What Gregg Easterbrook Should Have Written

John Laughland on violence, fictional and real, in The Spectator:

During the recent Anglo-American attack on Iraq, no seriously disturbing images of corpses or wounded bodies were broadcast, just as they had not been during the Kosovo war in 1999 or the Afghan war in 2001. CNN and the BBC had plenty of such pictures, but chose not to show them. Indeed, with the partial exception of the first Gulf war in 1991, no lurid images of the effects of war have been broadcast since Vietnam, when the novelty of television meant that the military authorities were unprepared for its power. Perhaps it is this which explains that war’s astonishing unpopularity. Today, television channels such as Al-Jazeera think that it is an important part of reporting to show the effects of violence — they regularly show gruesome shots of bodies severely mutilated by bombs — while Western TV channels prefer not to shock the sensibilities of their viewers. This plays straight into the hands of our governments, who are happy for people to believe the reassuring myth that our high-precision weapons do not decapitate children or blow apart the bodies of their mothers, and that war is but a sort of video game.