Sunday, October 09, 2005

Slighting the Troops

Former assistant secretary of defense Bing West, author of a great book on the battle of Fallujah, has a terrific column in today's Washington Post. Mr. West makes some good points on the media's obsession with reporting allegations of abuse by our soldiers at the expense of their numerous acts of heroism:

Not to take anything away from The Greatest Generation, but the behavior of our soldiers today will stand scrutiny when compared to the performance of those in any past war. The focus of the press on abuse is not due to any relaxation in military discipline or social mores. Why was valor considered front-page news in 1945 and abuse considered front-page news in 2005?

Poor conduct, like shipwrecks, makes news. On the other hand, saving a ship should also make news. For saving a Marine in what is called "the house from hell" in Fallujah, Sgt. Kasal has passed into Marine legend. Yet Fallujah Redux as a front-page story is based on allegations of bad conduct, not of heroism. If a story about louts two years ago merits the front page today, then stories of heroes merit equal attention today and tomorrow.

Many say they oppose the war but support the troops, meaning that policy can go awry but the nation needs its guardians. As a nation, we'd best be careful about what we choose to accentuate about ourselves. This is not a plea for cheerleading; it is an argument for balance.

Slighting This Greatest Generation
(link courtesy of LGF)

I could speculate on the reasons for the unbalanced nature of the media's coverage, but I won't. I will just say that there's something very wrong indeed when Lynndie England is a household name and Paul R. Smith isn't.


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