"Korengal" revisits some of the men featured in the original, talking to them stateside about their experiences. They make poignant if not unprecedented insights into the warrior code, and into the complicated lives of stateside veterans.
Among these insights: Soldiers fight not for a cause, but for the guys next to them. The men are forever marked by the violent death of comrades, and by the killing they did, sometimes with an unnerving enthusiasm. Soldiers cannot find relationships in civilian life to match the bonds of brotherhood forged under fire, they never recover the vividness of life lived at the point of death.
Most affecting is the remark by the veteran who does not want to be told that he did what he had to do, because - in his words - he didn't have to. He volunteered to fight, to jump out of an airplane, to go to the front lines. He killed people, and now wonders if God hates him - wonders if "I did what I had to do" will pass muster with whomever greets him at the gates of heaven.
It's hard not to contrast the haunted ambivalence of men like this - men who do the actual fighting and killing and dying - with the cartoon "Team America" certainty of interventionists like Cheney, who always seem so sure that bloody grievances between Sunni and Shia dating back to A.D. 680 could be resolved by just one more U.S. troop deployment, a few more dead.
I don't know who will greet the haunted soldier of "Korengal" on his day of reckoning at the pearly gates, but right now, my money is not on our former vice president.