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Vet Caller: Just Trying to Get Each Other Home

During our show Tuesday reflecting on the Iraq War, we received a memorable call-in from a self-identified veteran named “Mike,” from Nashville, TN. He told host Jane Clayson, and guests David Finkel and Matt Gallagher, “We were really just over there trying to get each other home.” Here’s the call:

U.S. Army soldiers from 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division are seen on board a C-17 aircraft at Baghdad International Airport as they begin their journey back to the United States, July 13, 2010. (AP)

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  • Kevin

    So, it was all a waste then. They were just fighting to go home alive. No higher reason. No purpose. No point to it other than to leave alive. We never should have gone in the first place then. What a giant waste of life and money. How stupid we are. Pointless. Pointless. Pointless.

    If getting home was all they cared about it’s no wonder there are so many civilian casualties.

  • Buck

    I didn’t hear the whole show but I happened to be listening when this caller called in… and for a while after that. I think the point being made by Mike was that soldiers don’t really pass judgement on wether or not the whole exercise is a waste of time. They follow orders but it likely goes without saying that they have to be alive to carry out those orders.

    That was the best NPR show I’ve heard in a long time.

    Mostly, the cost of war is borne by those who are sent to fight it. At home, we wonder whether the whole effort is worth while. On the battlefield they wonder if they’re ever going to get home.

  • http://www.facebook.com/david.zapen David Zapen in Miami FL (WLRN)

    I heard a reference to Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) but not to the original Operation Iraqi Liberation (OIL) or to W.’s talk of a crusade or his 1999 pre-campaign promise to use a war to increase political capital. These are essential to any overall understanding of the Iraq conflict, even without America’s role in 1953 that led to the 1979 overthrow of the Shah and U.S. support of Iraq against Iran.

  • Spencer Ward

    This was the most thoughtful and heart-felt exploration of the “war on terror” that I have experienced. Every participant was deeply involved and taking risks to say what they thought in open, non-inflamatory, non-argumentative statements. Thank you all.
    The most powerful point that came out from one of the last callers, Larry from Charleston, SC, was that we must learn more from the war. Both David and Matt extended that idea, including the question of what went wrong with citizen thinking to permit such a mistake to be made.
    Several excellent books have been written about the decision-making leading to the invasions and about the fighting and the consequences for the military and civilians involved. Perhaps this On Point program and the persons involved could use the energy from the program to begin to plan for a book to bring all the perspectives together to see how a powerful country can go very wrong. We owe it to those who sacrificed so much and to the families and other civilians whose lives have been so injured by the war and all the losses.
    Rarely have we had such rich details of how decisions were made. A question remains of whether the country and persons like those involved in the session this evening have the courage and perseverance to bring together the bigger picture and draw conclusions which can guide us in the future.

  • Erica

    The Cheney administration has much evildoings for which to account. Some US citizens believe that the attacks on the WTC were allowed to happen as a means to control Mesopotamian proven petroleum reserves. If our soldiers are allowed to be used as mercenaries for the international petrochemical cartels, then we have to rise up and stop them. We all stopped thinking rationally when we began waving our flag and believing the propaganda about “Islamofacists.”

    The entire point of our going to fight a “War on Terror” is simply to eliminate the uncertainty of the control of petroleum reserves in Mesopotamia and natural gas pipeline routes in Afghanistan. Ask any commander in these regions why we’re there. Even most of the enlisted personnel know the truth. Were not Cheney and Bush both incompetent businessmen who worked for “big oil” before being thrust into power?

    Perhaps we will never have proof of such nefarious activities, but we can see the motives and know the pain of the terrible loss of lives since the Cheney administration’s inaguration in the year of our Lord 2000.

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