A SLIGHTLY MESSY WAR - No Blood, No "Body Bags," No "Body Count"

(11/16/2003)

By Bob Weaver OPINION AND COMMENT

Veterans of foreign wars, often troubled by their horrendous experiences, have flashbacks and nightmares that creep into present consciousness. I have witnessed such within my own family.

The consciousness of the American people, since political wars like Vietnam, have been spared the messy detail of injury and death by Washington politicians, but sooner or later the government's control of information falters and reality sinks in.

Most Americans want to believe Iraq is a necessary war, although a growing number are questioning the rationale given for the invasion.

This morning's flashback is to President Lyndon Johnson, when he was accused of hiding the body bags from Vietnam, and looking directly into the TV camera and lying to the American people, even making up things that never happened.

Now, there is the selling of the increasingly unpopular Iraqi invasion to the American people by President George W. Bush's administration, an administration that continues to sweep the messy details of war under the carpet.

No faces of bloody death.

No TV cameras at Dover by order of the Bush administration.

No flag-draped coffins being transferred.

No public honoring of those who gave it all.

No big government officials meeting planes and attending funerals.

No soldiers who have lost limbs.

No harsh words like "body count" or "body bag."(The Pentagon began calling them "human remains pouches" and it now refers to them as "transfer tubes.")

No "fair and balanced" reporting given to problems of injured veterans backed up at hospitals"

No report on the cutting of soldier's and veteran's benefits.

More frightening is the selling of a national belief. You cannot be a patriot and oppose this war.

When the war started, one of America's favorite talking heads looked straight into his viewers eyes and said if you do not support America in this war, you should be tried for treason.

Even more frightening is the polarization of our wonderful two party system, that clouds a dialogue of reason. No room think.

"You can call it news control or information control or flat-out propaganda," says Christopher Simpson, a communications professor at Washington's American University.

"Whatever you call it, this is the most extensive effort at spinning a war that the department of defense has ever undertaken in this country."

Simpson notes that photos of the dead returning to American soil have historically been part of the ceremony, part of the picture of conflict and part of the public closure for families — until now.

"This White House is the greatest user of propaganda in American history."

Looking out the widow this morning at a dark and rainy day, my fear is, if I too could come to accept it that way.


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