Saturday, October 20, 2007

Putting the "We" in "We Are at War"

We just heard at the Watson Institute: Matthew Gutmann, Brown University "Breaking Ranks: An Oral History Project on Iraq War Veteran Dissent;” Erin Solaro, author "Women in the Line of Fire: What You Should Know About Women in the Military;" Greg Gardner, served with the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq as Chief of Staff for the Senior Advisor, Ministry of National Security and Defense, Iraq vet, military analyst for FOX News.

A major theme of this conference, “Front Line, First Person,” is the disconnect between the American public and what is really happening in Iraq. Experiencing the photos, interviews, sounds, images, profanity, love, and fear can bring us a little closer to understanding. I kept hearing soldiers urge more Americans to seriously ask more returning soldiers for reflections on their experience.

The power of this meeting is the level of discussion. Sometimes conferences fall into jargon and sound bites, empty of meaning and responsibility. Here, people are speaking with feeling and passion, and in language that is plain, unvarnished, and poetic. Note to self: This is how to do a great, meaningful meeting.

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