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Sunday, November 21, 2004

"I have no regrets"

I couldn’t help but tear up as I read this article in the Buffalo Sunday News this afternoon. The article, titled “I have no regrets,” recounts the story of a wounded American soldier who not only does not curse his wounds, nor the Iraqi war, nor President Bush, nor anyone else, but says, “I wish I could be out there with my boys.”

Cpl. Mark P. O’Brien lost most of both limbs on the right side of his body in an ambush that occurred while he and his comrades were working to clear a supply line in Ramadi. Of the Iraqi war, he says, "People think we're there (in Iraq) for the oil or something, but we're not. We're fighting for freedom. What we're doing is driving out terrorists. I don't think people really understand that."

Is Cpl. O’Brien deluded? Is he merely the naive, unfortunate puppet of the evil masterminds of the Iraqi war? I think not.

I highly recommend this article. O’Brien’s heroic actions and words speak for themselves.


  • It's difficult to disagree with someone as brave and committed asCpl. O'Brien. But there are three reasons why he is fighting in Iraq, and only one of them is conclusively for freedom:

    Personal - I don't doubt for a moment that his motivation is to liberate the people of Iraq from a horrible dictator, and now from the warlords and other scum that have taken his place. And all credit is due to the men and women who are fighting for this cause.
    Operational - This is the simplest level. Every soldier in Iraq is fighting there because he was ordered to.
    Political - This is the hardest classification. It deals with why we're in Iraq at all. If you're pro-Bush it is presumably because peace in Iraq can help bring peace to the entire Middle East - an ambitious goal, but there clearly aren't any little fixes that would work. If you're against Bush it is probably because he wanted to topple Saddam and 9/11 provided a handy excuse.

    So on a personal level Cpl. O'Brien is absolutely right. But armies don't go to war because of the personal reasons of a corporal.

    By Blogger Paul, at 2:52 PM  

  • Hi Paul,

    "Personal reasons" are pretty much why young men and women enlist in the armed services to begin with. As they do their jobs, they are motivated by a belief in their country and a desire to serve it. They gain personal courage from trust in their superiors, their comrades, and their mission.

    BTW, I just recently noticed a comment you left at the end of a thread from last month. You probably left it awhile ago but I went ahead and responded.

    By Blogger Bonnie, at 3:25 PM  

  • I'll readily admit I don't know a lot about the motivations of people in the US to join up. I know many people in the UK who enlisted (including both parents), and the reasons were mostly:

    Leave home
    Do something different
    Exciting outdoor job
    It's a job
    It's an honorable thing to do

    Now different people had different priorities within that, but the desire to just escape was pretty common. And as far as I can tell that's true here as well. That doesn't diminish their contribution of course; there are other ways of leaving home that don't involve gambling with your life. Everything you say is true of most if not all of them, I'm sure. But I don't think we should make too much of that.

    By Blogger Paul, at 5:11 PM  

  • But I don't think we should make too much of that.Perhaps not, but there is a historical perspective as well. I've listened to the stories of WWII vets and they speak of the same things. They speak of ancestors who had the same ideals as well. It's been part of the historical vision of the American military.

    By Blogger Bonnie, at 12:10 AM  

  • I don't see a parallel between a provoked war against one of the three greatest tyrants the modern age has known and a pre-emptive war against a piece of dirt leader who killed some of his own citizens.

    That doesn't change the motivation of the people involved, but it does reflect on why they are there - many (most?) of the people who were in WWII from the US joined up to fight in it. I think most of the people in Iraq joined up for the reasons I outlined above, including of course that it is a generally honorable thing to do, because we weren't pre-emptively attacking nations when they joined.

    By Blogger Paul, at 9:42 AM  

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