We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you...
-from "Tommy", by Rudyard Kipling
The most recent steaming pile of "Anonymous Tell-All From Iraq" proffered by The New Republic (and already ripped by the The Weekly Standard, among others,) is going to be lapped up by its echo-chamber audience because it caters to one of two mutually-contradictory myths that they hold near and dear to their hearts; two myths that positively grind me to a halt.
The first myth, and the one not played up to by this latest laugher, is the Young Republican Chickenhawk Myth. Simply stated, it runs that the U.S. military should be brought home out of pity because it is populated by the dregs of society, uneducated dropouts from the wrong side of the track with room temperature IQ's and fewer prospects for a rosy future than the Washington Nationals, and who deserve our sympathy for being forced to fight a war to benefit the wealthy and educated children of privilege. The other myth, the one catered to here, is that of Soldier-As-Barbarian; a psychotic killer who has finally found in the U.S. military and its immoral war a family of peers and a stage for his depravity.
Compelling myths, especially if you don't know any actual soldiers. Any tales that bolster these myths are going to be believable to the echo-chamber denizen, accustomed as he or she is to being fed The Truth from Reliable Sources. For people who love their "Question Authority" tee shirts so much, they don't seem to actually do an awful lot of it; witness how little Questioning Jesse Macbeth initially got on claiming to be an Authority on Iraq.
These distorted views piss me off so badly because they spurn the reality of the soldiers and airmen I know, the ones I call my friends. An infantry mortarman working on his Master's in history; a man who gave up the pay of a nuclear physicist to go back into the army as an E-5 in the infantry after 9/11; an MP NCO college student whose father-in-law is a district attorney: are these the disenfranchised, uneducated proles dragooned into fighting for The Man? A career senior NCO with a degree in Theater and a love for the poetry of Khalil Gibran; an infantryman trained as a gourmet chef: These are the vulgar barbarians I'm to scorn?
Before trying to concoct myths, you should spend some time in the company of actual soldiers. Actually knowing a soldier other than the ones you saw on the screen in Platoon or Jarhead would make your myths so much more believable. Of course, actually knowing a soldier might make you pause before concocting your myths in the first place.