Today’s Times has the headline:
Allies at odds over death of hostage in bungled rescue
The story is behind a paywall. It does not matter. I am only interested in the headline and whoever wrote it.
Do these people have any idea at all of what life-or-death fighting is actually like? I do not demand that they have actually done any before writing about it; little would ever be reported about war if that were the test. But they could at least have read a few memoirs, or talked to their grandfathers. Reading about the Dieppe Raid might put things in perspective.
Hint: it is not like planning a dinner party. With that sort of thing if you make a careful list of Things To Do and do them all in good time you generally can be reasonably confident that it will work out OK and if it does not work out OK, say the soufflé does not rise or the wine was too sweet, it probably was because someone bungled.
Military small group operations – by which I mean small group killings of people who can also kill you – are not like that. They always hang on a knife edge. The most skilled soldiers in the world frequently die young and frequently fail. A hand is a fraction of a second too slow on the trigger – a human mind is a fraction of a second slower than another, hostile, human mind to make sense of the confusion – and a comrade dies, or a hostage dies, and a lifetime of agonized mental replaying of that moment of failure begins.
Six hours later a headline writer in an office far away expresses his displeasure.