It is gruesome. It is pornographic. It is a frozen scene from a snuff film.
The broken, bloody and bandaged face of a soldier in Iraq stares unseeing out of the center of the page.
Bringing Back the Wounded With Heart, Soul and Surgery
screams the main headline.
The subheadline: "Injured troops are swept up in a lifesaving process unmatched in past wars - reaching hospitals in minutes and the U.S. in days."
That sounds good... but that image... then the rest of the subheadline: But their agony doesn't end on the battlefield."
The paper is clearly confused... do they want to write an historical piece about the conditions for wounded soldiers in the conflicts America participated in? Or is it going to be an anti-war tract attempting to disgust us with the gritty realities of combat hospitals?
I was actually conflicted as I stared at the image. An article comparing the treatment of wounded soldiers in the Revolutionary War, Civil War, WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam... Iraq I and Iraq II (2003)... as a history buff, well, I would love such an article. I've read much in this vein in regards to the Civil War, but never the Revolutionary War. But I know the LA Times better than that. They have a history with me. And despite their past slant against everything Bush and Iraq and War on Terror I am always willing to give the paper the benefit of the doubt.
So I read the article. The bulk of the print shown is telling you about the horrific injuries suffered on going into detail about plucking rocks out of the flesh of the wounded soldiers. Most of the photos match the first for horror.
What this article is not:
- It is not an historical piece. It spends very little time laying out the coditions of battlefield hospitals in previous wars. Not even a casual mention of M*A*S*H
- It is not a description of the passion, committment, sacrifice of the men and women working in these hospitals to try and save lives
- It is not a piece to descirbe the impressive logistics that have been implemented to get the soldiers off the field, treated and back stateside in 4 days. The men, the supplies, the flights, the dedication
...and you have to believe that America should lose this war to the jihadis. Otherwise, you wouldn't go so far... you wouldn't put the broken image of a soldier front and center on the biggest paper in one of the biggest cities on the biggest circulation day...
This is how the jihadis are winning the media battle.