CBS “60 Minutes” commentator Andy Rooney says it’s wrong to portray U.S. forces fighting in Iraq as heroes, claiming they are not all “gladly risking their lives for us sitting comfortably back here at home.”

Andy Rooney

In a recent column, Rooney writes, “Treating soldiers fighting their war as brave heroes is an old civilian trick designed to keep the soldiers at it. But you can be sure our soldiers in Iraq are not all brave heroes. …”

The commentator says a reporter should ask soldiers in Iraq to answer these five questions:

  1. Do you think your country did the right thing sending you into Iraq?

  2. Are you doing what America set out to do to make Iraq a democracy, or have we failed so badly that we should pack up and get out before more of you are killed?

  3. Do the orders you get handed down from one headquarters to another, all far removed from the fighting, seem sensible, or do you think our highest command is out of touch with the reality of your situation?

  4. If you could have a medal or a trip home, which would you take?

  5. Are you encouraged by all the talk back home about how brave you are and how everyone supports you?

Claiming U.S. military personnnel are just ordinary people, Rooney writes, “Our soldiers in Iraq are people, young men and women, and they behave like people – sometimes good and sometimes bad, sometimes brave, sometimes fearful. It’s disingenuous of the rest of us to encourage them to fight this war by idolizing them. We pin medals on their chests to keep them going. We speak of them as if they volunteered to risk their lives to save ours, but there isn’t much voluntary about what most of them have done. A relatively small number are professional soldiers. During the last few years, when millions of jobs disappeared, many young people, desperate for some income, enlisted in the Army.”

The longtime CBS curmudgeon points to the military suicide rate as evidence many soldiers don’t want to be serving their country in Iraq.

“One indication that not all soldiers in Iraq are happy warriors is the report recently released by the Army showing that 23 of them committed suicide there last year,” Rooney says. “This is a dismaying figure. If 23 young men and one woman killed themselves because they couldn’t take it, think how many more are desperately unhappy but unwilling to die.

“We must support our soldiers in Iraq because it’s our fault they’re risking their lives there. However, we should not bestow the mantle of heroism on all of them for simply being where we sent them. Most are victims, not heroes.”

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