A Former GI’s Perspective on the War Mea Culpas

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Be sure to read Greg Mitchell’s excellent piece on the media’s failings in covering both the Iraq War and the run up to it. He’s almost entirely right that the we’ve been unthinking hawks, lap dogs, and sorta cowardly, but there have been some ‘come to Jesus’ moments among journalists as we contemplate the war’s fifth anniversary.

In particular, I was surprised and impressed by Slate’s hawks critiquing their own role in supporting the war, 20-20 hindsight being what it is. They were brave and pretty hard on themselves. It would be easy to ‘stay the course’ a la you know who, but they dropped plenty of dimes on themselves. It’s called “Why did we get it wrong?”

While you’re piling on us, don’t forget 9/11 itself; even we narcissistic journos got all patriotic after that happened. I even briefly considered re-upping after 14 years a civilian.

No shit. So, with 9/11 in mind, also check out this confession from the NY Times reporter who sat on the wiretapping story for 13 months. We’re at war, but there’s no question that we haven’t done our jobs well enough. We gave the government the benefit of the doubt and learned to regret it. I’m guessing we’ve learned our lesson, and no future president will be seeing either benefits or doubts from us.

Still, I’m in no position to criticize the liberal hawks. As a former GI, I was repeatedly asked for my opinion on going to war and stayed mum. The stakes were just too high, and I was just too undecided and too overbooked to give the question the study it deserved. At least those who took a stand, you know, took a stand.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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