Arkin Prints Letters from Military Readers

By: E&P Staff

William M. Arkin, whose recent blog columns at drew wide criticism from readers and pundits — and the Post’s ombudsman — has printed dozens of letters from military families and military personnel the past two days.

Arkin, who writes the Early Warning blog on national security and military affairs, drew disapproval for complaining about soldiers in Iraq ripping those on the home front who oppose the war. In the process he likened those in the all-volunteer force to mercenaries, which angered many.

The letters he is quoting from come from a batch of 400 and he says they are representative. Some take his side, others do not. For a full sample visit his column at

Here is one selection, from a former Marine Corps officer.

I read your column regularly because it offers a contrarian point of view of national security affairs. It is often witty, informative and provides talking points for discussions in grad school. I read the column that triggered the torrent of hate emails last week and was angered by your use of the word “mercenary” in describing U.S. service members serving in Iraq as Afghanistan.

This is where I come from: I was a Marine infantry officer from October 2001 to June 2005 (stints in Iraq as part of the invasion and Afghanistan as part of the occupation), but before that I was an AP newsman for 4 1/2 years. Needless to say, I’m a conflicted person. I’m a firm believer in the Fourth Estate — that criticism of our government and its leaders is the media’s duty as part of our liberal democracy. This is why we fight.

At the same time, the tone of your column seemed to direct your vitriol about policy failings at the schleps who implement the policy. Men I know have been killed and maimed, and your mocking “mercenary” jab dishonors them. America indulges its troops because, for better or worse, the troops fight for America because they choose to do so.

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