|POWs through the fog of war|
US officials have been fuming at the site of American POWs getting the hard
word on Al-jazeera by their Iraqi captors. Footage of injured and apparently
frightened US soldiers answering questions has been shown on the Arab TV
network by captors which weren't overtly threatening, but apparently felt the
need to physically touch their captives as they questioned them. One response was
Interrogator: Why are you here?
US Soldier: I'm here because they told me to. I just obey orders.
Interrogator: Did you come here to kill Iraqis?
US Soldier: No, I'm here to fix stuff. My orders are only to shoot if I'm shot at.
They shot first, so I shot back. They shot first.
.. OK, you had to be there.
Rank, they say, has its privileges, but clearly this soldier knows how to
take advantages of low rank.
All in a night's good clean viewing for Al-jazeera, but something that US
government censors in the US apparently felt the need to protect their citizens
from. The Whitehouse has gone as far as asking US networks not to show the
footage on US TV. They clearly feel that a bit of reality-warfare might weaken
resolve at home. Just as the Iraqi government feels the need to let their
people how resoundingly they are winning the war, to stiffen their resolve.
The US decided to make the war a media event, 'embedding' journalists with
troops as they went into Iraq. It gave them greater credibility in the eyes of
their own people, those of other nations, and the Iraqis themselves who are
more likely to surrender if they see how the war is actually going.
But like a petulant celebrity who uses the media, and then complains about
invasive paparazzi not leaving them alone, the US has spat the dummy when the
real-time media war has become real-life. And it will get much worse than this.
But this is what war is. Let no-one who was pro-war turn away from that.
Unfortunately in Iraq, this is also what peace is. Let no-one who was
anti-war turn away from that.