In war, the pen still defeats the sword

As dissent grows from our occupation of Iraq, it appears the pen is no longer mightier than the sword, or in 2006, the automatic weapon. For Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reporter Matt Pottinger, taking action against inaction, his pen no longer holds the might it once did. This 32-year-old journalist joined the U.S. Marines knowing the strong chance he will be deployed to Iraq. This change of scenery comes as part of his plea to America to “start improving ourselves. We’re competing now.”

He served his country for nearly a decade as a reporter, and now takes what he feels is the next step in serving his country, he told me recently. “I wanted to actually be participating in an incredibly important period in our history as opposed to just observing and reporting events…I didn’t want to watch the movie and not have a part in it.”

As the president’s line of reasoning for this war is gradually refuted, the public’s disapproval for the imperialism under the banner of “spreading democracy” grows. And as the U.S. wonders how far to dig the war hole, our men and women fight a government’s war of a seemingly endless struggle against religious extremists seeking the riches of martyrdom.

The media is beginning to find its backbone and expose the injustice that is committed daily. For Pottinger, his voice at the WSJ news powerhouse (long considered a conservative news organization) was apparently not enough in a country where the majority of citizens is against the war. Though we are now able to have our voices heard through modes of communication like blogging, those with instant national recognition have an obligation to open the eyes of the country to the truth, positive or negative.

Now is not the time to add another body to the death count if it can be avoided. If it is complacency that one detests, call your fellow Americans to action through the many means this country offers from congressional letters to blogs to non-violent protests.

It is going to take more than Pottinger to help bring democracy and stability to Iraq. With the information that comes out of Iraq regarding the insanity, the mounting deaths on both sides, it is difficult to believe that one would voluntarily enlist in the Marines during this war with the backing of a media outlet that published his voice.

Fueling the violence in the Middle East will not create peace. If we want to right a wrong, uncovering injustice is the first step. Losing a journalist to fight in the war, rather than going overseas to cover the war, may prove counterproductive.

The state of the union is not reassuring. The media have enlightened the public for decades to social and political scandals. During this time of possible executive government malfeasance, the media should place our current government on a public trial exposing the dishonesty in the court of public opinion.

If our society has not lost its sense of ethics and law, justice will overcome injustice, but this will not be accomplished with a gun. You can save more lives with your pen than with violence. Matt Pottinger may be a conservative ideologue who has drank too much Kool-Aid from the neoconservative trough. Violence only breeds more violence. I hope you come home safe, and learn the truth of war.

Sam Rega is a sophomore majoring in motion pictures and philosophy. He can be contacted at