Sparing the Public the Horrors of War
by Firas Al-Atraqchi
March 22, 2003
Day three of Operation Iraqi Freedom resulted in bombing the hell out of the Iraqis.
Massive protests have broken out all over the world, particularly violent ones in the Arab world. Four Yemenis were killed in clashes with police in Sana'a. For the first time, the Union Jack was being burned alongside U.S. and Israeli flags in those protests.
Arab TV networks, notably Abu Dhabi TV, Al-Jazeerah, and Al-Arabiya have shown scores of Iraqi civilians -- women and children -- as they are brought into hospitals and triage units for treatment. In the early hours of the aerial assault, the casualties were light. However as the hours turned into days, the pictures of Iraqi wounded became more disturbing, more grotesque.
None of these images were shown on U.S. networks. Not CNN, MSNBC, FOX, CBS, NBC, etc. The question is why? The answer: support for the war may drop markedly. The answer: to spare the U.S. viewing public an assault on their sensitivities. The pictures of planes crashing into the World Trade Center are horrific and infringe on a person's sense of reality and humanity; however, the incredible, awesome firepower unleashed on downtown Baghdad is considered just and moral, a liberation, if you will.
Instead of the humanitarian toll, we were witness to hours upon hours of videophone coverage of U.S. armor roving through the barren desert.
Critics will say that U.S. ordnance is pinpoint and precise, that no civilians are likely to have been injured in the latest "shock and awe" chapter.
However, Stormin' Norman Schwarzkopf, former U.S. general who led the 1991 Gulf War and now an MSNBC military analyst, believes it is inevitable that there will be civilian casualties. Schwarzkopf said the very nature of the bombing that occurred at 9:41 pm Baghdad time dictates that there will be civilian casualties.
The U.S. viewing public won't be told. Why worry them -- after all, just a few more Arab bodies to contend with.
Much to the surprise of journalists attending a White House briefing, White House Spokesperson Ari Fleischer said that U.S. President George Bush was not watching the bombing on television.
That's because he loves the Iraqi people.
Postscript: An impromptu news conference by Iraqi information minister Al Sahaf, held in one of the destroyed "bunkers" in Baghdad, was unexpectedly cut from live broadcast by CNN because of "faulty translation." Al Sahaf claimed the devastated building was a hospitality residence housing foreign dignitaries like Nelson Mandela and not a military bunker. CNN promised to return to the Al Sahaf broadcast. That did not materialize. The real reason CNN cut the broadcast was because Al Sahaf launched a verbal barrage against Bush and U.S. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld calling them "bastardized criminals who must be hit on the head by the boot."
CNN did not want you to hear that.
Firas Al-Atraqchi, B.Sc (Physics), M.A. (Journalism and Communications), is a Canadian journalist with eleven years of experience covering Middle East issues, oil and gas markets, and the telecom industry. He is a columnist for YellowTimes.org, where this article first appeared. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org