the war unfold
Over the last week the war against Iraq has felt like an all-consuming
event that has the potential to dominate daily life. There are news programs
to watch, reports from embedded journalists to follow, strategies to digest
and debate, Weblogs to read, protests and vigils to attend. Its
hard to keep up with it all and separate fact from propaganda from
The shock and awe of the militarys massive bombardment has been
followed by the shock and awe of massive military coverage. Round-the-clock
coverage by the cable news networks has provided an array of images and
some decent reporting.
Journalists embedded with military units have provided striking firsthand
accounts of the fighting and battle strategies. At first, this coverage
was thrilling and new. Were getting to see much of the war as it
unfolds. In the opening days of the war, the TV news media rushed to update
viewers on every nuance of troop movements and bombing. Although, while
it is certainly interesting to see soldiers in action, you can only watch
tanks rolling through the desert for so long.
Then, however, the intoxicating news of American advances turned to reports
of tragic events, and sobriety set in. We learned of accidental deaths,
fierce firefights, downed helicopters, prisoners of war. It was difficult
not to get emotional when it was reported that a U.S. convoy made a wrong
turn and was ambushed. Over the weekend, the tone of media coverage changed,
reminding us that these were real people who were getting hurt or killed.
Meanwhile, U.S. war planners have seemed surprised by the Iraqi resistance.
Iraqi forces are not folding. American and British forces were knocked
off guard by guerrilla-style attacks. Iraq has not yet used chemical or
biological weapons against our troops, leading some to speculate about
the existence of those weapons. Iraqi citizens are not welcoming American
soldiers with open arms and flowers.
President Bush says that the war will be long and difficult, urging Americans
to steel ourselves for a tough fight. But were also trying to steel
ourselves for the cost of this war in terms of lives and dollars.