Sunday, August 3, 2014

Elder Of Ziyon - Israel News: Where are the experts in ballistics and urban warfare on TV?

One of the most striking omissions in the wall-to-wall coverage of Gaza is the complete absence, as far as I can tell, of any real military experts.

You would think that with all the talking heads on TV they could dig up someone who actually knows what it is like to be in an urban battlefield, or even in a war itself.

To most Westerners, the army is an abstract, monolithic entity and people are clueless about how the chain of command works, about any checks and balances, about realtime battlefield conditions and decisions, about the rules of engagement.

All we are seeing are videos and photos of dead children and wailing mothers.

To put it mildly, this is irresponsible. Especially because news organizations, by their very names, have access to real experts and not just two token loudmouths from either side who yell at each other.

Journalists are making assumptions about the situation, based on very incomplete information. The IDF, in the middle of a war, cannot explain in real time the reasons for its decisions. But it is not a bunch of rogue cells - it has rules, it has a command structure, it plans how to react to scenarios in as effective yet safe a way as possible.

How do I know? Because I'm one of the few people who read the responses the IDF gave to critics after the 2009 Gaza war that I reproduced here.. The same kinds of incidents, with the same kinds of horrific civilian deaths, are investigated and described. Mistakes are frankly admitted. But there is an entirely different dimension to the fighting that reporters who are a few miles away in their hotels, away from the action, cannot see for themselves unless they want to put themselves in extreme personal danger.

If you want to say that all those reports on all those incidents are a whitewash by the IDF, then there should still be no objection to the media including real experts on their panels about a war. Let the viewers see inside the heads of soldiers, not only victims.

That would be journalism.

If anyone knows any real experts in these areas that would be willing to talk to me on the record, I would love to ask them questions. I would love to ask about photos of damage and injuries and what weapons were most likely to cause it. I would love to ask about the fear that soldiers face in a new, unknown situation.

And a lot of people besides me would love to hear the answers.