Veronica, a Business Insider reader, originally posted this as a comment to The Backlash Against Wikileaks Is Outrageous: What Happened To Freedom Of The Press?
I am an Iraqi war veteran (Operation Iraqi freedom, 2003) and I support WikiLeaks.
First, I did not support the war that I was obligated to partake in. Going through the events of the war (at the very beginning), there were some questionable actions. I did not like many of the things I saw or did and I often wondered how anyone could make the decisions they were making. Things were deplorable on my own conscience (still are) and I was not the one who made the judgement call.
I think the public has the right to know the truth about everything, especially how decisions are made. It is easy to be the guy in an office that is never faced with the eyes of people staring back at you or crying to you or handing you their dying children. Those are the people that decide the fates of others. Doesn’t the public have a right to know the truth instead of government spun propaganda?
Not that I think my age should matter, but I was 20 when I served in Iraq. No, not a kid, but definitely without the life experience to discredit some of the country’s actions. I joined because of the honour. I watched my father serve, also in a war, and I was always so proud of him.
But my idea of service to country was very fairytale-ish. I wish my father had explained the hardships of all of it, especially war. I will say this, though. My opinions of the military have never wavered. We were all a bunch of ignorant kids with obligations. Some enjoyed it, others did not. When I was discharged, it was with the knowledge that I had witnessed and done things that I have to live with for the rest of my life. I could not knowingly keep serving under those conditions and I took my exit from that life.
I am still proud to say that I served my country and I will always be proud of the men and women who continue to serve. What did change was my attitude towards the government.
When I go back and read some of the things I wrote before enlisting, I want to rip my hair out. I followed and believed in our government to always do the right thing. I never once questioned the integrity of those that governed. It wasn’t until I was in Iraq that learned first hand about the choices being made on my behalf, often for the worse. Those political decisions did not start with me, but they ended with me.
This is why I think it is important for everyone to know what goes into the thought process of the decisions. It is important to know that there is a human life at the end of those decisions.
How does one decide to bomb an entire community in the hopes of killing one man? Is it so easy to pull that trigger?
When you have a man handing you the mangled body of their dying child and you look into his eyes, let me know if you think that decision is worth it. Anyone who hasn’t been there can claim there will always be casualties of war, anyone with a conscience who actually experiences it knows differently.
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