Yon’s Gates of Fire

I hadn’t read Michael Yon before, but this item is pretty amazing: Gates of fire.

There’s a total Starship Troopers feel to it (the movie, I mean, not the book, though I guess the particular sensibility I’m talking about is common to both).

Michael Yon appears to be something of a darling of the Fighting Keyboardists of the right-wing blogger brigade. As near as I can tell, he’s not actually a journalist, but is instead an ex-Green Beret who self-published an autobiographical account of his acquittal on murder charges after he killed someone in a bar fight in 1983.

Anyway, he sounds like a serious adrenaline junkie who identifies more or less completely with the soldiers he’s embedded with, and provides what is probably the closest thing we’re going to get to a first-person account of what it is like to be a US soldier fighting in Iraq these days.

It comes off as about as one-sided as it’s possible for an account to be (notice, for example, how the Lieutenent’s “sixth sense” for bad guys is infallible, and leads to “random Iraqi standing on the street” instantly transforming into “terrorist”, without even the possibility of doubt), but again, I think that’s actually a feature, not a bug. This is how soldiers in a war-zone think, and operate; this is what distinguishes military operations from police work.

I don’t believe that the laws of the universe so faithfully assign moral virtue and heroism and noble sacrifice solely to one side of a conflict, but I recognize that those engaged in killing people (for either side) have a powerful need to believe that it does, and that it is their own side that possesses that virtue.

Anyway, if you bear that in mind, it’s interesting stuff.

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