Sunday, August 07, 2005

Where Are the War Heroes?

Damien Cave wrote in NYT One soldier fought off scores of elite Iraqi troops in a fierce defense of his outnumbered Army unit, saving dozens of American lives before he himself was killed. Another soldier helped lead a team that killed 27 insurgents who had ambushed her convoy. And then there was the marine who, after being shot, managed to tuck an enemy grenade under his stomach to save the men in his unit, dying in the process.

Their names are Sgt. First Class Paul R. Smith, Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester and Sgt. Rafael Peralta. If you have never heard of them, even in a week when more than 20 marines were killed in Iraq by insurgents, that might be because the military, the White House and the culture at large have not publicized their actions with the zeal that was lavished on the heroes of World War I and World War II.

I assure you that it is not the fault of the military or the White House. It is the fault of the MSM, of which the NYT is the biggest offender, who only want to report the bad things that happen in Iraq, and refuse to honor the heros, or to report on the good things that are done in Iraq. Their objective is to turn public opinion against the Bush administration, and if the Bush administration made an effort to highlight the action of individual heros, they would find some way to turn that against the hero and the administration.
Many in the military are disheartened by the absence of an instantly recognizable war hero today, a deficiency with a complex cause: public opinion on the Iraq war is split, and drawing attention to it risks fueling opposition; the military is more reluctant than it was in the last century to promote the individual over the group; and the war itself is different, with fewer big battles and more and messier engagements involving smaller units of Americans. Then, too, there is a celebrity culture that seems skewed more to the victim than to the hero.

Glenn Reynolds blogged The answer, of course, is that those of us who are getting our war reporting from the right places are hearing about them, while those of us who are still relying on the Times probably aren't.

More comments here, though I think they're a bit harsh on Cave, who's a good reporter in my experience.

Related thoughts, with video, here.

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