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EDITORIAL

Nonfictional deaths in a pulp-fiction war

DIRECTOR Michael Moore's comments at the Oscars ceremony certainly rang true in Slovakia. Myers, collecting an award for best documentary for his film Bowling for Columbine, said that "we live in fictitious times," referring to the war in Iraq.
The high-tech images on our screens of animated bombers moving across an Iraq covered in cartoon soldiers hides the fact that these images represent real planes dropping real bombs on real people. And the results are very different from the clean images on our screens.
Politicians in Slovakia are using the spectacle to score points against one another, and hysteria is rising as the country protects its "potential terrorist targets" and hoax bomb threats close hospitals and railways. In Iraq the bombs are real and families are being torn apart - on both sides of the conflict.

DIRECTOR Michael Moore's comments at the Oscars ceremony certainly rang true in Slovakia. Myers, collecting an award for best documentary for his film Bowling for Columbine, said that "we live in fictitious times," referring to the war in Iraq.

The high-tech images on our screens of animated bombers moving across an Iraq covered in cartoon soldiers hides the fact that these images represent real planes dropping real bombs on real people. And the results are very different from the clean images on our screens.

Politicians in Slovakia are using the spectacle to score points against one another, and hysteria is rising as the country protects its "potential terrorist targets" and hoax bomb threats close hospitals and railways. In Iraq the bombs are real and families are being torn apart - on both sides of the conflict.

How many companies are beginning to prepare their proposals for Slovak participation in the reconstruction of Iraq after Hussein's defeat? Modern business can't afford to wait until the war is over before they start adding up their share of the profits from peace.

The sad fact is that the real battle for Iraq will be won or lost on our screens, regardless of losses on the ground. Bush and Hussein both know that Iraq can't possibly win militarily. Its only hope lies in destroying the morale of the American people to force the US into retreat.

Both sides have learned their lessons from the last conflict and invited journalists to be with them every step of the way, showing Bush's heroic troops struggling to liberate the Iraqi people from their own government, whilst those in Baghdad show a defiant Saddam Hussein claiming that his own heroic troops are battling to protect the Iraqi people from this invading force.

We cannot even say that the truth is somewhere between these poles. Instead, it is somewhere to the side and huddling for cover as the bombs rain down and secret police martial the frightened conscripts. In a war where both armies are in the wrong, it is difficult to pick sides.

With all of this, it is all too easy to forget that war means casualties - and not just on the coalition side. While airtime is given to British and US casualties, little mention is made of those on the Iraqi side. The Western media seems to value Iraqi lives far below those of their Western counterparts.

This is a very ugly side to this made-for-TV war. It degrades the value of human life to just a few brief moments of special effects in a ratings war.

We can only hope that a speedy end will be brought to this conflict, and one that will result in lasting peace in the area and a strong government in Iraq. Without a strong government there, it may only be a matter of time before Iraq's neighbours take the US lead and declare war in the name of international peace. And then the whole media circus will start all over again.

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