"We often talk about how our policies are radicalizing young men in the Middle East to become our enemies, but rarely do we talk about how their actions are radicalizing us," writes Matt Pottinger -- until recently a Wall Street Journal correspondent in China -- explaining why he gave up journalism to join the Marines:
A year ago, I was at my sister's house using her husband's laptop when I came across a video of an American in Iraq being beheaded by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The details are beyond description here; let's just say it was obscene. At first I admit I felt a touch of the terror they wanted me to feel, but then I felt the anger they didn't . . . In a brief moment of revulsion, sitting there in that living room, I became their blowback.
He talks about "the institutions that distinguish the US: the separation of powers, a free press, the right to vote, and a culture that values civic duty -- and describes the effect of a chance encounter with a Marine Corps colonel just back from Iraq:
But what got to me most was his description of how the Marines behaved and how they looked after each other in a hostile world. That struck me as a metaphor for how America should be in the world at large, and it also appealed to me on a personal level.
In a way, I see the Marines as a microcosm of America at its best. Their focus isn't on weapons and tactics, but on leadership. That's the whole point of the Marines. They care about each other in good times and bad, they've always had to fight for their existence -- even Harry Truman saw them as nothing more than the "Navy's police force" -- and they have the strength of their traditions. Their future, like the country's, is worth fighting for. I hope to be part of the effort.
Give 'em hell, Matt.