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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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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