From the opinion journal:
A small but telling example comes in the course of a Reuters report on the latest fighting in Somalia:
More than a decade ago, U.S. forces backed by Black Hawk helicopters suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of militiamen attacking from the city's maze of back alleys.
Reader Steve Tolle comments:
As an Army veteran who had a couple of buddies involved in the Black Hawk Down incident, I take a bit of umbrage at the characterization of a "humiliating defeat."
In the cold calculations of war, the numbers say otherwise. We had 18 soldiers killed and around 70 wounded while inflicting casualties on the enemy of up to 1,000 fighters killed and unknown numbers wounded. We retreated back to the main base in relatively good order while under fire the whole time. We had soldiers who came out of the fight that went back in to help their fellow soldiers. We did all of this against fighters who hid behind women and children while attacking.
We had two Special Forces soldiers win the Medal of Honor posthumously for their efforts to defend one of the downed helicopter's crew. They knew it would be two against hundreds, but went anyway because they were not going to leave any Americans behind.
It was the politicians and media, not the soldiers, which turned this battle into anything other than what it was: a group of U.S. Army soldiers, vastly outnumbered in a hostile city, fighting with bravery and skill, getting themselves out of a bad situation. I don't consider that a defeat, let alone a humiliating one.
Journalists tend not to respond well to such criticism. In his "TV Hall of Shame" for 2006, Eric Deggans, television critic for the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, denounces "claims that journalists suppress good news from Iraq":
Statistics proving the Iraq War is the most deadly conflict in history for journalists didn't stop these boneheaded accusations from conservative pundits and war hawks. Even as first lady Laura Bush was insisting to MSNBC last week that journalists weren't reporting "good news," the Iraq Study Group report maintained the media was underreporting violence in Iraq, by not tabulating attacks that don't affect U.S. personnel. But with 126 journalists and support staff dead so far, perhaps the Ann Coulters of the world could ease up on reporters who are risking their lives.
Deggans doesn't actually dispute the contention that journalists suppress good news; he merely suggests that because war reporting is a dangerous business, it is bad form to criticize journalists. Meanwhile, Reuters treats military deaths that haven't even happened as a reason to further the propaganda of those who oppose the military's mission:
In Kansas City, they will light candles and lay out more than 80 pairs of empty combat boots. In Chicago, anti-war activists will hand out black ribbons, each bearing the name of a U.S. soldier killed in Iraq.
And in New Haven, Connecticut, opponents of the war plan to read aloud the names of 3,000 dead U.S. soldiers.
In all, organizers say some 140 demonstrations in 37 states are planned to mark the 3,000th U.S. military death in Iraq, a milestone that is likely only days away.
Like they give a rat's behind. I can see them now, they have their party plans all made and they wait avidly and excitedly for the magic 3,000 to come about so that they can sing and preach and burn flags. Just like the good old days when the demonstrators burned down the ROTC building.
Well you know something? I remember those days and a lot of those demonstrators did not care about dead Americans. Not a bit. They were full of the sanctimonious outrage and wanted to bring about the Revolution! I remember. The dead were just handy, an excuse to do what they wanted to do anyway...raise hell.
What about grim milestones? The press loves them, feeds of them like maggots on a wound..but was the life of the first soldier any less precious than another? Is that life precious at all to the people who are planning this event? These soldiers are volunteers. They are not politicians, they are not policy makers and while the constant negativity can obviously erode the will of the public for conflict and keep hope alive in the ranks of the enemy...what then?
What did that humiliating defeat in Somalia lead to? Well... more war. Packing up and running for the hills did not bring peace. All it did was render the deaths of those young men meaningless. And that is what really hurts.
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