I find it both amusing and disturbing that the media is becoming obviously agitated that, even though there's a war happening, not much is really going on for them to report. Sure, they may have "embedded" correspondents right in the middle of the action, but that's part of their problem--they're there, but the action is not. How else do you explain CNN broadcasting a live image of the rear of a tank standing still in the Iraqi desert for over an hour? And then, for an hour before that, of the tanks moving through the desert? Or the endless footage of the sky over Baghdad? They so
want something to happen, they want to see action, and, let's be honest, they want the "Shock and Awe" campaign. The networks have been so focused on this massive bombardment that was to take place in the early stages of the war that they've built it up to almost Superbowl proportions. The correspondents are absolutely giddy for it to begin and, frankly, most of them seem rather perturbed that nothing catastrophic has happened thus far.
The news networks are rapidly losing their audiences. The novelty of war has already worn off for most Americans and, while they may still support their troops, they're also tuning in to Jerry Springer and The Price is Right, both of which aired on major networks just a short while ago. No doubt those major networks were getting tired of waiting for the promised "campaign to end all campigns" (one that would surely have viewers glued to their sets) by showing soldiers sleeping, soldiers eating, soldiers standing around, soldiers packing, soldiers riding in vehicles, soldiers stopped in the desert, the sky above Baghdad, the sky above Kuwait City, anything and everything except what the people really want to see--absolute destruction. Face it, death sells, but oddly enough the military isn't selling it quite yet.
I don't know what's more shocking, that the ABC affiliate in Kansas City is showing Springer reruns, or that the mightiest, most unstoppable military the world has ever seen is showing quite a bit of unprecedented restraint. Of course, I'll be more shocked if they keep it up. It won't last for long. The news will get their shock and awe.
The following passage is an email I received today, and I think it pretty well sums up my stance on the whole "support our troops" issue. It's a bit on the long side, but well worth your time. Enjoy:
If war comes even despite the historic, tenacious, and comprehensive opposition now raging across the planet, the U.S. government will proclaim triumphantly that everyone who isn't a traitor needs to rally around Washington to "support our troops." Opponents of the war could opt for many possible replies.
We could point out that our troops in Iraq are barely in danger at all because they are assaulting a tenth-rate opponent that has no
serious means to defend Iraq much less to attack the world's sole superpower.
We could point out that while perhaps a few hundred U.S. troops will die in this war, way over 50,000 U.S. citizens will die in the next 12 months due to workplace accidents and death by industry-caused diseases and automobile accidents (not to mention the impact of pollution and unsafe products). We could then query why this massive yearly blight on our population, roughly 15 times as devastating as 9/11, doesn't provoke a war on corporations' profit-seeking violations of their employees' and consumers' health and safety.
Or we could point out that the lives of American troops are no more worthy of compassionate support than the lives of Iraqis, and that we didn't kill Hussein a million times over with our decade-long sanctions but we instead killed a million Iraqis once each-with
Hussein getting stronger as each new corpse was added to the carnage.
And of course we could explain how unleashing a campaign to "shock and awe" a country is unjust and immoral, how it is an archetype example of the terrorism we say we are against.
But for myself, I think that perhaps a different approach might work better, and so if war does come, I intend to reply to the demand to support our troops by saying that yes, I too "support our troops."
I will reply that I support our troops not having to kill people in Iraq. I support our troops not being ordered to assault defenseless
populations, towns, farms, and the infrastructural sinews of life that sustain a whole country's citizenry.
I support our troops not having to carry out orders from Commander in Chief George Bush and then having to live the rest of their lives wondering why they obeyed such a barbaric buffoon rather than resisting his illegitimate, immoral authority.
And for the same reason, I support the Pope and the Dalai Lama going to Iraq in the place of our troops, as human shields and also to aid those Iraqis who have already suffered under our sanctions and bombs as well as under the violence of Hussein who was, of course, previously the recipient of U.S. military aid and even U.S. guidance in his horrible undertakings.
In fact, I support all rabbis and priests and other moral leaders going to Iraq as human shields - and all past Noble Peace Prize
winners-and all past winners of any big peace or humanitarian prize at all, anywhere-and heads of state, for that matter.
I support our troops not dying in Iraq figuratively or literally, physically or psychologically. I support our troops coming home with
their hearts not broken, retaining humanity and compassion essential to feeling true solidarity with those who confront tyrannical
behavior abroad, or right here in the U.S. with its 30 million tyrannized poor.
I support our troops coming home with their minds ravenous to comprehend what is wrong with war for empire, what is wrong with war to obliterate international law, what is wrong with war to control oil and use it as a bludgeon against allies and enemies alike, what is wrong with war for profit, what is wrong with war to intimidate whole nations and continents, what is wrong with war to subordinate a planet and even to test and trumpet the tools of war.
What must it do to one's mind and soul to engage as a soldier in a war in which the enemy is defenseless, in which the motives of one's leaders are vile, and in which one's own say over the events is nil?
I support our troops refusing to kill on behalf of politicians and profiteers. I support our troops rebelling against orders, not obeying them. I support our troops rejecting reasons of state. And I support our troops coming home to where their real battle is.
We must battle to reinvest our society with aspirations for justice and equality and with respect for diversity, solidarity, and
We must battle to eliminate the scourge of private ownership that makes a few people as rich as whole populations and that leaves many people less rich than the pets of profiteers.
We must battle to totally eradicate the racism and sexism that denigrate whole sectors of the population, to free sexuality and
culture, to free creativity, and to sustain the environment.
Bush tells us to bomb Iraq on grounds Iraq may have bombs. He tells us to bomb Iraq on grounds Iraq curtails freedoms. He tells us to bomb Iraq on grounds Iraq may be abetting terrorism.
What then should we do about a country that has by far the most bombs in the world and that uses them most widely-and that brags about it shamelessly?
What should we do about a country that is currently curtailing freedoms abroad and moving to do so at home with a dangerously
escalating vigor-and that brags about it shamelessly?
And what should we do about a country that is producing terrorism most aggressively - both terrorism directed at others and also
terrorism which will be unleashed against us in reply-and that brags about it shamelessly.
What should we do about the U.S.? We should curtail its belligerency, change its regime, and fundamentally revolutionize its centers of wealth and power.
Support our troops, bring them home.
Support our troops, provide them housing.
Support our troops, provide them health care.
Support our troops, provide them socially valuable jobs.
Turn military bases into industrial centers for the production of low cost housing, schools, hospitals, daycare centers, rail lines, inner
city parks, and other social and public goods that can enrich rather than snuff out life.
Support our troops and one day they will join the fight for unlimited justice for all.
Support our troops.