Skip to content

In real wars, soldiers bleed; soldiers die

From the Arab News:

As the Iraqi war moves into its eighth day, what is most extraordinary are the absurd and unrealistic expectations that people have had of it. That goes not only for public opinion, the media and politicians in the US, but also for armchair pundits across the world. Regardless of which side people support, if indeed they support either, they have apparently been astonished by Iraq’s resistance and the battering the Americans and British have taken. Even those who support Saddam Hussein never really expected the war to be anything but clinical and short. They, too, thought that Iraqi cities would fall like ninepins, that Iraqi troops would desert en masse and that allied forces arrive in Baghdad virtually unscathed. Certainly that is what Americans had been led to think. If truth be told, so did most Arabs, even those who hoped that the US would be humiliated.

That people have been so shocked and amazed by pictures of dead or captured US soldiers and helicopters shot down says much about the unreal world we now live in. We have allowed ourselves to be mesmerized and anaesthetized by the virtual reality of fantasy movies and computer games where the worst that can affect us is mere sensation. We have had a reality by-pass. But this war is for real … and real wars are never clinical and bloodless, let alone one-sided.

The reality of war is always death and destruction. It always spews out dead bodies … torn, twisted and charred bodies … and legions of injured and maimed. It always creates prisoners of war. It always leaves in its wake homes reduced to rubble, lives blighted, families destroyed. It always brings suffering and misery, disease and hunger. It is not a computer game or a movie where, when it is over, we can get up and go and have a meal and a laugh. It is horrible and evil … which is why it must always be the very last resort … something that so many governments, so many people, told Washington and London, but something that they ignored … so convinced were they that it could be played and won with computer-like efficiency.

In real wars, soldiers bleed, soldiers die, no matter which side they are on. In real wars, nothing ever goes quite to plan. And in this real war, the US made another grave miscalculation: It forgot that for all that the Iraqis fear and hate the regime under which they suffer, they are patriots … and patriots are always at their toughest when defending their homeland.

But there is no point swinging like a pendulum to the opposite pole and imagining that because the Americans and British have discovered that events are not going quite to plan, that they are going to lose this war. Saddam Hussein’s boasts that he will win a great victory have to be treated with the same scorn as his great boasts in earlier wars. Whatever emotion those who back him may invest in the idea of the Americans and British being defeated, the idea is wholly illogical. America’s massive military superiority makes Saddam’s defeat inevitable. Even now, despite the setbacks, that superiority is taking its toll. Iraqi positions are falling although snipers will remain a problem, now and at any time in the future. Even when the regime becomes history, there will always be sufficient Iraqi patriots who see the British and American soldiers as the prime enemy.

To have imagined anything else is Washington’s and London’s biggest miscalculation.

{ 5 } Comments

  1. MOLT | March 28, 2003 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    A thoughtful post QM. It is the reality of war that I believe has me not scanning the newspaper or being glued to TV. (I have not had the idiot box on for 10 days now.) It is the thoughts of my brother who I wish to be able to come home soon, the thoughts of my classmates who were called up and left school in the middle of a semester some taking grades of incomplete so that they would not have to start from scratch upon their returns, and it is the thoughts of so much suffering that keep me from engaging in the media circus surrounding this war.

    Grave miscalculation says it all.

  2. M | March 28, 2003 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    I find that I can’t get a clear picture of anything unless I look at about a million sources. Our embedded journalists are sending back fascinating images of war and the military, but they’re just too close to their subjects to give us anything like objectivity or the big picture. The US media seems stymied on how to report the war. Only by scanning the international media and the independent media do I feel like I get anything close to the true story. Not any one source, mind you, but all of them together.

  3. MOLT | March 28, 2003 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

    I love this blog!

    First I get to hear some news from different perspectives. It is my choice to receive information from here because I do feel it is more “real” than what I have heard through the grapvine.

    one more day left of spring break. Have I done anything yet?

  4. carl | October 4, 2003 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    yes and planes running in to building kill AMERICANS I say take the war to their land not ours.

  5. Miranda | October 4, 2003 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, whatever. You do know that there is no evidence that Iraq had anything to do w/ Sept. 11, don’t you? I say make sure you know why you’re fighting a war before you put soldiers’ lives at risk. Anyone heard any news about Afghanistan lately? No? Didn’t think so. Why isn’t the administration asking for $67 billion to re-build *that* country into a democracy? Isn’t that where bin Laden was?

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *