Campbell, Stuart: Realities of war

Stuart Campbell

Realities of war never hit our TVs or our hearts‘, ABC The Drum, 21 June 2013

The author argues that

after Vietnam, Western governments determined that there would never again be an uncensored TV conflict. As an Australian citizen I feel this keenly; our country’s modern wars are presented as bland documentary confections celebrating Aussie national values; we were in Afghanistan “to finish the job”, a banal phrase that could have been repurposed from home renovation reality shows.

We burst with pride for our armed forces and we agonise at the sight of prime ministers and military chiefs announcing a combat death. But bipartisan support for tightly controlled war reporting (empirically proven by policy continuity when governments change) neuters our revulsion against war and short changes the dead. If Australians born after 1965 had seen extensive and close-up contemporary war reporting on TV, would the bipartisan consensus on our Iraq and Afghanistan adventures have survived?

The media sanitising of war is immoral and wrong. However revolting the pictures, we must see them so that we experience something approaching an authentic understanding of war – even in our living rooms.

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