The War That Wasn’t Covered

Iraq Archive 2007

Christian Caryl accuses journalists of failing “to show the [Iraq] war as it was”:

Americans who did not serve may think that they have some idea of what the war in Iraq was like, but they’re wrong. The culprit here is a culture of well-intentioned self-censorship that refuses to show the real conditions of modern warfare.

You can search the seven years of US broadcast news from Iraq almost in vain for images of dead US soldiers, or the grotesque effects of a suicide bombing on buildings or bodies, or the corpses of Iraqi families who had been riddled with bullets by nervous young Americans manning nighttime checkpoints. (The photo of the blood-spattered Iraqi girl taken by the late Chris Hondros is one of the most disturbing exceptions.) For writers the task was somewhat easier: reporters like Peter Maass, Dexter Filkins, and C.J. Chivers were able to confront their readers with gruesome realities. But the problem remains. We can hardly expect Americans to comprehend the grisly reality of wars like the one in Iraq until we’re prepared to show the consequences of the policies we so blithely adopt. The Iraqis themselves, of course, need no counseling on this matter. The war was never invisible to them.

The Dish’s stance on posting graphic images of war is here.

(Photo: The remains of three US servicemen, their equipment and a Humvee lay scattered on a dirt road after a massive IED vaporized their vehicle on August 4, 2007 in Hawr Rajab, Iraq. By Benjamin Lowy/Getty Images)