In a Small Wars Journal interview, author Bing West is asked why he is so tough on Iraq war critics in his new book The Strongest Tribe. The answer is appalling — in just 10 paragraphs, West manages not only to extol the virtues of “martial valor”, which he thinks is “essential to sustain a democracy” — noble thought, wrong century — but also trounce those advocating legal and human rights for Guantanamo prisoners, and to top it all off, dismiss the outrage over Haditha as just “a hue and cry”. In fact, according to West, it would be better if the media just shut up about the nasty stuff and concentrated on the good, like it used to — 60 years ago:
During World War II, the press scarcely mentioned and never photographed the dozens (over 140 in all) of public hangings of American soldiers, and never mentioned the shootings of German civilians or captured prisoners. The press considered such stories to be out of bounds.
In World War II, our nation highlighted courage and quietly accepted mistakes. Today, we highlight mistakes and quietly accept valor. On Iwo Jima in 1945, almost six thousand Americans died, many more than in five years in Iraq. Iwo Jima was a strategic blunder. Today, the press and Congress would be apoplectic about such a blunder.
Maybe as a soft European I just don’t understand these “martial values”. Still, it boggles my mind why the COIN community, and others as well — learned (and sane) people all — consider this man as something of an icon.
Can someone please explain?