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Friday, November 18, 2005

From a JAG Corps Reader 

Tim Milklaszewski's story last night on the "controversy" about White Phosphorus
is a real low in journalism.

He interviewed a former Army specialist to assert the fact that White Phosphorus
is "clearly" a chemical weapon?  Why couldn't he find a military law expert to
explain how the Chemical Weapons Convention defines "chemical weapon" and why
that does or does not apply to WP?  Why couldn't he mention the fact that WP has
been used in every conflict since WWII and is in the arsenal of almost every
major military power?

But he did make the idiotic statement: "Intentionally targeting civilians with
White Phosphorus is forbidden under international law."  What brilliance -- when
intentionally targeting civilians with ANY weapon is forbidden under
international law.  But it sure sounds a lot more incendiary when you're able to
link WP and "forbidden under international law" in one sentence and further
smear the US military.

I can understand how an Arab documentary is able to spread these lies.  But it
is very sad when the American media does a shoddy job researching a very
clear-cut issue (WP is NOT a chemical weapon and is NOT a WMD) and then
broadcasts it to the American public.


I missed the story, so I can't commment on it directly. But if this writer's critique is accurate, the fact that Tim Miklaszewski's rolodex could only get him to an Army specialist to discuss a technical and legal point of the law of war, or a doctrinal point normally handled at platoon headquarters level or above (the use of WP and call for fire procedures) merely underscores the same point I've been hammering on since the early days of this blog:

Our media culture is so far removed from our military culture that it has become impossible for the media to report on the military with any degree of accuracy. This reporter had no idea where to get information, and had no idea that his approach to reporting was akin to reporting on a Presidential Summit by seeking the comment of the White House switchboard operator.

He could have contacted the editors of Field Artillery Magazine, he could have contacted any number of trained JAG officers, many of whom now practice law privately and can comment freely. He could have contacted a career ordnance or combat arms officer or senior NCO.

Absolutely pathetic. What's worse is that this guy's editors didn't know any better.

They've become so clueless that they've lost all ability to police themselves. Even if they had the willingness, which they don't.

Splash, out

Jason

Comments:
Jason, I think you're wrong here - of course this "reporter" knew that interviewing a specialist on this point was bogus - reporters are nothing if not status conscious. By by interviewing this hapless knave, he got the answers and the story he wanted. Interviewing any of the folks you mentioned would not have produced the desired answers.

There are many instances when the MSM is simply ignorant - but this is nothing but malicious, and it shows.

I am really starting to believe that, in their desire to get Bush, the media is going to cause the US to lose a winnable war, which will result in the castration of American power and influence for at least the next 30 years, if not forever.
 
There is much truth in holdfast's comments. But moving along:

Our media culture is so far removed from our military culture that it has become impossible for the media to report on the military with any degree of accuracy.

I hate to break it to you, but once you get outside a "journalist's" educational background, they tend to lose accuracy, and quickly. The further away, the worse the accuracy. Particularly when dealing with technical, scientific or mathematical subjects. And something as involved as the military is, that easily includes all three of those and a bunch more.

Some days the media is worse than useless. sigh
 
And you have to wonder - if they get it SO WRONG with regards to subjects I do know about, how can I believe what they say about subjects I don't know about?
 
first of all, it's probably Jim Miklaszewski. he reports often on nbc.(after googling, it seems he's their pentagon reporter) secondly, i saw the story and found it amusing how he compared the use of wp with the use of napalm in vietnam. we quit using it why are we still using wp!!!??? ugh. it was pretty dissappointing viewing.
 
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