Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Musings on the War, Live and in Color

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Musings on the War, Live and in Color

Article excerpt

OBSERVATIONS on the war after long hours of watching from my arm chair:

- While feeling I was almost a part of that first-night bombing in Iraq, as TV brought me close in on that spectacular and awesome display of firepower, I recalled how civilians were spectators in an early Civil War battle.

In the recent book, "The Civil War," which was tied in with that epic television series a few months ago, Don E. Fehrenbacher writes that "hundreds of Washington civilians rode out to join the advancing army, hoping to see a real battle. Some brought binoculars, picnic baskets, bottles of champagne."

Fehrenbacher added: "Some of the troops rather liked the notion of fighting their first battle in front of illustrious spectators. `We saw carriages and barouches which contained civilians who had driven out from Washington to witness the operations,' a Massachusetts volunteer remembered. A Connecticut boy said, `There's our Senator' and some men recognized ... other members of Congress.... We thought it wasn't a bad idea to have the great men from Washington come out to see us thrash the Rebs."

Well, thrash the Rebs they didn't at what the North called the battle of Bull Run and the South called the battle of Manassas, and which ended up in a rout of the North.

- Then there's the question about CNN reporter Peter Arnett's censored telecasts from Baghdad. Frankly, I'm of two minds on this. I find a letter to the editor in the Washington Post quite persuasive when it asserts: "These reports do not weaken our resolve to end Saddam Hussein's aggression; they play up the basic strength of our free society." Yet another letter provides a different, but also very persuasive, view:

"With a shrewdness characteristic of the Middle East, Saddam Hussein obtained access to a technologically advanced and respected worldwide telecommunications network to disseminate his inflammatory propaganda. Providing the enemy access to instantaneous worldwide communications is of incalculable value in any conflict."

Arnett doesn't wink. He maintains an unemotional tone. But in little ways he makes it clear again and again that he is operating under restrictions that allow us to see only part of the picture. …

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