Untruthfulness and Consequences

Editor's Note: Andrew Borene served in the U.S. Marine Corps as a First Lieutenant during Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2000, Borene deferred his matriculation at the University of Minnesota Law School and enlisted in the Marine Corps. He graduated with honors from the Marine Basic Officer Course in Quantico, Virginia, and participated in the first 100 days of the war, coordinating military personnel from multiple agencies and nations during major combat operations. He is now pursuing a J.D. degree at the University of Minnesota Law School.

From what I recall learning in a class at Quantico, during W.W.II the White House communications team made it a point to include images in the newsreels of dead Marines on the beaches of the Pacific. They wanted to remind the American people of the sacrifice they were making, and what was on the line. They refused to let the public forget exactly what it was their sons and brothers and fathers were doing overseas.

Anyone who does a little reading will learn the Nazis, the Japanese and the Russians denied honest disclosure of war casualty numbers and misled their own people about the costs of combat. That's hardly the kind of war policy model the U.S., the world's last, best hope for democracy, should be following.

The current majority in Washington is doing everything it can to avert the public's attention from Iraq and Afghanistan. They don't want to ask for real sacrifice in support of the global war on terror, much less spending to support the troops. They are more than happy to maintain the perception that the biggest issues in America are Social Security reform, Tom DeLay's ethics investigation and judicial filibusters.

The kind of examples they set for future leaders to emulate are guys who skipped out on military service and served as tie-wearing, pamphlet-passing, college cheerleaders for the conflict in Vietnam. The hypocrisy of senior citizen draft dodgers talking tough about national security and combat should be exposed in a time of war. Instead, we promote them to the highest levels of American diplomacy.

All of this perpetuates a growing "chickenhawk culture" in which young Americans with the most to offer in uniform feel quite comfortable taking civilian jobs or going to graduate school without so much as a thought about taking care of the young soldiers, Marines, airmen and sailors who are fighting a very real and growing war.

A continued refusal to honestly show the real human cost of the war will only alienate the troops from the American people and civilian leadership. This is hardly what we need at a time when North Korea actually has nuclear weapons, Iran seems hell-bent on obtaining them, and Russia is busy crushing any semblance of freedom within its borders.

Last I checked, the reason we all were willing to fight for America was a commitment to Constitutional freedom and the principles of government by the people. We must not be afraid to show the truth to the American people. If we support the war, then we will accept the casualties and get behind the effort. And if we don't, then in our free society we had better be prepared for a real national debate about what exactly our leadership is doing with the lives of our troops.

To learn more about the experiences of Iraq war veterans, visit OperationTruth.org.

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