By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
There is, of course, plenty of dopey, gung-ho, rah-rah war coverage. “Should we go to war with Syria because they’re giving the Iraqis night-vision goggles?” asked Chris Matthews, surely the dumbest question of the week. (Answer: No. But if they give the Iraqis snorkels and flippers as well, all bets are off.) There was also the nauseating attention given to the “first night in history” that B-1, B-2 and B-52 bombers had gone after the same target simultaneously, a subject of interest only to the most ardent military fetishist. (On Fox, they were still licking their lips over this ballistic trinity 48 hours after it had happened.) On MSNBC, there is also the appalling insensitivity of having in-house military experts stand on a floor map of the Middle East, so that they can pontificate with Basra literally under their boot heels.
But insensitivity, rather than malice, is all it is. If I were an American soldier in Iraq, I’d far rather listen to Fox News than the oh-so-sensitive BBC, which is what most of them get on the radio over there. (Fox may be simplistic, but at least it isn’t depressive.) “We’re doing great, and then we hear the BBC report and we can hardly believe they’re talking about the same war,” a U.S. Marine told MSNBC’s Bob Arnot recently. Part of the problem with the media is that the average reporter doesn’t know anyone in the Army, and thus feels deeply alienated from it. In a revealing interview on Fox, a reporter from London’s conservative Daily Telegraph told Bill O’Reilly that a friend of his, who works for the Beeb, was going out with a soldier but had kept the news secret from her co-workers. She was afraid they’d shun her.
War may be hell, but what the Beeb should know is that it can be a lot of other things, too. The Anglo-American soldiers, most of whom have never seen battle before, are learning that they really are up to the job they trained for, and you can sense their growing pride in the realization. I think a lot of them are going to die, and the lucky who survive are going to be haunted by the amount of Iraqis they kill. The war may go on for so long that eventually we’ll tune it out and nudge it toward the periphery of our vision. But one way or another, sanitized or not, an unprecedented amount of it is going to be seen on television, and it’s going to change the way we think about the military as much as the way individual soldiers think about themselves.
My fondest hope is that we will eventually prevail, that the Iraqis will be jubilant, and that the Arab networks will be forced to broadcast images of Americans and Iraqis dancing together in the streets of Baghdad, as they have already danced in some of the smaller towns along the way. Who knows? Perhaps it will inspire the Arabs to do something about their own governments for a change, and to stop whining about everyone else’s. Come to think of it, maybe the Europeans could take the hint, too.