Saturday, January 22, 2005

# Posted 4:59 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

MASOCHISTS OR ALTRUISTS? David Brooks notes in passing that
Bush's inaugural ideals will also be real in the way they motivate our troops in Iraq. Military Times magazine asked its readers if they think the war in Iraq is worth it. Over 60 percent - and two-thirds of Iraq combat vets - said it was. While many back home have lost faith, our troops fight because their efforts are aligned with the core ideals of this country, articulated by Jefferson, Walt Whitman, Lincoln, F.D.R., Truman, J.F.K., Reagan and now Bush.
Our soldiers in Iraq (and Afghanistan) have suffered and will continue to suffer more than any other Americans committed to bringing democracy to the Middle East. Why?

One might say that impressionable young men recklessly believe what their officers tell them. One might say that those who grow up in Red States recklessly believe what their President tells them. One might even suggest that some of them are still under the impression that Saddam was responsible for 9-11. But I don't buy it.

If there is any subsconcious motivation for our soldiers' surprising faith in their mission, it is this: that when you have invested so much in a cause, when you have watched your friends die for that cause, abandoning it becomes unthinkable.

But even that is unfair to our men and women in uniform. Americans are not afraid of sacrifice, but we also tend to protest quite loudly when our government wants us to sacrifice more than we should. Remember the soldier who demanded that the Secretary of Defense explain why the Pentagon hasn't provided armor for every vehicle in Iraq? I'm curious to know whether he still thinks this mission is worth it.

Perhaps not. But I think that even 18 year-olds in uniform are sophisticated enough to separate the failures of their generals, their secretary and their president from the failure of their ideals.
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