This chapter considers recent stories about the Iraq War. These stories describe the accidental killing of a child, eliciting feelings of guilt, helplessness, and frustration in soldiers fighting a war in which choices are impossible—not because they are morally ambiguous, but because often there is very little time or leeway to make a choice in the first place. Compared to their Vietnam counterparts, the soldiers who wrote these stories had even less agency. The death of a child is undeniably a bad thing, but in these circumstances almost impossible to avoid. Afterward, soldiers felt burdened by guilt and shame, even though those events were hardly the result of their careful, deliberate actions. The chapter also discusses the film The Hurt Locker (2009), which addresses the problems posed by suicide bombers, sectarian violence, urban warfare, and explosives that can be triggered by seemingly innocuous people and technology.
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