A Memorial Day request from a soldier in Iraq

Captain Phil Carter of Intel Dump, posting from Diyala Province, Iraq:
I’d … like to join the chorus of voices calling for a simple act of remembrance this Memorial Day for the hundreds of thousands of America’s men and women who have given their lives in uniformed service since the holiday was created after the Civil War. We collectively owe these fallen warriors a tremendous debt — a debt which can never be repaid. All we can do is honor that which they stood for, and fulfill in our words and deeds the ideal which they died for.
The payoff is which “words and deeds” Phil would like us to imitate: Alberto J. Mora, the former General Counsel of the Navy who resisted the use of torture.

CPT. Phil Carter, widely known in Blogistan as the author of Intel Dump, is now toward the end of a year training Iraqi police in Diyala Province, northwest of Baghdad. That has turned out to be a challenging, complex, and dangerous task &#8212 he spends a substantial chunk of most days in full body armor in the desert heat &#8212 which he is handling with his usual energy, good sense, and good spirits. Phil’s blogging has been limited due both to his crowded schedule and to worries about what information might be too sensitive (operationally or organizationally) to post, but he’s been sending out occasional missives to an email list, and those notes ought to form the backbone of an excellent book when Phil is back in civvies.

He’s broken his blogging radio silence to post a moving set of reflections about Memorial Day. Here’s the end of his opening paragraph:

I’d … like to join the chorus of voices calling for a simple act of remembrance this Memorial Day for the hundreds of thousands of America’s men and women who have given their lives in uniformed service since the holiday was created after the Civil War. We collectively owe these fallen warriors a tremendous debt — a debt which can never be repaid. All we can do is honor that which they stood for, and fulfill in our words and deeds the ideal which they died for.

“Words and deeds” in that last sentence is a link. If you don’t know Phil, you might be just a bit surprised at what sort of words and deeds a soldier operating at the sharp edge of the war in Iraq would like us to imitate this Memorial Day.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

2 thoughts on “A Memorial Day request from a soldier in Iraq”

  1. One summer a few years ago, my wife and I atopped over in Argenton, a picturesque small French town on the Creuse – very much la France profonde. We came in through a small square, where some sort cf open-air concert was being held. I saw fron behind a small boy, riding up on a man's shoulders to watch the show better. Next to them was a simple Great War memorial of a poilu, carrying a bronze child on his bronze shoulder. They got it right.

  2. "for the hundreds of thousands of America's men and women who have given their lives in uniformed service since the holiday was created after the Civil War. "
    Once upon a time this sort of thing was phrased as "given their lives *to defend America*". I find the switch to * uniformed service* telling. Defending America is a worthwhile goal on which most people can agree. But any unbiased observer would agree that the last war to defend America ended in 1945. Since then we've had, through Korea, Vietnam, GW1 and GW2, a succession of ever-less defensible wars, and it's not clear quite why one owes someone who died in GW2 any sort of debt. It's a shame that any person (military or civilian, American or Iraqi) died, but why exactly does America owe the soldiers who died in Iraq a debt? What did they do that benefited America?
    They were screwed over, just like the rest of the US population, by GWB. Let's be angry about that by all means; let's accept that at least some of the soliders in Iraq aren't responsible for the horrors that have happened there, but let's also NOT kid ourselves with bullshit about this being for the benefit of America.

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