Independent Christian Voice

Tuesday

The grim reality of Iraq

Despite the right-wing's cries that the "liberal" mainstream media doesn't show the good going on Iraq, the reality is that the American press only shows a sanitized view of the war. Many opposed to the war would contend that people in this country would be more cautious about supporting war if they recognized the realities of war — the horrific cost, impact and devastation it has on the people there. If we, as a nation, feel this is a just war, then we should not sanitize the information to make it easier to stomach it. We need to know what war really is before we so easily send our young people into battle. Salon.com published a story today that examines that very issue:
Iraq: The unseen war The grim reality of Iraq rarely appears in the American press. This photo gallery reveals the war's horrible human toll.
The photo gallery contains graphic and shocking images of death and devastation in Iraq.
By Gary Kamiya Aug. 23, 2005 This is a war the Bush administration does not want Americans to see. From the beginning, the U.S. government has attempted to censor information about the Iraq war, prohibiting photographs of the coffins of U.S. troops returning home and refusing as a matter of policy to keep track of the number of Iraqis who have been killed. President Bush has yet to attend a single funeral of a soldier killed in Iraq. To be sure, this see-no-evil approach is neither surprising nor new. With the qualified exception of the Vietnam War, when images of body bags appeared frequently on the nightly news, American governments have always tightly controlled images of war. There is good reason for this. In war, a picture really is worth a thousand words. No story about a battle, no matter how eloquent, possesses the raw power of a photograph. And when it comes to war's ultimate consequences -- death and suffering -- there is simply no comparison: a photo of a dead man or woman has the capacity to unsettle those who see it, sometimes forever. The bloated corpses photographed by Matthew Brady after Antietam remain in the mind, their puffy, shocked faces haunting us like an obscene truth almost 150 years after the soldiers were cut down. "War is hell," said Gen. Sherman, and everyone dutifully agrees. Yet the hell in Iraq is almost never shown. The few exceptions -- the charred bodies of American contractors hanging from a bridge in Fallujah, the blood-spattered little girl wailing after her parents were killed next to her -- only prove the rule.

Governments keep war hidden because it is hideous. To allow citizens to see its reality -- the shattered bodies, the wounded children, the incomprehensible mayhem -- is to risk eroding popular support for it. This is particularly true with wars that have less than overwhelming popular support to begin with. In the case of Vietnam, battlefield images played an important role in turning the tide of public opinion. And in Iraq, a war whose official justification has turned out to be false, and which a majority of the American people now believe to have been a mistake, the administration would prefer that these grim images never be seen… more

(NOTE: Salon.com is a subscription based eMagazine. However, non-subscribers can view premium content by watching a brief ad that gives them a site pass valid for 24 hours.)

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