The cat i' the adage

"The growth of knowledge depends entirely on disagreement" Karl Popper (1902 - 1994)

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Fighting with one hand tied behind their backs

I should not wish to condone the behaviour of the US soldier shown on NBC shooting an apparently unarmed man. Prior to a proper enquiry I should not wish to condemn it either. Two things occur to me, however, about the media treatment of this and related episodes. First, there is a repugnant attempt to cast these regrettable excesses of soldiers acting in the heat of battle and in fear of their lives in the same moral light as the premeditated executions of non-combatants, which have become a routine part of the jihadi campaign of terror. Perhaps we are not to view these acts as morally equivalent ourselves, but we are certainly invited to think that moderate Iraqis will do so. Secondly, and somewhat at odds with this, jihadi attrocities are seen as evidence that the country is out of control (for which the US is to blame), while US attrocities are seen as evidence that US forces are out of control (for which the US is to blame) and as offering justification for future terrorist acts.

Even assuming that the media wanted to keep us well informed about what is going on in Iraq (which, frankly, I doubt), their very closeness to the action and obsession with violent incident robs them of the detachment to see events in proper perspective.

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