Many people have read the article written by Nicholas Schmidle about the death of one of the most sought after terrorists, Osama Bin Laden. It is hard to argue that the article is not entertaining, after all, it is written about one on the most historical events of this time, but many have found great fault with the article. The problem is that Schmidle portrays war as a thrilling, exhilarating and victorious thing, but stark reality proves differently.
After reading How To Tell a True War Story by Tim O’Brien, one seems to notice even more problems with Schmidle’s piece. O’Brien’s book addresses the realities of war; it is not pretty, it is quite gruesome and not a happy situation in general. His story tells the supposed truths of war, most of the time is spent doing back-breaking work, resting and hoping for a notice to return home. While the SEALs in their mission to kill “Geronimo,” were not deployed for months, the fact remains that their job was not glamorous or filled with excitement and joy. O’Brien makes one realize that Schmidle glorifies the operation more than what probably happened. These were soldiers going in to kill the most wanted terrorist in the world, they were most likely not happy and giddy as Schmidle’s piece makes them sound. Of course they felt accomplished after the mission, but during they were not thinking about how epic and magnificent their feat was.
The documentary “Restrepo” reinforces this concept even more. It tells the story of two photojournalists in one of the most dangerous places in Afghanistan and uses actual footage of the war to prove the point, war is an ugly thing. At the beginning of the deployment, before they depart, many of the soldiers are ready to make this trip, serve their time, and do their part for their beloved county. However, as soon as they descend into the valley they will inhabit for the coming months, their moral instantly plummets. They realize that their duty is not going to be to bravely shoot their gun from behind a wall, kill the enemy and celebrate their victory. No, they quickly find out that their lives are going to become harder than ever before, facing constant fire, losing friends and confronting their fears. There was nothing pretty about it, it was war; if there was a victory it was closely followed by a loss. Unlike Schmidle’s account of the smoothly run operation in Pakistan, soldiers hit roadblocks, things do not go off without a hitch, and sacrifices must be made to move forward. In the end, Schmidle made war appear glorified, heroic and celebratory all throughout the mission. However, as O’Brien’s piece and “Restrepo” show, war is anything but glamorous, there may be uplifting times but they unfortunately are only short lived and followed by even tougher situations.