It seems as though everyone in the world is familiar with the name Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian national who died of Ebola in Dallas on Oct. 8. How many people know the name Jordan Spears?
On Oct. 1, Cpl. Spears was identified as “lost at sea” by the United States Navy after an aircraft malfunction in the North Arabian Gulf. The country suffered its first casualty of the rejuvenated Iraq war; the news seemingly fell on a nation of deaf ears.
National reports have been so consumed by Ebola and other affairs, ISIS and the war have been running third and fourth in the evening news lineup. “Meet the Press” completed 34 minutes of programming on Sunday before giving the topic any attention.
We’ve all heard the taglines of this war: “There will be no boots on the ground.” “Military advisers have been deployed.”
We currently have an estimated 1,700 troops on the ground to aid our efforts in Syria and Iraq. They have been described as: “advisers,” “logistics managers” and “specially trained guards protecting our interests.” They may not be wearing boots, but they are American servicemen and women stationed on our battlefields to defend the homeland.
“Military advisers,” also referred to as “combat advisers” served in Vietnam under the title “Green Berets.” They were in Afghanistan as “Embedded Training Teams.” In Iraq they were once referred to as “Military Transition Teams.”
A rose by any other name…
Clay Hanna, a member of the less than 1 percent of Americans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, described how the current scenario will likely play out in his op-ed piece in Politico on Sept. 23.
“A handful of advisers/soldiers grows into thousands; weapons and support for militia groups and governments that do not share our values turn on us in the end; massive, unaccountable government agencies telling the American people to look the other way while they protect us overstep their mandate; an undeclared war takes on a life of its own, demanding more blood and more treasure,” Hanna wrote.
The United States is at war. Soldiers will fight and soldiers will die. Collateral damage will be measured in bodies. Millions of Syrians will be displaced.
During World War II we stopped building cars. During Vietnam we instituted a draft. During the Persian Gulf War Americans clung to their television sets for nightly news reports.
Until we have a seismic shift in our collective conscience, the 99 percent of Americans who are not serving will proceed through life unaware and unaffected. The only collateral damage on our soil will be the absorption of mounting ignorance.