Tuesday, May 31, 2005
On this day:

Second Guessing the Military -- Some Thoughts

Whether in America or the U.K., the mainstream media has taken pains whenever possible to embarass President Bush and the US Military. The offense used need not be significant, like, say, kidnapping and beheading civilians, or burning the bodies of murdered civilians and hanging them on bridges. In such cases, the opposite approach was taken: the media guarded our delicate senses from grisly images. For this same media there are much worse offenses. Piling up naked male criminals on top of each other and photographing them, or attaching a leash to another are two memorable stories where images became the story, nearly replacing it. In the process, the humiliation of Abu Ghraib prisoners was inflated to such an exaggerated degree, that one would forgiven to think the media had forgotten that significantly worse atrocities occurred under Saddam Hussein at this very same prison. Even before Saddam has been convicted of any crime, our Marines have already been handed punishments of their own for their involvement in the Abu Ghraib scandal. Nor was this the only time the US military was thrusted under a proverbial microscope. There was no hesitation the media normally reserves when the victims are American as there was when it broadcasted images of a battle weary Marine who shot and killed an unarmed Iraqi in a mosque. This Marine suspected (as is often the reality) that a lethal trap had been set. The conversation between the Marines prior to the shooting reveals the chilling snap decisions that Marines must frequently make in battle. Of course, these men did not have the media's benefit of time or hindsight. The Marine in question was cleared six months after the mosque shooting. More recently, the alleged insertion of a Quran into a toilet was for some a fate worse than death. Newsweek's recklessness and great enthusiasm for an anti-Bush/military story lead to riots, causing the deaths of 16 people, and roughly 100 dead. Never mind that the story, which Newsweek later retracted, was false. In the same week as the Koran-toilet story, the UK's Sun published photos of Saddam Hussein in his underwear. One suspects that this invasion into the privacy of a genocidal tyrant will be spun into some controversy against a familiar scapegoat. In a world where America is often viewed with deep suspicion or outright hatred, there will be many who will use the photos as a self-righteous reminder to supporters of democracy and America saying "See? We told you so." One might do well to ask: who is the greater threat in these cases? Muslim fundamentalists or the enemy in our backyard, our mainstream media? -- MN