A letter from a reader: Omitting a basic question about the war

March 19, 2008:

I find it distressing that E.B. Boyd '89's otherwise excellent article (cover story, Nov. 7) fails to ask a basic question involving the service of the Princetonians profiled: Do their experiences of leadership include any examination of their own involvement in a U.S. invasion and occupation that have violated international laws? Boyd alludes briefly to the Senate speech of Robert Byrd in 2002, but goes on to lionize these soldiers without any acknowledgement that the overwhelming majority of their countrymen now understand that this "mission" was not only a mistake but a terrible human tragedy, for Iraq and for our own nation. Do these heroic and apparently idealistic alums have any qualms about where they are, and why? Or do they simply do their duty without questioning the deeply flawed policy behind it? And if Boyd pretends to write in a moral and political vacuum, why should PAW and its editors not demand a wider perspective, rather than mere flag-waving?

My own Princeton education, especially in history and politics, taught me never to accept any government's word or command without deeper consideration of its motives; one would hope that these outstanding young people would complement their honorable service with a remembrance of what their alma mater should have taught them in this regard. (How ironic that the same Nov. 7 issue contained a quotation from Theodore Sorenson on JFK: "He knew war, and did not want war.")

Rancho Mirage, Calif.

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