You Betcha I'm a Proud Army Mom

Ramblings of an Army mom and probably some rants about the world at large. These are my ramblings and rants and no one else's. Just so you know...

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Monday, November 14, 2005

Essay on the MSM and the War

I came across Vodkapundit's (one of my daily reads) essay on "The Arm of Decision" and I found it to be one of the best writings on not only the three global wars of the past century but also of the MSM's role in this fourth global war we are in.

It starts:
"Four years into the Terror War, "What's the most important element for victory?" is a question long overdue. It's also a question our national leadership, nearly all of our intellectuals, and none of our mainstream media have yet to answer."

"President George W Bush hasn't told us, because he doesn't know. His rivals for the Oval Office never answered the question – either because they also don't know or because they don't like the answer. Our Congress and Senate ought to be debating this issue, the most important of our postmodern era. Instead, they're doling out the pork, posing for the cameras, or busy keeping the campaign dollars flowing in by treating small, partisan differences as matters of life and death. Here we are, with a real life-and-death struggle on our hands, and our leadership fiddles while the barbarians beat us at our own game.
Our public thinkers – pundits, intellectuals, whatever you want to call them – are the people we should most rely on for guidance in times such as these. However, they've come up short even using the pathetic standard by which this blogger measures them. Too many of our intellectuals are caught in the past, real or imagined. Most liberal thinkers think one of two things: That this Terror War can be safely ignored (or treated as a police matter, which is effectively the same thing) or that "
America isn't worth dying for." Either path leads to defeat – but at least Cindy Sheehan is cheering openly for the other side. Conservatives fall into three camps. Paleoconservatives, like Pat Buchanan, have joined in the loony left's "blame America first" chorus. If only we'd cut off Israel, buy off the Arabs, retreat behind our borders, and act a lot more like France – then we wouldn't be in this mess. Neoconservatives hold the naïve hope that if we just topple the dictators, democracy will sprout like shiitake mushrooms after a cool rain. Vanilla conservatives might have some reservations about singular campaigns in this war (George Will's reservations about Iraq, for example), but usually get all gung-ho whenever and wherever the troops are involved. But as I discussed in an essay called "Game Plan" last year, this war is about a lot more than combat.
Our mainstream media haven't answered the question, because they know the answer – and they're deathly afraid you'll find out what it is. But we'll get to them in a moment."


Vodkapundit then goes into what he sees as leading us up to the "arm of decision in the Current Mess" by explaining what each of the three past wars were decided by and how it got us to where we are today.

"The First World War was the first war to be decided by chests – and I don't mean war chests. It was the age of wool uniforms and of the machine gun. It was the age of mass production and mass conscription..."

It's an excellent read and I won't try to paraphrase it (I never was good at that.)

What really drew my interest was the following:

"Washington was geared up right for the Blitz to Baghdad in 2003. Instead of the broad front of a "stuff" war, our digital troops raced north with almost reckless abandon, heedless of their flanks – and MSM embeds went along for the ride. As a result, reporting was, for a few short weeks, "fair and balanced." Their lives quite literally on the line, frontline reporters filed their featured bylines with everything from admiration to honest criticism. And they did so virtually always as Westerners first, reporters second.
Today, too many reporters report from the relative safety of Baghdad hotels. Their reports – and the public's understanding of the war – have suffered as a result. And too few of the original embeds remain reporting for duty. When reporters who don't see what's going on write stories without context, they fail to steel the public for bad news and to put the good news in perspective.
It's fair to ask if the Iraq Campaign was a necessary component to the Terror War. It isn't fair to compare Iraq to Vietnam, when the two wars have nothing, zero, nada in common. It's fair to ask if our soldiers are dying in vain, or because of stupid policy, or because of inferior equipment. It's not fair to run headlines like "Battle Deaths Continue to Mount." No shit, Sherlock? A real story would be, "Battle Deaths Decline as Fallen Soldiers Miraculously Resurrected." It's fair to question Bush's policies. It's not fair to act as a conduit for enemy propaganda. It's fair to ask if Iraq is draining resources from our efforts in Afghanistan. It's not fair to complain that Afghanistan isn't perfect yet. It's fair to complain about indecencies at Abu Ghraib. It's not fair to virtually ignore atrocities committed by the other side everywhere else in Iraq.
But our media, aware of their power but ignorant as to its uses, would rather play "gotcha" than provide critical perspective."


"There is no "fixing" the American mainstream media, unless change comes organically. When I wrote last year that we can't win this war by giving up our freedoms, I wasn't kidding – without a free press, we're doomed.
But I do mean to serve notice to the MSM.
When a nation loses a war, it looks to punish the people it believes are to blame. After Vietnam, neither Washington nor our Armed Forces were ever the same again3. But if we lose this Terror War, our media will be seen as largely to blame. They'll suffer blame for their ignorance and for their petulance. They'll suffer blame for seeing al Jazeera as comrades closer than the privates and NCOs and officers fighting to protect the First Amendment. They'll suffer blame for putting their hatred of a Republican President before their love of country. Whether that assessment is fair or not, it is how the public will see things.
Then the public would demand changes. And they'd probably get them, courtesy of a government looking for scapegoats, real or imagined. Should that day come, we'd lose our free press, and we'd lose our freedoms. We'd lose our country."

This is a very frightening scenario to me and one I hope not to live to see.

Please read the whole post and then go to his current post, "The (Weak) Arm of Decision", where it links to Steven Den Beste adds to it.

God, I love the Blogoshere!!