Never in the history of the world has any soldier sacrificed more for the freedom and liberty of total strangers than the American soldier.
If American and Iraqi forces were to kill hundreds of terrorists in a pitched battle, capturing dozens of wanted ringleaders and uncovering several bomb-making safe houses in the process -- all while sustaining amazingly light casualties -- what would the headline be in the following morning’s New York Times or Washington Post?
The truth would read: (buried on page 14A)
U.S. Military Grinds Insurgency Under It’s Heel; Hands Enemy Punishing Losses
What you‘d actually see: (front page, above the fold)
Nine U.S. Soldiers Killed in Protracted Fighting; Dozens More Wounded
To read the major newspapers and watch the major networks (along with most of the cable channels), one would be forgiven for failing to discern any accomplishments by the troops in Iraq other than the daily ritual of getting themselves killed.
In the stead of encouraging press accounts exist inane criticisms borne of supreme ignorance of military realities, gross misrepresentations of the all-volunteer force, and galling ingratitude toward those who have chosen a life of service over one of self interest.
This is a mainstream media that in the last year alone fell all over themselves trying to convince us that a slanderous traitor was instead a war hero, a statesman, and presidential material; that the moral authority of antiwar grieving mothers is "absolute" -- up to and including the twisted hatred of their own country; and one that has all but ignored the unqualified successes of Afghanistan and Iraq, relentlessly portraying these nascent victories as unmitigated disasters in the making.
Ours is a mainstream press that doesn’t bat an eye about running with “fake but accurate” stories about the mishandling of the Koran by soldiers at Guantanamo, yet can’t be bothered to report anything decent, positive, or even vaguely heroic routinely performed every day by the American military all over the world.
We have met the enemy, and he is us.
The soldiers in Iraq have been given an impossible task -- not by the CinC -- but by the MsM: They must fight a “culturally sensitive” war under a politically correct microscope, all while operating under the fisheye lens of the 24-hour news cycle.
At the risk of their own lives, the troops must protect museums, mosques, and medical facilities even as the insurgents use them as cover for their attacks. They must observe the rules of warfare to the point of absurdity while the enemy openly flouts them. And lest they feel the wrath of media condemnation, they must treat captured terrorists like visiting heads of state. Meanwhile, the Islamists -- being old-fashioned, of course-- prefer the time honored method of prisoner care: cutting off their heads.
The mainstream press has thrown a fit over the Defense Department’s policy on restricting the release of photos depicting American service members who return home in flag-draped caskets. Are we truly to believe their earnest claims -- that they only wish to “honor” our war dead -- or is antiwar exploitation their true aim?
Newsroom producers crave these emotive pictures to sensationalize a death toll that their daily tickers have not sufficiently brought home to bear on the public conscience. Yet even their obsession with American and Iraqi body counts simply doesn’t hold up to the light of historical scrutiny and the average cost of freedom throughout our nation’s history.
More than 1,000 Marines were killed in the three-day battle for Tarawa in November, 1943.
2,500 American GIs were lost at Normandy the following year on D-Day alone.
37,000 soldiers was the U.S. cost of the three-year stalemate on the Korean Peninsula.
By contrast, in the 2 ½ years of the Iraq War, 1,878 service members have died in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, only 3/4 of which have been the result of hostile action. Logistically speaking, these are not unsustainable numbers of casualties. But military logistics are not what the media soberly choose to focus on; they’d rather play up the public's emotional hysterics.
Nightline has twice devoted entire commercial-free segments to the names and faces of those that have made the ultimate sacrifice in the War on Terror, silently scrolling them across the screen at light speed. ABC contends the images are to honor U.S. military sacrifice. But this shock and awe campaign waged against the public is hardly designed to engender respect and admiration for the troops; it is clearly intended to produce disgust and revulsion at the seemingly horrendous cost in young lives cut short. It is tantamount to a politely fulsome eulogy given for the benefit of a despised neighbor‘s surviving relatives.
The soldiers who gave all are not anonymous victims to be pitied on national television; and they are not dupes who slavishly gave their lives for a cause whose outcome they were indifferent to. They are heroes -- anomalous examples of the rarest of American mettle -- to be honored in the communities where they lived and remembered for the sacrifices they willingly made. They are the ones the neighborhood kids should be idolizing; not millionaire ballplayers, not arrogant Hollywood actors, and certainly not tv reality-faux celebrities.
G.K. Chesterton described courage as “almost a contradiction in terms: it means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die.”
If the networks truly want to honor the Iraq veterans, they can begin by reporting the good things they’ve done "over there" and the millions of lives they’ve made better, rather than obsessing over the tragic but unavoidable commonalities of war.
It is likely that more Americans can name all the Girls of Abu Ghraib Gone Wild than the war’s single posthumous Medal of Honor winner. For those who passively rely on the MsM to keep them informed, this would not be surprising.
In the end, it is patently absurd for the activist media to use death toll alone as a wobbly benchmark to stand on for judging the moral correctness of a military conflict. If so, it would then follow that there has to be an absolute number that, when crossed, reflexively invalidates a war. How many lives are expendable in a “just” war? 100? 500? 1,878?
The soldier’s answer is that no lives are expendable, yet there is no limit as to how many are worth the sacrifice if even one life is deemed so worthy. If a cause is sufficient to risk the life of a single American fighting man, then it should be worth the lives of all of them if necessary; to include the eldest son of Cindy Sheehan.
It is also why the voters -- not poll numbers, not publicity stuntwomen, and thankfully not pessimistic press accounts -- ultimately decide the governance and direction of our nation‘s foreign policy.
COPYRIGHT 2005 BUCK SARGENT