Spilt ink, spilt blood: Iraq five years on

I was thinking about this the other day – surely Iraq has been the most reported-on war in the entire history of the world.

Well, ok, the Second World War got a lot of coverage (books, television programmes) but my theory is that it received less journalistic coverage than Iraq has had.

I may be wrong – am I?

(An aside: the former Sunday Times man Philip Knightley had an excellent book on the reporting of wars out in 2003. Pre-Iraq but well worth tracking down: The First Casualty).

Another thought (not mine, but saw it somewhere so am borrowing this one): the United States has now had troops fighting in Iraq for longer than its forces were involved in European and Pacific Ocean ‘theatres’ during WWII.

So, what am I driving at? Well – along with about 10,000 commentators – I think Iraq is a momentous event (possibly the momentous event of our time) and we’re going to be living with it for the rest of our lives.

Here’s the Google test: search on ‘Iraq war’ and you get 25 million hits. That’s a lot.

Ok, I’ve got that off my chest. What’s the media coverage like? Basically there have been acres of print and online coverage for days.

You can’t read it all, so I’d pick out these: the week-long series that’s been in the Times, Neil Ascherson’s excellent piece in last week’s New Statesman (don’t give up on the mass protests being one message – they do rattle governments more than ministries ever let on) and of course the original Baghdad Blogger, Ghaith Abdul-Ahad and his series in the Guardian.

There was also the reliably interesting Jonathan Miller for Channel 4 News last night reporting on the biggest Middle East refugee crisis of modern times: Iraqis in Syria and Jordan.

Oh, and Amnesty’s got an assessment of Iraq five years on out: ‘Carnage and despair’ it’s called. Need I say more?


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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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