Media to Understand Repercussions of Military Intervention in Syria: Military Strikes are fought by Troops, the Troops are People & People Have Families

5 09 2013

ImageForeign Policy Situation Report reports that “CNN Reporter Barbara Starr, [was] called on the carpet by military  spouses. Longtime CNN Pentagon  correspondent Barbara Starr spoke on camera last Thursday about the impact a  Syria operation would have on the military. Here’s what Starr said: “Well, I think there’s no question that they can. And I don’t think it’s  really going to affect military families at all. This is going to be, if it is  ordered, a cruise missile strike, no U.S. troops on the ground, Navy ships out  in the eastern Mediterranean that would be on deployment anyhow. So the  capability is there. The money is there. Because what we’re talking about is  something that will last, we are told, just potentially a couple of days.”

ImageIt was a fair point in terms of explaining to the American public that  such an operation isn’t envisioned (for now, at least) to require any boots on  the ground. And Starr was well within her purview to say as much – the American  public, clearly wary of military intervention anywhere, should understand that  the operation under discussion does not literally mean sending troops into  Syria. But all that didn’t sit so well with a couple of military spouses, Rebekah Sanderlin and Molly Blake, who wrote an “open  letter to CNN Reporter Barbara Starr,” on HuffPo. It reads, in part: “Dear Ms. Starr, We are writing to let you in on a secret. It’s a big one — so get to  a fresh page in your reporter notebook and have your pen poised and ready… Here’s some inside information for you: There is no such thing as a  person-less war. Our military cannot afford for Americans to forget that wars  and battles and military strikes are fought by troops, that troops are people,  and that those people have families.”

Their beef: “In our military communities this summer we couldn’t even afford to  pay federal employees for a five-day work week. Military families can’t get  doctors’ appointments and can’t get the counseling services needed to grapple  with the problems we already have, problems largely created by almost 12 years  of war. And while Congress was busy sending a warning letter to the president  to ensure they get to sign off on whether or not we go to war, they managed to  ignore military families when the sequester hit. Today clinic hours are being  slashed — along with pretty much every other service military families need. Walking  around our communities lately, it doesn’t look like we can afford much of  anything — and certainly not a whole new war. And that’s just taking ‘afford’  literally. Figuratively, the picture is even grimmer…”

The two spouses then explain the cost of “an entire generation of  military kids” who have grown up with a parent they know “primarily through  Skype,” and the impact on couples “trying to piece together marriages”  fractured by years spent apart. Sanderlin and Blake: “We grew  hopeful that better days were coming as we watched the end of the Iraq war, and  we’re thrilled that the end of our involvement in Afghanistan is nigh, and yet  now all of cable news is breathless and giddy with talk of war in Syria.” They  continue: You see, Barbara,  there’s no such thing as ‘no boots on the ground.’ We in the military community  sigh and shake our heads when we hear talk like that from the people on TV.  Perhaps you consider a relatively small number of troops to be the same as zero  — but we don’t. We know that each of those service members is somebody’s  somebody.

Rebekah Sanderlin and Molly Blake go on to say that: ” Even the “unmanned” drones have human pilots, and the psychological wear and tear on them is staggering. Planes take off from airfields in foreign lands or from aircraft carriers, both of which are staffed by thousands of American somebodies, just like those destroyer ships. At every turn in a military operation you will find people. Intel analysts, linguists, flight crews, and cooks. Even war plans, regardless of whether they were, as you stated, “on deployment anyway” rely on thousands of people who will be pulled to a new duty, which causes reshuffling far and wide in the military community.”

Read their whole letter here.




One response

23 09 2013
Icarus Rising: the Push Not to Deliver Syrian Diplomatic Solution & the Making of the Washington’s Foreign Policy Sausage | Compassion with Sizzle

[…] pertaining to media:  in my previous blog, I write a piece, entitled “Media to Understand Repercussions of Military Intervention in Syria: Military Strikes are Fought by …” on the responsibility of media when reporting about the issues of war.  And I ask one question […]

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