Engel: No One's Bothered to Explain War to Troops

March 21st, 2007 5:16 PM
Judging by the excerpt Tucker Carlson played on his MSNBC show this afternoon at about 4:15 PM ET, Richard Engel's War Zone Diary is a powerful and moving documentary of the NBC reporter's experiences in Iraq. To his credit, Engel has accompanied troops on many combat patrols. Among other clips, we saw particularly compelling footage of Marines on a night mission in the mean streets of Ramadi, in Anbar province, searching for - and finding unharmed - one of their comrades who had gotten separated during an earlier patrol there.

Speaking of combat, Engel did at at one point state that "it is very brutal but after some time you do start to see things from their [U.S. soldiers' and Marines'] perspective."

View video here.

But then, at the end of the segment, almost as if he felt obliged to throw a bone to the anti-war crowd, Engel added this seemingly gratuitous comment:
The war has changed on the soldiers. Initially they were fighting, they were told, that they were fighting to protect their families back home from terrorist attack. Then it was to 'support democracy.' And then to try to protect the Iraqi people from a civil war. It's gotten more and more vague, and more complicated, and no one has bothered to explain to the soldiers that they're fighting a different war.
Having spent a bit of time in Iraq, including in Anbar province, I can state that our troops have unprecedented access to real-time information. Even on bases in places like Fallujah, the internet, widescreen TVs airing cable news programs, etc. are widely available. Our troops can and do discuss what the war is about. The notion that our troops are kept in the dark about their mission is simply wrong. As a highly-experienced war-zone reporter, Engel surely knows this.

In any case, that quibble aside, from what I saw Engel's documentary should be well worth viewing.

Mark was in Iraq in November. Contact him at mark@gunhill.net