The War We Don't See

Only this week, six servicemembers were killed, buried under rubble after a Taliban bomb destroyed their recently acquired outpost in Kandahar. This year, the American human toll in Afghanistan has reached the highest levels in the decade of war and occupation - a war longer than Vietnam. But we can ignore this toll because it is borne by a professional military - and remains far from many of our daily lives. Yes, we all remain loyal to the troops, and we should. But it seems to me that being loyal requires more than lipservice; it requires doing our job as civilians to figure out the strategy and tactics that these young men and women are ordered to implement. It requires paying higher taxes to pay for their efforts - and to remind us of the costs of war.

Sebastian Junger's and Tim Hetherington's documentary, Restrepo, now replaces "The Hurt Locker" as the movie that has helped me most understand the sacrifice and honor and horror of the wars we are now engaged in. You can watch it on multiple platforms, but I do hope you can see it. One scene in it is of such raw emotional power it actually defines what "reality television" could be, rather than what it is. (Think of "Restrepo" as a truth-charged antidote to the propaganda of "Sarah Palin's Alaska" in this respect, although the two do not merit mentioning in the same breath.)

The war these men are fighting is as visceral, primordial and terrifying as any moment in Vietnam. Their bonds, their flaws, their fear and their tenacity are exposed with a candor that shocks. See it.