Friday, December 28, 2007
War and Ambivalence
Lawrence Kaplan offers some first person perspective on the
Kaplan “served” in
I make mention of Kaplan’s prior association, only to acknowledge his former employment, and mark the extreme contrast between other recent TNR efforts, and what Kaplan report here.
Kaplan relates his encounters with the 10th Mountain Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team (BCT): first in 2004, then again in 2005, 2006, and now in 2007. The soldiers Kaplan’s come to know live and breathe
To provide vivid example, Kaplan captures the experience of a 2nd BCT non-commissioned officer (NCO):
Sgt. Donald Thompson, a lanky 28-year-old from
My Iraqi experience as a Military Intelligence Battalion First Sergeant in no way compares to the experiences of SGT Thompson, or probably anyone of the 2nd BCT. They were and are combat soldiers, most on second, third, or even fourth deployments. I had one as a mobilized National Guardsman, largely forward operating base (FOB) bound, but I relate to living
And I can strongly identify with something else Kaplan notes about how many of us who’ve served our country in
Neatly summarizing a narrative that has emerged from the ranks, the Washington Post's Thomas Ricks noted, "We in the military did what we were asked to do, but the politicians betrayed us, the media undercut us and the American people lack the patience to see it through."
Kaplan relates the assessment of another 2nd BCT NCO, and contrasts what he suggests might be “an exhausted army,” and one that still has victory on our minds:
Sitting on a bunk in Bravo Company's outpost, Staff Sgt. Corey Hollister noted the irony that, even as the debate in America remained bizarrely unaffected by the reality around him, "It's really military personnel and their families who don't want [the Army] to leave Iraq."
How could this be? An exhausted army is one thing. A defeated army is something else altogether. Anything but defeated, the 10th Mountain Division's Second Brigade Combat Team was officially welcomed home in a ceremony at
I’m thinking Kaplan is using that “whether they were truly home” as an attempt at ambivalence.
All of us who have served in
All of us carry a piece of
Our military is far from defeated in
I remember working with an editor who thought one of my pieces -- eventually unpublished, despite our efforts – as “ambivalent.” As it turned out, the concluding line in that piece was:
Home can’t ever feel like
No doubt that editor would have appreciated the ambivalence in Kaplan’s conclusion.
I worked recently with a different editor, who began our collaboration to get a piece of mine suitable for publishing with the admonition, “I hate ambivalence.”
I think that might have had something to do with that piece eventually appearing in print. As much as we might appreciate ambivalence in any artistic effort, ambivalence in matters involving national security might not make for very good decision-making.
Because no matter what else
(Via Michael Goldfarb at WorldWide Standard)
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