We have been running many of Bob Lang’s wonderful cartoons out of turn—ones that didn’t make it to publication previously. This one came across my desk today and all I could think about was the whole host of feelings that the video SOFREP posted of the ambush in Niger has brought to the surface.
Many were angry. Many were supportive. All were shocked. From the beginning of time there have been wars, each of them bloody and heinous and painful for those who have lost a loved one in the chaos and carnage. One can only imagine what the fields of battle must have looked like during medieval campaigns when bodies were left on the battlefield, often unburied. The paintings and manuscripts tell the story but not in such a palpable way as what modern media offers to us, or more correctly, burdens us with.
The photographs from the trenches on the Western Front and the beaches of Normandy were appalling to those back home. Then the images came in from the jungles of Vietnam, and intense levels of graphic news coverage created dramatic shifts of public opinion regarding the conflict.
There has always been controversy over what effect journalism has on support or opposition to a war, as well as the decisions that policy makers made in response. Clearly after the last day of reaction to the video posted on this site, journalism’s role in showing such raw images is still controversial and draws to the surface a deep set of emotional response.
One of our reader’s spoke directly to the issue of facing the ugly truth:
“We cannot send our men and women into harms way and then look the other way when harm befalls them. We owe it to them to see the fate that comprises their last full measure of devotion. Violent death is a fact of warfare and pictures such as this ensure we can never forget this fact. Let us see the consequences and think very carefully before we ask others to stand on walls, near or far, in our defense.
We honor the memory of these men, while we mourn for their families.”
Whether we see view it with our own eyes or not…war is most assuredly always hell.