Tue, Dec 23, 2003 - Page 7 News List

Person of the Year choice damns Bush with faintest praise

AP , NEW YORK

The American soldier, bearing the duty of "living with and dying for a country's most fateful decisions," was named on Sunday as Time magazine's Person of the Year.

The choice represents the 1.4 million men and women who make up the US military, which led the invasion of Iraq nine months ago and a week ago captured deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

About 130,000 US troops remain in Iraq, with others deployed in Afghanistan, South Korea and elsewhere.

The troops were singled out as the top newsmakers of the year because "the very messy aftermath of the war made it clear that the mission had changed, that the mission had not been completed and that this would be a story that would be with us for months, if not years, to come," said Time managing editor Jim Kelly.

The selection echoes 1950, the year the Korean War began, when the magazine's editors picked the American GI for the cover, writing that: "it was not a role the American had sought, either as an individual or as a nation. The US fighting-man was not civilization's crusader, but destiny's draftee."

The 2003 Person of the Year package, due on newsstands yesterday, features an artillery survey unit from the 1st Armored Division to tell the story of the American soldier.

The magazine glorifies the soldiers but not the Bush administration for putting them in Iraq, calling troops "the bright sharp instrument of a blunt policy," and leaving it to scholars to debate "whether the Bush doctrine is the most muscular expression of national interest in a half-century."

"A force intensively trained for its mission finds itself improvising at every turn, required to exercise exquisite judgment in extreme circumstances," the magazine said.

"They complain less about the danger than the uncertainty -- they are told they're going home in two weeks, and then two months later they have not moved," it said.

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