The classic artistic statements on war give me some solace about what our country's leadership has done: Apocalypse Now, Wilfred Owen's poetry, Remarque's novel All Quiet on the Western Front -- I should read Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms.
It's true that I am anti-war; that said, I realize that I'm like any other person, and that things happen to me and I am placed in circumstances beyond my control. I am a big, strong person; if I took a liking to firearms, or to aviation, or the sea, what would have prevented me from being a military man? It's easy to imagine a completely different track for me -- I don't purport to call myself an "individualist" in control of my fate. I teach students that are veterans.
On the question of our country's conduct of the Iraq War, it's important to remember that wars take on a life of their own, and all wars are the same, involving the chaos and social de-evolution inherent when force/violence becomes normalized. I truly try not to judge a person for being a soldier and serving -- neither am I the person to say, "This is an American hero." In the Book of Luke, Jesus is approached by a Roman centurion (soldier) -- who were the enemy of Jesus' people, the Jews -- and Jesus heals his dying servant.
If I had my druthers, we'd get better leadership from the top of the chain, but in a democracy, we sometimes end up with leaders who simply lack bureaucratic skill. And why not -- it's the hardest job in the world. Imagine the stress of Michael Corleone in Godfather II multiplied by a thousand or more.
The words of Henry James also give me solace:
We work in the dark--we do what we can--we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art.