Myopic view of war a danger to resolve

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 30, 2003

Tribune staff

War rages in Iraq and as each second ticks past, thousands of allied forces are putting their lives on the line in an effort to disarm Iraq.

Unfortunately, in addition to enemy soldiers, allied military leaders must also face an increasingly critical world eye.

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Millions of people from around the world have begun to feel a unique connection to this war, a connection largely created by the high-tech media coverage.

Technological advances have allowed television viewers to witness battles live for the first time. Tracer rounds leave streaks across the screen. Troops bark out orders into the night. Men and women -- on both sides of the front line -- are shot and killed as thousands stare into their television sets.

The amazing sights and sounds of war are seductive to TV viewers. Many of them just cannot look away.

And, while the coverage is unique and refreshing, using it as a lone barometer of how allied forces are faring in the war is not ideal. The small lens through which Americans view the war might be too myopic to show the whole picture of the battlefield.

Already, barely more than one week into the fight, armchair generals and so-called experts are quick to jump forward and offer their opinions of everything American military leaders are doing wrong. They are quick to point out strategic problems and errors.

But despite the live feeds we see from the front line, we cannot see the whole picture of the war. We do not know the allied forces' strategic plan. Therefore we cannot criticize that plan with any real credibility.

We see nothing wrong with reporting the news and offering a critical eye to world events. But, we fear, relentlessly gazing through a critical eye very early in the war may reflect an inaccurate view of reality.

The result may be diminished support for the war at home, and that will not help our troops or their fight to free Iraq.