If history is any guide, many of the young men who endure the severest hardships and assume the greatest risks in the war in Iraq will become interested in politics and politicians later, when they are older and look back on their combat tours. But not yet.
Marine infantry units have traditionally been nonpolitical, to the point of stubbornly embracing a peculiar detachment from policy currents at home. It is a pillar of the corps’ martial culture: those with the most at stake are among the least involved in the decisions that send them where they go.
Mr. Rumsfeld may have become one of the war’s most polarizing figures at home. But among these young marines slogging through the war in Anbar Province, he appeared to mean almost nothing. If he was another casualty, they had seen worse.
“Rumsfeld is the secretary of defense,” Sergeant McKinnon said, answering Lance Corporal Davis’s question.
Lance Corporal Davis simply cursed.
It did not sound like anger or disgust. It seemed instead to be an exclamation about the irrelevance of the news. The sergeant might as well have told the squad of yesterday’s weather.
Friday, November 10, 2006
Posted by Alexander Wolfe at 2:04 PM