Why They Fight

I was reading The Atlantic Monthly earlier today and came across a very lengthy and eloquent “letter to the editor” by a Marine Reservist who served in Iraq. Anyway, since the Atlantic makes you subscribe to access much of its online content, I couldn�t reprint it as it appeared, but it turns out the main text of the letter has circulated before. Here is the full text. (Via Pejman Yousefzadeh). Here is an excerpt:

The analogy is simple. For years, you have watched the same large, violent man come home every night, and you have listened to his yelling and the crying and the screams of children and the noise of breaking glass, and you have always known that he was beating his wife and his children. Everyone on the block has known it. You ask, cajole, threaten, and beg him to stop, on behalf of the rest of the neighborhood. Nothing works. After listening to it for 13 years, you finally gather up the biggest, meanest guys you can find, you go over to his house, and you kick the door down. You punch him in the face and drag him away. The house is a mess, the family poor and abused – but now there is hope. You did the right thing.

It�s worth reading in full.
UPDATE: From that same issue and available here, Robert Kaplan had a good piece on the clash of cultures between the generally liberal media and the generally conservative military. This quote, about the value military men tend to place on plain speaking, struck me:

One Air Force master sergeant told me, �I reject the notion that Bush is inarticulate. He is more articulate than Clinton. When Bush says something, he’s clear enough that you argue about whether you agree with him or not. When Clinton talks, you argue over what he really meant.�

3 thoughts on “Why They Fight”

  1. Nice, simple analogy.
    Before paying to read the rest of it, can you tell me who or what winds up taking out some of the biggest, meanest guys who had rescued this family?
    Do a lot of these rescuers from around the block wind up losing limbs? Jobs? Do they spend extended periods away from their own families?
    I think Dubya would like this. He’s a big fan of keeping it simple for the American people.

  2. You don�t have to pay to read it. I just provided a free link to it and I�m not aware of any paycheck I�ll be receiving for your doing so.
    This guy, who fought and killed in Iraq, sounds pretty well aware of the human cost of what he’s seen.
    Personally, I believe the war was justified for reasons other than just the humanitarian rationale and have argued in much, much, much more detail to that effect here and elsewhere, but, if our troops are willing to put their own lives on the line primarily because they want to keep others from living under tyranny, that isn’t something we should lightly dismiss.

  3. That quote from the update is a keeper, and it pretty well encapsulates the problem with the last three Democratic presidential candidates. My #1 advice to the Dems for 2008 is to go out and find somebody who speaks in clear language and doesn’t obfuscate.

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