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Trudeau’s Sandbox | The Nation

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Katrina vanden Heuvel

Katrina vanden Heuvel

Politics, current affairs and riffs and reflections on the news.

Trudeau’s Sandbox

Doonesbury cartoonist Gary Trudeau had a terrific idea which he introduced in his Sunday strip. Explaining that the public is "increasingly disconnected from the troops," in part because it has become increasingly dangerous for reporters to cover the war, Trudeau created a milblog for troops to "report on themselves" in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Sandbox offers soldiers a forum to share "… the unclassified details of deployment -- the everyday, the extraordinary, the wonderful, the messed-up, the absurd."

"I think the wars are just too remote for people's minds," Trudeau said. "They see two, three minutes on the evening news, maybe, if they don't look away."

Visit the site for authentic, first-hand accounts of soldiers' experiences. Here are some excerpts from recent posts:

"Tadpole," serving in Special Ops in Afghanistan, posts: "While I was home on leave recently, all the talk on every news channel was about the 10-year-old murder case of a little girl, hardly any mention of the war at all. When there is mention of the war, it's almost always of Iraq. Many people seem to have forgotten about Afghanistan altogether. Many of us over here feel like the forgotten bastard step-children of war. We get the leftover equipment, and very little recognition."

Staff Sergeant Emily Joy Schwenkler writes from Baghdad: "It is extremely hard to be here and not question the people and events that led to our being here. I don't question my own personal choice to be here. I ran, not walked, to my local recruiter with the desire to serve my country…. But there is no "winning" here. I can see the signs that our government is beginning to realize the same thing, beginning its modern-day version of Vietnamization…."

"Spc. O," stationed in Iraq, observes, "It's easy to say ‘WE have to go to war' if you're not WE, and it's easy to say ‘Bring home the troops' if they are not your brothers getting left behind on the return trip."

Zachary Scott-Singley describes his first Memorial Day after returning from Iraq: "The memories, and feeling that guilt for coming back alive while so many others have died, both soldiers and civilians. That was all I could think about that day: Why me? God, why did you let me live when you took so many others? But it wasn't God; it was us, mankind that did this."

Trudeau is relying on word-of-mouth to promote the site and is already pleased with the traffic. "We're in the odd position of not wanting to be too successful," he said. "We really don't have the resources to edit and post more than four to five submissions (and their comments) a day."

Check out what the troops have to say at The Sandbox. It's a great opportunity to hear from those making the greatest sacrifices and directly bearing the consequences of these wars.

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