Little to say for myself

Tuesday, March 25, 2003  

Watching Through my Fingers

I'm trying to avoid TV coverage of the war now, despite my voyeuristic tendencies. It seems to comprise a mixture of (a) snuff movies (of distant bombs hitherto, but no doubt much worse to come once the street fighting starts), and (b) various coalition chiefs giving press briefings telling us how well it's all going.

On the first topic, the only reporter I've seen who hasn't behaved as if it's some kind of thrill-ride is Nicholas Wichell. He looked ashen while reporting events at the weekend, and reminded us that every explosion we saw in that night's "spectacular" Baghdad bombing footage was actually snuffing out lives. There - that flash - that just killed someone like you and me. Do we need actually to see recognisable chunks of flying flesh before we deem this kind of thing unacceptable?

On the second topic, what is the bloody point? We already know the real aim of these briefings - not so much reporting to us the true situation, as trying to convince the Iraqis that resistance is futile in the hope that they'll surrender without a fight. OK, so that's a laudable motive, but do they really imagine the Iraqis don't know that too? Do they honestly think that, because they're dealing with a bunch of gullible towel-heads, everything they say will be believed?

Of course we are sophisticated Westerners, and we understand that when Saddam or one of his cronies comes on the TV and announces that the US-led invasion is about to collapse, we dismiss it as transparent fiction and crude propagandising - another example of the cruel manipulation of his hapless people. Fortunately for us, the Iraqis aren't capable of our type of reasoning, so we can confidently base our military strategy on the knowledge that whatever we feed them they will swallow. Once they hear a translation of what these unknown, but clearly well-meaning, infidel invaders are saying, they will choose to believe that rather than the transparent lies of their compatriots.

I'm left in a position where I can't believe anything either side is telling me, so what's the point in tuning in? All I'm doing is justifying the unsightly competition between private media interests to try to scoop each other.

posted by Plig | 13:36 |

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Forget the sentimental notion that foreign policy is a struggle between virtue and vice, with virtue bound to win.
Forget the utopian notion that a brave new world without power politics will follow the unconditional surrender of wicked nations.
Forget the crusading notion that any nation, however virtuous and powerful, can have the mission to make the world in its own image.
Remember that diplomacy without power is feeble, and power without diplomacy is destructive and blind.
Remember that no nation's power is without limits, and hence that its policies must respect the power and interests of others.
Hans Morgenthau

The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts
Bertrand Russell

The release of atomic energy has not created a new problem. It has merely made more urgent the necessity of solving an existing one
Albert Einstein

When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative
Martin Luther King Jr.

Our great democracies still tend to think that a stupid man is more likely to be honest than a clever man
Bertrand Russell

I think it would be a good idea
Mahatma Gandhi, when asked what he thought of Western civilization

There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into the sun
Pablo Picasso

Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others
Groucho Marx

Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it
Mahatma Gandhi

Always make new mistakes
Esther Dyson
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