Friday, May 18, 2007

Why is it always the media’s fault when a country is losing a war?

You hear this a lot these days from the wingers. I am paraphrasing and doing some lumping together, but the main argument seems to be that one reason the war in Iraq in not going very well is that the newspapers and other media keep running negative stories. Consequently, moral of the troops and the “home front” is low and the enemies are emboldened. I think I have that correct.

It seems like this has been a constant theme for as long as there have been wars and a press to cover them. In World War I, for example, when it became apparent that the Allies were turning the tide and were really gathering momentum, one of the two German generals administering the war, Erich Ludendorff (Paul von Hindenburg being the other) started “losing it”, shall we say. He was blaming the press for not being an ardent enough supporter of the way and for the flagging moral of the civilian population of Germany. Never mind that they didn’t have any food, most able-boded men between 16 and 45 were either in the army or were already dead, the local economy was collapsing, every single detail of their civilian lives was being disrupted even down to confiscating all metal objects in a town, such as church bells, pots and pans, even jewelry, so the military could make bullets out of them. That had nothing to do with it at all. No, it was all the fault of the newspapers. Well, he was also blaming “leftists” and Jews as well. And he blamed Kaiser Wilhelm as well for not formulating a better war plan, even though Ludendorff and Hindenburg had pretty much grabbed control of the entire country and relegated the Kaiser to the sidelines. Everyone got blamed for the coming collapse and eventual surrender of Germany to the Allies except for himself.

Does any of this sound familiar? And people wonder why the U.S. now has a “war czar”, who is only a three star general who is expected to tell four star generals what to do.

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