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Respect for the Dead and the Reality of War

(Photo by Robin Holland)

In this week’s JOURNAL, McClatchy DC’s Pentagon correspondent, Nancy Youssef, gave Bill Moyers an update on the turbulent situation in Afghanistan, where American troops have been deployed for nearly eight years. She addressed the recent controversy over the Associated Press’ decision to publish a photograph of a Marine mortally wounded in Afghanistan, Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Bernard, over the protests of his family and Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Bernard’s father had argued that publishing the photograph would cause additional pain to the family, while Gates suggested that the publication violated “common decency.”

Santiago Lyon, the AP’s director of photography, defended the decision to publish the picture, saying “We feel it is our journalistic duty to show the reality of the war there, however unpleasant and brutal that sometimes is.”

Youssef expressed empathy for Lance Cpl. Bernard’s family and his comrades on the battlefield, but also emphasized that the public must be made aware of the violence of war.

“When that photo came out, I talked to a friend of mine who's a colonel in the Army. She served in Iraq, and many years ago she lost her daughter, who was a toddler at the time, to an illness. She could speak to it both as a soldier and as a parent. She was really angry about the photo and said, ‘No one has the right to tell me what my last memory of my child should be,’ and it really stayed with me... I think a lot of [soldiers] would be offended because it’s so personal. These are really guys that they were sitting next to the day before – it’s something to them that’s not for public consumption... But I'm conflicted, because as a journalist, and as someone who has to go out and see this war day in and day out, it's hard to say that these photos shouldn't be seen. In a way, I feel like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been sanitized... It's really hard. You can't lose your humanity in war, and I feel for that father. I can't imagine that image being foisted upon me of my son in that position. I just can't imagine. But sometimes I feel that we as a public need to be hit almost violently with the reality of war, and that's what that photo does.”

What do you think?

  • Do you agree with the Associated Press’ decision to publish the photograph of Lance Cpl. Joshua Bernard? Why or why not?

  • How should journalists balance their responsibility to present the violent reality of war with honoring the wishes of fallen soldiers’ families?


    Click here to view photo essays about the reality of war.


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    Comments

    Amazing how GOP's NOW are interested in details. They didn't care about details or the truth when it came to WAR when Bush was recklessly and incompetently in charge. No exit strategy, no problem. A LIE as in YOU LIE - no problem.

    For Bush to start a war in Iraq off lies and not be held accountable, furthermore then getting RE-elected after all his lies, corruption, and ever embarrassingly stupid speeches, is truly beyond comprehension and a warped sense of Patriotism. A true insult to the service of veterans especially the vets who never returned home.

    Bush pulled the majority of our troops out of Afghanistan and he stopped sending troops to Afghanistan-the forgotten REAL war- to start his corrupt war in Iraq which he LIED about, hence, CORRUPT war. And now that vile idiot Cheney and some GOP's think Obama is endangering our troops! Unbelievable! How dumb can a man be? I'd rather see our troops alive and out of Iraq than any stupid 'win' title. In a civilized world, it should not be acceptable to start a war off lies!

    The REAL lasting imprint that Bush made was starting a war in Iraq based off lies, thus, killing thousands of American soldiers - apparently this is not important to Bushwackers.

    How about journalists start honoring the truth?

    9/11 was staged.

    All wars are fought for power and greed.

    Obama is merely a better liar than Bush.

    Bill - All the time I spent watching this discussion, all the times you kept asking about the family of the dead soldier, all the times Ms. Youseff said it must be so difficult for the parents of that dead soldier - all I could think about were the mothers and fathers picking up parts of their children after one of our drones controlled by some brave hero in a Colorado mountain blew them all away, or the children lying, crying over the corpse of their mother or father after they had been killed as collateral damage.
    This interview, for me one of the worst I have seen on your program, brought to view once again that the world according to US is the only world that counts. I am truly embarrassed by this administration and by the American people who continue to think only of themselves, even when they are speaking of the hurt and pain of others.
    I respect your work Bill, you have more courage than any host on TV, but this one was a major disappointment.

    An interview far below the standard I expect from Mr Moyers. If nothing else, to conduct such an interview and not have Pakistan or Saudi Arabia come up even once is ridiculous. The Taliban's viability arises from the continued utility they have to extremist Islamists within these two "friendly" regimes.

    I also must address the comment by Sanford Russell:

    "And just as certainly every adult US citizen not actively opposed to the Iraq war is also indirectly responsible for the slaughter of innocent Iraqi civilians."

    I'm sorry, Mr Russell, but a government by, for and of the people makes the people, not just those who voted a certain way responsible for the actions of your government, at home and abroad. The much vaunted checks and balances exist precisely to ensure that you have recourse to change your government. Too many on the left seem to feel that they can wash their hands of this shameful war. Even more have no notion of the US's incompetent acquiescence to Pakistan's ISI in creating the Taliban, a force originally supported by Pakistan to provide cadres for state terrorism sponsored by Pakistan in Kashmir. This and much more is well documented in Steven Coll's Ghost Wars, a must read before Ms Youssef's nonsense is digested.

    Sadly, the US remains a country susceptible to almost any fantastic form of false history, a nation incapable of forming an historical consciousness, and certainly not a conscience, as the evasions of Mr Russell illustrate.

    Sometimes, when I consider the real bodily and psychological horrors of war (I visit veterans hospitals.), it seems more like the White House is a video game, and that the Corporate Bullies are playing it. I apologize to military parents for any discomfort my emotionality may have caused, and to enlistees whom I may have likened to a game. I am sincere in this apology as I am in my opposition to WHUNSEC (School of the Americas) and the ill-advised occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq. Our government always lacked the capacity (both materially and spiritually)for a humane and constructive approach. We've over-reached, really bad! (IT should cost the advocating profiteers before the public ;otherwise, moral hazard.

    Wouldn't it be wonderful if the US designated March 16 and August 6 national days of mourning? And equally wounderous if South Carolina's representative Joe Wilson hauled down the confederate flag?

    I am the mother of 2 Iraq vets, one currently on his second deployment to Iraq. It's easy for all soldier's families to put ourselves in the place of this young man's family.
    I am conflicted about the decision made to publish this photo. I understand the concept of the public's "right to know". On a personal level, I can't imagine having to see it over and over again...
    What positive purpose does it serve for anyone? Sure, it personalizes the face of a war, but at what cost to the family of a soldier who made the ultimate sacrifice for his country? Are we so lost to the understanding of death that photos of flag draped coffins would not suffice? Would we not understand the cost and magnitude of war if we saw new coffin photos month after month, year after year? Do we require lurid detail because we have watched too many so called reality shows?
    As to the cost to civilians in both Iraq and Afghanistan, I feel the same way. I've seen, and there are certainly many photos out there that show, the devastation of both wars without horrifically personalizing the individuals for the sake of capitalizing on their deaths.
    I understand Youssef's notion the the public should be reminded of the human cost of war. What she doesn't seem to understand is that most people don't care. It doesn't impact their lives every day, and like many who have commented here, they have contempt for the soldiers and/or their families. They take for granted that someone else will always pay the price for our own bread and circuses.
    I feel that true compassion and respect belongs to all the war dead and their families. These wars didn't come out of a video game, they came out of the White House.

    In Philadelphia U.S. Army recruiters run an arcade full of battle games. Little boys too young to enlist are welcome. We all know that our military subsidizes the design of violent and graphic thrill-kill games with the excuse of teaching tactics. The young minds at the controls are hardened against empathy as bodily mutilations and burnings are depicted, and a blood lust is instilled to soften them for recruitment with lies and false promises. It is the bad guys, bad women, bad grannies and bad children that are not us, not U.S. personnel that are dismembered and cooked like prey animals. They can't afford to show an "invulnerable" U.S. troop being butchered. They can hardly admit how 4 contractors were desecrated in Fallujah, Iraq.

    So it is not so much the graphic suffering involved in showing how an American soldier can lose both legs to a rocket, and could not be saved. It is not so much the suffering of his family that need not watch. What is involved is showing that "our boys" can sometimes lose, even their lives. You can't show evidence Americans are losers. That would hurt recruiting.

    Other countries have solved the problem by enlisting those too young to weigh the proposition. They're called "child soldiers." Maybe we're well on our way to that considering what is acceptable at that storefront pimp joint in Philadelphia. If I had a kid, and I caught him in there, I'd scream at the top of my lungs until people heard me and shut it down. (Pornography, whether violent or sexually exploitive, destroys the user.)

    I listened to the Nancy Youseff interview. She seems to have a pretty good grasp of the situation in Afghanistan. The only thing and perhaps the most important thing missing in her perspective is the history of the conflict in Afghanistan.
    War has became a way of life in Afghanistan since the Soviet invasion. The west spent billions to support the armed resistance against the Soviets and this created a nation totally dependent on foreign aid and the male population that is just good for one thing: carrying a gun. Sending more troops won't solve the problem, it will intensify it. To end the war in Afghanistan or put in other words to create an Afghanistan that will not be a global threat the west should invest heavily in infrastructure and local aid to the population. So far the amount of help had been so small that it is not even worth mentioning. The main reason someone is shooting at an American soldier is because that person doesn't have a job and he can not feed his family in any other way. During one of my trips to Afghanistan in the late 80's I met two little boys between ages of 10 and 12 at the border area near Miranshah. I was with a team of medical supply convoy of around 40 horses and mules laden with boxes of medication. The boys told us to hurry up and get out of the area because the rockets and bombs may be coming any minute. I asked them what they were doing there, they said they were collecting shrapnel and sell it scrap meta. They were wearing gloves. I asked them if they were wearing gloves because the shrapnel were too sharp. The answer was No. They were wearing gloves because the shrapnel were too hot to handle.
    They were the only two boys of a family, the only breadwinners

    SHOULD THE WORLD SUPRESS THE TRUTH?

    "General Eisenhower Warned Us


    It is a matter of history that when the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces, General Dwight Eisenhower, found the victims of the death camps he ordered all possible photographs to be taken, and for the German people from surrounding villages to be ushered through the camps and even made to bury the dead.

    He did this because he said in words to this effect:

    'Get it all on record now - get the films - get the witnesses -because somewhere down the road of history some bastard will get up and say that this never happened'

    This week, the UK debated whether to remove The Holocaust from its school curriculum because it 'offends' the Muslim population which claims it never occurred. It is not removed as yet.. However, this is a frightening portent of the fear that is gripping the world and how easily each country is giving into it.

    It is now more than 60 years after the Second World War in Europe ended. This e-mail is being sent as a memorial chain, in memory of the,6 million Jews, 20 million Russians, 10 million Christians, and 1,900 Catholic priests

    Who were 'murdered, raped, burned, starved, beat, experimented on and humiliated' while the German people looked the other way!"

    I’ve copied a few short paragraphs from Mike Tharp’s defense of his decision to publish the dying marine’s photograph. Please take the time to read all of it by clicking on the URL below.

    Mike Tharp: Why I did what I did

    http://www.mercedsunstar.com/115/story/1052831.html

    Good journalism isn't good if it tells only what you want to know. We sometimes must tell you what you need to know. And, as happened so often in history, the first reaction was to shoot the messenger for the bad news.

    As our military has become more professionalized, it has also become more distant from the civilians it protects. And you from it. Whatever you say about the draft, an army of conscripts spread and shared the truth on the ground with many more Americans than happens today.

    If you hate what the family has suffered -- which is far more than the publication of a photo, the godawful loss their own flesh and blood -- then do something about it. You can act to try to stop the wars. Or if your political ideology tells you otherwise, then spend the billions to win them.

    That was my point in publishing the photo. To bring you, our audience, up closer and more personally -- though still light years from combat -- and give you a hint of what's going on in Iraq and Afghanistan. To our troops -- not just their families' troops, but ours, as a nation. They belong to all of us, right?

    I listened to a good portion of the Nancy Youseff interview. Being of Egyptian descent and raised muslim wasn't nearly as telling as who she's employed by: The McClatchey Corporation. Living in a town monopolized by a McClatchey paper, one sees on a daily basis the reason for their brand of reporting. They publish images like those of the dying U.S. soldier to sway public sentiment, not because the truth needs to be told or the big picture needs to be seen. This coming even after the family and the Secretary of Defense requested that the photo not be released. So much for respect. President Bush, much to his discredit, all but gave up after months of Abu Ghaireb photos and articles plastered on page 1. We embarrass their soldiers, they videotape the decapitation of ours. I guess that's fair. Even Bill Moyers, never known for anything remotely right-leaning, says that her stories "paint a dismal picture." Of course they do; Youseff and McClatchey are a common organism with a common goal. Moyers asked her why she wants to go back into a hostile environment. Her answer, in part, was telling as well: "...I need to be with my Afghan friends not knowing if that coalition soldier will kill me or not." She could have easily said that she wanted to go back and witness a level of decency and dignity afforded Afghan women by allowing access to educational opportunities as a result of the coalition soldiers dying on Afghan soil. But, I suppose that spin wouldn't help achieve the organism's goal. Nancy went on to say that her Afghan contacts tell her "We don't want the Americans here and we don't want the Taliban here. We just want to be left alone." If America leaves, and the job isn't finished, they certainly won't be left alone. She should remind her Afghan contacts who owned them prior to our arrival. No one likes war but, to receive a paycheck to write tripe that has the potential to undermine the safety of our soldiers and, ultimately, those of us back home, is inexcusable.

    I can understand, Julie, that you grieve. We have, all of us, a great deal to grieve about. To date more than 4000 US servicemen and women have died in Iraq along with almost 700,000 Iraqi civilians - babies, children, sons, daughters, women, old folks. That works out to some 160 Iraqi civilians killed for each US combatant lost. But in the US we don’t generally grieve for the deaths of others,. We seem to consider their lives to have little value compared to the lives of our own. Your son, back physically sound, went to Iraq to kill. He is perhaps directly - certainly indirectly - responsible for the deaths of Iraqi civilians. And just as certainly every adult US citizen not actively opposed to the Iraq war is also indirectly responsible for the slaughter of innocent Iraqi civilians. While some might try to deny their humanity by labeling them “ragheads” their loss - their grief - is as real, as intense, as enduring as our own.

    NANCY YOUSSEF
    Bill Moyers' interview with Nancy Youssef showed how torn both were about whether it was ethical to show a photograph of a dying American soldier in Afghanistan over the objection of his family - the need "to show the true cost of this war" versus the need to avoid increasing the pain of grieving relatives.
    The searingly obvious solution never occurred to Bill or Nancy or any of the American bloggers. Why not show some of the roughly 60 poor Afghan villagers recently incinerated by a US bomb as they tried to obtain a little free gasoline from a hijacked truck? Why not show the remains of an Afghan wedding party the US has bombed or any other example of "collateral damage"? Or how about showing the quality of medical the US provides to the innocent victims of its bombs or the amount of financial compensation they receive when we have made the survivors destitute and crippled.
    The women and children that America bombs are also "a true cost of this war". Their mangled corpses could be shown instead - and in far larger numbers because we kill so many more than we lose.
    On May 11, 2007 Bill had another piece on the "Cost of War" which included photos of a hideously burned veteran of the Iraq war. Then, as now, there were no photos of the hundreds of thousands of maimed and slaughtered Iraqi victims of the US's unprovoked and illegal attack on Iraq.
    The US recalls the "agony" of its 58,000 dead soldiers during the Vietnam war but gives no coverage to the millions of innocent Vietnamese women and children who were slaughtered - or even of those born recently with horrific birth defects caused by residual Agent Orange.
    Such narcissistic self pity by all American pundits, including even Bill Moyers, is damning evidence of how morally lost the US is. No wonder most foreigners see the US as the greatest threat to world peace. But our leaders tell us "They hate us for our freedom."
    Bill please show photos of the real reasons why they hate us. You're long overdue.

    I have no respect for war, only peace.
    But I do feel sorry and have immense compassion for those who have lost so dearly by such wrongfull and terrible means or equally any other.

    =
    MJA

    About health care: Obama's right...it's a moral issue. No one "owes" us health care. We owe it to ourselves to guard our health but most of us compromise on that. However, we've already shown that we are willing to dig in to provide health care for seniors (many of whom had a lifetime to improve health and save money). Now it's time to cover our second priority, i.e. children of all economic strata (on a sliding scale). As opportunity/budget allows, we can then also cover the rest of us. Obama should test/prove his plan on children first where the compelling need exists. (This also feeds into educational success and future social and economic success for all.) And, we can partially sidestep some of the illegal immigrant question for the time being--people may be more comfortable covering the innocent illegal immigrants' children.) Also, which is more important--protecting health or protecting insurance companies? Hopefully, we can do some of both. Sure, insurance represents a lot of jobs...so does gov't, but no one seems to care about that. Re: tort reform and doctors' insurance...the point should be made that the doctors with the fewest mistakes most likely pay the lowest premium. (Thus, one of the answers to this issue is to reduce errors...the answer isn't restricting access to courts.)

    Essentially, war is not a private matter and it is as simple as that.
    Many lives are affected in terrible ways. When a person becomes a soldier they enter into an agreement and contract with an understanding that death may be one of the consequences. This agreement is not a private contract.
    If that person dies, their survivors don't hold the right to rewrite the contract to assert a private privilege after the fact. As difficult as it may be for them, they were not party to the agreement of military service.
    The country needs to be aware of what war is and what it means. It is a public death, advancing a public cause, and the public and the press need to be honest about this.

    I'm the mom of the Iraq vet that wrote before. I thank David Durham for his acknowledgment of the monies involved in motivation of printing photos of dying soldiers. I think the conversation has now sort of shifted into the wars themselves and why we are there and why we should or should not be. My focus is not on that issue albeit certainly an important issue. my focus is on the printing of that photo and what it adds or detracts from the humanity of us all. Waging a war itself is in itself a complex decision. What does it do to all of us when a war is being fought? That is for another discussion. The fact of the matter is we are in these wars. Like it or not, we are there. The side issue of this photograph remains to be debated.
    Sanford asked, "What did the parents think would happen to their son?" Sanford, my answer to you is exactly what happened to the soldier in the photo. When we kissed our son good bye, I can honestly tell you it was the single most devastating day of my life. I was absolutely sure we would never see him alive again. I was positive of that. The grief I had that day is still with me today. He's home and he's fine but on that day, at that moment, he WAS that dying soldier you see in the photograph. I needed not any photograph that day we said good bye. When photographs of soldiers are printed, that IS MY son, even today as my son is back safely. A parents worst nightmare is imprinted forever and they are helpless to erase it.
    As for Nathaniel and your lesson on the Enlightenment and checks and balances for the public to make informed decisions. No one can retort that a free press is essential. I respectfully disagree that the american public has not been informed of the sins of wars. I am only saying that the parents of this soldier pleaded that this photo not be shown. I believe that plea should have been respected. I just have to wonder though, why our free press did not show people jumping out of the WTC on 9/11? I have to wonder too why the entire hanging of Saddam Hussein was not shown. I still am pondering why Danny Pearle's beheading was not shown so the american public could really understand what kind of enemies we are up against. I also have to mull over the fact that when a state executes a criminal by lethal injection...why is that not shown on the news too? It is funded by state taxes so it is the people's money being used and we should see it being spent, correct? And why do we cover their faces? I really don't know.

    Embedded girls who want to remain in bed don't have much time for free speech. Pentagonese is easier to learn than Pashto. Love 'em and shoot 'em (with camera) and move on. Don't think, move! Longer occupation: longer career. Peace means Olan Mills. Smile, Baby!

    Dear Bill-- I learned some worthwhile things from your Nancy Youssef interview, but was troubled by most of what I heard. Aren't two of the most important things Ms. Youssef said at irreconcilable odds with virtually everything she says about the situation on the ground in Afghanistan, especially the war?

    These are the two things I'm talking about:

    1. She said Gen. McChrystle wants and needs more time to get it right, and that it would be a good thing if he gets that time. How much time? Years? Months? And more importantly, to do what, to achieve what? As far as I can tell, she doesn't know, nor does anyone else.

    2. She said it was good news that the U.S. seemed on the verge of "committing itself" to the war. Can it be good to commit ourselves to a war that fits her description of it?

    She describes a war and a country in which we aren't sure what we're doing or need to do, don't know who the enemy is even when we see him (or think we see him), a country so big and uncontrollable it resists any strategy we can execute or envision now (or with "more time"?) a country filled with people who want desperately to be left alone by us and the Taliban, who will never leave because it's their country and "they own it.".

    Under these circumstances, how can it be good news that Gen. McChrystle might have "more time to get it right" or that our country would commit itself to doing the job? What job? Ms. Youssef either doesn't know or can't say, and she's hardly alone.

    "We wanted that war to be relevant," she says, "and that's an important goal." Is that what we've got a "too small" contingent of 100,000 coalition troops fighting for -- the goal of being relevant when nobody knows what that means, much less what it requires of us?

    Mr. Moyer, last night show was one of your best.
    President Obama, should have pick Dr. Kim to be his Surgeon General.
    As for the brave journalist Nancy Youssef, she quite a lady, she doing a great job, bring us news from the Battlefield.
    Thank you Bill

    as one of those hippie of the 60's antiwar movement and still in that mindset, what i have come to realize is the need for the reinstatement of the draft. we can talk about having a stake in america and its future but listening to the younger folks it's apparent that many believe its someone elses' role to put their asses on the line not their's (monetary and job, college, family, consumption but cheerlead from the grandstands 'we're number 1'). soldier's DO die. it's in the job description. and when they do die, it's imperative that 'WE,the people', acknowledge and are exposed to the fact(s) of war by whatever media formats are available. the stakes for all people need to have human faces, not some 'gamers' mentality, not vague collateral damage without explanation or mea culpa. the stake in the american dream and its future lies in our participation in the debate armed with information in the forms of words and pictures, and actions. i'll still question authority....and my own thinking and positions. show the terrible photos: abhu garib, dover airforce base, veteran's hospitals, demolished villages and homes. show it all!
    make it real so maybe, just maybe, we'll really do have peace be part of what's at stake. my stepson and my nephew are in the service of my/our country.
    peace & love,
    rico

    This is an "OLIGARCHY" WAR. It is war of "ONE PARTY" - "party
    of money and power".
    It has brain washed the young men and women that this is the "mightiest power
    in the World". The brain wash by perception works, "get paid, guns, bombs,
    training, will travel, see the world, free education, free health-care...etc!"
    There is no "free lunch" in WAR! The price paid is DEATH!
    Unless the people are empower to express their will on "ALL ISSUES;"
    The wars, corruptions etc. will continue, the people are POWERLESS!
    "The people are obedient... , in the face of poverty... starvation...war and
    cruelty.... Howard Zinn."
    "The truth as always it hurts!"

    Mr. Moyers –

    This show with Nancy Youssef and Dr. Jim Yong Kim may have been put together by accident or divine providence, because watching the two juxtaposed I see a new way of thinking.

    Near the end of his interview, Dr. Kim spoke about his anthropological training and said something to the effect that, as an anthropologist, he walks into a room and thinks “Who are these people and what do they want?”

    Ms. Youssef, in talking about the U.S. war in Afghanistan, spoke of her reservations of the ‘fit’ of American-style democracy on the land and its people, let alone the elephantine logistical and strategy problems.

    My thought after seeing both was – Is it time to approach Afghanistan not from a power/dominance dynamic but from an anthropological dynamic? Could we be a thousand times more effective in achieving both our goals and the Afghani people’s goals if we added an anthropological component and asked “Who are these people and what do they want – and how can we help them get it?”

    Notice I didn’t ask “what do WE want”. And I think that is where we as a nation, and most every other nation, get hung up.

    Combat and conflict are changing. It’s no longer a matter of whose army has the might to impose its will – that is never going to happen again.

    Dr. Kim also mentioned Margaret Mead’s famous quote “A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

    Well, a small group of hateful people can also change the world now, and we need an anthropologist’s touch to understand how to combat that new kind of dynamic.

    People aren’t so different – they want to have their needs met, be with family and friends, be safe and happy. If we understand the people we interact with, then we can meet their needs. If we approach them where they are and help them survive better in their land, we can win their respect instead of fear and resentment – and people who seek power on the backs of their own people will be met with more resistance, and those seeking to ‘impose’ their will on communities and nations will be less likely to succeed.

    So if you wouldn’t mind terribly, would you get the Pentagon to add an anthropology department and change the world by shifting our vision of war and conflict. I would appreciate it very much.

    Kind regards,
    Tam Chin

    To the Mother of an Iraq Vet:

    I respectfully disagree with your argument.

    The american people are being deprived of seeing what their taxes are paying for. The idea that this country was based on, was that checks and balances-- of various types-- would enable rational citizens to evaluate information based on a free press. What we have witnessed in these two post 9/11 wars-- which were entered into even before the completely fake 9/11 Commission, which we now know was managed from day 1 from the WHite House, see The Commission by NYT writer Phillip Shenon-- is the most censored war in history.

    If citizens cannot see or read what is really happening there, then there is no more democracy. Trillion dollar wars are trumped on TV by Michael Jackson. That is not what the Enlightenment was about. The Enlightenment that helped produce the American Revolution was
    about the sanctity of the Public Sphere, in which all citizens, no matter their rank had access to a common pool of information and discussion that was the prerequisite for meaningful elections to exist. \

    Now privitisation creeps in everywhere. Blackwaters sins, it would seem lately, are more the problems of a private company even though their murders are paid for by my taxes. Sorry, I cannot be that kind of Pontius Pilate! When a country goes to war we are all responsible. Let us not be so quick to wash our hands in the poison of the Billionaire's weapons of Mass Distraction. Pain is part of the public sphere, too. Otherwise, the pain can produce no corrective actions, and it can only grow into a cancer on the body politic.

    I am dismayed, to say the very least, that Bill Moyers hosted Nancy Yousef's diatribe on the efficacy of war. He usually has thoughtful individuals giving commentary on things that they actually know something about. I suspect Nancy has been at the pentagon a bit too long for her own good. There are knowns and unknowns etc, but Nancy seems to have a good grip on only the latter.

    Dear Ms Youssef: Being young and idealistic is a dangerous time. Place a higher value on your safety! Let Obama and Clinton expose themselves to danger! Don't you do it!

    NANCY YOUSSEF, if you want to the end the war, upload every picture of every American killed over g. w. bush's personal war or send them to me and I'll upload them. gwbushThePoS at yahoo dot com

    NANCY YOUSSEF, if you want to the end the war, upload every picture of every American killed over g. w. bush's personal war or send them to me and I'll upload them. gwbushThePos at yahoo dot com

    I cannot believe that a group of Towel Heads on camel back, or a brigade of donkeys strapped with Surface to Air Missiles flew passenger jets into the WTC without help from the CIA.

    I cannot believe that after 8 years of war that a group of Towel Heads on 250cc dirt bikes are at a stalemate with the worlds most technologically advanced military force without help from the CIA.

    This is another wasted propoganda interview. The war is a loss, no strategy, no objectives, and the same thing as Iraq. Death to civilians, troops, destruction of property and lives. They don't want us there, the American public does not want to be there, and yet we have these ridiculious interviews talking about the notion of more bombs and money spent. What a joke! Why aren't we hearing the anti-war voice? Are all the hippies to ashamed to speak out aginst their great leader Obama? It is all about winning or losing on the left and the right, and while they are distracted, the pentagon hands out big dollar contracts to rich companies making them richer with every bomb and bullet fired. If Nancy got her leg blown off she would feel differently. I think anyone thaqt can see that kind of death and horror and talk about seeing and engaging in more, is a total looser, as Nancy is! She is so far from reality it makes me sick, and sick that Moyers has this person on to speak about war mongoring. It is so obvious, all the hippies calling out the war in Vietnam, yet now they are all but completly sedated. Wake up America, the loss of liberty is at critical mass!

    What did the parents think would happen to their son? That he would go to war, kill others and come home safe and sound to a hero's welcome?
    We don't need more photos of dead and dying soldiers. We need a fair and just military draft, NO exemptions for other than health reasons. That might bring to an end the useless, senseless wars.

    julie G makes a good point about the dollar and it's being part of the motivation for publication of the photograph. I think that if such a photo is to be given wide media exposure because journalists have a 'duty to inform' the public of the real costs of this war then it should be done as a true public service. That would mean no profit could be derived from this photo. No one makes a dime delivering this needed 'public service', not the photographer or any news organization. If you're going to publish against a family's wishes because of the public's 'need to know' this no profit approach might resolve some of the ethical dilemmas surrounding such a decision.

    I think we should pass on posting pictures of the US or NATO's troops last moments. Instead, we should put the pictures of civilians killed and injured on the front page of every paper, and all over the TV screens. THEIR families already have a 'terrible last memory' since they were likely ON SCENE when it happened, so no problems there. And it will get across the horror of war to the American people. And, maybe, just maybe, they will stop with all this hideous war-making and maybe, just maybe, take some interest in helping the people they so grievously harmed.

    Nancy Youssef,
    I think rememboring people as they were when they were alive is important but it is also necessary to remember how they died and learn from their death.
    White washing the reality of war is ignorance at its worst. We do not exist in a protective bubble. We have to face life realistically and do those things which protect life. Life is where we are at and what we are experiencing.
    People who are sociopaths are missing an important element of humanity. They have no respect for their life or anyone else's life. They like to play games like Russian roulette and watch bloody movies with lots of death and destruction. Our entertainment people are fostering a society of sociopaths. Our democracy is becoming a scam.
    We need to get out of Iraq and do what ever it takes to destroy those who are supporting terrorism. We cannot fight terrorism by occupying other people's nations and be a part of the problem instead of the solution. Civilization is going to hell in a hand basket and it will take courage and action to reverse that trend.

    "If time imposes on us its evolution, place also imposes upon us its reality."
    Gamal Abdel Nasser


    I found Ms. Youssef to be intelligent and earnest but ultimately misguided in her analysis. 1) She does seem to be taken with the romance and adrenaline of covering war. 2) She didn't really analyze the military's strategy; she mostly just said "the military wants to do it right this time." When Moyers said we've had 8 years, she did sound like a General from the Vietnam era, which he alluded to, by claiming that the military hadn't had a significant amount of unfettered time yet. Riiight. She sounded too much like she had gone native in expressing the military's view. "let's do it - let's really do it" What the heck does that even mean? 3) She talked gushingly about how the "best" minds were working on this problem. Then Moyers quipped, you mean "the best and the brightest?" She was chagrined by that, and rightfully so. 4) She couldn't even explain who the real enemy is - how is the military going to win a war where it's not even clear who the real enemy is? I found the discussion disturbing rather than reassuring. 5) Finally, she refused to give a straight answer about the photo issue. She said she was conflicted, but obviously the photo ran, so, as a journalist she is sort of in the camp that believes it's okay. Journalists shouldn't take advantage of individual deaths as a way to expose the horror of war. Her job is to find a way to express war's horror without resorting to sensationalism. She should have come down a little more on the side of humanity.

    Thanks, Bill, for interviewing Nancy Youssef. She was insightful and honest. She reminded me that there is a cost to war. That's easy to forget in everyday living for most of us in the U.S. We don't see or really hear about the brutal consequences of war. Statistics appear in the paper every day, but we are detached from it. Your questions and her answers reminded us that two wars are still going on. Thanks, Bill.

    Obama claims that Afghanistan harbored the perps.That is incorrect. Just as we used to have sanctuaries in this country, the Middle East has safe houses.There is no reason why America has to keep doing this. The previous prime minister of Britain would not deal with terrorists until the hostage's head was lopped off. The next time he traded and dealt with the matter afterwards.With regard to health care, animals too. Would it be more efficacious to deal with true stats about baby survival rates in this country and other areas where we should be first instead of last? Jim Walsh claimed that he had to carry a knife on the west side of Syracuse when he was growing up, but he wasn't allowed to do that in the halls of Congress. He also said that Bush was prohibited from sending in aid to New Orleans and Biloxie until the governors or mayors asked.Bush later claimed that they rescued 17,000 the first day.Life should not be a game of poker. Nancy has a right to report the news. She did not start the fire.Ernie Pyle had a good trip. If NATO has to blow up schools, it means that we are not in control.Neither is President Karzie.We don't live the way they do. An Afghan saved an American and later lost his life. In their own way they are compassionate.If G_D decided to blow all of us up, it would still be the same.People are not necessarily sane enough to walk someone else's walk.

    Thank you for bringing us Nancy Youssef. She seems like a wise journalist, and another indication that McClatchy continues to run a superior news organization.

    She mentioned the spectrum of strategic opinion between Biden's counter-terrorism, and the Pentagon's counter-insurgency. She mentioned that nobody knows where Obama stands on this spectrum. One salient thought: this is how Gore Vidal portrayed Abraham Lincoln in his novel ("Lincoln")(wanna bet Obama's read it?). He kept his own counsel. He sometimes looked like he didn't know where he was going. In the end, he orchestrated the cacophonous mess as well as anyone could.

    Another reason to hope Obama is Lincolnesque, eh? (p.s. I come down on Biden's side. He's thought about the specific issues longer and with more inside information than any of the others.)

    This episode was so boring I fell asleep. The lady speaking at the start said nothing. She managed to blabber for 37 minutes and have zero content.

    Adam has it right. Plus we have shown Karzai how to be corrupt with our mercenaries Halliburton, Xe, (aka Blackwater), ArmorGroup, the sexual deviants, and the other 250,000 guns-for-hire.

    Obama has nothing to do with ending the wars even if he were inclined. The MI oligarchs like their cash-flows with 'sustainability.' So end-games not desired unless other conflicts (Iran?) are imminent.

    Nancy Youssef is impressive. Chilling, however, that she is drunk on the koolaid of the adreniline of war. It will erode her credibility and objectivity long term. Her standing with the Rendon Group should be high (they rand jounralists on their positive war reporting).

    We will leave with a net gain in enmity and enemies whether now or 20 years from now. Obama is insidiously too smooth and ultimately the more devastating accordingly.

    General McChrystal says if we're going to do this, let's do it right!

    My response: NO! Let's NOT DO IT!!!

    Out of Afghanistan. You can't spread democracy when you don't even have it at home.

    Mr Moyers you did it again ... every time I watch your program I think there is still hope for the true journalism. Thank you for having Nancy Youssef on and sharing this amazing and impressive interview with us. The one question I have is - Why don't we see her more on other networks and cable "news" channels? ... Someone intelligent and so understanding when it comes to war in Afghanistan, and Iraq.

    Thank you.

    "We don't need a paper to give a picture of the horrors of war, just buy video game for your game system, or rent a DVD at your local video store. Or better yet, just turn the T.V."
    What is the point of this statement? Why do we not hold this war or any other recent to our hearts or minds. Why don't we as humans ever figure out that war is awful, horrible, and doesnt solve anything but more hurt.
    Simple, we are desensitized, over the last 2000 years, there has been countless war and hundreds of MILLIONS of people killed during these wars. What have we learned so-far? We have learned is to build better weapons to kill more people and we call that evolution.......

    I am a mother of an Iraq vet. The above comment states that as long as the ppl are paying for this war they are entitled to the photos and the soldier and his family and this government may not dictate the release of said photos...to this I say hogwash! The SOLDIER is paying for this war. His or her family pays for the loss every single minute of every single day for the rest of their lives. The fact that the government, aka you and me pay in dollars to fund this war is rather not the issue. That money is gone whether it is spent on war, health care, infrastructure and education. We have a voice in all of these things but no one would argue privacy of our health care records should and is respected. As far as journalism goes, this photo being published demolished what was left of this family. For what? So that the American people can put a face of death to this war? Like we don't know? Well sure, many do not but I highly doubt people seeing this photo will all of a sudden decide war is bad and awful. We can see the carnage of war in photos of past wars or movies. Well how about this idea? Blur the faces for privacy if your goal is to show how horrible war really is. The gist of what I am saying is the soldier and his family deserve every single ounce of respect and honor you can muster which I believe supercedes any desire you might have to educate the american populace on the ravages of war or more than likely to sell your photo for the almighty dollar.

    Dear MR.Moyer,
    Thank you for the outstanding journalist interview with Nancy Youssef. I lived with the Afgan people for two years.
    She gets it! I was very impress with her understanding of the people and problems of current Afganistan. We are most fortunate to have her reports. I wish to forward to her my humble thanks for her excellent work.

    Thank you, Diane Cumbie

    Nancy Youseff—a transparent war?
    I recently watched a PBS documentary, “The War.” In the end, two things were clear. First, the United States strategically withheld information about WWII to secure the mission and to keep patriotism high. Second, excruciating images of dead soldiers and civilians were available ad infinitum and only released to the public long after the war was over.
    I agree with the aligned view of Bill Moyers and Nancy Youseff that parents shouldn’t have the “final images” of their children foisted on them by a presumptuous media. On the other hand, if people are exposed to the gruesome realities of war, and the end result is diminished fervor and support for war, then as a self-proclaimed “peace-loving country” why would we chose any other path but the transparent one?

    Rick Salatino
    Madison, WI

    FDR didn't permit any pictures of American dead in WWII to be published or shown in the newsreels until 1944, and it was allowed subsequently in Korea and Vietnam, but again considered bad public relations in the First Gulf War and banned ever since. This is unfortunately part of an overall strategy to fight wars with a so-called volunteer military so that no one will notice what they cost, but neither the govt nor the soldiers or their families should be allowed to dictate on this subject as long as the American ppl are paying for it. On the strategic question it seems to me that she has it all in exactly the right perspective. We indeed have to fish or cut bait, and neither the soldiers nor the public can afford to muddle along in this fashion, or as a counter-insurgency strategy presumes possible. I am greatly afraid that Obama, like LBJ, and as a former community organizer, himself, is predisposed to see this in exactly that light, which IMHO, can only spell disaster.

    Why is Bill Moyers more concerned with the media than the death of a soldier? While the debate was worth watching, I as a former soldier think that the respect of the family should come first and not some reporter intentions, because alot of reporters today have selfish intentions. Some and not all, though a fine majority are more worried about getting some award, writing some book or landing some monetary contract than the respect of others.
    Yes, there are two wars going on, during the last administration, there were cries about pictures of flag draped coffins coming in and the media releasing them. Flag draped coffins are one thing, because there is a time when the family is notified about the death. There is not a face, there is not someones family member spread across a paper for a newspaper profit.
    Let us be honest now, newspapers are in it for PROFIT! Those who do not sell enough papers fail and the paper that put this picture out is on the verge of losing lost of money and is continuing laying off people.
    So what are the TRUE intentions of the picture, monetary or subject? That will rest on the conscience of those who run the paper.

    Nancy Youssef is so amazing, and striking when she says, "I work in the Pentagon and I'm not smart enough to understand what's going on on the ground in Afghanistan without being there." And she's so full of ideas and thoughts about that place that I just can feel how much she means it.

    At first I wasn't sure how to take her, because her speaking style is so quick-thinking and mercurial, and I wanted her to slow down, but after I listened for a while, I heard how much raw intelligence was crammed into those moments of quick speaking, and of course one realizes how much McClatchy is one of the last bastion's of real journalism in this world where journalism is drifting into insipid PR or disappearing altogether.

    Thank goddess for McClatchy! This woman is amazing.

    I think it was absolutely necessary to publish the picture, and that what is truly remarkable is that there is the least bit of debate. There is no more journalism. That's how subservient our pooled press has become.

    We have reached a state where the corporate press is so wired into the corporate economy, that it is impossible for any press to threaten war. War is a necessity for the oil and banking sectors that are virtually the only remaining parts of our economy.

    Why can't people see that our system is wired for permanent war, and that no President can be elected by our media who is in the least bit serious about ending wars?

    The answer is that people cannot learn this lesson by jumping around from one foreign policy scenario to the next. The former European imperialist powers have a much firmer grasp of the intelligence-media connections that are just a basic reality of economics based on military conquest and colonial control. Here--partly because of the US less direct style of imperialism, and partly because we are involved in so may more places than were the European powers-- these intelligence and media connections are able to be dismissed as by those who have read little history as "conspiracy theory", a term which has gained currency as US reporting has fallen into the mire of corporate sludge.

    We can learn these lessons by studying one case intently and in depth. Daniel Ellsberg, the author of the Peantagon Papers, has called James W. Douglass book JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters, a work that fundamentally changed his view not only of the Kennedy assassination, but perhaps more importantly,his policies. This is the best way possible to learn the
    difficult lesson: the president is "in control" only so long as he abides by the dictates of a permanent military and industrial bureaucracy that limits his choices to how wars will be escalated, rather than offering a real option of peace. Douglass book makes it clear that it is not an individual thing about one President, although his picture of JFK is a welcome topic for those who have read too much one sided JFK bashing of late. Rather, Douglass shows that our addiction to war is an institutional one. There is no more important book for our American present.

    War is by its nature about dead people.

    Death is the intent and the result - and in some sense, a measure of the "success."

    To pretend death is not an integral part of war is hypocrisy and lunacy.

    We should respect dead soldiers by acknowledging them not by ignoring them.

    I believe that the AP, was in the right to publish the picture of dying soldier, because we as the citizens of our nation, and our government are all responsible not only for his death but for all civilian and military deaths in Afghanistan. For too long now we went ahead with our lives as nothing is going on in Afghanistan, and when we do see something on TV it is so sensitized and censored that we do not even think twice about it. It is about time to bring the graphic violence, language and and the pain of death to all citizens of America, not just to parents of these young men and women that are killing and dying in our name. My condolences to the parents and family of the young man, and all other families who lost their loved ones be they American or Afghani.

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