Moulton Lava

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Location: New England, United States

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Death and Dishonor

Ted Westhusing was a Professor of Philosophy at West Point Academy. He taught Ethics to the cadets.

To ensure that he wasn't just lecturing from the Ivory Tower, he decided to volunteer for a tour in Iraq, to help ground his subject.

Instead of putting Westhusing in charge of an activity involving enlisted soldiers, he was assigned to a unit that oversaw commercial operators to whom the Pentagon had awarded contracts for reconstruction projects.

The amount of corruption in these outsourced contracts was so extensive that Westhusing became profoundly dispirited.

He felt sullied and dishonored by the scandalous combination of corruption and abuses that characterized the fiasco in Iraq.

Last June, Westhusing committed suicide.

His biographer likened his case to the Sophoclean tragedy of Ajax. In that play, Ajax is an honor-driven character who commits suicide early in the play. Then, for the rest of the play, the remaining cast of characters go about their 'business as usual' as the body of Ajax lies unattended on the the stage.

Iraq, like Ajax, symbolizes the death of honor as an American value.


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