The cover of the August 29, 2011 issue of TIME magazine features five members of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), with the caption “The New Greatest Generation.” The point of author Joe Klein’s article is that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have created a new kind of veteran who is “bringing skills that seem to be on the wane in American society, qualities we really need now: crisp decision making, rigor, optimism, entrepreneurial creativity, a larger sense of purpose and real patriotism.” Klein profiles a small number of veterans (including a Harvard valedictorian, a Rhodes scholar, and a Dartmouth grad) who have done well since returning to civilian life and credits their military service as the reason, then goes on to make a sweeping generalization that the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have created a whole new generation of hard-working, disciplined young citizens who have something “more” to offer than their civilian counterparts.
It is articles like this that perpetuate the meme that anyone who ever wore a military uniform is a “hero.” TIME magazine is part of the biggest media conglomerate in the world, and corporate media is the lubricant that keeps the well-oiled military machine humming along so smoothly. By glorifying this “new generation” of veterans, they are adding to the layers of positive messaging about war and militarism, which the American public seems eager to absorb. We don’t want to ask ourselves the hard questions because we might not like the answers. The media conflates the military members with the wars themselves and produces layers upon layers of nothing but superficial “feel good” messages which eventually form a fairly unimpugnable depiction of our military, wars and militarism, and anyone who questions the wars risks being decried as unpatriotic. Congressmen fund wars they don’t agree with because they can’t afford the political cost of not “supporting the troops.”