"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse."--John Stuart MillOkay, prepare yourselves to be offended. All of you.
As I listened to the morning news coverage of the American-led bombing campaign taking place in Syria and Iraq, I was troubled by one of my favorite correspondent's attitude. Fox News contributor, Laura Ingram, who I respect tremendously and almost always agree with, made some troubling comments.
Basically, she said that the American people are "entitled" to answers, plans, projections, strategy, Allied information etc. with regard to the military operations occurring in the Middle East against our new enemy, ISIS.
As much as I love her syndicated radio show and her quick wit, Ms. Ingram is simply wrong.
Drum roll please...
I cannot believe these words are about to escape my lips: President Barack Hussein Obama doesn't owe me or you or any other member of our civilian population a full explanation right now. And any explanations given to the military community should be given with great care and caution. In fact, if you want me to be completely honest, I think all speeches, presidential addresses, daily briefings, etc. should be completely devoid of any mention of what is going on operationally on the current battlefield. Our president, whoever that person has been, is or will be, is charged, above all else, with protecting the American people, our international interests and our Allies. A president cannot effectively perform those Constitutional duties while at the same time fully informing a curious, fickled nation and a desperate, intelligent enemy. The operational plans decided upon and currently being discussed between our dear leader, his military advisers and any Allied coalition he has assembled should remain confidential and restricted.
Loose lips cost lives.
I'm just going to lay it all out...The problem with modern warfare is that half of the battles are fought on air, during prime-time TV hours. War isn't something that should play out on cable. It isn't something that should be discussed by a well-dressed, perfectly groomed round table on live television at 5, 6, 7, 9, and 10 P.M. I keep thinking about the popular trilogy, "The Hunger Games". How the fictional nation of Panem, with a strikingly similar geographical location to our own country, found itself watching, with rapt attention, a televised program of child-combatants killing each other because their oppressive government deemed their sacrifice appropriate penitence for rebellion. The concept of the books seemed far-fetched, impossible, even ludicrous. And then I considered what our modern, 24- hour news cycle might look like to future generations of humanity.
Americans, for the most part, don't have the stomach for war. Not real war. We don't want to see the reality of what a village looks like after our bombs have found their mark. We don't want to face the video footage showing the maimed, the lost, the infernos. Americans proved with Vietnam and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, that our attention spans are short and our stomachs, weak. This military effort is popular right now, but trust me, as the gruesome images surface and when the reports grow dim, or when the first American service man or woman returns home in a flag-draped coffin, the tide will turn and our apathetic attitude will rear its ugly head.
The news correspondents embedded with military forces create additional security issues for our already strained forces. Pundits and news broadcasters who have little to no knowledge of the inner workings of our military, spend countless hours debating tactics, strategy and potential outcomes. Meanwhile, our soldiers, Marines and airmen are left vulnerable because the enemy, who is watching the news feed on their iPhone, iPad or flat screen TV, is emboldened and strategically equipped because they are familiar with their native terrain and recognize the background landscape of our news screen shot. (If you think they aren't watching and listening to our American news, think again.) Liberals and pacifists are enraged by the video footage showing the bombs, their detonation and the resulting destruction. Military wives, mothers, husbands, families are glued to the television praying for peace and hoping for a glimpse of their loved one or a unit patch they recognize. Politicians facing tough reelections use the broadcast information garnered from the battlefield correspondents to critic the president, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and our generals.
War is a bloody, tragic, miserable thing. It is not for the faint of heart. And it shouldn't be broadcast in the name of entertainment.
A day will come when our president will need to give a full accounting of his wartime decisions and his strategy. But that time is not now. We have men and women in harms way.
Otto Von Bismarck once said, "The great questions of the day will not be settled by means of speeches and majority decisions but by iron and blood." As the American people, let us resolve ourselves to having patience. Let us content ourselves in knowing that our brave men and women in uniform are fighting on our behalf and facing dangers our nightmares can't imagine. Let us allow them sufficient time to determine the answers to our many great, contemporary questions. Once American "iron and blood" have obtained the solutions to the crisis we currently face, we can then demand a formal, full explanation from our Commander in Chief. I will be waiting, alongside each of you, for his account.