It means so much. Having an Uncle that spent 13 months overseas fighting for what he believes in is already a great thing, but watching my Aunt raise two young girls and be pregnant with another while he was away is spectacular within itself. It means the world that finally other families can have their loved ones home just like we were fortunate to get when he came back a few years ago.
The president is tumbling testimonies from families of Iraq War vets.
And now we get to prematurely place behind us another quite troubling incident in our recent history. Secret prisons? Eh, let’s forget about those. Torture? Let’s just move on. A incredible transformation of huge chunks of the military into a privately contracted mercenary army? La la la la la! Years and years of National Guard reservists being unexpectedly called up for active duty in Iraq? Oh well! Thousands of soldiers having had their service contracts forcibly extended, creating a stop-lossed conscription army, under a policy that somehow no judge would find illegal? Sorry guys and gals! (And sorry families of dead guys and gals.) Operation New Dawn: the war we had after the war? Deadly. A decade of a wildly, wildly, crushingly expensive invasion, that involved more than a million Americans in combat, and the occupation of a country under false pretenses? Let’s just agree to not talk about it anymore. The CNN crawl says ‘Ceremony Ends Nine Years of Conflict,’ which isn’t actually what happened either: we actually didn’t have a ‘conflict.’ America’s great at putting things behind us, so guess we’ll just file this under “things that are already over,” though we still have billions of dollars to spend in ongoing operations. But at least we should let the Iraq War have an asterisk for ‘things that should never have happened.’
By that time I had moved from the Op-Ed page into a job — executive editor — in which I was obliged to keep my opinions to myself lest they be mistaken for the newspaper’s agenda or influence our coverage. I’m pretty sure the reporters who have covered Iraq with such distinction in the ensuing years could not tell you whether I still believed the war was just or necessary. I’m not sure I knew myself at that point. It is the job of news to recount, clear-eyed, what is, and questions of what should be are an occupational distraction. In any case, I declined to participate in Slate’s collective examination of conscience.