The New York Times is calling the present plans of withdrawal of troops from Syria a ‘Strategy of Retreat’ in today’s paper. Sadly, the use of retreat cannot be seen as a possible blessing by the media. Retreat Hell! This can be a great holiday gift for many this time of year. And let us consider other blessings in the Middle East not known by many in our presently Yuletide-obsessed society.
The language of retreat
‘Withdrawing from Syria’ has been buzzing in the media these last few days. Instead of focusing on the actual possibility of withdrawal, the media (the Left and the Right), ironically, has suddenly focused on the secretary of the U.S. Department of Defense, General James Mattis.
Many can learn from Mattis’ request to resign, but this piece is not meant to engage his resignation. Instead of focusing on his dignity and waiting to see how the resignation will unfold, many political and media voices are making less-than-critical assumptions about the new plan for troops in Syria!
Critical reporting and analysis need to be pursued at this time. Troops should not be used as pawns for the media and the experts. It is a confusing time!
The language of retreat used in the news shows a passion for occupation instead of looking at
The gospel of retreat
Who is creating this language of retreat?
Those using the word ‘retreat’: Did they ever serve in a complex war before? Do they have children or other loved ones deployed in Syria?
It amazes me when I hear certain people in the media and public figures use the words “retreat from…” or “occupy blah, blah area” and other words easily thrown to describe truly complicated situations involving human life.
Earlier this year, a Middle East expert, Thomas Friedman, used ‘split’ to describe his plan for Syria. Do these experts have skin in the game? In this game? What personal investments have been made in the words being used by the anointed ones?
Are citizens supposed to worship the press and the experts on scripted pseudo-intellectual television shows? Is the Gospel of retreat, occupy, advise and split the new geopolitical televangelism circulating among the masses?
The Gospel is influencing me to visit Barnes and Noble and buy the latest books by ‘the experts’ about Syria. Hmm! This would disrupt my Amazon marathon ordering of toys for my son. My target is the Star Wars X-Wing Fighter model kit.
It is Christmas and listening to the news has me ‘split’ between pursuing books about a confusing new war in the Middle East (like my war in Iraq) and focusing on a priority: my son.
war in Syria and my war in Iraq
How about what is happening in Iraq? We do not hear much about Iraq these days in the news. Presently, why aren’t many stories about Iraq being covered by mass culture media?
This time, last year, there was little news about Christmas being celebrated again in the Nineveh Plains area of Iraq, by the ancient Chaldean Catholic Church. For several years, Christmas had disappeared in public, due to the ISIS threat and occupation.
In 2016, there was little news about Christians and Muslims recognizing the presence of Christmas in Baghdad and transcending the myth of mass civil war during the period of reduced America occupation in Iraq.
I wonder if the present blessings in Iraq can be seen by the U.S. as a guide to future successful decision-making for that nation. And why isn’t the media covering the diverse issues in Iraq since OIF (Operation Iraqi Freedom)? Not much is being said since the invasion of Iraq.
I hope that the little girl from
There are veterans like me who might wonder about the situation in Iraq since our departure. A friend of mine, Janelle Gilbert from Norwich University, a special place with a long tradition of teaching civic responsibility and service, visited Iraq this year. This letter she wrote might be a gift for some who served in Iraq and now wonder about a confusing war that’s hard to process at this time of the year.
I write this piece and offer Janelle’s letter to you because there are alternative ways to communalize the wars happening now, during this time of confusion and mystery, in the Middle East.
My writing and Janelle’s letter are not meant to excuse the invasion of Iraq. Also, I want to understand the withdrawal situation in Syria before I automatically view Syria as a RETREAT!
My anxiety is glued to the media and experts, who are providing assumptions and drama without close examination of the unfolding situation in the Middle East!
This Christmas, as others since Iraq, I spend time alone like many other veterans. I pride myself on being Scrooge. I invite the ghosts of Christmas to visit me. It is an open invitation. They would be better company than my intrusive thoughts about Babylon. I know that there are others who are not part of Hallmark holiday card themes because other themes tied them down in the Fertile Crescent, not the North Pole. I simply share this awkward holiday message.
Knowing about today’s Iraq and Syria does not erase the past, but it might open a door to imagination that is beyond the invasion. And this might help resolve the past.
Lastly, I do not retreat from saying that this is also a time of giving.
This article is part of a weekly column exploring spiritual transformation for veterans. To read the previous article in the series, visit ‘TIS THE SEASON: Civilian warriors who give by fighting at home for Veterans»
Image 1 Pixabay 2 Brazilian Televangelist by Nate Cull via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0) 3 Christmas Eve Candlelight Services by The U.S. Army via Flickr (CC BY 2.0) 4 All other images courtesy of Janelle Gilbert