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September 10, 2006

The Blog of War

You should, of course, buy it. Over on a discussion page, Captain Kevin doesn't like the book much. At all, really. Captain Kevin opines thusly in response to a comment I made on the thread he started on the book:

My point is simple.... this book is a loser written by a bunch of warmongers who have ruined this Country. Now they want to profit from that and I will continue to exercise free speech to stop it.

Good luck.. you may all get rich off of this like a lot of war profiteers do but that does not make it right.

The only thing I am disgruntled about is that the ilk that wrote this book are part of an organization of leaders who took a great institution (The Reagan era Army) and ruined it in about 5 years. Congratulations.. thanks to this group, the Army is now a train wreck.

This is my response.

Wow, that little group of people ruined the country? All power to the little guy! Okay, yeah, I'm snarking your hyperbole.

Heh. You might be surprised at the people in the group of contributors who are not fans of Rumsfeld, et cie. You might also be surprised to find there are a few in that group who were *not* fans of invading Iraq. Of course, for the soldiers among 'em, that became rather a moot point after the March Upcountry started, didn't it? Then it became the job, like it or not. Remember, the soldier, once he's volunteered, doesn't get to pick and choose which war he will fight, as Lieutenant Watada is probably about to discover to his rue.

The book isn't about making the case for the war, or arguing the conduct of the war - it's about the soldiers, their families, and the fighting of the war, and doesn't pretend to be anything else, really. It's simply about the war, and the people who are fighting it - whether in country or waiting for someone to come out of the box.

In a sense, you are making that argument that, from what I gather from what you've said here, only voices that protest the war and find fault with it, that speak only in negative terms and breathlessly condemn Bush on every page can possibly have any value and opinions which don't match your view should be shouted down (reflexively, we don't need to read no steenking book) if not outright suppressed.

Y'know, I too am a veteran of the Carter/Reagan/Bush/Clinton Army... and up through Bush 1 it was a fine Army for fighting a huge horde moving west out of Eastern Europe, or engaging and destroying pretty-looking 3rd rate wannabes like, well, let's face it - most standing Arab armies, however brave their individual soldier might be. Then, starting under Bush 1 and continuing under Clinton, we dismantled and tinkered with that Army - and since we didn't see any huge immediate threat, we tinkered and dilly-dallied and muddled our way through, as our national and service politics essentially demands we do in times of no obvious Damocles's Sword.

And thus, we got to go to war with the Army we had, vice the one which was just perfectly tuned for the job. Of course, we've *never* had that Army...

And I'm still up to my armpits in Bush 2's Army, where I work every day. And I'll tell ya Captain Kevin - the junior officers of this version are smarter and much better at their jobs than my peers of the early 80's - because they've been challenged in ways we never were. They've had to work in environments we never really did. And while yes, a lot of 'em are tired, and the equipment is particularly so - they still have better gear than we did, and they are much smarter, subtle, and experienced in it's use than we are. They're better warfighters than you or I ever were. The question of are they fighting this war in the best way - well, that's not the subject of the book, and is still rather a roaring subject of debate, isn't it?

Certainly, everybody can use a rest, and everybody would like to come home, and have their scariest moments be zero-illum brigade attacks down the central corridor at NTC or night jumps at the JRTC, or CALFEXes in Poland.

But you're putting a lotta stuff on a book that is simply by the people fighting the war and their families - and where most of the 'support' shown is for the soldiers doing their jobs, and awe at how difficult those jobs are.

That's all it is.

To draw a different parallel for you - the book is perhaps better compared to a book of the experiences of the First Responders, professional or volunteer, who waded and boated around New Orleans after Katrina - and not page after page after page of slamming Nagin, Blanco, Brown, Chertoff, and Bush. It's more about the people doing the job they had handed to them, one or two of whom might move on to be the Russ Honore's of the next disaster, than it is a bashing of the people who send them into harm's way.

Sorry the book isn't what you think it should be - I recommend you write that book yourself. Perhaps you'd like to put forth the effort that Douglas Brinkley did, and write The Great Deluge -equivalent for The Global War on Terror.