The war in Iraq is now primarily about murder. There is very little killing. American Marines and soldiers have become, after four years of war, acclimated to atrocity.
The American killing project is not described in these terms to the distant public. The politicians still speak in the abstract of glory, honor and heroism, of the necessity of improving the world, in lofty phrases of political and spiritual renewal. The press, as in most wars, is slavishly compliant. The reality of the war—the fact that the occupation forces have become, along with the rampaging militias, a source of terror to most Iraqis—is not transmitted to the American public. The press chronicles the physical and emotional wounds visited on those who kill in our name. The Iraqis, those we kill, are largely nameless, faceless dead. Those who kill large numbers of people always claim it as a regrettable but necessary virtue.
The reality and the mythic narrative of war collide when embittered combat veterans return home. They find themselves estranged from the world around them, a world that still believes in the myth of war and the virtues of the nation. read more