Friday, May 20, 2005

 

You Don't Support Us

As a member of the U.S. Military in Iraq, let me say something very clearly to Newsweek, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, CBS, ABC, and any other media organization of any integrity.

You are creating greater risk for me personally. You are creating incredible hostility in Muslim countries due to incessant negative reporting out of context and ignoring orders of magnitude of good news in doing so. Yet, in your jaded imaginations, you believe every misconception you spin is ever more confirmation of what you always knew about the U.S. Military. These unrelenting Vietnam analogies are like press versions of drug addled flashbacks.

You create added danger for my soldiers. You feed into enemy (yes, enemy) propaganda efforts in yielding unlimited access to pre-staged voices with calculated intent. You are entirely ignorant of the countries you claim to cover, and you know as little about the U.S. Military, its culture, climate, training, procedures, and ways of operation. You diminish and demean our service.

You cause greater concern, fear and worry for our friends and family. You expand pinpoints of data into grossly distorted exaggerations of fact, and paint broad brush strokes of violence without any context or comparison to relative levels elsewhere. You have no sense of proportion or equivalence. You have no regard for collateral damage, and yet see imagined carnage with every surgical strike, precision bomb, or targeted raid. You can speak of cities destroyed with the destruction of a single building.

We daily see the gross distortions. We cannot recognize the caricatures you scratch out, neither in our fellow soldiers, nor in the battlespace we inhabit. Your vain and callous search for what you indignantly claim as objectivity is really nothing more than neutrality in the face of absolute evil. Even though you are neither architect nor sponsor of that evil, you are accomplice in its result. And you continue to ignore the consequence.

We are proud of our Military, our Country, and how, for over 200 years, the U.S. has tried to improve both ourselves and the world around us, usually for little thanks and much scorn and insult. We police ourselves. Every scandal you report, from My Lai to Iran Contra to Abu Ghraib, has been first reported to authorities by military personnel. And that has resulted in prosecutions and punishment. And what do you stress in your reporting? The sins, crimes, and misdemeanors and rarely if ever remark on the ability and willingness for us to identify and correct malfeasance in our ranks.

Never, never claim to support the soldiers, you don't, you never will in any meaningful way until you can see your prejudices for what they are, work to eliminate them, and for once try to view the world with an open and not a closed mind. You need to rethink how you consider the idea of a just war after 9/11. You need to acknowledge that you don't know the modern U.S. Military or the men and women who serve.

Only then can you hope to develop any kind of truly objective view of your world.

And if, after all that, you still think the U.S. causes more harm than good in the world, then there really is no hope for you at all. You are a citizen without a state. And that's too bad, because there is no greater country in the world than the U.S.

Man, this isn't what I intended to write. I got mad. See what happens?

This is what prompted my unhinged state.

Arthur Chrenkoff posted an excerpt from an LA Times editorial that followed the usual "X is wrong, (insert any wildly tangential logic possible) it must be Bush's fault."

As Chrenkoff describes it:
Many in the media are trying to downplay the "Newsweek" incident because the US has already such bad image around the world that it couldn't possibly get any worse - or as "The Los Angeles Times" editorialized, "For all the administration's huffing and puffing about Newsweek getting the story wrong, it has produced such a catalogue of misdeeds at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo that almost any allegation is instantly credited abroad ... The US has already been convicted in the court of world opinion for its treatment of its prisoners, and that's the administration's fault, not Newsweek's."

According to the "LAT", the solution was simple: "Shutting down Guantanamo and giving suspected terrorists legal protections would help restore our reputation abroad. Crowing over Newsweek's mishap won't."
Chrenkoff's response was different than mine, but an aside, and back to his in a moment.

What drivel. When the "Court of World Opinion" seats judges the like of Castro, Putin, Kim Il Sung, whatever Party Hack runs Red China these days, Khaddafi, Chretien, Mugabe ... Okay that's really tiring.

And outside of Bush, Blair, Howard, and the majority of Eastern European leaders, is there anyone else that doesn't have either their heads in the sand or their hands in someone's pockets? No seriously, with the U.N. too busy making illicit fortunes for their principal apparatchiks or setting up sex rings in monitored countries that exploit children (sometimes paid for, and often rape, statutorily so), is there any other set of countries in the world that are making any serious effort to make it safer or better? Or that puts up with so much abuse as thanks for its sacrifices?

Geez. Breathe deeply. Shake your head. Drink some water. Okay.

In answer to the Times prescriptions for how to restore our reputation abroad, here's how Chrenkoff ends, it will be worth the wait:
A more balanced coverage wouldn't go astray either. After spending the last three years reducing the American war effort to Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and assorted other incompetence and brutality, to complain that America's image worldwide is so poor that people will now believe anything smacks somewhat of the chutzpah of a man who killed his parents and pleaded to the court for leniency on the account that he is now an orphan.
Okay, I feel better for the moment. Just keep me away from a paper.

UPDATE:

Kevin at Command T.O.C. responds to my post on his blog:
I have read the many blogs but Dadmanly summed up the outrage from the right/Milbloggers. And he also reinvigorated my belief that I want Newsweek to continue even if they make a few mistakes.

In his rant on the media, he says that that media does not support him or understand him. To this I say, correct, and, moreover, I do not want the media to support him. Not because I do not want the media to support the military but because I want the media to distrust everything about the powerful.

My Counter Response:

I wouldn't call what I posted a rant, at least not in any comparison with the wildly insulting variety commonly seen on blogs (both sides).

That being said, I respectfully disagree. I too want a skeptical press. I want a watchdog press that uncovers hidden or secreted facts. I even want a press that advocates for openness and transparency.

But an adversarial or antagonistic press? This is one of the many hangover symptoms of Watergate and Vietnam.

The press doesn't need to enter the fray, as they often do (and always promoting the point of view of our adversaries). Throughout the Middle East (and across the Globe, really), the anti-American perspective is represented in GREAT abundance. The U.S. press serves no public benefit hawking wares that are widely available elsewhere. Unless of course, they are actively trying to change public perception of facts at hand. That makes them adversarial, certainly, but it also displays a bias for one side over another. And that's not journalism, that's political.

And there is a another fallacy in [Kevin's] logic. Wars are fought by men and women who have no more say in decision-making than any other citizen, and in some cases less, since we are constrained by our oaths of enlistment and duty to serve the U.S. Congress and the Commander in Chief.

As such, we are not the powerful as we would be in a non-democratic state. You attack the military as if we were the powerful; on the battlefield yes, in the public arena, not at all. [Kevin's] beef is with the political leaders such as the President (all of Congress voting in support by the way), not with the fine men and women of the U.S. Military.



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