:: Thursday, November 25, 2004 ::
A Few Good Men
RCP featured this wonderful little essay by Janan Ganesh in the London Times Online. Looks like some people are starting to figure it out:
Let's hear it for the Marines
By Janan Ganesh
THE MOTTO of the US Marine Corps is Semper Fidelis, or "always faithful". And faith is exactly what the Western media eschew in their relentlessly cynical coverage of the American Armed Forces, which plunged to a new nadir last week with the outrage at a Marine who shot dead an injured and unarmed Fallujah terrorist. Their determination to portray the Americans as trigger-happy louts and the Iraqi terrorists as mere 'rebels' slanders the former, sanctifies the latter and betrays everybody who trusts journalists to be objective. Each American transgression is covered exhaustively and reproachfully, while triumphs, such as the trouble-free elections in Afghanistan and the reconstruction of Iraqi infrastructure, are treated as background noise. The torture of a few dozen prisoners in Abu Ghraib, for example, received far more attention than the restoration of the Marsh Arabs' homeland.
And this bias predates the Iraq war. If you get your news from Channel 4, you probably believe that the detainees at Guantanamo Bay are wide-eyed young gadflies who were enjoying an innocuous 18-30 holiday in glamorous Tora Bora before being kidnapped by rampaging Navy Seals. The truth is that many are al-Qaeda members who fought coalition forces during the invasion, but whose crimes are too legally vague to guarantee a conviction in court. America is therefore faced with the choice of releasing known enemies or detaining them indefinitely. That they choose the latter is not only sensible but generous--any of history's previous superpowers, such as Soviet Russia--would have shot them on sight.
Jack Nicholson's "you can't handle the truth" routine in A Few Good Men has become an iconic monologue of modern cinema, but the point he was making is rarely grasped. The injustice Nicholson laments is not that we expect a noble minority to pay the blood price for our security--it was ever thus--but that we demand the right to tell them how to do it. Shackled by laws, norms and protocol concocted by legalists, the US Armed Forces--who have done more for freedom of the press than all the world's journalists combined--are put in an impossible position. It is nauseating enough that they are now casually disparaged as "hicks" and "rednecks" by do-nothing civilians, without the supposedly objective media joining in.
Janan Ganesh is a freelance writer
:: Max 1:07 PM [+] ::