February 08, 2010

To be fair, "fog of war" was suggested by the editors...

Elizabeth Bumiller, you are in the penalty box of the English language. Describing the many great memoirs that have been written about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, she writes these books "explore the timeless theme of the futility of war."* If that hackneyed phrase was even accurate to describe the books she profiles, we would forgive her, but since almost all of the books she describes deal with war at its tactical levels divorced from the question of whether or not the violence is realizing political objectives, it makes no sense. Here's a question: whatever happened to the authors of The Unforgiving Minuteir?t=abumuqa-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B002IKLMKW and One Bullet Away? Because it seems to me the career choices they made after writing their books endorse the utility of war.

As the author of a quickly forgotten memoirir?t=abumuqa-20&l=as2&o=1&a=1592401376 myself**, allow me to identify what I see as the theme that emerges from the memoirs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that have been published thus far. And because Bumiller interestingly includes a think tank report in her list, we'll add to our corpus the many journal articles and reports we have read from serving officers. The theme that emerges from this generation of veteran-authors is:

War is necessary if reprehensible. Because it's so awful, war should be waged well. It should be fought by well-trained men and women, managed by the most talented and creative young officers, and executed by adaptive, nimble fighting organizations supported by empathetic, resolute publics.

*"Futility of war" aside, the article is actually quite good, as are most of the books profiled.

**I have, like, three times as many followers on Twitter than Craig, though. Boo-yah!