Why Remembering the Names and Number of Dead in Iraq Matters





Mr. Palaima is a professor of classics at the University of Texas at Austin.

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Two controversies in two days, and all about names and numbers.

On Thursday, April 29, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, when asked about military casualties in Iraq, replied "It's approximately 500, of which-I can get the exact numbers-approximately 350 are combat deaths." The real figures at the time were 722 and 521. A spokesman later said, "He misspoke. That's all."

He sure did. But why do numbers matter?

Numbers matter because they are attached to names, and right now the names are controversial, too.

On Friday, ABC's "Nightline" put the names and numbers together on national television to "remind our viewers -whether they agree with the war or not-that beyond the casualty numbers, these men and women are serving in Iraq in our names, and that those who have been killed have names and faces."

Before the broadcast, a television critic for the Washington Post called it "a cheap, content-free stunt designed to tug at our heartstrings and bag a big number on the second night of the May ratings race." So let's forget the names and the numbers and argue about television ratings and political motives.

Let's not.

Why do names and numbers of dead soldiers matter? Because it is decent for us to make them matter.

In 1916, midway though the mechanized butchery of World War I, the British alone suffered 420,000 casualties at one point along the continuous line of trenches that stretched from Belgium to the border of Switzerland. That one point was the Somme River.

Fourteen years after the war, a memorial was dedicated at Thiepval to the soldiers who died along the Somme between July 1915 and February 1918. The memorial, as its Web site reminds us, sits in isolation, without any accompanying visitor center or any other explanation as to why the monument is there. The memorial has a simple inscribed statement: "Here are recorded names of officers and men of the British armies who fell on the Somme battlefields July 1915 February 1918 but to whom the fortune of war denied the known and honoured burial given to their comrades in death." It also has 72,000 names inscribed upon it.

Why did the British do this? Because it was decent.

American Vietnam veterans felt the same way when it came to publicly remembering their comrades who lost their lives. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, Inc., through its expert judging panel, scrutinized 1,421 design entries before choosing the design by Maya Lin. It was built in 1982. It, too, stands within a landscape that focuses all attention on the memorial. It, too, consists of names, now 58, 235 in number, engraved on stone. The Memorial is dedicated to "the 2.7 million men and women in the U.S. military who served in the designated war zone." We learn the numbers again from the Web site: http://thewall-usa.com/information.

If you have stood in front of those names, as I have, you see your own reflection in the polished stone behind each one of them. And you have to ask, "Who am I that these soldiers died in service of my country?"

And if you want to do the decent thing, you will walk away from those names asking the same question the old vet in Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan asks himself, "What have I done to earn this?" You might also add, "Was it right that these soldiers should die?" and "What could I be doing to prevent this?"

The names matter. They have always mattered. The greater the courage of the men and women doing the fighting, the more incomprehensible the reasons for their sacrificing their lives, the more suspect the motives or judgment or policies of their leaders, the more the names matter.

It has always been this way.

Herodotus describes the heroic resistance of King Leonidas and his 300 Spartans against the Persian army at Thermopylae in 480 B.C.E., and remarks, "In the course of that fight Leonidas fell, having fought bravely, and many distinguished Spartans with him-their names I have learned, as those of men who deserve to be remembered; indeed I have learned the names of all the three hundred."

The dead were buried where they fell and the entire united Peloponnesian force was memorialized with an inscription on the site: "Four thousand here from Pelops' land / Against three million once did stand."

Names and numbers and simple human decency.

_____________

This article was first published in the Austin American-Statesman and is reprinted with permission of the author.


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More Comments:


Pat Rob - 10/25/2004

It is very interesting to remember those who die. Yes, it make history. It also allows to put in relativity conflicts.

Anybody have a timeline with the number of death for the wars specially those of the XXth century? Comparing Irak to Vietnam and also to Rwanda and Congo and all other. I would be very interested...


Pat Rob - 10/25/2004

I all agree that counting the dead is important. But anyone have seen interesting time line of the wars of the history, in particular, XXth century. I would be interested to compare: Vietnam, Irak but also Timor, Congo, Rwanda...

Please let me know if you know where to find that!
xpatrob@yahoo.com


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 5/14/2004

"The media don't, as a rule, have a very deep sense of responsibility"

Of this comment, we are in utmost agreement. As does this comment: "If it's bad news, it apparently doesn't need authentication."


Richard Henry Morgan - 5/14/2004

The Daily Mirror, which enthusiastically took an anti-war stance, and reported news determined by that stance, has just fired their editor over their publication of fraudulent photos of abuse of Iraqis by the Queen's Lancashire Regiment (reports the BBC website). Here's a nice little gem:

"Earlier Colonel Black, a former regiment commander of the QLR, said the pictures put lives in danger and acted as a "recruiting poster" for al-Qaeda."

Nicely put. The media don't, as a rule, have a very deep sense of responsibility.

The Boston Globe (which is owned by the New York Times Company) now says the fake gang-rape photos didn't meet their standards for publication, but they published them without authentication. If it's bad news, it apparently doesn't need authentication.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 5/14/2004

Clearly, the Globe has done a sidservice to this country with their lies. As I have said however, I have not heard any of the major stations, or even major papers and magazines report the charges.


Austin K. Williams - 5/13/2004

Mr. Moshe,

You really should follow-up on the "gang-rape" saga. The worldnet link will give you all the names you need to know.

The story has a fascinating cast of characters moving within a wonderfully engaging plot that is still developing. Even better, the main characters have a long and glorious history fighting for many other "noble" causes. Best of all, I believe there exists a moral to the story to reward your labors. Can't get a better deal than that for free. Have fun!

Austin K. Williams


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 5/13/2004

I am not familiar with any of these stories, which tells me that they could not have been too widely reported. Then again, I would hardly call the Daily Mirror a "major media front."


Richard Henry Morgan - 5/13/2004

PS

Interesting mews from the major media front:

An American is decapitated, the act shown in video on the internet, and it gets a small column below the fold in the NY Times, while they flog the prison abuse story for the 10th straight day.

The Boston Globe publishes photos (see instapundit) of GI's gang-raping an Iraqi woman -- turns out the photos are from a porno film.

http://junkyardblog.transfinitum.net/archives/week_2004_05_09.html#003121

http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=38464

The Daily Mirror in Britain publishes photos of the Lancashire regiment torturing Iraqis -- only problem is, it shows a military truck never sent to Iraq, soldiers bearing weapons never sent to Iraq, and wearing uniforms never sent to Iraq. The Ministry of Defense has completed its investigation, and declared them bogus, and of course the publisher stands by his story.

Over at Instapundit, via Tim Blair, seems an Iraqi presented himself to camera crews claiming he's been tortured, and displaying a bandaged arm -- at which point people around him proclaimed him a liar, and stripped the bandage off him, showing a healthy arm. German TV broadcast the bogus claim, but not the unmasking of the fraud.


Richard Henry Morgan - 5/13/2004

"as they did not ratify that part of the treaty"

I'm at a loss as to how one can cancel elections to cover an entire nation when the North never ratified that part of the treaty. But that's just me, I guess. Anyhow, we will certainly agree and disagree as all people do.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 5/12/2004

We will have to agree to disagree on this issue, although I am sure we will have the opportunity to argue it again sometime before the election.

As for Vietnam, "after the Vietnamese communist forces, or Viet Minh, defeated the French colonial army at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954, the colony was granted independence. According to the ensuing Geneva settlement, Vietnam was partitioned, ostensibly temporarily, into a communist North and a non-Communist (and, some hoped, an eventually democratic) South. The country was then to be unified under elections that were scheduled to take place in 1956. However the elections were never held. The RVN government of President Diem, with the support of US President Eisenhower, cancelled the elections because they feared that Ho Chi Minh would win as he was seen as a hero by many Vietnamese for his role in the war for independence."

Although many historians believe that N. Vietnam also did not want elections (as they did not ratify that part of the treaty) the point is that it was the US and South Vientnam that canceled them. In time, this cancelation would be used as evidence of American deciet.

http://www.dropbears.com/h/history/vietnam_war.htm


Richard Henry Morgan - 5/12/2004

Fair enough. I just think Kerry should be subjected to the same close analysis as Bush, and as any other candidate. I don't hate Kerry. He reminds me of what Gertrude Stein said about Oakland: "There's no there, there." And I don't think anything he said or did disqualifies him.

Where I persist in disagreeing with you, is where you say I'm picking at straws. Kerry said that the proposals were such that when we set a date for withdrawal, the prisoners would be released. I find it interesting that he paraded Sen. Hartke's approval for his interpretation. If the meaning was manifest, there would not need to be an appeal to authority. The proposal quite clearly did not say what Kerry said it said.

"Let us remember that America also agreed to elections in the 1950’s, that was later canceled because we knew a Ho Chi Mihn victory was inevitable."

When Vietnam was partitioned, ten times as many went south as north. Ho would have won the elections given that he would have won 100% of the northern vote (given the totalitarian nature of his regime), and thus a small portion of the southern vote would have granted him victory. You're not naive enough to believe that Ho, who had presided over the murder of up to 50,000 northern landowners qua landowners -- as class enemies -- would have had free elections in the north.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 5/12/2004

A not-so-long-response.

1) “I note that the title of your post contains the words "false charges" -- yet I see nothing in your posts that support your charge of falsity. Instead, you ask for evidence, a fair enough demand, but hardly the same as evidence of falsity.”

You are quite correct. My apologies, I should not have been so hasty, either in the title, nor in the much of my prior post.

2) “For some reason you didn't get exercised about LBJ.”

That is because I have never considered LBJ a war hero of any kind, and thus I do not object to this fact being stated.

3) “You ask when Kerry abandoned his men on a boat.”

Your charge was the Kerry should have been court-marshaled “when he abandoned his men and their boat,” but was not because he was the “class orator at Yale and [his] Dad a bigshot in the State Department.” I believe I assumed you were recounting a different experience than the episode to which I find admirable and in the best tradition of the US military.

I am sorry that you do not see the honor in beaching a boat, and then chasing down and killing a Viet Cong guerrilla carrying a rocket launcher, even in violation of regulations. Historically, violations of orders in pursuit of the enemy (such as the WWII episode in which Col. Dolittle’s disobeyed direct orders in participating on the raid on Japan) are looked upon with honor in hindsight. However, if you are more of a by-the-book-or-court-marshal-him kind of guy, then I can see your point. Kerry violated orders and this could legally be court marshaled. I agree 100% with your statement, “he displayed courage, but sometimes discretion is the better part of valor.” However, his citation certainly flies in the face of the dishonorable characteristics conservatives have been trying to label him with: “The extraordinary daring and personal courage of Lieutenant Kerry in attacking a numerically superior force in the face of intense fire were responsible for the highly successful mission,” the citation read.

I offer the same response for JFK on PT 109. Kennedy was not acting out of cowardice… negligence perhaps. His actions were based on his own military judgment to strengthen armaments, allow his crew to rest, and take it upon himself to search for rescue boats. It is no secret that Kennedy’s father (as well as his powerful and often illegal acquaintances) had an almost pathological ambition for his sons (particularly JFK after his older brother was killed). None of this, to me, smears his record during the war. Again, if you disagree, I can understand that.

4) On Kerry’s First Purple Heart

I believe I have said before that during wartime, medal inflation is often rampant. I believe I have read enough of Kerry’s record during the war (which are all available on line) to leave no question that Bob Dole was right when he said that Kerry served with honor and distinction (a comment made even while trashing his voting record, proving that one need not get personal to run a good campaign). As for the actual incident, Kerry and some of his crew say one thing and this doctor and other members of his crew say another. I am willing to concede the point. If his accepting of a medal that he did not deserve disqualifies him in your eyes, that is fine. I simply know too many soldiers who have confessed the medal inflation that they were the beneficiaries of to agree with you.

5) “The Winter Soldier Investigation was full of false claims. You don't address that. Neither do you address the fact that Kerry extended the claim of atrocities to cover all US troops. As usual, you change the subject. You see no evidence because you haven't considered it.”

I do not address any claims because you do not offer any to respond to. The only thing that you have said of the investigation was that “Many of those "Vietnam combat vets" turned out not to have ever served in the military at all. Some had served, but not in Vietnam” and that it was a “con from the word go.” Do you know of any claims Kerry made in the course of the investigation that were false, other then his generalizations about what happened?

6) “In fact, if you followed the news, you would find that several vets who were there at the meeting, and support Kerry's candidacy, yet insist that Kerry was there. Kerry's own spokesman issued a tepid confirmation. You'd know that if you read more widely.

Here's one source:
http://oregonmag.com/KerryVVAWPlot.htm


9) “I do believe that he got a phoney Purple Heart, that it in part was responsible for his early end to his combat tour (three's a charm), that he used questionable judgment on more than one occasion (But hey, who hasn't? I'm just working the anti-hagiography line here), and that he asked for and got early separation from the Navy.”

With the exception of the phony purple heart, I do not disagree with any of those things.

10) “I've heard him on more than one occasion, when attacked on his defense voting record, refer to his Vietnam service, and claim that to attack his defense voting record is to attack his patriotism. This has become a standard tactic of his buddies.”

I have only heard Kerry use his Vietnam experience in the context of discussing his devotion to the troops and the military. I have never heard him say that since he served in Vietnam, his voting record must be good (or anything to that effect). I have heard, however, numerous conservatives openly question his patriotism.

11) “Again (no surprise) you are wrong. I claim that he hasn't released his medical records, you contradict me, and send me to sites that don't have his medical records. Do you even read what I write?”

Richard, I resent the repeated insults to me competence that many (including yourself) seem determined to cling to as part of their argument. In the heat of the moment, I may have misrepresented your own argument unfairly, for which I apologize, but I really don’t think your subtle jabs and “chocha” style has any place here, do you?

In any event, what I gave you were Kerry’s military records, some of them MEDICAL, others unrelated to medical! If your claim was the he has not released every medical record ever taken of him, fine, but I think we both know that was not what you meant. I would also like to take this opportunity to add that neither Clinton nor Gore ever stooped so low as to demand Bush’s medical records. That all came about when a newspaper uncovered an officer who claimed to never have seen Bush at AL, not a partisan smear campaign to do anything to discredit military combat veterans.

12) “Just what does that first wooly sentence mean? it is worthy of George W., as it is incoherent in syntax and meaning. What exactly is the grammatical and semantic role of Mme Binh and her proposals in that sentence. I can't parse it.”

I am not entirely sure why you have had such difficult. Allow me to repeat the quote, eliminating the side comments in between the comma marks: “I have talked with both delegations at the peace talks… and of all eight of Madam Binh's points it has been stated time and time again… if the United States were to set a date for withdrawal the prisoners of war would be returned.”

Makes sense to me, and aside from normal grammatical errors inherent in most spoken comments, I find nothing wrong with it.

13) “One thing is for sure. Her proposal does not, as Kerry claimed, guarantee that POW's would be released with the public announcement of a withdrawal date. It would be unkind, but not without some basis, that Kerry was proposing to agree to proposals that would have left American POW's still in Vietnam, subject to future negotiations.”

I find this line of attack picking at straws. The proposal does not say we would withdraw and then get troops back. It said we would set a date for withdraw and then negotiate on the troop release. From the Vietnam perspective, of course! Why would they release POW’s on the promise of a date that could easily be changed. Let us remember that America also agreed to elections in the 1950’s, that was later canceled because we knew a Ho Chi Mihn victory was inevitable. We do not know what diplomatic comments and ranking promises were made, aside from the written proposal. We agreed to remove missiles from Turkey during the Cuban Missile crisis but it was never in writing (to my knowledge).

You would make it sound as if Kerry is simply in bed with the communists and will therefore lie about the proposal! Do you honestly believe this? His testimony was not as an official briefing of the proposal, Congress already knew it! If read in context, it was another reason why we could withdraw from Vietnam. Was Kerry’s exact words factually wrong? Yes, they were. Would you like to offer any politician who, if we go back 30 years, said something (even in the context of congressional testimony) that was not wrong or misleading or even a lie (although I do not believe for a moment that it was a deliberate lie)? I am looking for a president, not a messiah.

14) “The thing I find most interesting, Adam, is that everything negative you say about Bush I already know -- and then some. I try to inform myself. Yet when it comes to Kerry, there's hardly a negative thing about him that you have made yourself aware of. How is that? Do you seek out the unflattering facts only on Republicans? Just wondering.”

Actually, there is a great deal about Kerry I don’t like. His voting record (including voting AGAINST the first Gulf War), his inability to take a solid position, his flip-flopping on the issues, his rather boring stature and lack of personality, and his inability to adequately defend some of his positions. I could go on and on. So in fact, contrary to what your rather petty insults at me suggest, I do in fact keep aware of the situation. The diffierence between you and I is not that I am unaware of these critisisms of Kerry, but that I do not search partisan sites to dig up every rumor or accusation about Kerry. To that charge, I most definitely plead guilty.

What I am skeptical of, however, is taking a decorated combat veteran, and criticizing him for what he did in the heat of battle, or in the middle of a war. No solider should be asked to perform with such perfection that a detailed analysis of his actions reveal no shortcomings, especially given the military record of his opponent! I would defend any soldier, liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, whose experience in the field was so butchered for such partisan personal reasons. I support the troops regardless of how politically convenient it is to do so. You may feel no shame in brining up the precise circumstances of one of his medals, or dissecting the anti-war rhetoric made from a soldiers who had just returned from one of the nastiest wars in our history. I do and that is why I defend his record so staunchly. I do not believe you would make the same arguments for McCain or Dole or any other conservative politician, but that is just speculation. I can assure, you, I would equally defend ANY combat soldier of such attacks.


Richard Henry Morgan - 5/11/2004

Correction: the piece of shrapnel was a couple of mm across, I believe.


Richard Henry Morgan - 5/11/2004

PS

The fact that you seem less familiar with criticisms of Kerry (fair and unfair) than you are of Bush (fair and unfair) could, alternatively, be the result of Kerry's having gotten less play in major media, rather than your own lack of interest. Just a thought.


Richard Henry Morgan - 5/11/2004

Bush isn't a fundamentalist conservative -- that would require a modicum of concentrated thought on the subject of political philosophy by Bush, and he hasn't shown that. I've said very little in support of Bush's agenda, whatever it might be. It seems to include spending like a drunken sailor, which is neither particularly conservative, nor something I agree with.

What I have pointed out is that nmajor media have reported only things that have gone badly. I have given examples of reports of progress that have been studiously ignored by the major media. And I have given a very obvious example from the producer of Nightline, who at Berkeley quite openly admitted that he chose certain news not for news value, but to influence opinion. He also quite openly said that good news is not news. You apparently have trouble dealing with these facts, as you descend into varieties of genetic fallacy and ad hominem attack.

Did the MI folks bring you Abu Ghraib? I hadn't noticed that charges had been proffered against MI types yet -- only military police.

Rather than ignore Mr. Shanks, I believe you should read him, and compare what he says to the facts, and try to identify for yourselves the various fallacious arguments and techniques he uses.


Richard Henry Morgan - 5/11/2004

A not-so-long-response.

I note that the title of your post contains the words "false charges" -- yet I see nothing in your posts that support your charge of falsity. Instead, you ask for evidence, a fair enough demand, but hardly the same as evidence of falsity.

1. You don't have to go very far for this one -- only as far as ABC News, in fact. Here's the relevant part:

"But wait a minute. PT 109 was the only PT boat to get rammed and sunk during all of World War II. And the navy isn't in the habit of rewarding skippers who lose their ships. In fact, the young Kennedy committed several offenses for which he could have been court-martialed: He had secretly replaced PT 109's only lifeboat with a heavy gun to increase the vessel's armament; he had allowed two men to sleep in the hours leading up to the collision when combat was imminent; and he had repeatedly left his men on the island to go searching for rescue boats. An inquiry was made after the incident, and many officers believed that Kennedy's career was finished. But the man responsible for writing the inquiry's report was none other than Byron White, an old friend of the Kennedys. That — and the fact that Joe Sr. had more connections in Washington than anybody dared to count — got Jack off the hook. Indeed, he was awarded a medal for saving the lives of his crewmen. And that's how a legend is born."
{from Secret Lives of the US Presidents, by ABC News http://abcnews.go.com/sections/WNN/DailyNews/presidents040228.html)

2. For some reason you didn't get exercised about LBJ. Here's the poop anyway:
http://www.b-26marauderarchive.org/MS/MS1709/MS1709.htm
and
http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2001/johnson.silver.star/story/storypage.html
and
http://hnn.us/articles/153.html

There are dozens of sources on this, many easily available. Didn't have to go very far for the last one, did we?

3. Doesn't call for a response.

4. You ask when Kerry abandoned his men on a boat. The answer is in your own prior post, so I'll just quote your own words to you:

"Furthermore, his old crewmates are currently campaigning with him. They have recounted, as has been told in numerous books and articles, how once, Kerry -- in violation of regulations -- beached his boat and went after the enemy, chasing down and killing a Viet Cong guerrilla carrying a rocket launcher."

But, hey, let's do a little overkill:
http://www.sptimes.com/2004/02/08/Perspective/What_John_Kerry_did_i.shtml

From the Times of London:
"Despite endangering his crew, Lieutenant Kerry’s courage won their admiration. “He saved the day and our lives,” Fred Short, his gunner, said."

Bit of a non-sequitur there. Or approaching one. Had a VC jumped out of a spider hole with Kerry gone and the boat beached, the VC could have raked the boat with one pass, and Kerry might have returned to a boatful of dead sailors. As it stands, he John-Wayned it, and it worked out on that day. He displayed courage, but sometimes discretion is the better part of valor. He was lucky. There are reasons for the stated policy, and on this day he dodged a bullet. Points for courage. Points deducted for lack discretion.

Here's the bit on court-martial:
"His commanding officer wondered whether to commend Lieutenant Kerry or court martial him, only half-joking. He wrote him up for a Silver Star."

John Kerry was perhaps brave, but certainly lucky on that day.
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,11069-991599,00.html

5. Here's the poop, from his commander Hibbard, who gave him good performance reviews (not a record of out to get him):

------------
"He had a little scratch on his forearm, and he was holding a piece of shrapnel," recalled Kerry's commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander Grant Hibbard. "People in the office were saying, `I don't think we got any fire,' and there is a guy holding a little piece of shrapnel in his palm." Hibbard said he couldn't be certain whether Kerry actually came under fire on Dec. 2, 1968, the date in questionand that is why he said he asked Kerry questions about the matter.

But Kerry persisted and, to his own "chagrin," Hibbard said, he dropped the matter. "I do remember some questions, some correspondence about it," Hibbard said. "I finally said, `OK, if that's what happened . . . do whatever you want.' After that, I don't know what happened. Obviously, he got it, I don't know how."
------------

That's from the Boston Globe -- not exactly a hidden source.
http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2004/04/14/kerry_faces_questions_over_purple_heart/



6. The Winter Soldier Investigation was full of false claims. You don't address that. Neither do you address the fact that Kerry extended the claim of atrocities to cover all US troops. As usual, you change the subject. You see no evidence because you haven't considered it.

7. I never said Jacobs was a friend of mine, just a former classmate -- a former classmate from an Army class.

8. In fact, if you followed the news, you would find that several vets who were there at the meeting, and support Kerry's candidacy, yet insist that Kerry was there. Kerry's own spokesman issued a tepid confirmation. You'd know that if you read more widely.

Here's one source:
http://oregonmag.com/KerryVVAWPlot.htm

I did not claim that the members of the VVAW were not vets. I gave Hubbard as an example, and said I would not be surprised if more were not vets. I had never read any claim that anybody other than Hubbard was not a vet, so I never made the claim. I did claim, and I stand by it, that some people claiming to be Vietnam vets "testified" at the Winter Soldier Investigation, and were not Vietnam vets -- some weren't even vets at all. The VVAW organized the event, but it was never claimed by me that all who testified there were VVAW, nor did I claim that all were not vets.

9. You claim (and I quote): "... since you ignore his [Bush's](lack of) combat service and try to attack Kerry for serving in Vietnam at all ..." [bracketed insert mine]

Complete poppycock. I admire the fact that Kerry served. I even believe he showed physical courage on occasion. I most certainly have not attacked him "for serving in Vietnam at all". A complete invention on your part. I do believe that he got a phoney Purple Heart, that it in part was responsible for his early end to his combat tour (three's a charm), that he used questionable judgment on more than one occasion (But hey, who hasn't? I'm just working the anti-hagiography line here), and that he asked for and got early separation from the Navy.

You say: "I have never heard Kerry use the fact that he served to justify his voting record, have you?"

I've heard him on more than one occasion, when attacked on his defense voting record, refer to his Vietnam service, and claim that to attack his defense voting record is to attack his patriotism. This has become a standard tactic of his buddies. Just within the last few days Jean Shaheen and Wesley Clarke have said the same thing -- that Cheney questioned Kerry's courage in his recent speech, when actually he questioned his defense voting record. Not surprising that politicians would result to such intellectually dishonest tactics.

10. Again (no surprise) you are wrong. I claim that he hasn't released his medical records, you contradict me, and send me to sites that don't have his medical records. Do you even read what I write?

I quote from your own source:
----
"The campaign could not locate a similar report for Kerry's original Purple Heart."The campaign could not locate a similar report for Kerry's original Purple Heart. As evidence that Kerry was wounded, campaign spokesman Michael Meehan showed The Associated Press a "Sick Call Treatment Record" from Kerry's personal files that included a brief written note dated December 3, 1968, and stamped from the naval support facility at Cam Ranh Bay.

"Shrapnel in left arm above elbow. Shrapnel removed and appl bacitracin dressing. Ret to Duty," it said. The note is followed by a signature that appears to say "JCCarreon" and some illegible letters that Meehan said probably designate the medical official's rank.

Meehan said the campaign would allow a reporter to see the record at the campaign's headquarters, but not take a copy. He said it would not be made available to the public because Kerry considers it a private medical record.
-----------

That's right. No medical record, just a sick call slip. And what does it say? A topical antibiotic and a bandaid, and returned to service. Yeah, for the Purple Heart!!

11. Fair enough. What I said is merely one of many possible interpretations, and certainly not susceptible to falsification. It can't be proven -- then again, it can't be disproven.

12. Actually, Kerry went to Paris twice, and talked to the NLF leadership twice. At the second meeting, he and the VVAW endorsed Mme. Binh's (of the NLF) proposals. Here is what Kerry said in his Congressional testimony:
----

Mr. KERRY. My feeling, Senator, is undoubtedly this Congress, and I don't mean to sound pessimistic, but I do not believe that this Congress will, in fact, end the war as we would like to, which is immediately and unilaterally and, therefore, if I were to speak I would say we would set a date and the date obviously would be the earliest possible date. But I would like to say, in answering that, that I do not believe it is necessary to stall any longer. I have been to Paris. I have talked with both delegations at the peace talks, that is to say the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the Provisional Revolutionary Government and of all eight of Madam Binh's points it has been stated time and time again, and was stated by Senator Vance Hartke when he returned from Paris, and it has been stated by many other officials of this Government, if the United States were to set a date for withdrawal the prisoners of war would be returned.

I think this negates very clearly the argument of the President that we have to maintain a presence in Vietnam, to use as a negotiating block for the return of those prisoners. The setting of a date will accomplish that.
----------

Mme Binh was a representative of the NLF or PRG )the Cong). Here is her proposal concerning POW's:

"The Vietnamese pledge that as soon as the U. S. government publicly sets a date for total withdrawal: they will enter discussions to secure the release of all American prisoners, including pilots captured while bombing North Vietnam."

You will note that she pledges only to enter discussions to release OW's once the US publicly sets a withdrawal date -- there is no pledge to release the then, as Kerry claimed in his Congressional testimony.

But let's take another look at that testimony:
-----

"I have talked with both delegations at the peace talks, that is to say the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the Provisional Revolutionary Government and of all eight of Madam Binh's points it has been stated time and time again, and was stated by Senator Vance Hartke when he returned from Paris, and it has been stated by many other officials of this Government, if the United States were to set a date for withdrawal the prisoners of war would be returned."

"I think this negates very clearly the argument of the President that we have to maintain a presence in Vietnam, to use as a negotiating block for the return of those prisoners. The setting of a date will accomplish that."
-------

Just what does that first wooly sentence mean? it is worthy of George W., as it is incoherent in syntax and meaning. What exactly is the grammatical and semantic role of Mme Binh and her proposals in that sentence. I can't parse it. One thing is for sure. Her proposal does not, as Kerry claimed, guarantee that POW's would be released with the public announcement of a withdrawal date. It would be unkind, but not without some basis, that Kerry was proposing to agree to proposals that would have left American POW's still in Vietnam, subject to future negotiations.

------------

The thing I find most interesting, Adam, is that everything negative you say about Bush I already know -- and then some. I try to inform myself. Yet when it comes to Kerry, there's hardly a negative thing about him that you have made yourself aware of. How is that? Do you seek out the unflattering facts only on Republicans? Just wondering.




















http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/05/politics/campaign/05VETS.html?adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1083776725-ze8xWs5RN+zvffTm5yE46Q (on shrapnel}


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 5/10/2004

1) “JFK failed to post a watch, and his patrol boat got rammed, cut in two, and sank. There was no lifeboat because JFK had removed it. Luckily, the guy appointed to do a report of inquiry was family friend Major Byron Whizzer White, who quite appropriately for the name, whitewashed the whole episode -- and got a judgeship on the US Supreme Court for his efforts.”

Do you have any proof for this revision history, or is the fact that JFK was a liberal Democrat enough to tarnish any person’s war record? Kennedy’s boat, PT-109 (I assume that us what you were talking about) was hit by a Japanese warship. Kennedy and 10 other survivors swam 15 hours to reach a nearby island. If he did remove the lifeboat, do you have any idea why? He towed one injured survivor, engineer Patrick Henry McMahon, by swimming with a strap from McMahon's lifejacket in his teeth. Do you also have any proof that White is guilty of crimes that only conservatives know about?

2) “I could go on and on, but you get the idea.”

I am afraid I do get the idea. If you would like to show any objectivity, I encourage you to dig deep into the war record of Dole, Bush Sr., or other Republicans. Otherwise, I simply do not believe that this is not some partisan history written on some conservative blog to try and tarnish any soldier would later become a liberal politician.

3) “I'm not doubting that Kerry showed physical courage during his all of four months combat tour. What I don't accept is that when questioned on his defense votes, his only answer seems to be he served in Vietnam. That hardly seems relevant, nor is it a very exclusive club.”

Frankly, all of your prior post demonstrate considerable doubt for that fact. As for Vietnam being used too much, this is a perfectly valid criticism. I have no problem with questioning Kerry’s competence, leadership, or anything else. What does bother me, as someone who actually respects those who serve our nation in combat, is a man’s proven record as a soldier tarnished by accusations simply for partisan ideological reasons. You are quite right, Kerry’s Vietnam experience is not enough to defend his voting record, but then again, he has never made that claim.

While I would agree that perhaps Vietnam should not be relevant, the fact of the matter is that so many things people use to vote should not be relevant, from their physical appearance, to their smile, to all-important “likeability” over everything else. In any event, aren’t you being somewhat of a hypocrite? Isn’t your message here that what Kerry did or did not do DOES matter? This one line seems to be a whole new argument- that it doesn’t matter.

4) “His own commander says he should have court-martialed Kerry when he abandoned his men and their boat, but instead he put him in for a Silver Star. It really helps if you were class orator at Yale and your Dad a bigshot in the State Department, doesn't it?”

Unbelievable. Kerry was at Yale and yet he VOLUNTEERED for the Navy and REQUESTED to go to Vietnam. He was not drafted, but signed up. Once again, evidence please for your accusations? When did Kerry abandon his men on a boat? Do you have any proof that Kerry’s commander was somehow blackmailed or bribed, or was the whole military in on the conspiracy?

5) “His own commander relates that Kerry persistently lobbied him for the first Purple Heart, to the point where the guy relented just to make him go away.”

Since it is you who is making the claim, the burden of proof lies with you. Sounds to me like that commander should be investigated for granting a medal he knew was wrong simply out of selfishness. Was he simply a coward, unable to stand up to the awesome might of John Kerry? Funny, Kerry doesn’t look that intimidating. In any event, the charges get more intense with each day closer to the election. If you ever served in the military during wartime (I have not, but I have read enough to defend my comment) medal inflation has always been rampant. The Civil War, WWI, WWII, Vietnam, and others all involved offering medals for soldiers to keep up morale.

Sadly, I have no example of a Republican simply because Democrats have too much shame for such tactics, and thus, there is no blog to my knowledge that digs up the war records of McCain or other soldiers. By the way, why has his old crew supported him so strongly? Obviously, they know something you do not.

6) “The evidence concerning the Winter Soldier Investigation can be found in Guenther Lewy's book America in Vietnam, and B.G. Burkett's book Stolen Valor. There are also no end of websites with quotes from these books and other sources, and descriptions of the Winter Soldier Investigation.”

The evidence confirming Kerry’s claims about atrocities occurring in Vietnam is nothing new. What is new (starting in the mid-1980’s) is the attempt to deny them at all.
http://hnn.us/articles/1816.html
http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2003/10/20/vietnam_atrocities_revealed_in_report_boston_globe/

In any event, in a recent interview, Kerry openly regretted using some of the language he used after coming back from the war (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4771873/). As far as I am concerned, I have seen no evidence that those who testified were not Vietnam veterans, or that Kerry has lied about what he saw. Perhaps he was wrong to generalize what he saw to the entire Vietnam operation, and that is certainly worth debating.

As a side note, the current scandal from Iraq is a perfect example of what can happen in conditions of tremendous stress among a hostile population. There is now evidence that what happened in Iraq is far more widespread than has been assumed. The fact that we hear little about WWII soldiers, I believe, is more a testament to the poor media technology and access rather than the absence of any atrocities.

7) “As for medals, a little anecdote. I once had Jack Jacobs as a classmate when I was in the Army. He wore only three decorations…They were still pulling shrapnel out of him ten years after he'd been wounded. I wonder what he would say about Kerry's "wound"? You want to take a guess?”

Perhaps your friend was a coward who got in some car accident and then blamed it on Vietnam? Of course, I don’t really believe that, but I suspect if you didn’t agree with him politically and he was running for president, you might. Let me give you another story. This one from a man named John McCain (don’t worry, he is a Republican, and thus credible). Of John Kerry, this is what he had to say: "He's my friend. He'll continue to be my friend. I know his service was honorable. If that hurts me politically or with my party, that's a very small price to pay.”

(PS. Tell your friend never to enter politics as a Democrat, otherwise his service to his country will mean less than nothing)

8) “You seem unconcerned that he has lied for 30 years concerning his participation in a meeting where assassinating the President and Senators was discussed -- at least I conclude that from the fact that you don't refute the claim, you doon't address it, and you change the subject.”

And you have failed to prove that he was at the Kansas meeting. The only evidence in existence is from a historian whose evidence was “stolen” recently (http://www.cnn.com/2004/US/West/03/27/kerry.documents/). Allow me to address the issue here: I have seen no evidence to indicate that Kerry endorsed/supported/participated in a plot to kill Congressmen, a fact that goes against all of his other actions, including his avoiding protests that could result in arrests.

You have also failed to demonstrate that the veterans there, with the exception of Hubbard, were not vets. I would recommend the book, Born on the Fourth of July for an example of one of those “fakes.”

9) “I've surveyed my posts and I can't find one place where I have praised Bush on his military service, or diminished his failures of military service…. And I'm tired of the intellectually dishonest tactic Kerry takes whenever his defense voting record is questioned -- "I served in Vietnam". Big F---ing Deal.”

You are correct, you have not mentioned Bush at all. However, since you ignore his (lack of) combat service and try to attack Kerry for serving in Vietnam at all, I can only assume (perhaps incorrectly) that your attacks on Kerry’s record is meant to show him in contrast to Bush. Furthermore, serving in Vietnam WAS a big deal, as conservatives showed during the 92 and 96 election, when Clinton’s draft dodging record was repeatedly brought up as reasons not to vote for him. However, you are making a straw man argument. I have never heard Kerry use the fact that he served to justify his voting record, have you?

10) “You refer to the WaPo talking of an examination of his records -- but Kerry has steadfastly refused to reveal his military medical records, which reveal the fraudulent PH for what it is.”

Your information is way out of date (http://www.cnn.com/2004/ALLPOLITICS/04/21/kerry.records.ap/index.html). In fact, Kerry has revealed his records. Feel free to explore them in detail here: http://www.johnkerry.com/about/military_records.html
http://www.johnkerry.com/about/combat_reports.html
http://www.johnkerry.com/about/command_history.html

11) “He had risen to leadership by then, and was instrumental in starting the phoney Winter Soldier Investigation. He used the Winter Soldier and its lies to boost his visibility and career.”

You have successfully created a non-falsifiable argument, whereby anything and everything Kerry ever does or did must be connected to his pathological ambition. How do you know that the investigation was lies and how do you know Kerry used it to boost his credibility and career?

12) “Let's not mention the fact, that while Americans were fighting and dying in Vietnam, Kerry went to Paris and met with a member of the Viet Cong leadership.”

One last charge that I cannot let drop is this obscene statement. You make it sound as if Kerry was joining the red army! In fact, during his 1971 testimony before Congress, Kerry was asked how the Vietnam war should end. It was then that Kerry volunteered the fact that he had been to Paris to talk to delegations from North and South Vietnam. While Americans were fighting and dying in Vietnam, Kerry was working for peace, and protesting the deaths of those same Americans. Also, I find it odd that you would speak of soldiers with such respect, given how disrespectful you have been of one soldier who saved the lives of his crewmen, and risked his own life to kill the enemy.


Kevin Shanks - 5/10/2004

Now I know why Mr. Morgan is so unshakable from his ideologically-bound support of the fundamentalist conservative agenda of this president and so persistent in spreading his version of the "true faith" no matter what countervailing facts are presented: his background in "military intelligence" (the folks who brought us Abu Ghraib) and psychological operations. My recommendation for all and sundry who happen upon his posts: ignore them. He has obviously not retired, and no amount of rational argument will change his narrow and biased views. Better to comment directly on the article in question, or if you must "discuss" with someone, choose an intelligent person who listens to fact and reason. Otherwise, it's a huge waste of your time.


Kenneth T. Tellis - 5/8/2004

Surely those who sacrificed their all, should be remembered. Why is it that politicians who exploit the populace get better treatment than patriots?


Richard Henry Morgan - 5/8/2004

Let's start from the top. His own commander relates that Kerry persistently lobbied him for the first Purple Heart, to the point where the guy relented just to make him go away. Both his commander and the doctor relate that crewmates said they had taken no fire that day. A medal is phoney if wrongly awarded and accepted. Kerry campaigned for the medal, and circumstances suggest he knew that he hadn't earned it. That phoney medal was part of the three PH's that entitled him to exit the Vietnam theater. Do the homework. It takes five minutes on the net.

The evidence concerning the Winter Soldier Investigation can be found in Guenther Lewy's book America in Vietnam, and B.G. Burkett's book Stolen Valor. There are also no end of websites with quotes from these books and other sources, and descriptions of the Winter Soldier Investigation.

"Silver Star, Bronze Star with V, Combat Action Ribbon, Navy Presidential Unit Citation, Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, and the Vietnam Campaign Medal."

A little briefing here for the civilian. A unit commendation, as the name suggests, is for unit excellence, and is worn by all in the unit. You don't even have to have been in the unit when it was awarded in order to wear it -- though you have to have been in the unit to wear it after you leave the unit. National Defense Service Medal just means you served -- hell, I got that one, as does every other soldier, sailor, airman, and marine who has ever put on a uniform. The last two in your list are just for being in Vietnam. The Combat Action Ribbon is like the Army's CIB -- it means you spent a minimum of 30 days in a combat unit which was engaged in combat during that period (a "you were there" ribbon). The only two that mean anything are the Silver Star and the Bronze Star with V. The Bronze Star can be awarded for excellent paperwork, so it carries a V device if earned in combat. I stand by his commander's comment that he should have court-martialed Kerry (like JFK), but he put him in for a Silver Star instead. That too is available on the web.

As for medals, a little anecdote. I once had Jack Jacobs as a classmate when I was in the Army. He wore only three decorations. The CIB, his jump wings, and his Vietnam Service Ribbon -- the three fraternity badges. What he didn't wear was any of his other decorations, including the Medal of Honor. Halfway through the course he disappeared for a few days. When he came back I asked him what the deal was. They were still pulling shrapnel out of him ten years after he'd been wounded. I wonder what he would say about Kerry's "wound"? You want to take a guess?

You seem unconcerned that he has lied for 30 years concerning his participation in a meeting where assassinating the President and Senators was discussed -- at least I conclude that from the fact that you don't refute the claim, you doon't address it, and you change the subject.

You keep harping on Bush. I've surveyed my posts and I can't find one place where I have praised Bush on his military service, or diminished his failures of military service. I'm simply tired of the hagiographic crap served up on Kerry by the major media and his supporters. And I'm tired of the intellectually dishonest tactic Kerry takes whenever his defense voting record is questioned -- "I served in Vietnam". Big F---ing Deal.

You refer to the WaPo talking of an examination of his records -- but Kerry has steadfastly refused to reveal his military medical records, which reveal the fraudulent PH for what it is. You will also note that the WaPo says "little" -- how artful. I can tell you this. In the Army if someone had accepted a PH for a bandaid self-inflicted wound, he's be laughed out of the service.

As for the Winter Soldier, I'm stating that many who testified were not vets. Hubbard, of the VVAW wasn't a combat vet. Whether others in the VVAW were also fakes, I don't know, but wouldn't be surprised.

As for his 1970 bid, the Harvard Crimson described him as "an obscure underdog" -- he had little chance from the getgo, naturally lost the primary. Then the leadership of VVAW and Winter Soldier in 1971, and Congressional testimony that year, and Kerry was a household name. He achieved that by repeating the fabrications of the Winter Soldier Investigation. He then ran in 1972, won the primary, and lost the general election. So yeah, you got me there. I should not have said he started the VVAW either. He had risen to leadership by then, and was instrumental in starting the phoney Winter Soldier Investigation. He used the Winter Soldier and its lies to boost his visibility and career.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 5/8/2004

1) “It is not that he wasn't hurt bad enough to deserve his first Purple Heart, it's that he wouldn't have deserved one in those circumstances even if he had been killed -- the Purple Heart, by regulation, is to be awarded to those wounded or killed by ENEMY FIRE (not self-inflicted wounds).”

It seems like the real culprit then seems to be the military, not Mr. Kerry. If they gave him a medal he did not deserve out of their own carelessness, I would not blame Kerry (or any other veteran) for accepting it. During all wars, medals and honors are often handed out routinely. I am curious to see what other veterans records would turn up. I would check for Bush or Cheney, but as we know, they never served in combat at all.

2) “Kerry used his phoney Purple Heart, and two genuinely received, to be transferred out of combat, as the policy then was. He spent four months in combat. Transferred statesside, he became an admiral's aide, and then requested and was granted release from the remaining two years of his service owed. The reason he gave for requesting release was that he wanted to run for office.”

How was the purple heart now phony? Even if what you say is true (which I do not necessarily believe without more evidence), it was given to him by the military, was it not? Furthermore, having served in combat, was it not his right to leave, given his record? How many veterans fit into your category? I am sure there is a record somewhere, and I am equally sure that they are all viewed honorably… accept the Democratic one’s, naturally. By the way, the honors “genuinely received” were the Silver Star, Bronze Star with V, Combat Action Ribbon, Navy Presidential Unit Citation, Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, and the Vietnam Campaign Medal. Since he is a Democrat, there is no doubt a blog out there claiming that all of them were faked, or lied to get, or something else, am I correct?

In any event, I am going to need some evidence or documentation to back up your serious charged against him since “an examination of his record, supplemented by interviews with the candidate, his crewmates and some skeptics, found little to undermine Kerry's portrayal of his service.” Furthermore, his old crewmates are currently campaigning with him. They have recounted, as has been told in numerous books and articles, how once, Kerry -- in violation of regulations -- beached his boat and went after the enemy, chasing down and killing a Viet Cong guerrilla carrying a rocket launcher.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A34941-2004Apr22.html

3) “And then what did he do? He started the VVAW (funny, I thought he was running for office -- do you think the two were related?).”

Your facts need to be checked. He did run for office… and lost in the 1970 primary against another Democrat.

4) “One small problem. Many of thos "Vietnam combat vets" turned out not to have ever served in the military at all. Some had served, but not in Vietnam.”

Do you have any evidence of this? Are you suggesting that the VVAW had no veterans, or just the Winter Commission? I would like to some some kind of neutral documentation to certify this fact.

5) “Let's not mention the fact, that while Americans were fighting and dying in Vietnam, Kerry went to Paris and met with a member of the Viet Cong leadership.”

Amazing. Let us not forget that while Kerry was fighting and risking his life in Vietnam, Bush was skipping his guard duty by campaigning for a family friend in AL.

6) “Of course, I can understand why it might be a source of embarrassment to you”

Kerry’s honorable duty is a source of pride for Kerry and for his supporters. The fact that conservatives would trash his record is not surprising. I can assure you, if H.W. Bush, Dole, or PATTON himself was a Democrat, conservatives would dismiss them all. You see, my friend, it is not about duty of serving the country. If a person disagrees with the conservatives, there is nothing in their life, regardless of how objectively positive, that will escape partisan trashing. It is sad really, but such is the way of some (certainly not all by ANY means- particularly older conservatives from the time predating such vitriolic attacks) conservatives in America. Power over principle.

An interesting site that marks conservative hypocrisy:
http://www.motherjones.com/news/update/2004/02/02_400.html


Richard Henry Morgan - 5/7/2004

You need to apply a bit more of your natural skepticism to the "war exploits" of elected leaders. LBJ, while an observer, was awarded a Silver Star, even though his plane never made it to target (a magneto went bad), it had to turn back, and it was never fired upon.

JFK failed to post a watch, and his patrol boat got rammed, cut in two, and sank. There was no lifeboat because JFK had removed it. Luckily, the guy appointed to do a report of inquiry was family friend Major Byron Whizzer White, who quite appropriately for the name, whitewashed the whole episode -- and got a judgeship on the US Supreme Court for his efforts.

I could go on and on, but you get the idea. I'm not doubting that Kerry showed physical courage during his all of four months combat tour. What I don't accept is that when questioned on his defense votes, his only answer seems to be he served in Vietnam. That hardly seems relevant, nor is it a very exclusive club. His own commander says he should have court-martialed Kerry when he abandoned his men and their boat, but instead he put him in for a Silver Star. It really helps if you were class orator at Yale and your Dad a bigshot in the State Department, doesn't it?


Richard Henry Morgan - 5/7/2004

"Now, conservatives have the absolute gall to challenge that he was not really hurt bad enough to get the medals!"

You miss my point, naturally. It is not that he wasn't hurt bad enough to deserve his first Purple Heart, it's that he wouldn't have deserved one in those circumstances even if he had been killed -- the Purple Heart, by regulation, is to be awarded to those wounded or killed by ENEMY FIRE (not self-inflicted wounds.

Kerry used his phoney Purple Heart, and two genuinely received, to be transferred out of combat, as the policy then was. He spent four months in combat. Transferred statesside, he became an admiral's aide, and then requested and was granted release from the remaining two years of his service owed. The reason he gave for requesting release was that he wanted to run for office.

And then what did he do? He started the VVAW (funny, I thought he was running for office -- do you think the two were related?). Part of the VVAW efforts involved something called the Winter Soldier Investigation, where the VVAW sponsored events where "Vietnam combat vets" gave public "testimony" (not under penalty of perjury) about atrocities that they had witnessed or participated in. Kerry repeated their charges.

One small problem. Many of thos "Vietnam combat vets" turned out not to have ever served in the military at all. Some had served, but not in Vietnam. And of the few that had served in Vietnam, though offered immunity from prosecution, refused to give statements or testify for legal authorities. The whole thing was a con from the word go. Not a surprise mind you, given the fact that the second in charge of VVAW was Al Hubbard, who had passed himself off as a wounded Vietnam vet and former pilot and captain. Turns out he was enlisted, and had never set foot in Vietnam.

Let's not mention the fact, that while Americans were fighting and dying in Vietnam, Kerry went to Paris and met with a member of the Viet Cong leadership.

Of course, I can understand why it might be a source of embarrassment to you that Kerry has been lying for more than 30 years, when he claimed that he hadn't attended a meeting of, and was no longer a member of, the VVAW when it discussed assassinating the President of the US and several senators. Your "war hero" used a phoney Purple Heart to avoid combat, and ducked out of the service at his earliest opportunity. Deal with it.


Ben H. Severance - 5/7/2004

Good historical references. To paraphrase MacArthur, there is no substitute for victory when it comes to putting a positive spin on a dubious venture. I doubt, however, that even a victory in Iraq, whatever that exactly means, will ever erase the dishonor of Abu Ghraib.

And we will indeed see what Americans think this November. Decision 2004 may well rank as one of the most pivotal presidential elections in American history. I'll be voting for Kerry, though without much enthusiasm, and I won't be surprised if Bush wins, all of his mishaps notwithstanding. A professor of mine once said (quoting an ancient sage), "pray that you live in boring times." I understand and share the sentiment, but these are hardly "boring times."


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 5/7/2004

You are quite right Ben, and make a valid point. If Iraq becomes a stable Democracy, and becomes, like Turkey, a model for other Arab nations, almost any price we are currently paying will be well worth it. The remainder of your post is equally thoughtful and intelligent. In the short term, however, I do not believe this war has been worth the short-term costs when weighing it against the short-term benefit.

We now know that it is possible the Spanish did not sink the Maine, and that the Maddox was not really attacked at the time and manner as Johnson had said. We know that the Lusitania may very well have been carrying exactly what the Germans of the time said it was. Both the Spanish-American war and WWI are looked upon favorably because we won, while Vietnam is not because (in part) we lost. I do not know how history will view the Iraq war but I do believe Bush will be viewed unfavorably by historians. Like Johnson, I believe he lied to the American people about the justification, and misled them as to other possible justifications.

In the meantime, we do not have the luxury of history to make contemporary decisions. There is an election in November and Americans have to decide if Bush is the best man for the job. We will find out what America thinks.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 5/7/2004

1) “The medical doctor who treated Kerry for his first "wound" says that crewmen with him claimed they hadn't taken fire that day. Seems Kerry fired an M79 grenade into the river bank, and took a tiny bit of shrapnel in his arm -- a couple of centimeters across, and not fully buried. The doctor removed it with forceps, without anesthesia, and without sutures and covered it with a bandaid. Kerry then went to his CO and lobbeyed for a Purple Heart (which he got) -- which you are only supposed to get for wounds from enemy fire.”

What is truly amazing is the boldness of conservatives! A man risks his live in Vietnam (undisputed), takes heavy fire from the enemy (undisputed), risks his life to save the lives of his crew (undisputed) killed and wounded several of the enemy (undisputed) and won three purple hearts (undisputed). Now, conservatives have the absolute gall to challenge that he was not really hurt bad enough to get the medals! While their guy never went to Vietnam (undisputed), never saw real combat (undisputed), jumped to the head of the National Guard list, despite no prior ROTC training (undisputed) and may not have even showed up for his time in Alabama (disputed, although this far, no one has come forward to claim the $10,000 reward that has been put out for ANYONE who actually saw him there).

All this tells me is that there is no depth to the hypocrisy that came come from the right. Clinton NEVER challenged Dole’s record in WWII, or Bush’s for that matter. Why? Because he was a draft dodger and the so-called liberal media would never have let him forget it. And yet Al Gore (who went to Vietnam as a journalist) and Kerry, who is an actual war hero, come under fire, having served their nation. It simply proves to me yet again that conservatives don’t care one bit about the troops, and certainly not about integrity. They care about coming to power by attacking anything (literally, anything) about their opponent, from the way he looks, to his honorable tour in Vietnam.

When you begin to support a candidate that has served his country more than John Kerry, than I would be more than happy to demonstrate Kerry’s war record. Since both Bush and Cheney got out of it however (becoming the first post WWII administration to have never served in combat), I find it incredulous, and only wish liberals could be so bold.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 5/7/2004

1) “Sievers said the prior display of dead Americans was for the purpose of making people hesitate (be "not so eager") to go to war. He also quite explicitly asserted the claim that only bad news is news.”

I find nothing wrong with the above comments. As Americans, it is our culture that says war is bad, despite the fact that we are willing to do so at times. What would have been odd is if he had said that he is showing these pictures to show how wonderful war is. The statement does not indicate to me any nefarious motives. This, of course, all assumes that he calls the shots for the show and not the anchor or the station.

2) “If the names and faces program is news, and if only bad news is news, it seems to follow that Sievers believes that the names and faces program is bad news (at least that's what I learned when I studied logic).”

What is bad news is the soldiers dying. Nightline is reporting this bad news. Not even in the peak of WWII did Americans think dead Americans was good news. That did not stop them from reading about it and admiring their courage.

3) “I can't understand how the display, in the names and faces program, of those killed, even with the window dressing of reverential tones, can be anticipated or intended to have anything but an impact to convince the viewing public that all is for nought”

Those soldiers are dead and the show is reporting that. Let Americans draw their own conclusions. History has shown that when the cause is just, people will support almost anything (WWI, WWII, to a lesser extent Korea), but when the war is not just, even a few soldiers deaths are too much. We lost over 115,000 men in WWI, and far more in WWII and people could take it. Only some 500 people have been killed in Iraq, out of over 300,000 stationed there. Contrary to what some think, American are not that stupid. If they support or reject this war, it is not because they are seeing the names and faces of those killed.

4) “I couldn't possibly care what an airhead like Amanpour thinks -- to the extent that she thinks at all.”

Wow… all because she disagrees with you? Fair enough.

5) “I'm glad to see that Sinclair had the same reaction as me -- that the Nightline show would have that effect, but I suspect they meant it was intended to have that effect, and they refused to participate in Nightline's propaganda effort.”

As I have said many times, Sinclair (and you, if you are suggesting that) is upset that the dead are not being used as political tools for the war. You and Sinclair have already indicated that you would support the broadcast if it was used as political propaganda. They are a conservative company that has power over what people see and hear. I truly wish conservatives would follow Bush’s stated (but ignored) rhetoric during the campaign: “I trust the American people.” Based on the tone of your comments, I must remind you that there is no commentary with the program, only the bare facts: names and photos of the dead… it is the most neutral position the show can take but sadly, for conservatives, neutral might as well be liberal. This is telling.

6) “And yes, they are just anecdotes, and yes, Fox is equally (and I would say solely, in terms of major broadcast media) in the conservative camp. I cite the NY Times, even though it is only one paper, because everyone from Jesus on down admits that the Times sets the agenda for major media, even broadcast media.”

I must confess, I have never seen any evidence proving this so-called conventional wisdom. Most journalists get their news from Reuters, or the Associated Press. A friend of mine recently interned for CNN in Atlanta and told me that FoxNews is always on, as it is the ratings king and thus others try to emulate them. This fact has been confirmed by CNN employees (whom you no doubt assume to be non-thinkers) as well as the obvious trend of MSNBC, and CNN to try to duplicate many of FoxNews’s innovations. A simple glance at all of the major papers (on-line, of course) demonstrates that, aside from obvious news makers (i.e. Iraq) there is little else they all share, including what is on their cover story and the nature of their editorials.

7) “I cited it to show how the Times rewrites history to get a positive object lesson on affirmative action from the doctor -- when in fact, he was an incompetent screwup.”

You may very well be correct, I don’t know. I do know that all papers and magazines have a section dedicated to mistakes, as well as a section that allows readers to correct any mistakes they see (which I see a lot of in US News and Newsweek). I have no intention of defending the NY Times since I don’t read it enough to make a fair analysis. I will maintain however, that since only a small fraction of the population gets their news from papers (and who knows how many of THOSE get their news from NY Times?) I choose to focus on the big players- TV news, since that is what has the most attention from the people.


Ben H. Severance - 5/7/2004

Mr. Moshe, you are wise to be skeptical about media sources on current events. But until many years have passed and more, diverse sources become available, we will never really know whether the price of war was worth it. My specialty area is 19th Century America and I have access to all the government documents and personal accounts, as well as the newspapers, that few of us have access to when it comes to current events. Thus, for now, your views are as valid as mine or Mr. Morgan's. I am no fan of this war, but only history (with all its primary sources) will determine whether the world is a better place as a result. Perhaps America is simply reshuffling a bad deck and everything will just break even, the only difference being that different people died because we invaded as opposed to those who would have died had we not.


Richard Henry Morgan - 5/7/2004

PS

It's amazing what you can discover if you don't limit yourself to the Times and its many imitators. The medical doctor who treated Kerry for his first "wound" says that crewmen with him claimed they hadn't taken fire that day. Seems Kerry fired an M79 grenade into the river bank, and took a tiny bit of shrapnel in his arm -- a couple of centimeters across, and not fully buried. The doctor removed it with forceps, without anesthesia, and without sutures and covered it with a bandaid. Kerry then went to his CO and lobbeyed for a Purple Heart (which he got) -- which you are only supposed to get for wounds from enemy fire.

Seems poor John's first Purple Heart was as phoney as his Winter Soldier "investigation", and as phoney as his claim that he was no longer a member of the VVAW when it discussed plans to assassinate Nixon and several US senators. Then again, you ain't going to read that on the front page of the Times.


Richard Henry Morgan - 5/7/2004

Sievers said the prior display of dead Americans was for the purpose of making people hesitate (be "not so eager") to go to war. He also quite explicitly asserted the claim that only bad news is news. Both claims were made at the Berkeley Conference (prior to the names and faces program). Everything else I say directly on that subject is simply drawing implications from these prior statements. Sievers never said the names and faces program had that purpose -- nor, if I remember correctly, did I say he claimed that. If the names and faces program is news, and if only bad news is news, it seems to follow that Sievers believes that the names and faces program is bad news (at least that's what I learned when I studied logic). Add his prior comment about the aim of displaying dead Americans, and the implcation seems likewise obvious.

I can't understand how the display, in the names and faces program, of those killed, even with the window dressing of reverential tones, can be anticipated or intended to have anything but an impact to convince the viewing public that all is for nought -- occurring as it does against a background of reporting that steadfastly refuses to report any positive developments. People can disagree on that, certainly.

I couldn't possibly care what an airhead like Amanpour thinks -- to the extent that she thinks at all.

I'm glad to see that Sinclair had the same reaction as me -- that the Nightline show would have that effect, but I suspect they meant it was intended to have that effect, and they refused to participate in Nightline's propaganda effort.

The Dowd piece was an opinion piece in the NY Times, and its flight from honesty was highlighted by Andrew Sullivan -- you can access the original words at his website, via the Archives function. The Fox Butterfield piece was news reporting in the Times -- I remember it well, as I was living in NYC at the time, and there was such a newsroom revolt that Pinch had to call a meeting of the newsroom off-site (where he was shouted down by his own reporters).

And yes, they are just anecdotes, and yes, Fox is equally (and I would say solely, in terms of major broadcast media) in the conservative camp. I cite the NY Times, even though it is only one paper, because everyone from Jesus on down admits that the Times sets the agenda for major media, even broadcast media.

Lastly, the Malkin article was not cited by me to show that the late doctor was unfairly advanced by affirmative action. I cited it to show how the Times rewrites history to get a positive object lesson on affirmative action from the doctor -- when in fact, he was an incompetent screwup.


Richard Henry Morgan - 5/7/2004

I can't speak for Ben, but what I think he was getting at when he said 'media' was 'major media'. I am amazed at the quality and depth of reporting by Iraqi blogs, as referenced by say, instapundit and others. Major media barely touched a very interesting development in the last few days -- the great majority of Shia mullahs gathered to read al Sadr the riot act. Apparently they have figured out that we really do intend to leave, and that we intend to leave the foundation for a democracy, and in a democracy, as the majority, the prospects for the Shia are far brighter than if the US departs in haste leaving a chaotic vacuum in all probability filled by the Brits' former clients in the past world of divide et imperium -- the Sunni. This has the potential to remake the landscape in Iraq, and you barely hear a whisper about it in major media.


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 5/6/2004

I find it difficult to believe that a journalist was fired because he wrote positive stories about the Iraq war. While I do not dismiss the charge, I remain skepitcal absent any additional information. Frankly, the media is the only place to get news, as they have the access and the resources to report what is happening (there is little chance that the White House will return by calls for an interview). The problem is when someone either (a) only gets their news from one source (most countries have their major papers on line, and I cannot tell you how informative they can- if for no other reason than they tell us what others are seeing), and (b) relies on media that is not even news, i.e. radio pundits, TV talking heads, and other stories that are actually commentary on the news, not original news.

I think that many people (including myself) who oppose this war do not do so because the our soldiers. This has been a clever and successful tactic that has been used through much of American history.

When weighing the costs and the benefits, this war has costed more than it has gained us. That is why I oppose this war, plain and simple. Seeing successful reconstruction efforts would not change that equation, since I never doubted how beneficial this war has been for the Iraqi people. Seeing how kind our soldiers have been would not change the equation, as I would expect nothing less.

Building a new school is wonderful, either in Iraq or in the United States. A bomb that kills dozens of American soldiers and Iraqi civilians is big news. Is there any reason why this should be expected to be any other way?


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 5/6/2004

1) “The evidence I cited is the words from the mouth of Sievers himself. I even cited the source. He quite explicitly said they showed the bodies of dead Americans having been mutilated so that people would be less eager to go to war -- and I had thought that reporting the news was the aim of journalism, not molding public opinion to the views of the producer.”

Richard, I believe you are actually introducing new claims here. You previously said that the producer of the show said that “good news as no news, and only bad news as news.” Now you claim he actually said the program was designed to make people less eager to go to war? I do not question your word, but I would ask to see the quote in context. In any event, it seems like people will give power to whoever it is convenient to. In other words, is Disney responsible for Dateline (they own it), or is Ted Keppel responsible since he is the anchor (and star of the show? Now you would claim that it is actually a plot by the producer of the show.

Allow me to present another actor who wields the real power in television, and has chosen to use it for explicitly partisan reasons: Sinclair Broadcast Group, which ordered its 7 ABC stations not to broadcast Friday's "Nightline." Why would they censor the show? Because doing so would “influence public opinion against the military action in Iraq” (direct quote). Four our of Sinclair's top executives each have given the maximum campaign contribution to the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign (none have given any Kerry). Sinclair owns and operates, programs, or provides sales services to 62 stations in 39 markets, according to its Web site. In addition its ABC outlets, Sinclair's television group includes 20 Fox, 19 WB, six UPN, three CBS and four NBC affiliates, and two independent stations. It reaches approximately 24 percent of all U.S. television households, according to the Web site. Liberal media bias indeed. These are the facts.

2) “As for ideology and the major media… Nothing quite like the racism of paternalistic liberalism, is there?”

You are citing a newspaper, of which there are thousands in the country. There are liberal papers and conservative papers, Democrat and Republican. Television however, uses public airwaves, and since the vast majority (according to polls) get their news from television and only a relatively sliver get it from print media, it is worth reading my point about Sinclair above. Besides, you are citing evidence of cultural liberalism, not partisan or political liberalism. Hiring someone because they are black is not a political position. It is racism, and it endorses no one and nothing.

Let me give an example of political bias: CNN foreign correspondent Christian Amanpour said recently of the Iraq war: "I think the press was muzzled, and I think the press self-muzzled. I'm sorry to say, but certainly television and, perhaps, to a certain extent, my station was intimidated by the administration and its foot soldiers at Fox News. And it did, in fact, put a climate of fear and self-censorship, in my view, in terms of the kind of broadcast work we did." Indeed, during the buildup to the war, television news stationed became complete subordinates to conservatives, adopting a pro-war stance (MSNBC even created a show called simply: “Countdown: Iraq” almost a full year before the first bombs fell). Dissenting opinions were offered only by a few guests or a co-host on an adversarial show, but never the position taken by a major commentator on any of the major 3 networks, to the best of my memory.

3) “And I note that when Dowd, from whole cloth, invented the notion that Bush said Iraq would be easy, there was no correction, and no dismissal… I also have a distinct memory of Fox Butterfield's unsourced animadversions on the character of the Kennedy relative's purported rape victim”

These are anecdotes and I would need to see the exact quote where this was said, and whether it was in a news story, or in an editorial. Click on the following for a comprehensive analysis of Fox News, the most watched news station in America (as , and tell me what you think:
http://www.fair.org/extra/0108/fox-main.html

Why is my example of bias more relevant than the NY Times? Because cable news is the dominant source of war news for the vast majority of Americans. “Since the war got underway, nearly nine-in-ten (89%) mention television as their main source for news, with half (50%) specifically mentioning cable news, 24% citing network news, and 18% mentioning local TV news. About one-fourth (24%) say they are depending on newspapers, 19% cite radio, and 11% are relying primarily on the Internet.” And guess what? The public generally gives the media good marks for that coverage. About eight-in-ten (79%) rate war coverage as good or excellent AND war supporters give the media better marks than do war opponents; fully 83% of those who think it was the right decision to go to war characterize the coverage as good or excellent, compared with two-thirds of war opponents.” (From the Pew Research Center)
http://people-press.org/reports/display.php3?ReportID=177

1) “There might be an industry tendency to emphasize bad news -- unless bad news runs counter to major media's ideological agenda, in which they are only too happy to invent good news.”

I am not sure what your article was trying to prove, other than one incident where a black person was unfairly advanced because he was black. Affirmative Action, which was praised by Reagan when he was Governor of California, has of course been abused, just as anything.
Here is my response: http://www.understandingprejudice.org/readroom/articles/affirm.htm


Ben H. Severance - 5/6/2004

Your comment about the fate of Bob Arnot is quite telling. It reveals the severe limitations of relying solely on the media for information (and for most people the media is the main source for current events), and it demonstrates why those who support the war (as I do with certain qualifications) have difficulty finding specific acts of goodwill on the part of our soldiers and reconstruction teams. As a veteran of Desert Storm, I can attest to the decency of American soldiers. Admittedly, that was a different war, but the servicemen and women then weren't any different than those who are fighting and dying today.


Richard Henry Morgan - 5/6/2004

That bad developments of late have lately overshadowed good developments hardly explains the lack of good news prior to the onset of worse developments.

I used the expression "whole truth" not quite accurately, but in contrast to your even more restricted prior characterization of "the whole truth".

The evidence I cited is the words from the mouth of Sievers himself. I even cited the source. He quite explicitly said they showed the bodies of dead Americans having been mutilated so that people would be less eager to go to war -- and I had thought that reporting the news was the aim of journalism, not molding public opinion to the views of the producer. Silly me.

And I hardly blame Nightline for the tendencies of major media. They are simply one part of the problem, but are a microcosm of the problem. You can check their prior reporting on Iraq, even prior to those conditions that have become worse, in vain for any reporting on any conditions getting better. I thank God for bloggers, and other non-major media, for without them I would have no knowledge (had I relied solely on major media) of precisely those conditions that had improved.

As for ideology and the major media, I am reminded of Howell Raines' comment that they had hired Jayson Blair not only because he was a superb journalist, but "more importantly" (and yes, that quote is Raines' exact words) because he is black. Nothing quite like the racism of paternalistic liberalism, is there? http://www.timeswatch.org/articles/2003/0509.asp

In fact, looking back, it is obvious that the NY Times knew he was bad news long before they addressed the problem (his editor said they had to stop him working for the NY Times "now" -- and was studiously ignored, and Blair was then assigned to the major sniper story). Not bad for a guy who made up stories even when writing for a college paper, and never even finished college. They only addressed the problem when the editor of a major Houston daily complained that Blair had cadged a story from them -- in other words, when it could no longer be contained 'in-house'.

And I note that when Dowd, from whole cloth, invented the notion that Bush said Iraq would be easy, there was no correction, and no dismissal -- I guess you have to be black to get fired for making things up at the Times (but still only then when the Times gets caught out).

I also have a distinct memory of Fox Butterfield's unsourced animadversions on the character of the Kennedy relative's purported rape victim -- and this after the Times had justified not publishing unsourced rumors about the accused, based on the fact that nobody would go on the record -- interests will be served. That was so transparently ideological that even the Times newsroom was up in arms, and paper-boy Pinch had to have a meeting to calm the natives.

I also note Raines' publication of over 90 pieces on Martha Burke and Augusta National -- that's more than two stories for each protester who showed up. I guess in his editorial judgment, that story had "overshadowed" other news.

There might be an industry tendency to emphasize bad news -- unless bad news runs counter to major media's ideological agenda, in which they are only too happy to invent good news. Try this one on for size: http://www.jewishworldreview.com/michelle/malkin080702.asp


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 5/5/2004

Richard,

1) "my gripe is not with the content of the one Nightline show... but with the evident intent of the show"

Do you have any evidence to support that the show has an intent, because it certainly is not evident. If it were, there would be come kind of commentary with it.

2) "coming as it does against a background where both Nightline and the rest of the major media have steadfastly refused to report any positive news from Iraq -- refused for the simple reason that it doesn't fit their agenda."

Might I pose an alternate hypothesis: that they do not show the positive news because such news has been overshadowed by a major insurgecny, nations withdrawing support, and and an increasingly hostile population? Turn on your local news: they sooner show car crashes and fires than kittens being saved or students getting A's. It is a bias, but not a political one.

3) "The whole truth is that 700 Americans have died, other combatants and enemy combatants and civilians have died, up to 30 other nations are providing troops, and great strides have been made in public health, education, freedom of the press, etc., and great challenges remain (some things are getting worse, some better)."

That is the WHOLE truth? In that little sentence, that is it? The whole truth? I think the whole truth is something very different. However, I also respect your beliefs and have debated you enough to recognize you as an honest and intelligent person. Since reasonable people can disagree about the good and the bad of this war, I applaud Nightline for avoiding the heated debate altogether and letting the people come to their own conclusions.

4) "I know propaganda when I see it -- even "sophisticated" New York style news program propaganda. And it is a form of sophisticated propaganda that defines good news as no news, and only bad news as news"

I would not use the word propoganda, but this is the way it always is, regardles of who is president and what party is in power. It is a shame, I agree, but that is a problem with all of the media, and has little to do with the current debate about Nightline.


Richard Henry Morgan - 5/5/2004

Somehow, I missed that implication, dc.


Derek Charles Catsam - 5/5/2004

Why is it that the implication here seems to be that opposition to showing the names and faces of the dead is a left wing manifestation? the stations across the south and west that refused to show the Nightline episode in question clearly did so as critics from the right, arguing that the very showing of these names and faces amounted to an antiwar spiel. It's a bizarre argument to be sure, but one solidly from American conservatives who chose not to air the episode leaving viewers not in cambridge or Westchester, but in Alabama and Mississippi unable to make their own judgments as to what they could or wanted to watch, and to make judgments on their own about the merits of the program.
dc


Richard Henry Morgan - 5/5/2004

Again, my gripe is not with the content of the one Nightline show (I support showing their names and faces, even in isolation) but with the evident intent of the show, coming as it does against a background where both Nightline and the rest of the major media have steadfastly refused to report any positive news from Iraq -- refused for the simple reason that it doesn't fit their agenda.

The whole truth about Iraq is not that 700 Americans have died, or even that Iraq is going to hell in a handbasket. The whole truth is that 700 Americans have died, other combatants and enemy combatants and civilians have died, up to 30 other nations are providing troops, and great strides have been made in public health, education, freedom of the press, etc., and great challenges remain (some things are getting worse, some better).

I worked in MI at one time. I also have a qualification in Psyops. I know propaganda when I see it -- even "sophisticated" New York style news program propaganda. And it is a form of sophisticated propaganda that defines good news as no news, and only bad news as news (similarly, it is propaganda that defines news in an opposite manner). These are not my characterizations. These are the exact words of Nightline's producer, and are available on tape at the C-Span website, via their coverage of the War and the Media Conference at Berkeley. And when a producer of a nationally broadcast show tells me he doesn't know it is sweeps week, I also know a liar when I see one.


Arnold Shcherban - 5/5/2004

You damn right the lives and deaths of the people matter;
but - all people, not just Americans killed in the wars of their own agression, while devastating other countries
and killing many thousands, sometimes millions of those countries citizens.
I'm for creation of such monuments/memory museums, etc.
you name it, but with the loud reminder of who must be blamed for the sacrifice of those lives. In case of Vietnam and Iraq, e.g. the reminder MUST unambigously
announce the sentence of HISTORY - US goverments!


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 5/5/2004

Richard,
Again, this is all a judegment call. Nightline is not trying to explain the war, its rationale, its successes and failures. In any event, the show is not restricting its reporting on "a thin slice of the truth that supports your position." It is telling the whole truth: those people were killed in Iraq. If you believe the truth is, by itself witihout any commentary, propoganda, than so be it.

As I have said before, the real problem some have with the broadcast is that it is not being used as a tool to shore up support for the war.


Oscar Chamberlain - 5/5/2004

Richard, You say that the context has been ignored. As you consider that context positive that raises a question.

At this point in time, what accopmlishments has the US made that are likely to last?

The biggest one that I know of is the overthrow of Hussen's regime. That matters, and it could matter more if we leave something stable.

Yet right now, it seems more and more likely that much of the other good we have done in terms of education and infrastructure building will be washed away by chaos. And if that chaos is sufficiently bad, what may rise up afterwards could be a pretty ugly regime.

I would be less pessimistic if I has seen more signs of improving competence from the Bush admin. But I haven't.

You see all of this in a more positive light, and I respect you. So in sincerity, what context would you have provided for those names? What good have we done that will last?


Richard Henry Morgan - 5/5/2004

It's not within the duty of Nightline to provide a "positive context" for the content of its show. Yet, given the steadfast refusal of major media to report any good news from Iraq, and given the attitudes expressed by its producer, the intended effect of the Nightline show can't seriously be in doubt. That is what is called soft propaganda. You don't have to lie to mold opinion -- just restrict your reporting to a thin slice of the truth that supports your position.

BTW, I seriously doubt that Herodotus, who had his own troubles with the truth, really knew all three hundred names. The ancient Greeks weren't in any doubt as to what Leonidas and his crew had accomplished, and Herodotus himself made it clear through his inclusion of Simonides' epitaph (rather than the 300 names).


Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 5/5/2004

I find it amazing that some would have problems with Nightline’s reading the names of the dead (so, by the way, did John McCain and Bill O’Reiley, hardly bleeding heart ideologues). There seems to be concern that the program did not provide “context.” Of course, what critics really mean is that the show does not give “their” point of view. What point of view should have been offered? The shows hosts’? The presidents? Should it have been more positive? More negative? Is it even possible to do a “neutral” story?

Nightline choose to do what Bush pledged to do during the campaign, but fell short on, in my opinion: trust the American people. These are the names of those brave soldiers who have fallen in Iraq, and the show left the gossip, the partisanship, the spin to others. The real culprits, indeed the real villains in this whole story were those like Sinclair broadcasting and others, who effectively blamed Nightline for NOT using our fallen troops as tools for political propaganda. Shame on them.


Thomas G. Palaima - 5/5/2004

Many thanks. Since I have close friends in the military, I get the positive stuff and the negative stuff, sometimes with minimum filtering.

Americans only want to look at gore, by and large, when it is somebody else's or is fictional.

I think we would be better served all around if your suggestion were followed. The carnage and the achievements should be integrated within the normal news reporting.


Richard Henry Morgan - 5/4/2004

I think it matters. I also think it matters to know why they died. And you can't understand why they died when you are not told what has been accomplished (needless to say, we're reminded every day what hasn't been accomplished).

Recently, at a Berkeley conference on the war and the media, the executive producer of Nightline, Leroy Sievers was asked why he wasn't reporting about all the improvements in Iraq. He responded that it was supposed to get better, and news is what is not supposed to happen -- that good news isn't news, only bad news is news. Bob Arnot is testimony to that, as he filed over 40 positive news stories on Iraq, not a single one was picked up by NBC, and he was "let go".

Sievers was also asked why his show displayed the dead bodies of the four contractors. He said it was so people might not be so eager to go to war. Naturally, he hasn't seen fit to display the bodies of those killed in car crashes, as part of a campaign against bad or drunk driving. Sievers also said that he didn't know the "names and faces" show fell during sweeps week.

I know an ideologue when I see one. I also know somebody who has a little trouble wrestling with the truth. I'm all for showing the names and faces of the dead -- I just think it should be part of all the news, not just that part that the media think will lead you to the politically correct attitude on a given subject.

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