Here is what I remember about 9/11, I went back to war, for the second time in my career. Only this time, the attack was on us. I have a problem with the WMD issue, and history says that the odds are against us in Afgan.
That being said, I know now what the Vietnam Vets feel like, alone and abandoned, they did what they thought was right, and look what they got for it. I equate my position on this like that of the commander of the U-Boat in Das Boot. He is my kind of patriot, compared the the true beliver Nazi first officer he had. You may find fault with my analogy yet it fits for me.
My eyes aren't blind, I am no mindless robot, but we started it now we need to finish it, if not you betray those who gave their lives already. I am old, but I go and volunteer for the kids, they need old hands and maybe I will bring them all home again safe one more time.
War is cruel and ugly, we agree there, and there is never a good one, but I will do whatever it takes to keep my men safe, and as long as I am not asked to draw my sword against my own, I will keep doing my duty. I remember a King lost his head once partly because he helped a bunch of rebels fight tyranny, sure he wasn't pure in his motives, but I wonder if he thought it was worth the price he paid?
To point out something at the start: I am a 21-year military veteran, and have lost people in Iraq, and have had people I trained or trained with at risk in both wars. As a platoon sergeant and then a first sergeant I understand completely the necessity of doing whatever it takes to keep your people safe and accomplish the mission.
As a soldier, it was necessary for me to believe that I was being asked to risk my life and the lives of my people based on sound policy, honorable intentions, and good decision-making. They tell us where to go, who to kill, what to break, and we do that because having people who will do that on order is essential to protecting our country.
As a citizen, I have different responsibilities. There I am accountable for insuring that--as far as possible--no troops are ever asked to make futile sacrifices, to go into harm's way for reasons of politics rather than legitimate strategy, or placed in conflicts they cannot possibly win.
A soldier's job is to figure out how the hell to win the war no matter what the odds, and to keep trying to execute that plan until death comes or the recall is sounded.
A citizen's responsibility is to help figure out when there have been sufficient deaths, when there is no longer a reasonable possibility of victory, and when the war itself has been a horrible mistake.
You do not keep faith with your troops who have died by getting others killed unnecessarily.
This is what too many people don't understand: if I believe that Afghanistan is the wrong war, that Afghanistan is an unwinnable war in the current context, and that our military commitment to Afghanistan has more to do with corporate profits, the Israel lobby, and the interests of China and Russia, then keeping faith with my fellow troops requires me to tell what I see as the truth loudly, repeatedly, and without equivocation.
I will keep doing so, as much as I respect many of the people who disagree with me.