Never before in U.S. history have the American people held its military in such (unrealistic) esteem. Possibly, it is partially due to false images portrayed by the for-profit 24/7 cable-news organizations; possibly, it is partially due to the general American public’s lack of experience, and knowledge — i.e., we’ve lost our grip on reality.
Historically, even to the Founding Fathers, the U.S. military was always a citizen-soldier force. The draft, with all of its faults and flaws, ensured that the nation’s public military service was as egalitarian and fair as possible. With the all-volunteer force the U.S. military became a pay-for-performance mercenary business. Primarily motivated by financial gain, and staffed increasingly by contractors, young men and women volunteered, while the vast majority of young Americans simply turned away, walked away, to live their lives as though U.S. military’s problems did not exist. There is no shared burden.
At the same time, beginning with Vietnam, escalating with journalists in the field, broadcast television put war and warriors directly in the face of the American public. As 24/7 cable news grew, along with its need for profits, and as embedded journalists became the norm, Americans developed an insatiable thirst, a perverted need to know everything, to know it all, to know it all immediately, without any sense of objectivity or common-sense. From the first Gulf War, through Iraq, to Afghanistan, America has developed a perverse habit (like a drug addict) demanding to know it all.
In our addictive need for immediacy and to be connected 24/7, Americans (politicians included it seems, as each side now parses talking points to their own partisan advantage), have lost their ability to remember our past mistakes and to learn from history. We seem unable to comprehend anything but “now” and the next news cycle. Every scandal and crisis of the day becomes fodder for talking heads on 24/7 cable-news, without any sense of objectivity or context.
So when an American general fell from his pedestal, the media pounced on the story of the day — complicated facts and reality be damned — on the one side, inflating his persona and his life, and on the other, castigating everyone and everything around him.
The fact and reality is that the U.S. military, FBI, CIA and State Department are doing the best they can, under extremely difficult conditions (which most Americans cannot begin to understand, because they have never served in those positions) in responding to an unrealistic demanding public for immediate news — a public who, in fact, has no right to know every detail of what’s going on. They can always do better, but not because MSNBC or FOX News says so. And we’ll never know the real truth, from the media, anyway.
America should demand better of itself and must stop pandering to the lame-stream media. The reality is: We’re being played.