When watching Junger and Hetherington’s “Restrepo” I was relieved to see them still able to dance – that they still had some remnants of a sense of humor. The other scenes of “Restrepo”, Tim O’Brian’s How To Tell A True War Story, and other modern media such as The Hurt Locker and news leave us with images of such broken men and women.
This drew quite a contrast to Schmidle’s article drawing out the events leading to Bin Laden’s assassination. Schmidle glorified the war. He did not present many flaws, and showed the soldiers in a primarily positive light, where O’Brian only showed the ugly side of war. But both of their pieces had very different purposes. Schmidle’s article was going to be immediately more widespread, while O’Brian’s will have a much longer life. Schmidle’s intension while writing his article was to quickly provide the nation with news— however questionable— his article conjures support for their heroic actions and fosters a sense of American nationalism within the reader. He was writing to praise American soldiers and their brave actions, but he was completely detached from the situation. O’Brian, Junger, and Hetherington were directly connected to the war. O’Brian had gone to war and he could credibly criticize it— he had experienced the horrors first hand. Because it was personal for him, his approach had to be different from Schmidle’s. As for the creators of “Restrepo”, they knew the soldiers who were fighting overseas; while they were not in combat, they were still more emotionally linked than Schmidle.
Schmidle will always be criticized for his lack of direct evidence, but he should not be condemned for presenting the war in a much different light than the other writers. His article was written to entertain the people, O’Brian wrote to express something he finds emotionally troubling because he wants people to better understand what war can do to a person.