Hello there. You probably recognize my face. I’m on TV, and I report the news. Sometimes I’m an anchor, sometimes I report from the field, and other times I’m on a panel of talking heads, lending insight on a developing story. Tonight the latter scenario is in effect, as our nation has commenced bombing Syria. I would add “the Xth country in the Middle East we’ve bombed this century,” but even for me, a TV journalist who is unflinchingly tuned in to current events, keeping count of all the countries we’ve bombed is nearly impossible.
Whenever the United States bombs another country, it is a solemn, sacred spectacle that captures the attention of all red-blooded, patriotic men… and women, I suppose. We are riveted by the sight of missiles being shot off the decks of Navy destroyers: their long, graceful, cylindrical forms piercing the night sky, white fire a-blazing behind them as they race unblinkingly toward their doomed targets, which they will destroy with quite a lot of sound and fury, signifying many things. Good things, mostly, because it is in the tradition of our nation to use might for right. And our president, Donald Trump, has now joined that long tradition as he stands up to a ruthless dictator who he previously said should not be challenged.
Up to now, Trump’s presidency has been mired in scandal, a level of incompetence never seen before, and a lack of any legislative achievements. It’s hard to pinpoint which of his many shortcomings has been most responsible for his approval rating sinking to 35 percent: appointing a coterie of racist advisors, perhaps, or his constant childish and incoherent tweets, or maybe the fact that he’s signaled support for policies that royally screw over the very working-class people who put him in office. No matter. Now that he has ordered this missile strike, it is our duty as Americans, and my duty as a TV journalist, to rally behind him. We must believe that our president acted from the heart, decisively and forcefully yet with compassion at the core of his decision, because that is what we’ve been told. Even though he’d advised then-President Obama many times against military action in Syria, and even though he proudly boasted that he would deny refugee children entry into the United States, he ordered this missile strike for the children of Syria, because he was deeply affected by a photo of a child dying from a chemical attack. That’s what good leaders do: they change their minds when they see a picture. Who am I, a mere TV journalist, to question the motivations or words of a president who everyone knows has lied with a frequency and a brazenness that’s unprecedented in the history of our nation.
You’re lucky to have me narrating this momentous turn of events, for I, the TV news journalist, experience the sheer poetry of American missile strikes in a way that no one else can. All of the muscles in my body tingle as I sense the weight of history bearing down on the finger of the young serviceman who pushes the button that sends these sleek havoc-wreakers into the blackness. Even though I’m thousands of miles away, I can smell the rocket fuel — imagine, if you will, the lighter fluid from a thousand July 4th barbecues united in an orgy of purpose. And although the video clip provided by the military has no sound, I can hear the rumbling, and then hissing, as the missiles awaken from their tense sleep, spring into action and disappear over the horizon.
I know the sounds and the smells because I’ve been there. That’s right, early in my career, in a war we fought when I was a younger man (I may be older but I still have all my hair, so don’t write me off yet), I reported from U.S. military encampments in the desert, from the decks of warships, and from helicopters soaring through the skies. I stood shoulder to shoulder with members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines as they rained hellfire down on our enemies from afar, spreading freedom and righteousness to people who wept with joy and danced in the streets as red-white-and-blue explosions rocked the palaces and tanks and bodies of their oppressors.
These beautiful weapons cost millions of taxpayer dollars, but most taxpayers will never get a chance to witness their awesome power first hand the way I have. One thing many of my fellow Americans — maybe even you! — can appreciate, however, is how much the stock of the company that makes these missiles, as well as pretty much every other defense contractor, will shoot up tomorrow. Like a rocket, you might say. All of us who have 401(k)s may end up profiting handsomely from the prospect of another American war. But of course, no one will profit as much as the citizens of the country we’re bombing, because we’re doing it all for them. That’s what the promise of America means to struggling peoples throughout the world: if a dictator gasses his people, we will come to their rescue with a limited strike that has no stated purpose but that is still cause for celebration to all those who value strength and conviction. To quote the great Leonard Cohen, “Hallelujah!”