible to build Iraq. It doesn't vindicate the Bush administration's handling of the war or prove that we're doing well there; it just proves that the men and women over there desperately want to help make something positive happen over there. But it won't matter if they sign up for a hundred tours if the Bush administration continues in its incompetence and unjustified arrogance.

    And, not to be cynical, some might be signing up for further tours out of naked self-interest. Vets don't get the benefits they used to (ironically) and even a pitifully small army salary is better than coming home to even more pitiful VA "benefits."

  2. Good points all, Frank. The Haason piece brought my conversation with Marc to mind, and yes, it is the sort of thing the media tends to ignore. And the media will also tell you that you can trust its reporters because, well, they were there. But where were they there? Generally speaking, not where the soldiers are. The soldiers are there in a particular way and see the conflict from a perpective the rest of us - including most reporters - do not have. I think one can reasonably infer from the high rate of retention that a good many of them believe in the mission. I think they also believe the mission is going to succeed.