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The Many Burdens a GI Faces in Afghanistan

The GIs are doing the best they can, in a "job" the politicians command them out of imperial hubris and historical ignorance.

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There is an American tradition of officers breaking ranks to speak truth to power at the risk of their careers, but this hasn't happened recently in Afghanistan. We don't have any parallels to a previous era's Marine general Smedley Butler ("War is a racket") or army general "Vinegar Joe" Stillwell. There was a "retired generals' revolt" a few years ago – led by Marine general Anthony Zinni – blasting Bush and Rumsfield for lies over Iraq. But Afghanistan has not yet produced its Smedley Butler or Anthony Zinni. Instead, overlording Afghanistan, we have the politically ambitious David Petraeus, already testing 2012 presidential waters, and Stanley McChrystal who is said to have covered up the truth about football star Pat Tillman's friendly-fire death.

Soldiers humping their 100-pounds-plus packs up and down Afghanistan's rugged mountain ranges have the additional burden of carrying on their backs the fanaticism and careerism of their politicized generals who may never get around to reading the home-town obituaries of the men and women they put in harm's way.

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