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Friday, September 10, 2004

AN AMERICAN SOLDIER IN IRAQ WRITES TO MUSHTOWN MEDIA CORP. 

(Note to readers: This was posted as one of the comments for the entry marked EMBRACING THE FOX NEWS FANTASY WORLD. My response was too long for the comments board, so I decided to make it a regular blog entry. I made several attempts to e-mail Mike to ask him if that was OK, but these messages were sent back as undeliverable. I have decided to print his comment and my response.)


I'm pretty sure your not in the military or have been to iraq. So how can you write about things you only read in the paper or see on your tv. Just as a reference to you I am in the military and I have been over there. It's not a pretty place, but it has come a long way from the first time I was there. The men and women that are serving over there understand that they might die. You don't join the armed services thinking its a joy ride. We train all the time for this. Please respond.

Mike

Mike,
I am very glad to hear from someone who has actually been to Iraq. Even though I am against the war and I think the War on Terror has been badly mismanaged, I admire the courage and the commitment to service that compelled you, and others like you, to volunteer for military service. That is one of the things that makes me mad about the war. I feel it is so much energy wasted, causing death and destruction and the loss of so many American and Iraqi and Afghani lives.(These views are more fully represented elsewhere on my blog.)

I generally have a policy of not responding to the comments, but you have actually served in Iraq and you have asked a question that, yes, I should address.

No, I have not been to Iraq. I have never been in the military. But I live in a country that prides itself on civil liberties, such as the freedom of speech and the freedom of the press. And I am proud to live in this country. And I am lucky, so lucky, to live in this country and to have these freedoms.

And they are, after all, the freedoms that you, and tens of thousands like you, are supposed to be fighting and dying for in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Freedom of speech means nothing if it only applies to popular or accepted speech. If I have to actually go to Iraq or Afghanistan in order to give my views on the war, then my ability to express my views on the war has been crippled, even negated. Especially considering the very stringent rules applied to journalists in Iraq and Afghanistan. If such a rigid standard is applied to all reporting, commentary or opinion, then very few people will be able to say anything about anything. And that's not freedom.

I would go if I could. And I suspect that there are veterans of the Iraq conflict who are against the war. Your letter has encouraged me to find more veterans of the War on Terror willing to talk about their experiences and the conditions in Iraq, something I should have done a long time ago. Thank you for making me get off my butt to do something more constructive.

And I enthusiastically welcome more comments from American soldiers in Iraq, even if they disagree with me.

Tony Seybert
Mushtown Media Corp.

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