Sunday, October 11, 2009

Finding No Peace

Thomas Friedman's "The Peace (Keepers) Prize", while an intended tribute to our military, instead creates certain fictions that only do our present soldiers a disservice.

Friedman, fantasizing on the Nobel acceptance speech that President Obama should give, says "if you want to see the true essence of America, visit any military outpost in Iraq or Afghanistan" to see "young men and women... who work together as one, far from their families, motivated chiefly by their mission to keep the peace and expand the borders of freedom".

Yet, 3 days ago, the Times of London reported that "American soldiers serving in Afghanistan are depressed and deeply disillusioned"... Many feel that they are risking their lives - and that colleagues have died- for a futile mission and an Afghan population that does nothing to help them". The article, based on the comments of 2 Army chaplains, spoke of these religious leaders having counseled many soldiers angry about being there, in a state of depression and despair who "just want to get back to their families".

In fact, in August of this year the Army reported that it had begun planning a mandatory training program to try to combat rising rates of suicide and depression among soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

One of Mr. Friedman's fellow op ed contributors, Frank Rich, today wrote that in our desire to give a rational basis for our presence in Afghanistan, we have created false realities of what is going on. As Mr. Rich questions, "why let facts get in the way?". Mr. Rich asks why we are considering increasing our troop presence in a country where, he suggests, there remain less than 100 Queda insurgents. (Two Wrongs Make Another Fiasco, NY Times)

It appears to me that Mr. Friedman tries to make the facts fit his opinion piece so to give a clean image to honor soldiers past and present. He would have done better to provide the harsh truths and do real honor to those who now serve in an engagement they do not understand and can no longer justify.

1 comment:

Jack said...

Like you, I read both columns this morning, and like you, came away with the same conclusion. Great minds think alike - and fools seldom disagree.
However, I thought Maureen Dowd's column was the best written and most entertaining of the day.