Monday, September 25, 2006

A striking comparison

I read this recently, and thought it was powerful enough to share with you:

"The president was wary: 'The troops will march in, the bands will play, the crowds will cheer, and in four days everyone will have forgotten. Then we will be told we have to send in more troops. It's like taking a drink. The effect wears off, and you have to take another.'

America fell off the wagon... The New York Times editorialized that the was is "a struggle this country cannot shirk." The Yanks arrived with their can-doism, their gung-ho, more-is-better mentality.

Some called it the 'John Wayne syndrome.' They sized up the war in strictly military terms and boasted they'd be home by Christmas. Their generals, ignorant of the country's history and ancient political and cultural divisions, believed they could save it by overlaying America's democratic institutions onto it as they would iron a heat-transferred slogan onto a blank T-shirt."

Then there is some information about the war starting to drag on, with the American side not making much progress.

"A contrarian band of journalists wouldn't 'get on the team,' reporting instead that the war was going from bad to worse for the Americans.

The U.S. generals...kept predicting that the troops would be home by Christmas, but stopped saying which one. The ambassadors succesively watched the light dim at the tunnel's end.

The grunts...flying in by the thousands, arrived with conviction and hope. They left in body bags, on stretchers, or aboard charter flights that landed them 'back in the world' where their own disillusionment festered. Routinely men who 'had to destroy the town in order to save it' were transformed...

It became the most documented killing field in history. Television and print media delivered images of death and violence as dependably as a milkman."

This excerpt is from a chapter in a book I've just finished reading called "Requiem." It's dedicated to the 135 photographers of different nations who are known to have died or to have disappeared while covering the wars in Indochina, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. It was published in 1997, before 9/11 happened, before we went to war in Iraq. The section reproduced above was written by Tad Bartimus. I did take the liberty of removing direct references to Vietnam and to presidents, generals and ambassadors so as not to date it...driving home the point that an article written in 1997 about a war three decades earlier could very well apply to the situation we find ourselves in today. The president who is quoted at the beginning is John F. Kennedy.


Post a Comment

<< Home