Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Like a civil war?

One of my all-time favourite films is Thoda Sa Roomani Ho Jaye. It sports an innocuous theme of a small-town family and the world around them, but the film is peppered with classic subtleties of social and political satire. At one point, the protagonist’s brother who is a orchard-farmer is complaining about the delayed monsoon and how it is affecting his business. His father, in jest, reprimands him: “Kya sarkar ne akal ghoshit kiya hai? Jab tak sarkar nahi kehti, akal kaise ho sakta hai?? (How can a drought be till the government proclaims it to be so?)”.

One finds this joke playing out in real in the American media’s attitude towards the sectarian violence in Iraq. For months, journalists and commentators have indulged in a continuous foreplay-like situation of talking about the resemblance to civil war but never directly calling the Iraqi disturbance a civil war. Gen Abizaid’s testimony before a Senate committee brings them closer, but they continue to dawdle near the brink. Presumably, the media is waiting for confirmation from the administration before bringing the C-word into their regular vocabulary to describe the Iraq war. So much for an independent press.

One interesting development last week (well, to Friedheads at least) was Thomas Friedman’s condescension to admitting that the intervention in Iraq is a futile exercise. He is now advocating a last-ditch diplomatic effort and then honourable withdrawal. This man represents the breed of Americans who balance their love for Israel with their hatred for Bush. They support the war on Iraq, but easily get distraught when the enemies of Israel seem to be winning. So far, Friedman has also advocated strong action against Iran; let us see how he fares on that. Watch this space.

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