Thursday, November 12, 2009

Media in War -- Photo of a Dead Marine

John Bernard is a retired Marine First Sergeant. I was introduced to him recently by his closest friend, retired Marine Corps Sergeant Major Jim Sauer. John's son, Joshua, who joined the Marines like his father, gave the ultimate sacrifice – his life.

The young lance corporal was hit directly by an RPG. Half of his body was blown apart. An AP photographer snapped pictures of the entire bloody and gruesome scene. His cold, pale, expressionless face was plastered on every major news outlet, against the wishes of his parents, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Imagine seeing the body of your son as if you were in war yourself. A mother could hardly stand the sight.

With instant communication and immediate image transmissions made available in the 21st Century, such defiantly, heartless decision-making by the Associated Press begs the question, is our society on the cusp of loving violence? Can we not get enough gore? When will it stop? Are we so yearning for bloody entertainment and so excited to see it that we go to extremes to view it on television, play it on video games, or in the case of Joshua Bernard, watch it as if death, war or killing were fun? It's despicable. It's dishonorable. It's uncivil at heart. By doing so our own media is unconsciously feeding propaganda to our enemy and breaking the hearts of our tender mother's who should in no way be exposed to the deaths of their sons in such manner.

Joshua was a good Christian who read the Bible, said his prayers and did his best to follow Jesus Christ. He received the call-sign of "Holy man" from his teammates – not because he was some overzealous do-gooder, but because he quietly, honorably lived his faith at home and in the battle zone.

Joshua's father began writing to members of the government weeks before his son's death. He wrote and told them about the dangerousness of some aspects of the counterinsurgency doctrine (COIN) with the new Rules of Engagement (ROE). He wrote about the crazy rules that were allowing the Taliban to escape for reasons like they were dressed in burkas, and the ROE wouldn’t allow Marines and Soldiers to stop women – or guys in drag. Also, the troops were being denied supporting fires. These ROE went against the better judgment of sound doctrine and battle-proven tactics. It was as if they were being denied the opportunity to win.

Mission Orders: Fight and win.

Caveat: Tie one hand behind your back and blind-fold yourself. Pretend the enemies will fight fairly or with the same moral beliefs any civil society will.

Results: You lose. You cannot put your moral code on an amoral enemy. You cannot believe they are anything less than terrorists with an entirely different mindset. You cannot think that fighting with trepidation or half-heartedly will ensure success. If you do, you'll lose every time.

I understand it was an aspect of those particular caveats John foreshadowed – too much friendliness to enemies who are seeking to kill and murder and maim our troops – that eventually got his son killed. Joshua's death was a direct result of being led into an ambush by their loosely vetted Afghan interpreter.

We cannot afford to cover our eyes and pretend there are no terrorists among us (like the FBI's uncanny announcement within moments of the shooting at Fort Hood, saying terrorism wasn't a factor). We cannot afford to let rulers and leaders of this Republic sit comfortably on their thrones while Marines, sailors, soldiers and airmen die – whether on this land or on any other.

In order to do win, we must act wisely, deftly and, in times of war, viciously. We cannot afford to pacify or placate our enemy, or pretend he doesn't exist. We must root out the enemies among our elected officials who, whether by deliberate deceit or unconscious reason, tear down our beloved Constitution and guarantees of freedom. There's only two ways to ensure freedom: (1) Be good. There is great strength in a nation on its knees; and, (2) although paradoxically difficult for any moral person or civil society, we must fight and win.

Lance Cpl. Joshua Bernard was the epitome of a brave Marine fighting to ensure our freedom. Yet his legacy, vicariously implemented by the AP, shows more of his real blood and guts instead of his noble-red blood and patriotic, courageous guts – the true inspired genius of any American Patriot, to include our Founding Fathers.

May God grant that our troops come home…and not in body bags.

Finally, I believe the Lord is very aware of some of the tragic decisions those in our great country has made of late and He puts good, honorable and wise men in positions of influence to help keep our troops safe, preserve our Constitution and our way of life, which is being attacked from multiple angles. May God grant each of us peace and comfort during this time of war, crisis and contingency, and may we all strive to be instruments in His hands to bring about good and lasting purposes.

For further reading, picture viewing or watching interviews of John Bernard, click on the links below:

John Bernard's personal blogspot, Let Them Fight or Bring Them Home:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Actually that's not a photo of a "dead" marine. From what I read, that pic was taken just moments after the RPG struck nearby and they worked on him for awhile after that picture was taken. He was still very much alive in that pic..... which was probably even worse for his parents.