Thursday, May 26, 2016

How the press will cover the next war

Author Harry M. Zubkoff in the mid 1980s
The media was Harrys professional domain. I discovered the following hard-copy article filed with the title in the graphic below, How the Press will Cover the Next War. Then I found a published version in International Combat Arms magazine with the title “The Media’s Role in Modern Warfare”, January 1987. Yes, the 1980s may seem ancient, but Harry makes several points I believe you’ll appreciate. And, you may find this piece entertaining.

In the late 1930s I saw a movie that recreated a period when the occult arts reigned in ancient Egypt. A beautiful princess had a crystal ball – more like a sunken bathtub in her living room – in which she could see anything and everything that was going on in any part of her world. She could, for example, focus on a scene in any town or village in her domain. She could, if she so desired, focus on a battle taking place a hundred or more miles away. And, if the spirit moved her, she could even tune into someone’s bedroom to see who was doing what to whom.

Now, some 4,000 years later, and about fifty years after that fantasy film, we have the capability to do just about the same thing – to see and hear anything going on in our world. The technology is here, the equipment is more or less in place, or at least available, and all we have to do is press a button, flip a switch, twist a dial, whatever.

With this kind of capability, the media, both print and broadcast, can cover events occurring anywhere, from the winter Olympics in Switzerland to a war in the Falklands. Right now, of course, the reporters and the video cameras have to be on the scene, and there may be a problem getting to where the action is, but the day is not far off when that may not be necessary. Cameras mounted on satellites and positioned in space so that any spot on Earth can be kept under constant surveillance, will be available to the media. Communications gear is already available so that the media no longer have to rely exclusively on military communications facilities and cooperation to transmit their stories back home from the war zone.

Given these capabilities, do you think it will ever again be possible to exercise the kind of censorship or controls over the media that existed during World War II? I doubt it. So how will the next war be reported? Fully, I think, though not necessarily accurately.

But let’s first define what we mean by war. If there is an all-out exchange of nuclear weapons in the future, the question of how it will be reported by the media is irrelevant. It will probably not be reported at all except, perhaps, by the sages or patriarchs gathered around the campfires that warm the remnants of the human race. In any case, no one will care. However, since we have avoided a nuclear war over the last four decades since World War II ended, and since our deterrence policy is still operative, it seems most unlikely that this kind of catastrophe will occur in the near term.

In all probability, therefore, if there is to be a war, it will be a conventional war, either a large scale World War II type of conflict or a smaller scale Vietnam or Afghanistan type of conflict, fought with so-called conventional weapons. In either case, the way in which it will be reported will undoubtedly be the same as that in which all of the recent conflicts in the world have been reported. That is, in the same old traditional ways that wars have been reported until now.

There are two major problems in reporting on a war: to obtain the information necessary for conveying some measure of understanding to the consumers; and to transmit that information. Until now, the information has largely been controlled by those who conduct the war – that is, the military spokesmen on the scene. Reporters have always had to rely almost entirely on those sources. Moreover, the reporters have had to rely almost entirely on the cooperation of the military to transmit their information.

If reporters felt that on occasion their sources were not sufficiently forthcoming in providing information, they have been known to fabricate information – or, at least, to speculate to the extent that they might as well have been fabricating. That’s SOP, more or less.

Some of them, the more enterprising ones, will try to seek out some other than “official” sources. They might go out into the field with combat units, where they can experience firsthand a “small slice” of the war themselves. This may produce some human interest stories and even, perhaps, help convey a partial sense of reality to the viewer or reader. It cannot, however, by itself, convey an understanding of how this one small unit action fits into the overall strategy in the conduct of the war, or even to the tactics used in carrying out that strategy. Nor can it accurately reflect the overall progress in the larger war in achieving our military objectives. In short, the best it can do is describe a small action which may or may not be inconsequential.

Other reporters may congregate around the bar in the hotel where they are all being housed, passing along to each other any tidbits of gossip or rumor making the rounds on any given day. Then, each night, they will dutifully file their stories in time to meet their deadlines, with the maximum number of words needed to fill a column and the minimum amount of information needed to qualify as a news story.

With the technological developments becoming available, however, they will no longer have to rely so exclusively on the military, either for the information itself or for the means to transmit it. And, since the information will be available to their editors, too, the reporters may well be forced to greater objectivity and honesty in the quality of their reports. In fact, the day may come when it will not even be necessary to send reporters out to the scene of the action. They may be able to view the action in the relative comfort of their home offices and write their stories at their own desks.

But let’s not look at the future; let’s look at the recent past. There has already been a technological revolution over the last few years in the art of news gathering, with the advent of portable video cameras and satellite ground stations that can transmit news and pictures in real time. As a result, the networks now devote more than twice as much time to the coverage of foreign news, directly from location, as they did five years ago, and three or four times as much as they did ten years ago.

Unfortunately, just as the media have learned to use the increasingly sophisticated technology to transmit the news, so have others learned to use it to manipulate the news – and the media as well. I don’t want to belabor the point – that’s another story that deserves extensive discussion by itself – but there is a real question as to whether the press has mastered the new technology as an instrument for disseminating the news or whether it has become a captive of the new technology as an instrument for manipulating the news.

Now let’s consider another aspect of the reporter’s dilemma. In the past, in our wars if not in all wars, almost all a reporter’s information has been obtained from only one side – our side. Information obtained from the other side, the enemy’s side, if available at all, has invariably been suspect. Indeed, all our previous experience indicates that the “enemy” has been exceedingly clever in using the media to advance his own views and perspectives. The result is propaganda which obscures the truth of any situation and also casts doubt on the veracity of our own spokesmen.

For that matter, even factually accurate reports do not necessarily convey the truth about a situation. When a television camera focuses upon a riot – say in Saigon, or in any city, for that matter – it actually obscures the fact that the rest of the city is going about its business normally and peacefully, which is a strong indication that the riot may well have been staged for the camera.

Whenever I look at television news reports, I am reminded of what W.C. Fields said the first time he met Mae West. He looked her over carefully from head to foot with that inimitable scowl on his face. “There is less here,” he said, “than meets the eye.”

Another problem confronting the media is the dwindling proportion of reporters who have any military experience or who will be able to understand the complexities of modern warfare. Military policies, strategies, doctrine and tactics are subjects of professional study, not easily or quickly absorbed by newcomers to the field. Even experienced reporters, used to covering all kinds of news stories and adapting to all kinds of breaking news events, would have considerable difficulty in understanding and reporting on a war in a way that would make it comprehensible to the audience at home. Of course, that won’t stop them from trying. The media will undoubtedly send droves of young, inexperienced reporters to “cover” the next war, all of them eager to don the glamorous mantle of “war correspondent” – and all of them willing to learn on the job. And the media will no doubt print thousands upon thousands of words of copy, with little or no regard to how much they all add to or detract from the public’s understanding of the true nature of the conflict.

In my view, the media would do well to seek out some retired professional military personnel who can write – there are many such – and whose background of knowledge and experience could add immeasurably to the quality of their reports. After all, don’t the networks constantly seek out retired professional athletes to provide knowledgeable commentary on sports events? Is not the adequate coverage of a war at least as important as the coverage of football games?

In any case, the manner in which news events are covered today, and the manner in which they will be covered in the near-term future, is changing because the technology is changing. It is impossible to predict with any degree of confidence all the ramifications attending these changes, or to predict what the ultimate impact will be on public perceptions or public opinion. But one thing is for sure – the public’s demand for news is insatiable and the media will do their best to satisfy that demand. Even if they’re only partially successful, the mere fact that our press is free to try is a cause for some celebration.

Copyright 2016
Elaine Blackman

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Reflections on mortality, learning new things

My parents in 2004 and 2005; Harry at home in 2004

Harry always had his camera close by. Snapping photos at special occasions and distributing prints to friends and family was one more activity that kept him busy and learning new things during his elderly years. Recently I found the three photos above in a file on Harrys computer with a couple hundred others Id never seen. I also retrieved the following email he apparently wrote to a friend’s daughter on Sept. 2, 2007, after her father passed away. I hope she will see this blog and feel inspired anew because others are enjoying Harry’s reflections, too, and possibly taking his advice.

Dear Cathy:

A few years ago, an old friend of mine died – I should say a long-standing friend of mine since I have many young friends as well as a few old friends, by which I mean those around my age. I was 86 in June, and there are not many my age left any more. Anyway, when he died in his early 80s, he left two daughters in their late 50s and several grandchildren in their late 20s to early 30s. His wife had died ten years before he did. When he died, TIME magazine was going to write an obit about him and sent a reporter to interview his daughters. What they found out was more than they expected. In the end, they decided to do a story on what they called middle-aged orphans, which is a growing phenomenon in our country as people are living longer and children are generally parents themselves when their own parents die.

You understand, of course, that whenever someone close to you dies, either a relative or a friend, you can’t help reflecting on your own mortality, and this is especially true of those of us who manage to reach their 80s. We know that we do not have many years left to us and we have a desire to impart as much as possible of the wisdom we have acquired over the years to our heirs and younger friends. But, more important, we tend to reflect on just what we have learned from our own experience and just what constitutes wisdom that is worthy of passing on to anyone else. 

Harry in 2007, around the time he wrote this email
When I was young, middle age was considered the 40s and 50s. Old age was considered the 60s and 70s. People who lived into their 80s were called octogenarians; they were few and far between, ancients. My own parents died in their mid-50s, nine months apart, when I was 19 and 20 respectively. Almost all my peers had lost their parents by the time they were 30. It was a rare teenager who had both sets of grandparents still alive then. It’s different now. I keep going to weddings of grandchildren of people I know, where both the bride and the groom have both sets of grandparents attending and dancing at their weddings. In fact, in a few weddings recently, there were four sets of grandparents attending, because both the bride and the groom were marrying a second time and their parents had been divorced and remarried, too. Relationships for them had become extremely complicated, I must say, and after a few explanations I was confused beyond words. Suffice it to say that the wedding party of family alone, in one case, consisting of parents, grandparents, siblings and step-siblings, etc., amounted to 47 people. 

For a couple like Jeanette and myself, who have been happily married for 64 years now, it is sometimes amazing to see the number of divorces among younger couples these days. And yet, when I talk to them separately, I can understand why they found it necessary to separate. What I can’t understand is why they married in the first place. Except for raging hormones and the sexual attraction, they should have known they were incompatible. One of the few advantages of advanced age (like mine) is that we see some things clearly that younger folks find cloudy or obscure. Which is not to suggest superior wisdom – only a different perspective.

I am the youngest of four siblings, two sisters and a brother. We were close in some ways, distant in others. The oldest, a sister, was ten years older than I. My brother was seven years older. My second sister was four years older. The standing joke in the family, after we were all adults, is that my second sister was always referred to as my younger sister, which, by definition she was. My oldest sister died six years ago, at the age of 91. My brother died nine years ago at the age of 84. By the way, he was career Air Force, enlisted in 1940, right after WWII started in Europe in 1939, started as a Flying Sergeant and graduated to the maintenance field and served until he retired with 25 years as a Chief Warrant Officer in the mid-1960s at the age of 55. My “younger” sister is 90 now, living in a nursing home in California. We visited there for her 90th birthday less than a year ago.

The deaths of my older siblings made me feel like an orphan all over again, as I had when my parents died so many years ago, and started me thinking about my own mortality. Every time a friend dies now, every funeral I attend, finds me thinking of all the things I want to do yet and how little time I have left. That’s why I try to do as much as I can each day and why I commit myself to do many things that just a few years ago I would not have done. Because, like most people, just a few years ago I behaved as though I were immortal, as though the thought of death simply didn’t occur to me. Even now, it’s not so much the thought of dying that bothers me – it’s the urge to do as many things as I can while I have the will and the strength to do them.  

I have noted, with a few rare exceptions (your Dad was one of the exceptions), that most of the funerals I attend nowadays involve people who are not doing anything special – not working, not involved in ongoing projects, hobbies, avocations, studies, mind-occupying activities, etc. I don’t mean that they’re just vegetating or sitting in a rocking chair all day. Sure they have a sort of social life, they go out to dinner now and then, they see friends, they play cards, they go to movies. But they’re not doing anything constructive. They’re not using their talents or their skills or their minds. I so admired Tom, I’ll tell you, because his mind never stopped working and gnawing at problems and seeking solutions to all kinds of perplexing things. I felt about him in some ways as if he were my younger brother and he kept asking me why things are the way they are and why can’t we do something to fix them, and the very fact that he kept asking why forced me to think about things I didn’t want to think about. He’s the only person in the world, except for my own brother, with whom I could spend hours on the telephone and enjoy every minute of it – and not begrudge the time taken away from anything else. 

Now, Cathy, I’ve gone on and on bending your ear (eye?) too long and getting a little maudlin, too, but what I started out to say, and took the long way around, is to keep busy – keep your mind working learning new things and dealing with old things in new ways.

Copyright 2016
Elaine Blackman

Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Jewish People’s struggle toward independence

Harry Zubkoff, eternally photogenic
One year ago, I began this blog to honor my father’s memory and stay connected with his family and friends, far and wide. Because Israel was near and dear to his heart, today, on Israel’s Independence Day (Yom Ha’atzmaut), Im sharing two articles Harry wrote for his synagogue newsletter. He was 88 when he filed the original computer documents, dated January and March 2010. Most of us have never seen these articles, and some of us are learning lessons in Jewish history.

The relationships between the Jews and the Arabs in the Middle East did not start with the establishment of the State of Israel. Long before Israel came into existence in 1948, the Arabs were opposed to the growing presence of Jews in the area, known as Palestine. While Jews had been coming to Palestine in small numbers for the past 2,000 years, the numbers started increasing in the late 1800s, when oppression of Jews in Eastern Europe stimulated emigration to Palestine as one of the few places open to them.

When Theodore Herzl organized the Zionist movement into a formal, recognized group and convened the first Zionist Congress in 1897, emigration of Jews from Europe to Palestine picked up speed. Those Jews returning to Palestine were already talking about establishing a Jewish homeland there either under Turkish or German rule. Early in the 20th century, the Jews established a number of farming communities, most notably at Petach Tikvah, Rishon Letzion and other locations. They also started building a new city, Tel Aviv, just north of Jaffa. As the Jews built new facilities in Palestine, increasing numbers of Arabs came into the area, seeking to share in the new prosperity and opportunity provided by Jewish enterprise. By the time WWI started in 1914, there were about 600,000 Arabs and 100,000 Jews in Palestine.

The First World War put a stop to everything. It was hard on both the Jews and the Arabs of Palestine with outbreaks of disease, both cholera and typhus, affecting both populations. An Ottoman military government ruled the area and was detested by Jews and Arabs alike. The Ottoman Empire joined with Germany and Austria-Hungary against the Allies during the war, and many Jews fled the area to avoid being drafted into the Turkish army. A small group of Jews, however, organized an underground unit that provided critical intelligence information to the British which helped their invasion effort. Their help was but one of many reasons why Britain endorsed the concept of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. At the same time Britain also promised the Arabs a state in the area in return for an Arab revolt against the Ottomans led by T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia). 

In the spring of 1920, and again a year later in 1921, and eight years later in the summer of 1929, Arabs, who opposed the idea of a Jewish National Home in Palestine, organized simultaneous violent riots and pogroms against the Jews in a number of locations – Jaffa, Haifa, Hebron and Jerusalem. Throughout the decade of the 1920s, other sporadic acts of violence by Arabs against the Jews took place, but never rising to the level of riots or pogroms. As a result, the Jews organized a self-defense force, the Haganah, since the British did nothing to protect them. A major instigator of violence against the Jews was the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, the foremost Arab religious leader, who later in the 1930s became a Nazi collaborator.  

In the late 1920s and through the 1930s, Arab antagonism to the Jews increased dramatically. They claimed that Jewish immigration and their land purchases, though legitimate, were displacing and dispossessing Arabs, even though all the economic indicators showed that the Arabs were benefiting from Jewish investment in the area. In fact, the Arab standard of living in Palestine was higher than in any other area of the Middle East, and Arabs were flocking there in record numbers to share in the prosperity engendered by the Jews.

Anti-Jewish violence was fueled by lies which the Arabs trot out periodically, even to this day, that the Jews were planning to build a Synagogue at the Wailing Wall, and thereby encroach upon the Temple Mount compound and the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The technique of telling lies about the Jews in order to incite violence against them was perfected and expanded by Joseph Goebbels. As Minster of “Propaganda and Enlightenment” for the German Third Reich, Goebbels made lying about the Jews into an art form. “If you tell a lie big enough,” he said, “and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” Thus, the Germans came to believe that the Jews were sub-human and perpetrated the greatest atrocity in human history, and the best documented mass-murder rampage. The Third Reich was obliterated in World War II, but the technique of lying about Jews to incite violence against them lives on in the Arab world and in some European states, as well. 

A public opinion survey taken in Europe just a few years ago disclosed that Europeans view Israel as the greatest threat to world peace. This kind of public attitude is a direct result of lies repeated relentlessly about Israel’s attempts to defend itself against incessant attacks by Palestinians and other Arabs. The most outrageous lies are told about the Jews: for example, a British report stated that Jews were killing Palestinians in order to harvest their vital organs; a Norwegian report stated that Jews were killing Christian children in order to use their blood to bake matzah, etc. The reporters involved disregard the tenets of their own profession – a search for truth and verification. Indeed, when confronted with questions, they declare that they do not know what is true, only what they are told. In Arab schools today, children are taught from earliest childhood to hate Jews and that their highest goal is to kill Jews and become martyrs. In Arab newspapers Jews are insulted and derided every day so that the Arab “man in the street” is conditioned to hate all Jews everywhere.   

Despite Arab objections and British obstacles, Jewish immigration increased substantially in the 1930s as the Germans tightened the persecution screws and Eastern European countries did the same. The pivotal point came in 1936 when widespread riots took place, which were dubbed the Arab Revolt or, in some media reports, the Great Uprising. Fully half of the 5,000 residents of the Jewish quarter in Old Jerusalem were forced to flee and the few Jews remaining in Hebron after the killings of 1929 were also evacuated. The Arabs were not only warring against the Jews, but against the British, as well, and as many as a thousand or more Arabs were killed in the fighting. 

In the aftermath, the Peel Commission of 1937 came up with a plan to partition the remaining Mandate area into a small Jewish state and a much larger Arab state. (Remember, more than three quarters of the original Palestine Mandate had already been given to the Arabs for their state, now called Jordan.) Meanwhile, in a further response to the riots, the British began restricting immigration of Jews, despite the growing evidence that Germany had embarked on a program of killing all the Jews of Europe. These restrictions culminated in the British White Paper, issued in 1939, which limited the number of Jewish immigrants into Palestine to 15,000 a year for five years, after which any additional immigration would be subject to Arab approval. In effect, this meant no more would be allowed, a situation which was intolerable to the Jewish people, especially in view of Germany’s inexorable move toward a policy of genocide against them.

Beginning in the mid-1930s and throughout the World War II period from 1939 to 1945, the Arab leadership in Palestine maintained ever stronger ties with the Nazi government in Germany. The wartime cooperation was exemplified by a “fatwa” (religious edict) issued by the Arab religious authority in Palestine for a holy war against England in May 1941. In a meeting with Adolf Hitler in 1941, Amin al-Husayni, leader of the Supreme Muslim Council in Palestine, discussed Britain’s endorsement of establishing a Jewish national home in Palestine. Hitler promised him that he would eliminate the Jews from Palestine after Germany won the war in Europe. During the war, Amin al-Husayni served with the Nazis in the Waffen SS in Bosnia. 

Meanwhile, the Jews of Palestine organized a 5,000-man Brigade, which served with the British Army during the war in Europe. After the war, the Brigade succeeded in spiriting thousands of survivors of the Holocaust, the remnants of Europe’s Jewish population, out of that forsaken continent and smuggling them into Palestine, under the noses of the British, who had steadfastly refused to allow Jewish immigration. At the same time, the Jewish leaders in Palestine, the Yishuv, as it was known, decided to make a major effort to bring the Jewish refugees into Palestine. They organized a huge illegal immigration enterprise using small boats and operating in total secrecy. Many were intercepted by the British and detained in makeshift prison camps on the island of Cyprus, but even so, during 1946 and 1947, some 70,000 European Jewish refugees were smuggled into Palestine. 

As details of the full dimensions of the tragic slaughter of the Jews of Europe by the Nazis in pursuit of a “final solution” emerged, it had a major impact on public opinion around the world and inspired additional support for the Zionist cause. And Britain, which had restricted every attempt to bring Jewish refugees to the area, finally decided to return its Palestine Mandate to the newly organized United Nations. 

The UN recommended that the Palestine Mandate be split into three parts – a Jewish state, an Arab state, and a separate area to include Jerusalem and Bethlehem under UN control. Neither side liked this partition plan, but the Jewish Agency, the de-facto government of the Jews, accepted it and campaigned for it. The Arabs rejected it.

All the Arab leaders in the Arab League objected in principle to the right of the Jews to an independent state in Palestine. But the UN General Assembly voted for the Partition on Nov. 9, 1947, with 33 countries in favor, 13 opposed, and 10 abstaining. The official partition was scheduled to take effect as soon as the British withdrew from the area, on May 15, 1948.
Almost as soon as the UN Partition vote was announced, the Arabs started carrying out attacks against the Jewish population. The consulates of countries that had voted in favor of the Plan were attacked, bombs and Molotov cocktails were thrown at shops and cafes, synagogues were set afire and many businesses looted.

With the British withdrawing, there was no force responsible for maintaining law and order. In December 1947 and January 1948, more than 1,000 people had been killed and 2,000 wounded. By the end of March 1948, more than 2,000 dead and 4,000 wounded. 

On May 14, the day before the British Mandate expired, David Ben-Gurion announced to the world that the State of Israel had been established in accordance with the UN Partition Plan. As required by the UN’s resolution, Israel agreed to ensure that all its inhabitants would enjoy equal social and political rights, regardless of race, religion or gender.

You can find several other articles about Israel in previous posts on this blog.

Copyright 2016
Elaine Blackman

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Is the United States the world's policeman?

Author Harry M. Zubkoff
In May 1993, Harry wrote the following article and filed it on his computer with the title DMR”, likely for Defense Media Review. Thats the name of the private newsletter he started after he retired from government in 1986. Harrys professional bio called the newsletter “a summary analysis of media coverage of defense related news and commentaries.” The New York City Tribune printed a story about it, shown at bottom of this page. In 1989, Harry sold the newsletter to Boston University, but evidently still submitted articles

The most popular and widely repeated cliche of the past half century is that the United States cannot be the policeman. Now that the Cold War has ended, that cliche has become even more entrenched in the public consciousness. Every media pundit who comments on foreign policy and international security affairs has embraced it, as has almost every politician and every military spokesman. Indeed, it has been repeated so often that it has assumed the status of a mantra. Repeat after me – “the U.S. is not the world’s policeman, the U.S. is not ...” – etc., etc.    

But is this really a true expression of our national will, or of our national character? Are we really unable or unwilling to help right the world’s wrongs, or are we inhibited from expressing strong views on international conflicts by this omnipresent cliche? Maybe it’s time to review the phrase, and to reevaluate our policy, as well.    

The United States never really sought or wanted a position of world leadership. It was, so to speak, thrust upon us when we emerged from World War II as the one true superpower. Throughout the period of the Cold War, the Soviet Union was a superpower only militarily; in all other respects it was basically a third world country. With the end of the Cold War, the United States remains the only world superpower and Russia is still a third world country, as are all the states that once comprised the Soviet Union. But the end of the Cold War brought new credence to another aspect of international relations, the United Nations.

With the demise of the Soviet Union, the United Nations has become more like the effective international force for harmony that it was meant to be. At the same time, the need for an effective international agency has multiplied as the long repressed nationalistic fervor and ethnic hatreds of Eastern Europe have been revived. Throughout the Cold War period, the Soviets blocked the UN from playing any really meaningful role in world affairs. What’s more, the Soviets never helped the UN in those situations where the UN was allowed to play an active role. In every case in which the UN played its proper role, it was because the United States was a strong participant. There is no question that without the Soviet Union, the United Nations is a stronger force for good in the world community.

It is also true, unfortunately, that the UN cannot act at all without strong backing by the U.S. Like it or not, the U.S. is the leading power in the world, which brings with it the responsibility to use its power as a force for international stability. The question is, can we make such a contribution by using our power or by withholding it? And if we decide to use it, can we do so unilaterally, or must it be done in concert with others? These questions emerge as the most relevant with respect to the current situation in the former Yugoslavia. If ever there was a conflict anywhere that cried out for intercession, this is it. The outrageous acts by the participants, the entire concept of “ethnic cleansing”, the crimes against humanity, demand intercession.

The European nations, in whose immediate neighborhood these things are happening, profess to condemn the mass rapes, the mass deportations, the concentration camps, the tortures and the murders – all the horrors perpetrated in the name of ethnic cleansing. The best they are willing to do, however, at least until now, is to provide some humanitarian relief – food and medical supplies. They are unable to organize an effective military intervention, which would require the deployment of a substantial ground force. They are unwilling to make any substantial commitment of military force, even if the United States provides the lion’s share of such forces, including the essential element of air power. They would prefer to wait and see if a solution can be found through diplomacy, though all diplomatic efforts to date have failed.

The point is, all the European countries together have not thus far been able to stop the horror, either diplomatically or militarily. Can the U.S. do it alone? Of course not. If a military intervention is ever to be decided upon, and if it is ever to be successful, it must be an international effort under the auspices of the United Nations, and with the United States, as the most powerful nation, bearing the brunt of the burden. It seems as though the U.S. has become the epitome of the “Have gun, will travel” syndrome. Our leaders may be willing to participate in an international effort. The question is, are we the people willing to do so? Are we willing to act as the world’s policeman, even in concert with other nations? Or, to put it more bluntly, are we willing to become the world’s mercenaries?

Copyright 2016
Elaine Blackman 

I believe Harry continued to submit articles to Defense Media Review after he sold it in 1989.