Archive for December, 2008
A jittery image continually loops the frame in the right of the picture while an Iraqi general menacingly thrusts a highly polished machine gun in the air and chants war-like slogans. In the background, senior Iraqi generals, looking like Mexican stand-ins, giggle nervously and wonder if Jesus will actually live up to the script and release a short burst of artillery fire at the end of Act III and shower the international media with plaster of paris from the ceiling above. Across the bottom of the screen, the annoying newsbites scroll, distracting you from serious questioning any of their scripted nonsense. Now we are being shown the countries that support and oppose the USA, the former in red, the latter – black.
The translator for all the official Iraqi speeches has a dull, monotonous sotto bass monologue, which is supposed to make us picture all Arabs as slightly retarded but manly enough to do some real damage, unless contained.
The local media struggle to keep up with the awesome coverage supplied by CNN and the BBC. However, their news presentation starts to take on the hype of the big brothers with local presenters finishing each sentence with the simple ” Carol”, “Paul”, “John”, or ” Richard” (poor old Judy just has to sit and look very, very distressed) and dropping such words as “embedded”,” from the war zone” (though they are often thousands of miles away) and “outside Baghdad”. As we watch relatively unharmed streets, and bright lights in the sky which we are asked to believe is tracer from anti-aircraft fire, we are told about overwhelming victories, things that might have happened, and reactions form talking heads who are described as “retired experts”. That we don’t think to question their proclamations tells us something about how we rely on the media to present us with the truth when, in fact, what we get is often far from such a thing.
The whole affair has taken on the face of a giant reality show.
Arthur-Lee is a nineteen year old from New Orleans and he has been waiting for this moment since December last year, now four long months gone. He arrived in Kuwait in the middle of winter. New Orleans just got less hot and sticky in winter but here in the “sandbox” it is bitterly cold. Especially the nights which Arthur-Lee has come to dread. Then there were the sandstorms that blew all day and coated everything with a covering that just would not go away. Arthur-Lee hoped the generals had thought about this sand as he stood by his HumVee waiting for the order that would see him race across the southern Iraq desert to Baghdad. He hoped they had a MacDonald or Wendy’s in Baghdad because this R2E diet was playing hell with his indigestion. He looked in the rear vision mirror of the HumVee to see if his red eyes had got any clearer. Red from the continual sand and the constant shitting. Staring back at him was a monster he didn’t recognize. White face, red eyes, forehead smeared with the green and yellow paint of his hazing, cheeks sunken into his fine jaw from all the weight he had lost. He felt dizzy, scared, hungry, and hell – yes, he was ready to go and kick some towel-head butt.