Thursday, December 21, 2006


One thing I've tried very hard to do on this blog is never presume to speak for the soldiers who are serving in Iraq. An obvious reason for this is that they of course don't speak with one voice or one mind. Still, how credulous can a reporter be who writes this up without pointing out the obvious:


Gates had breakfast with U.S. soldiers to hear their views.

"Sir, I think we need to just keep doing what we're doing," Specialist Jason Glenn told Gates.

"I really think we need more troops here. With more presence on the ground, more troops might hold them (the insurgents) off long enough to where we can get the Iraqi army trained up."

None of the soldiers present said U.S. forces should be brought home, and none said current troop levels were adequate.

A senior defense official in Baghdad said U.S. commanders were concerned a surge in the number of troops would make the Iraqis feel less under pressure to take full responsibility for security.

"Look, the Iraqis are smart. They see what we do, and if we surge, they can step back," the official said.

Gates said it was not surprising troops wanted reinforcements. "We have to take into account the views of the Iraqi government the views of our own leadership, the views of our own military leadership in taking that into account."

I wouldn't be surprised if plenty of the people on the front lines felt this way. Hell, maybe most of them. How would I know? But implicit in this news report is the idea that this hand-picked small group of soldiers was somehow just some random representative group of soldiers instead of, you know, a hand-picked group chosen for their... oh, I don't know, maybe for their views on the situation in Iraq.

I'm not impugning the integrity of these people. They may believe these things sincerely. That isn't the issue. The issue is pretending that when the new Secretary of Defense shows up to talk "to the troops" that those people chosen for that talk are a representative random group.