In the article “Americans are shopping while Iraq burns”, Bob Herbert implies that Americans are deeply absorbed in their own interests and are therefore apathetic to developments in Iraq, and by extension the developments in any other place where the United States is at war like in Afghanistan. On the contrary, renowned photojournalist James Natchwey is of the opinion that Americans would like to be informed of what really is happening so that they can act responsively. This must have been his conviction before embarking on his mission to film footage for the documentary “War Photographer”.
A number of credible sources underline this apathetic stance adapted by many Americans regarding the suffering that emanates from wars waged by their nation in their name. This research paper aims to identify both their stances in detail with the aim of establishing which perspective is closer to the truth. It also pays a tribute to James Natchwey’s exemplary journalism. The State of the American Society Bob Herbert creates a reference for his argument on Thanksgiving Day here in the U. S. Shopping malls opened at midnight as Americans gleefully spend on the celebration.
In the meantime, over 200 civilians had been killed by car bombs in the Iraqi city of Sadr. This is just one incident: a majority of Americans go about their business oblivious of the suffering Iraqi civilians endure on a daily basis or the fatalities American troops encounter at the battlefields. If indeed they were conscious of the repercussions of the war, we would be up in protest opposing these wars whose benefits to the American society cannot be ascertained. The apathy demonstrated by Americans may originate from the fact that very few Americans are concerned with the nation’s foreign policy.
As Ole R. Holsti points out, there is “absence of sustained public attention to international issues” (Holsti 2004, 285). This is demonstrated in the circumstances that led to the invasion of Iraq: the Bush administration alleged without sufficient proof that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction (Smith 2005) and connected the Baghdad regime with the Al-Qaeda terrorist network, and the American public was ready to believe these charges in the pretext that Iraq really was a threat to national security (Holsti 2004). Media in the U. S. as made it hard for Americans to know what to believe in or what to value.
There is insufficient coverage of the destructiveness of the war as media executives strive to make profits in an overly commercialized industry. The importance of news is diluted as news is “stripped of its credibility and the audience will have no ability to differentiate between the values of news and other forms of entertainment” (Dadge & Schechter 2006, 103). As Bob Herbert points out, most Americans have no personal stake in the Iraqi war and are consequently indifferent to its outcomes.
A short survey reveals that very few citizens would be willing to join the military, no wonder most go about their business bearing indifference to the effects of the war on Iraqi civilians whose lives are shattered by war (Gott 2002) and U. S marines who die in the line of duty. The suggestion by Representative Charles Rangel that the Draft be reinstated implies that American politicians would be reluctant to approve of war if the possibility of their constituents being called into active service was real. With these facts out in the open, Herbert’s position is obviously more credible.
Media apathy, domestic lack of interest in foreign policy and general disinterest have all contributed to the absence of a collective sacrifice and sharing of the burden of responsibility on the war. This is supported by the other sources cited in this paper. Public Opinion and American Foreign Policy is a comprehensive text describing in detail American foreign policy since September 11th. Why War: The Cultural Logic of Iraq, the Gulf War, and Suez is a thought-provoking text which pushes a reader beyond the periphery of conventional sociological thought.
David Dadge and Danny Schechter’s book exposes the ease with which the American public is in most case willing to acknowledge intelligence reports without the desire to validate the background information. War Photographer James Natchwey demonstrates true heroism as he delves deep into some of the most dangerous and desolate spots on earth to bring pictures of what really goes on here to viewers. His work captivates audiences and instills empathy by relaying the destruction and heartbreak occasioned by conflict. He is an embodiment of courage, professional dedication and humanitarianism.