Reporting from the Front.

By jes. on November 19, 2015


WASHINGTON, DC (Herald de Paris) —  “I don’t know how many times we’ve been asked if we’re at war with ISIL, and I don’t know how many times we’ve said, yes, we are at war with ISIL.  We have been engaged in a war with ISIL for some time now,” Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications and Speech writing, Benjamin J. Rhodes said today.   “The fact of the matter is, the United States was engaged in a war with ISIL’s predecessor, al Qaeda in Iraq.  So, yes, we do believe we are at war.  We are at war with a terrorist network, a lethal terrorist network.  We’re at war with ISIL, just as we’re at war with al Qaeda and its affiliates.”

PSPEAKSThese words resonated over and over when I first heard them this morning, and they caught my attention again when I read the transcript of today’s briefing.  The United States and its allies are very much at war.  What makes this war different from others is that there is no front – or more to the point – the front in this war on terrorism might be, has been, and very well could be wherever you are, be it Paris, or Washington, DC, or London, or New York, or Moscow.  This front could be in Iowa, or in the Bahamas.  This war is not taking place only in some far off land like Syria or Iraq, it is right on your doorstep.

This is a sobering thought, really.  I am reporting from the front.  YOU are reading this from the front.

For a brief moment I thought of Ernest Hemingway, Peter Arnett, Margaret Bourke-White, Edward R. Murrow and others – journalists that put themselves in harms way, often traveling great distances to the front to  tell the rest of us what it was really like in a war.  John Steinbeck was a war correspondent just like Christiane Amanpour, or Anderson Cooper.

But there is nothing romantic or noble going on here.  This time, instead of sending reporters to cover the war, the war has come to us.  It is happening in our restaurants, our theaters, our sports arenas.  This war has come to our office buildings, our airplanes, and yes, to our own soil.  And what makes this war so much more difficult to wrap one’s brain around is that for perhaps the first time on human history this war is not about land, or territory, or a crown.  This is a war against a way of life – our collective way of life – and that is what makes all of us, whether we are from the United States, France, Russia, or almost anywhere else for that matter, so united.

“And so there is a new sense of urgency,” Mr. Rhodes continued, “And I think we do want to take that sense of urgency and make it concrete.  We’ve been in this fight against ISIL for over a year.  We’ve taken thousands of airstrikes.  We’ve got thousands of troops inside of Iraq, and some who will be inside of Syria working with forces on the ground.  To the extent that we can mobilize additional support for those forces that are fighting on the ground in Iraq and Syria, and to the extent that we can continue to have the type of cooperation that’s necessary to develop intelligence on what ISIL is doing, on what fighters are flowing into and out of that war theater, we want to pursue closer cooperation.  And I think every country now understands in a very acute way that they have to be a part of this global effort.”

The French have responded swiftly, and with exceptional resolve.  As it was published elsewhere, French President Hollande has, in an instant, been transformed from marshmallow into a vision of great strength.

The sight of Hollande and his predecessor, Nicholas Sarkozy, standing elbow to elbow is reminiscent of Bill Clinton standing beside George W. Bush after 9/11.  At times of great conflict there is no partisanism, just a people.  And there should be little surprise at the similarities between the US response after 9/11 and the French response to the terrorist attacks in Paris, for not only are the US and France the oldest of allies, but both countries owe their pursuits of liberty, equality, and freedom to the same two men, Thomas Jefferson and the Marquis de Lafayette.  It is their vision of a fair and equal way of life, our way of life, that is under attack in this war.  The principles that gave rise to two successful revolutions fought a quarter of a millennium ago – that is what this current war is about.   Others have tried, and they have been defeated.  Those who hope to destroy our way of life today will, too, be defeated.

You see, you can cut liberty and it will bleed, but it will not topple.  You can make equality cry, but it will not fall. You can throw everything you have at fraternity, but it will still stand united.

Reporting from the Front, this is James Sved, Herald de Paris News.



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