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Counting the Terror
Television producers have been presenting Iraq as a strategic territory to be conquered. Oversized maps sometimes allow former generals to step over Baghdad. If the maps are a little smaller, the military consultant will use a rubber tipped stick, pointing now to the southern plan of attack, or to the problem of Turkey in the north.
Before It's too Late:
A Sunday Sermon
by Greg Moses
Jan. 12, 2003
These graphic representations invite viewers to see themselves as peers in military strategy, making plans in the safety of a war room. We see slides of military equipment such as warplanes, tanks, or missiles. This spectacle of territory and equipment brings us every abstraction that war is not, because war is not carried out on pristine, well lit sets, with lint-free wardrobes nor blow-dried hair.
The only real people we see on these sets are the television commentators themselves. The only victim we hear mentioned is the name of Saddam Hussein. Never do we see the craters, the blood, or the projected images of children, women, and men who will be slaughtered. Never do we ask the Iraqi school children what they think of this fine plan.
The civilian population of Baghdad is often cited as a strategic obstacle, but I have not yet seen the reporter who asks how many of those civilians will surely be killed. The American plan of attack will not be lived as a map, but as the most mechanized blitzkrieg in history.
Time is growing short for American civilians to rethink what we are supporting when we support blitzkrieg in Iraq. Given the technology and terrain of the proposed attack on Iraq, there is no way to escape the one fact that is never reported--thousands of civilians will die in terror.
There have been times in world history when massive slaughters were perpetrated over time and distance. Civilian populations could cry that nobody seemed to notice or that information about the killings was not widely shared. The specter of media intensive blitzkrieg, however, promises slaughter that will be very rapid, announced months in advance.
As facts and opinions are processed during the next few weeks, it is morally imperative to say how many civilians we are planning to kill and to ask American civilians if this is really the way they want to pursue their legacy in world history.
Meanwhile, I think the media might try something responsible in the next few weeks. Since the very word media indicates a solution or a place between, and since we live in a world connected by global communication, the media might try communicating between American civilians and Iraqi civilians.
Media of the world, rather than imitating each other in their networks of obeisance to military power, might try to let civilians speak to each other as talking heads, in town meetings, or between schools. If we can afford to prepare for war, then we have the resources to pursue peace. We know it, they know it, and history will never forget how we spend the next few weeks deciding.
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