I was only 12 years old during the previous Bush’s war with Hussein.
I remember my friends crying because their fathers, and sometimes mothers, were sent to the Middle East. I remember bomb after bomb. I remember claims that we hit targets. But I don’t remember ever hearing where the targets really were. For example the bombs that hit tenant buildings and hospitals.
I remember the fires that were set by the Iraqis that were shown on television. And that was what I was meant to see and what I was meant to remember.
What I don’t remember is seeing the devastation of the war. I don’t remember seeing the refugees and the casualties on TV. Why? Because after Vietnam, the government remembered what impacts visual pictures of the war had on the average American. They remember hundreds of thousands of families watching the nightly news, and for the first time really seeing what war is about. They remembered the protests and the disintegration of public support for the war.
Pictures changed minds. So now war has been placed at a distance from the American public, on purpose. It was only Sept. 11 that brought us back to the reality of death and fear.
But making Iraq the target distances the United States public once again from the real effects of war. We have only one picture and a man to hate. And we see him as Iraq. We see Saddam Hussein as clearly as we see Osama bin Laden. But we don’t see the people of Iraq who will face the devastation of war.
Thousands will flee their homes for other places in the Middle East. They will live in squalor to escape the United States bombs. Others will die because they decided to stay. Thousands of people will be poisoned by their county’s own weapons. Or they will breathe in the burning oil fires that will coat their lungs.
George Bush Jr. says he wants to destroy the Iraqi regime. He says war is the answer to this. But George Bush Sr. did this before. And all we saw from the previous war were troops with Gulf War Syndrome and the growing hate of the fundamental Muslim community. Don’t get me wrong; I see the atrocities Hussein has committed even against his own people. But is war with Iraq really the same thing as war with Hussein?
Our media has been failing us.
Most of us as Americans were ignorant to the hate that had been festering and resulted in Sept. 11. We did not know that the “jihad” had been growing and that the United States had become the main target. We saw pictures of a war in the 1990s that seemed small and unimportant. But taking part in it before has had massive implications. It has promoted the hate and the terrorism that has come out of the Middle East.
So it is up to the media to step away from what only the government wants us to know. It is up to the media to shed its own bias and show the real pictures. And there will more than one. It is up to the media to voice the concerns of other countries about this war. Not just the opinion of a president that has become unwilling to listen, only to speak.
I hope we all see the real pictures of this war that we are beginning. I hope we see that people will die, including Americans, and that people will suffer, all over the world. The United States is a great country full of great and intelligent people. We just need to see what is actually going on. Not only what the government wants us to know. We need a media who is willing to do what it has always promised to do, educate and inform.
So we know where the real pictures should be taken and we remember the effects of our actions.
And these effects may not be the kind of pictures we want to be responsible for creating.