Saturday, August 06, 2005

War Heroes 

Sometimes you see two stories in completely different places, on seemingly different topics, and realize that whether their authors know it or not (which they almost certainly don't) they actually go together. Rather like the way two signs, one saying "Entrance" and the other saying "Exit", go together if they're posted on opposite sides of the same door.

First, this one, via the NYT
Many in the military are disheartened by the absence of an instantly recognizable war hero today, a deficiency with a complex cause: public opinion on the Iraq war is split, and drawing attention to it risks fueling opposition; the military is more reluctant than it was in the last century to promote the individual over the group; and the war itself is different, with fewer big battles and more and messier engagements involving smaller units of Americans.
The other I found in this item over at dKos, wherein they cite this story from the Guardian:
Juba is the nickname given by American forces to an insurgent sniper operating in southern Baghdad. They do not know his appearance, nationality or real name, but they know and fear his skill. "He's good," said Specialist Travis Burress, 22, a sniper with the 1-64 battalion based in Camp Rustamiyah. "Every time we dismount I'm sure everyone has got him in the back of their minds. He's a serious threat to us."
Some worry that Juba is on his way to becoming a resistance hero, acclaimed by those Iraqis who distinguish between "good" insurgents, who target only Americans, and "bad" insurgents who harm civilians.
This is the first I had heard of "Juba" as an individual, but I know his type. So do you. We've had folks like him in our own history, and more importantly, in our legends, literature and myths. The Swamp Fox. Zorro. Nathan Bedford Forrest. John Galt. Kilroy. Marshall Dillon.

It doesn't matter whether the cause for which they fight is good or evil, as perceived at the time or today. But you know what? Not a single one of those legends was written by a military PR department.

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