But oh, how much was lost. In the past, you see, he was a sensitive soul with "compassion for those with disabilities." In a particularly treacly passage, he tells us he once worked in a summer camp with disabled children and in college helped a colleague with cerebral palsy. Then this delicate compassionate youth is transformed into an unfeeling animal by war.
Except that it is now revealed that the mess hall incident happened before he even got to the war. On which point, the whole story -- and the whole morality tale it was meant to suggest -- collapses.
And it makes the rest of the narrative banal and uninteresting. It's the story of a disgusting human being, a mocker of the disfigured, who then goes to Iraq and, as such human beings are wont to do, finds the company of other such human beings who kill dogs for sport, wear the bones of dead children on their heads and find amusement in mocking the disfigured.
We will soon learn if there actually was a dog killer or a bone wearer. But The New Republic seems not to have understood how the Kuwait "detail" undermines everything. After all, what made the purported story interesting enough to publish? Why did The New Republic run it?
Because it fits perfectly into the most virulent narrative of the anti-war left. The Iraq War -- "George Bush's war," as even Hillary Clinton, along with countless others who had actually endorsed the war, now calls it -- has not only caused the sorrow and destruction that we read about every day. It has, most perniciously, caused invisible damage -- now made visible by the soul-searching of one brave and gifted private: It has perverted and corrupted the young soldiers who went to Iraq, and now return morally ruined. Young soldiers like Scott Thomas Beauchamp.
We already knew from all of America's armed conflicts -- including Iraq -- what war can make men do. The only thing we learn from Scott Thomas Beauchamp is what literary ambition can make men say.
Charles Krauthammer is a 1987 Pulitzer Prize winner, 1984 National Magazine Award winner, and a columnist for The Washington Post since 1985.
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