I've been pretty busy today, so although I'm sure other bloggers have piled on Andy Rooney's latest drivel, I haven't had a chance to read their posts yet. Be that as it may, let's take a quick glance at his pathetic misunderstanding of our armed forces.

Most of the reporting from Iraq is about death and destruction. We don't learn much about what our soldiers in Iraq are thinking or doing. There's no Ernie Pyle to tell us, and, if there were, the military would make it difficult or impossible for him to let us know.
Perhaps Mr. Rooney isn't familiar with any military bloggers, such as Citizen Smash who links to first-hand reports from our soldiers around the world in his frequent sandbox roundups. Mr. Rooney says that he wants a reporter to ask our soldiers some questions, but why bother with a biased intermediary when the soldiers themselves are talking? Why bother with stupid, loaded questions like these?
2. Are you doing what America set out to do to make Iraq a democracy, or have we failed so badly that we should pack up and get out before more of you are killed?
As if there's any chance we'll be leaving Iraq for several decades. C'mon.
4. If you could have a medal or a trip home, which would you take?
Or are you perhaps fighting for a reason that has nothing to do with medals?
5. Are you encouraged by all the talk back home about how brave you are and how everyone supports you?
No, I'm sure it's quite disheartening.
We pin medals on their chests to keep them going. We speak of them as if they volunteered to risk their lives to save ours, but there isn't much voluntary about what most of them have done. A relatively small number are professional soldiers. During the last few years, when millions of jobs disappeared, many young people, desperate for some income, enlisted in the Army. About 40 percent of our soldiers in Iraq enlisted in the National Guard or the Army Reserve to pick up some extra money and never thought they'd be called on to fight. They want to come home.
I highly doubt it's the medals that "keep them going", Mr. Rooney, and it's disgusting that you'd suggest it. Furthermore, it's despicable that you'd cheapen their sacrifice by claiming that it isn't voluntary, that it was somehow coerced by economics. (Not that the details of his position are even worth refuting, but jobs are returning to the civilian sector now and the armed forces are still turning people away.)

If people enlisted in the Reserve or the Guard just to "pick up some extra money" then that's their own miscalculation. Neither organization is a charity, and I imagine the vast majority of their members signed up because they wanted to serve our country, not because they wanted hand-outs.

Some soldiers may want to come home, but that's an option they voluntarily surrendered when they decided to enlist.

One indication that not all soldiers in Iraq are happy warriors is the report recently released by the Army showing that 23 of them committed suicide there last year. This is a dismaying figure. If 22 young men and one woman killed themselves because they couldn't take it, think how many more are desperately unhappy but unwilling to die.
Mr. Rooney, you're an idiot. How many soldiers have rotated through Iraq by now? A million? As this National Institute of Mental Health statistics page shows, suicide is the third leading cause of death among males aged 15 to 24. Furthermore,
Among young people 20 to 24 years of age, the suicide rate was 12/100,000 or 2,360 deaths among 19,711,423 people in this age group. The gender ratio for this age group was 7:1 (males: females).
The soldiers in Iraq are mostly young men, so a suicide rate of 20 per 100,000 wouldn't be surprising; instead we get about 2 per 100,000. By Mr. Rooney's argument, this is evidence that our soldiers like what they're doing.

This is the type of nonsensical opinion that will be gradually weeded out of the marketplace as bloggers take over journalism. Mr. Rooney wouldn't get a hundred hits a day if he had to start now, from scratch.

Someone's numbers are wrong. According to StrategyPage on March 28th, 2004, the suicide rate for Army troops in Iraq was 17.3 per 100,000 soldiers.

The suicide rate for army troops in Iraq over the last year has been 17.3 per 100,000 soldiers, compared to the overall Army rate of 11.9 per 100,000 between 1995 and 2002. This is higher than the overall rate for all branches of the military during the Vietnam war, which was 15.6, and a 3.6 rate for all branches during the 1991 Gulf War.
That means that Mr. Rooney's numbers may be too low, since I'm sure more than 150,000 troops have rotated through Iraq by now (although many may have spent less than a year in theater).

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