Saturday, May 13, 2006

Today's Media in WWII

I recently started reading Stephen E. Ambrose's Citizen Soldiers, which follows the progress of American GIs in WWII from the end of D-Day through to V-E Day. I'm constantly struck by how differently it would have been seen in today's media, and how much more successful our Herculean efforts in the Middle East would be if we had that kind of commitment and sense of perspective today. One example - they had NO problems blowing up churches, some of which must have been centuries old, if the Germans were using them as spotting towers or hiding weapons there. Contrast that with mosques, which a regularly used to hide terrorists and their munitions, but which we leave alone.

The biggest failure of the Iraq war is the lack of perspective with which we view it. I've read other pieces that remind us of how historically successful we have been and continue to be, and that remind us that lasting victory over determined fascists isn't easy, but this is one of the best I've seen in awhile.


Cato said...

Here's a difference between the conflicts that might explain the difference in church-bombing policy...

In WWII we were invading a country to liberate it from a foreign authoritarian power. We were in desperate straits and had to go all out or see the world engulfed in fascism. Also, we were largely of the same religion as the buildings we were blowing up.

In Iraq, we're occupying a country that we liberated from its own authoritarian leader. We're not in any danger of "losing" militarily and we are not of the same religion (for the most part) as the buildings that we are refraining from bombing.

Those two different policies, placed in context, don't seem particularly odd to me. They both seem well-suited to the situation.

Orrin Johnson said...

I'm sure there was a mosque or two in North Africa that was destroyed, and a church or two in Germany itself that was destroyed. I'm not saying we should start leveling mosques at will, but there was not the same level of nitpicking and second guessing and ultra sensitivity back then.

The link itself is better - that was just the first thing that came to mind. Maybe a better overall difference is that then, American journalists understood who the good guys were, and realized they were Americans first. Now, journalists think they're above citizenship or morality, and hold their Pulitzers in higher regard than the efforts to kill the fascists determined to kill us.

Cato said...

I think it's legitimately harder to tell the good guys from the bad guys nowadays. Terrorists and freedom-fighters look a LOT alike sometimes.

Orrin Johnson said...

Sorry - that's just wrong. As soon as we start specifically targeting civilians and threatening people who try to vote with death, then I'll be with you.

It's actually pretty easy to tell the difference between guerrillas & terrorists and real freedom fighters. The former wants to replace whatever current system exists with their OWN dicatorship, and the later wants to wrest power away and built institutional limitations on that power which they will personally abide by.

Cato said...

It's a hard sell to say that only democrats can be freedom fighters, when democracy is native to only one of the world's major cultures. In fact, being Scottish and Irish, I reject that contention. Someone trying to gain home-rule, in whatever form, from foreign occupiers, probably count as freedom-fighters whether or not they're democratically oriented. Now freedom-fighters can also be terrorists, in which case we should have a different policy towards them. But we need to recognize that sometimes terrorists have the support of their people (Hamas is an example) and that might indicate that a different diplomatic regimen is required.