OPINION

War on television

The nightmare of war has always been repulsive, but the major difference in US-led strikes on Iraq is the leveling role of television, which imports the horror into every family home across the entire world. In just four years we have experienced three deplorable wars on television – the war in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and now in Iraq – which have consolidated the public’s impression that war is part of everyday life. War has always involved the exertion of extreme violence, but the idea of the military front applied up until World War II. This meant that hostilities took place exclusively on the battlefield, far from urban centers; it also meant that the progress of a military operation only became clear at the moment of conquest. Even in the case of Vietnam, many years passed before the American public realized what what had happened in that remote Asian country, before they grasped the inhumane aspect of war and drove Washington to a humiliating withdrawal. The «intervention» of television began with the first war against Iraq in 1991, which was exclusively conducted by CNN, the first channel to project the «magic» of ultramodern US weapons. TV coverage of military operations was deemed to be useful for the USA, as it was reckoned that the projection of violence would bring to their senses leaders who had refused to toe the US line. But the fallacy of this hypothesis can be seen in the cases of Milosevic, the Taliban and Saddam…