Back from Iraq

Thursday, August 12, 2010

David Finkel, national enterprise editor of The Washington Post and author of The Good Soldiers, talks about spending time with U.S. soldiers in Iraq and upon return after their service.


David Finkel

Comments [38]

Bob from Brooklyn>1=LKVR5&FORM=LKVR
Bob from Pelham...Can you honestly justifty this??.....honestly??

Aug. 13 2010 01:27 PM
Bob from Pelham, NY

To Bob from Brooklyn: Please check your facts -- Mr. Finkel was an eyewitness to the event (as stated explicitly on the Wikleaks website, and as he said in this morning's interview and in his book). Both he and the related news reports describe the firefight which preceded (and followed) the helicopter shooting. Go back and listen to the interview: Mr. Finkel explicitly said that American soldiers were under fire in this incident; he also explicitly said that in entire time with the troops he observed no atrocities or war crimes committed by them. Do you think he and all the other on-scene journalists are lying, or can you accept the possibility that the posted excerpt of the gunsight video maybe didn't show the whole story?

Aug. 13 2010 12:09 AM
Joe T. from Oradell, NJ

There was some discussion during the interview about why Vietnam vets were more likely to share their experiences upon returning than those from Iraq/Afghanistan who were more likely to say nothing and resort to violence against others? / themselves?
Is it perhaps because Vietnam was mostly draftees, and these later wars are fought by volunteers?
The draftees complained before, during and after. Volunteers can't? because this is their job - they chose this?
I wonder.

Aug. 12 2010 09:42 PM
Bob from Brooklyn

Bob from Pelham....First of all in that incident from the Wikileaks video, there were american soldiers under fire. Did Mr. Finkel see the incident of the Apache helicopter shooting at people in a van, who were trying to retrieve wounded individuals?? If so.....why didn't he speak out against this atrocity?

Aug. 12 2010 05:13 PM
Bob from Pelham, NY

To Bob from Brooklyn: Again, I don't think you were listening to what Mr. Finkel said. He was there live, and saw the RPG rocket launcher and other weapons being carried by the people targeted -- which was edited out of the video you saw. While I agree with some of your political points, I don't think it is fair to criticize Mr. Finkel for reporting the truth of what he saw, or for the video editor to try to demonize the soldiers under fire in order to create misleading images in support of his/her political position.

Aug. 12 2010 02:07 PM
Bob from Brooklyn

Bob from Pelham....The people in that Van who were trying to rescue the injured...were they firing at that helicopter.....So why did they decide to shoot up that van, which included some children.....Why????

Aug. 12 2010 01:53 PM
Bob from Brooklyn

Bob from need to read or listen to that speech of General Butler, and realize that your son could have sacrificed his life....not for his country.....but for those interests who now control major portions of the Iraqi oil industry.

Aug. 12 2010 01:40 PM
Bob from Pelham, NY

To Bob from Brooklyn: Weren't you listening? This guest did not have to watch the Wikileaks video--he was there live! He saw the carnage AND the weapons being carried by the people targeted. You saw a video edited with an agenda (right or wrong); he saw it happen unedited in real life. I think his version is more reliable whatever your view of the validity of the war.

Aug. 12 2010 01:40 PM
Bob from Brooklyn

Brian, your guest should have learned something from the Wikileaks video, is that confirmation in order to murder people can be easily had. Anybody who really believe in the statement that, these soldiers allow us to live the way we want to live, should read War is a Racket by former Marine Corp General Smedley Butler. This speech was made by General Butler to a VFW group as a warning in 1932. Anybody interested will find a reenactment of the speech on You Tube.

Aug. 12 2010 01:15 PM
Frank from Westchester County

War is senseless, morally wrong, and ultimately bad. We all know this. That said, we all also know this world will continue to wage it, one country against another, each for its various reasons, none of which should ever be enough to justify this age long travesty of humanity to continue. Young men and women will continue to follow the orders of their superiors, and their superiors the orders of their superiors, and so on. Yet the true reasons for those orders, orders originated from a so called higher command, will likely never be fully understood by most of the population, the soldiers particularly, and no one will ever know whether a cause is justifiable or not. Naturally these unfortunate men and women coming back from the horrors of war will carry that war with them forever. And so will, as some other commentators stated, the innocent civilians who have also had first hand experiences with those wars as well.

And yet it goes on, and populations around the world, notably the folks in my own country, continue to look the other way, to allow themselves more and more diversionary pleasures so as to numb themselves to the realities we all face day to day, from unemployment to rising taxes, from a continually dying economy to the ever louder cries from the far-right radio heads to the far-left TV programmers. Yet our oceans are being destroyed by the mistakes of mega-corporations all in the business of creating more wealth and power for its select few. And the politicians continue to tell the 'little people,' the middle class and working poor that they should continue to vote for them since it is the 'common man-in-the-street' whose welfare is always and will forever be their main priority. Is it a wonder this American society is speeding toward civil unrest, anarchy and its ultimate demise?

Aug. 12 2010 12:18 PM
Bob from Pelham, NY

To Teal from Tarrytown and others who asked: many of these soldiers from the NYC area (like my son) volunteered because they remember sitting in their classrooms in September 2001 while friends were called to the principal's office to be told that a parent who just left for work that morning would never come home. Corny as it sounds, they did volunteer to protect their country, and should not be blamed for the political decisions that sent them to risk their lives in the wrong country.

Aug. 12 2010 11:57 AM

I am sorry to say that I RESENT Sharon from Boonton 's comment that US soldiers are serving to so that we can continue " the way we live." Perhaps if the Bush administration had been more honest ( or less arrogantly sure of itself ) about the human and financial cost of the Iraq war , the US public would not have acquiesed in starting this war.

I respect what members of the military are doing but I do NOT have to agree that it is good policy. Maybe Sharon was trying to say that, but it did not come out that way.

Aug. 12 2010 11:54 AM
The Truth from Becky

Thank you to all that have and will serve.
I wish you didn't have to but I am certainly appreciative that you did.

Aug. 12 2010 11:54 AM
Amy from Manhattan

I appreciate the caller who mentioned "the human side." And I appreciate Mr. Finkel's saying there were instances of great decency from both the American soldiers & Iraqis. But when I hear about the post-traumatic effects on US soldiers who come back home, not only do I have sympathy for them, but I wonder what the effects are on the people who live there & are caught in the middle, & don't have either "home" somewhere else to come back to or anyplace safe where they are. I don't even know if there's a way to find this out while the war is still going on. I don't mean in any way to diminish what our soldiers go through, but there is more than 1 human side.

Aug. 12 2010 11:53 AM
Mr. Bad from NYC

It's great how this new, pusillanimous type of "embedded" reporter gets to have it both ways ...

"Oh, I'm just reporting on these great guys who may or may not be committing war crimes by participating in an illegal war, whether you're for it or against it buy my book".

Congrat$ dude, maybe there will be another war soon and we can read your next morally neutral account of it.

Aug. 12 2010 11:49 AM
john from pffice

Brain is unable to understand love of country and heroism, things that don't exist in his world. I served and all Americans should serve. Upper west side will not serve only protest blindly.

Aug. 12 2010 11:48 AM
dboy from nyc

"Our" soldiers never should have been sent!

Aug. 12 2010 11:48 AM
Marielle from Brooklyn

This segment is breaking my heart - as if I needed any more evidence that our soldiers should come home. I've recently heard that two young cousins of mine have joined the military and will be deployed soon. I am terrified for them.

Aug. 12 2010 11:44 AM
Amy from Manhattan

I've been wondering what happened to the soldier Adam Schuman (sp.?) carried down from the roof. Did he survive? What kind of care did he get? How well did he recover?

Aug. 12 2010 11:44 AM
Mr. Bad from NYC

I'm sorry but you can't "depoliticize" war and thereby remove yourself from moral responsibility - that's cowardly, especially as a journalist - that's why you're there! As the guest himself states he was not drafted, none were, they chose to go and guess what? When there is a war civilians die, sometimes by the hundreds, the tens of thousands or the hundreds or thousands and even millions. You can't just be a soldier and call settle every moral question with "duty", that's fascist. The illegal Iraqi war cost upwards of 1/2 million Iraqi civilians and still counting. Every soldier and every American citizen has to be held accountable for those deaths. The "media" is at least as complicit in this as the Pentagon. I'm disgusted by war correspondents who think we need another account of bloody horrors - we need someone to question why they're happening.

Aug. 12 2010 11:42 AM

we get it. they are real people!

Aug. 12 2010 11:42 AM
tom flattery from NJ

Why do Vietnam vets seem different than Iraqi vets?

Of course Vietnam was was war... but there was plenty of mixing with the population.

The stories of grenade-throwing youngsters were over reported...they provided cover for the tragic mistakes of war...killing civilians accidentally...or even while horsing around.

The Vietnamese were actually pretty nice, waved and smiled at passing GIs. And soldiers mixed well with some rather pretty women. This does not seem to be the case in Iraq. Nobody in Iraq seems appreciative. Vietnamese "collaborators" in villages were forced to help the VC...they would rather have been neutral.

Aug. 12 2010 11:39 AM
teal from tarrytown

"He(she) gave his life so that we can live the way we live"( caller) What exactly does that mean? so that we can live in Freedom ( Sara P?) what threat was Iraq to us? or even Afganastan? What WMD?. so we can live the way we live... keep the control of the flow of oil from the Mideast?.. I value our troops more than a yellow magnoribbon on my car. There lives deserve a true threat to our country, not strategic or ecconomic advantage.

Aug. 12 2010 11:38 AM
Alex from New York City

Why is David Finkel so concerned not to express a given "bias" with regard to talking-head-types issues, yet perfectly willing to keep referring to soldiers as "guys"? Talk about not having your work and sacrifice acknowledged or respected--every time you use the term "guys," Mr. Finkel, you make every female soldier who is fighting on our behalf invisible. Please wake up about this!

Aug. 12 2010 11:38 AM
susan from Manhattan.

I am sorry for the woman who just called - it would be tough to watch your daughter (or in her grandkids' case, your mother) go off to war...especially early.

But it's a WAR and she signed up for the MILITARY. It's not summer camp, or a block party. I don't understand why the surprise.

If you don't like war, don't support the military. Don't join. Work for peace.

Aug. 12 2010 11:36 AM
Jennifer from Flushing

In response to one of the comments, I think it's pretty narrow view to blame the soldiers. There are many reasons people join the military (school, money, path to citizenship, family tradition). I think there should be a draft because then there would not be a disproportionate burden on the poor.

Aug. 12 2010 11:35 AM

What did the caller mean the soldiers allow us to "live the way we want to live?"

Are we talking about our freedoms and democracy? I doubt if my rights were affected by whether we went to Iraq or Afghanistan. In fact there are some who say that 911 was blowback for years of U.S. policy.

I am tired of hearing this line that because we have soldiers overseas that our lives are better. Yes, maybe for certain economic groups, corporations, but not for me.

Aug. 12 2010 11:35 AM

It was Dan Rather, no?

Aug. 12 2010 11:35 AM

How exactly have US soldiers given their lives so we can live the way we live? I never understand this. They aren't protecting our borders, the are fighting in a foreign land against peoples only tangentially connected at best to those who attacked us. No one seems to morn the lost CIA agents, who actually spend their time pursuing those who wish to attack us on our soil.

Aug. 12 2010 11:35 AM
dboy from nyc

How about an education policy that provides college opportunities to kids that can't afford it?

Military service is NOT an education policy!!!

Aug. 12 2010 11:34 AM
David from NYC


Why the constant glorification of war and "our" soldiers on your show? Why don't you give equal time to discussing the millions of innocents (Iraqi, Afghani, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Salvadorian, etc) murdered by our good soldiers?


Aug. 12 2010 11:32 AM
dboy from nyc

Enough with the Hollywood version of war - that's part of the problem.

Aug. 12 2010 11:30 AM
betty from Manhattan

Didn't it take WW 2 vets a long time to be able to talk about their experiences? The same for Holocaust survivors? Maybe it's the same for these current war returnees.
One wonders if our society is more inured to violence, with the "blow them up" movies and video games and the easy access to guns, that make Vets of these current wars more likely to use violence on themselves and others.

Aug. 12 2010 11:28 AM

any update on his 2006 stories about U.S.-funded democracy efforts in Yemen

Aug. 12 2010 11:25 AM
Michael from Brooklyn

I think it's worth noting that this is the first generation of soldiers to come pack to a country that has already seen dozens of movies about "their experience"

Aug. 12 2010 11:24 AM
dboy from nyc

Where was this brave book BEFORE the war???

This should be required reading for every gung-ho kid or potential policy maker considering the "glamour" of war.

The fighting is just the beginning, how do we care for these soldiers that we've put in harms way?

Aug. 12 2010 11:22 AM
Jennifer Hickey from FLushing

My eyes are welling up after hearing the story of Adam Schulman. It sounds so much like my dear friend who did two tours in Iraq. He came back injured and with PTSD. He tried to reacclimate into his previous life back in Brookyn. He was newly married with a baby, but he was on so many pills, that it made it difficult for him to function. Toward the end, most times we saw him he was incoherent. He tooks pills to sleep, pills for pain, pills, pills and more pills. It was very stressful on his wife who was working but could not relay on her husband to watch their so. They left Brooklyn for PA. Three months later, Christmas weekend, he had a massive heart attack and died. He was 37. But because he died of supposedly "natural causes," his wife and child get NOTHING. If he wasn;t so overly medicated, he may have known he was having a heart attack.

Aug. 12 2010 11:21 AM

I feel terrible about these soldiers. But, didn't these people volunteer? Weren't they gung-ho about wanting to fight?

If more people refused to volunteer for the armed forces and refused to go (if we ever had a draft) then maybe we would have fewer devastating physical and mental injuries and death and mutilation.

Also what about the wounds and mental damage to the civilian populations? At least the soldiers will get VA benefits. What benefits will most of he civilian victims get? The civilian victims have been taking the brunt of the damage that has been caused by war.

Aug. 12 2010 11:17 AM

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