I have given up watching 24 news coverage of the war and one of the many reasons is that as Rupert Cornwell puts it, in a fairly balanced review of the situation in the Independent today “the blanket coverage of the conflict, complete with the “embedded” correspondents, makes it seem it has being going on for ever.” But the casual, self-indulgent thought that western TV viewers like myself may already be suffering from ‘war fatigue’ or even boredom is swiftly removed by images such as the dreadful bombing of the market place in Baghdad yesterday and the footage of the dead British soilders. They are worth seeing simply for a reality check, if any were really needed, that this is what war is about – brutal death and destruction.
No-one can fail to be moved in some way by such scenes. I am sure that the images will harden the beliefs of anti-war people that this is not a price worth paying. Those who supported the war are, in this moment, probably just holding tight and hoping that things will begin to turn in a more positive direction. That is the only reasonable thing to do – it is understandable, but ultimately worthless for webloggers or blokes in the pub to discuss military tactics. But the events of the past few days do not, in my opinion, change the question of right or wrong about this war – how can they? Of course, everyone hoped that the fascist regime would crumble at the first sign of serious force and some politicians were stupid enough to suggest that. The Iraqi people have not risen up against Saddam and who can blame them at this stage? They know what happened to the last group of brave citizens who did so back in 1991 and were left by the US to face the execution squads. I just hope George Bush Jr doesn’t call on them to rise up – after what his father did last time that would be a sure way to make sure they don’t.
It seems to me perfectly understandable that most Iraqi civilians will adopt a ‘wait and see’ attitude. The problem is one of trust – those of us who support the liberation of the Iraqi people have done so in the belief that the coalition forces will be liberators and I think they will. But it is easy for us to debate whether the US is a force for liberation – we didn’t have our fathers taken out and shot in the street because they believed that 12 years ago.