War & media

The war in Iraq is on the lips of everyone. So far, despite the initial optimism – through the media’s fondness for showing missiles hitting targets and brandishing the fire power in the coalition forces – and unreasonably high expectations, it is perhaps not surprising that it’s Iraq having the upper hand after about 10 or so days. After all, to win this war, US needs to depose Saddam Hussein, whereas all Saddam needs to do to win is to remain standing at the end of all the commotion!

With all the media coverage of the war, live footage and all, it’s sometimes hard to imagine that there really is a war going on. And, judging by its showing to date, US does not seem to have learnt much from the Vietnam war in its handling of the media. After all, hyping up via the media is bound to backfire at some point. Any bad publicity from the Iraqi side, either stray missiles hitting civilian buildings or not able to bring in the humanitarian aid soon enough, is going to set them back, and undo any good publicity through mini-victories. Finally, additional negative publicity can always be very easily fabricated as far as Iraqi side is concerned.

In Sun Tzu’s Art of War, he recommended that we should always go to war with a just cause. This not only gets your own people behind you, but also gathers support internationally. Without either of these intangible factors, victory will be difficult because US will be essentially fighting on three fronts: the real enemy, internal unrest, and international pressure. This will become more acute the longer the conflict drags on.

Perhaps another thing to note is that all bridges have been burnt, and US cannot afford to have an about-face any time in the near future. Many more days of conflict lie ahead, even when the war is over – whether the protesters for peace realise it or not.

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