Thursday, October 27, 2016

You Can't Forget What You Never Knew

In what little spare time I have, I like watching shows and reading about history.  Of particular interest to me are the wars involving the United States over the years and the strategies that were employed--both successful and those that were failures.  Documentarians and historians have had plenty of material to work with in chronicling the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, the two World
Wars, Korea and Vietnam.  The brevity of the first Gulf War provides a little less to work with.  But 15-years of fighting the War On Terror and we still have very little information to know about it.

Americans followed along with the movement of troops in the Revolution, the Civil War and World War I through newspapers.  World War II and Korea brought radio reports and newsreel footage.  The television coverage of Vietnam may have actually turned America against that war--as Harry Reasoner and Tom Jarrel brought the horrors of battle into people's living rooms for the first time.  The first Gulf War literally played out live in prime time on CNN--as did the invasion of Iraq.  But how much TV footage do you see every night from Iraq and Afghanistan?

Those with soldiers in the fight--and those working to help the US win--knew the names of the towns were battles were fought.  And they knew the generals conducting the strategy: Washington, Grant, Lee, Pershing, Eisenhower, Patton, MacArthur, Nimitz, Westmoreland and Schwartzkopf.  But who is the commander of American operations in Iraq right now?  What is the main site of the fighting in Afghanistan this month?  You could probably stump everyone you know with those two questions--because news coverage of this war has become nearly non-existent. (By the way, the US commander in Iraq is Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend)

Yes, Mosul is in the headlines right now.  But how far into a newscast did you have to watch before there was any mention of it?  And how far down did you have to scroll on your smartphone news app to find a link to a brief story with generalizations about "senior officials" saying the operation is a success and that ISIS is on the run.  We are holding a Presidential election and there has been little to no discussion about strategies to actually bring an end to these wars.  Could you imagine if Roosevelt didn't have to answer a single question about operations in Europe or the Pacific during the 1944 election?

I know Korean vets like to call theirs the "Forgotten War"--but that is because World War II was so prodigious before it--and Vietnam was so controversial after it.  But we've got a war that has been completely forgotten already--and it's still going on.

No comments:

Post a Comment