' Bob Tyrell
Jewish World Review May 13, 2004 / 22 Iyar, 5764

Bob Tyrrell

Bob Greene
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
MUGGER
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Loss of perspective


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | One of the gravest losses attendant with the spread of broadcast media is, I suppose, perspective. Yes, the public gains pictures, film clips and sound bites, but we lose perspective and with that judgment, always at the expense of sound policy.


The moral revulsion now being felt about the despicable behavior at Abu Ghraib prison is warranted to the utmost. Sen. Joseph Lieberman is always careful to describe the guards' actions as first "immoral." That is the most damning thing that can be said about the guards' behavior, and the most pertinent. After that, all the other descriptions rendered by the politicians and journalists tend towards coloratura.


What is essential is that the civilized not lose a sense of proportion. American forces, aided by other members of the coalition, are in Iraq to pacify that country and give its citizens a chance for peace and freedom. Our government and our soldiers have paid a high price for this expansion of American security and civilized values. Saddam's regime was crueler than anything done at Abu Ghraib prison.


What precisely happened will take time to establish. Writing several years after World War I in his "The Irish Guards in the Great War," Rudyard Kipling noted, "The only wonder to the compiler of these records is that any sure fact whatever should be retrieved out of the whirlpools of war." When war breaks out, order breaks down and reason takes a holiday. We must attempt to maintain reason, but that is difficult — especially when the blare of the modern media drives out perspective.


The other night in New York, the Englishman Sir Martin Gilbert, one of the great historians of our time and among other things the authorized biographer of Winston Churchill, spoke of history and biography during a lively dinner with assembled journalists and some public policy types. One of the policy types was a representative of the Iraqi National Congress. Asked about the pictures that are being broadcast of mistreatment at the Abu Ghraib prison, the Iraqi noted that his countrymen have available video of torture practiced in Iraqi prisons by Saddam's torturers. They buy and sell the videos on the street. They show dogs eating prisoners alive and prisoners being put in shredders. Our guards, devotees I presume of Hustler magazine, were mere amateurs, slaves to infantile sex.

Donate to JWR


What troubled our Iraqi interlocutor more was the tardiness with which our government is handing authority back to Iraqis. He insisted there were sufficient numbers of Iraqis with a sufficient longing for good government to get on with governing Iraq. I was not so sure, but here Gilbert interrupted me. He thought the Iraqi made a plausible case, and then the historian went on to talk of the vast effort his country and ours had made to maintain freedom against the Nazi and fascist brutes in World War II.


Gilbert's two-volume history of the world wars has just been released in paperback. Reading through his introduction to World War I reminded me vividly of the price our countries have had to pay to bring us to our present level of freedom.


In his introduction, Gilbert writes of visits he has made to World War I battle sites — for instance, Ypres in 1967, "where we listened each evening at eight o'clock to the Last Post, sounded at the Menin Gate. ... While the buglers played under the vast archway of Menin Gate, all traffic was stopped." On the gate's walls are carved the names of 54,896 British soldiers who died there between 1914 and 1917. He visited the Tyne Cot Memorial at Passchendaele, where the names of another 34,888 British soldiers are carved. Again they have no graves. And in this moving introduction, Gilbert proceeds to write of other grave sites and memorials to the 9 million soldiers, sailors and airmen killed in World War I. Another 5 million civilians are estimated to have perished in that war.


What is going on in the Middle East is not pleasant, but it in no way compares with the suffering and loss endured in the last century to secure peace, security, and some degree of liberty for us and the world. Reading the printed page gives us a better chance at perspective than being bombarded by film footage and sound bites.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in Washington and in the media consider "must reading." Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.


JWR contributor Bob Tyrrell is editor in chief of The American Spectator. Comment by clicking here.

05/06/04: Right in the Krischer: Rush Limbaugh's tormentor has yet to hear from everyone on the First Amendment right
04/29/04: It is 1992 all over again, and I rejoice
04/15/04: There seems to be two George W's
04/08/04: Kennedy & Kerry
04/01/04: Sen. Jean Francois' fun and games are only starting — poor Dems
03/25/04: What really explains the rancor arising in this election year?
03/19/04: College daze
03/11/04: The understandably confused are confused
03/04/04: Hillary, the loyalest of the loyal
02/19/04: Hannity's optimism
02/12/04: The moron vote
02/05/04: At least Lieberman stood for something
01/29/04: Surprised by the government vendetta against Rush?
01/15/04: Eight Angry Men
01/09/04: Doc, the greatest swim coach of all time
01/02/04: It’s lying time again
12/29/03: Alternative "Person of the Year"
12/18/03: Dean and me
12/11/03: Long live Bob Bartley
12/04/03: "Hit 'em when they're down!"
12/01/03: The Wright Stuff
11/13/03: How wrong the naysayers and the utopians have been
11/06/03: Will I be banned from America's campuses?
10/30/03: They don't care about restraint
10/24/03: "The Reagans" and the evidence of a historic life
10/17/03: The Moron Vote
10/09/03: The politics of groping and the groping of politics
10/03/03: Is there a witch doctor in the house?
09/26/03: Funny Girly-Boy
09/18/03: Send Arafat to Paris!
09/15/03: The soi-disant party of Latinos comes down hard on a successful Latino
09/05/03: Placating the carpers
08/29/03: A melange of one-issue enthusiasts will win?
08/07/03: Angry partisans
07/31/03: Why no ‘holy cities ’ in America?
07/25/03: They underestimate not only the president, but the American people
07/18/03: The irascible, bigoted Harry Truman was a product of his times
07/11/03: A grand affair of hot colors and surprisingly sedate audience participation
07/04/03: In search of anti-Americanism and the perfect bullfight
06/26/03: Calling on London
06/20/03: Too upsetting for the evening news?
06/12/03: Rain(es)ing Clintoon myths
06/05/03: Hillary-ous is pathetic
05/29/03: Shakedown
05/22/03: End of the last great persecution of the 20th century?
05/15/03 :‘Grey’ turns to grim at Times
05/08/03: The only intellectual force in Western history to gain moral superiority by being wrong
05/01/03: Dinning with Tom Wolfe: More lessons in nusual aspects of American life, hitherto ignored
04/28/03: Ambuscade at scholarly frontier
04/21/03: Stars in search of a galaxy
04/10/03: Baghdad Bob and Tom Daschle
03/31/03: When the media itself becomes the story
03/20/03: Revealed! Estrada is a gifted linguist -- a Japanese-American fluent in Spanish
03/14/03: Genuinely in charge
03/10/03: Stalin and Saddam
03/05/03: They just cannot stomach a protracted alliance with the Bushies
02/25/03: Identity gridlock
02/18/03: People calling Dean a fruitcake are underestimating his political savvy
02/13/03: The new political establishment
01/30/03: The time is now
01/27/03: Witnessing self-love by people completely incapable of self-criticism
01/21/03: Of course our kiddies are depressed
01/13/03: Why is it that Official Washington still believes that a tax reduction means a revenue reduction?
01/02/03: Missing Moi
12/27/02: The grizzled and menacing-looking senator in Confederate drag is … a Dem
12/24/02: Uprooting Christianity in the Holy Land
12/20/02: Under fire, Lott showed an ignobleness that is embarrassing
11/26/02: Bartley's enemies have been routed
11/14/02: Clarence Thomas and the segregationist Mississippi sheriff
11/07/02: I muffed up
10/31/02: Is the American university turning its back on change, on progress?
10/24/02: So why aren't the Dems buoyant?
10/17/02: Mourning the loss of the "yellow-belly"
10/10/02: American politics at its most ignominious
10/03/02: A man above the law, a bully
09/26/02: Is Bob Greene a victim of an anti-Clinton backlash?
09/19/02: I knew Mafiosi and …
09/12/02: Chickens and poseurs
09/05/02: Sympathizing with the Europols
08/29/02: 9-11 did not change us forever
08/22/02: Public persons frivoling with serious matters
08/15/02: Beachcombing among the fat of the land
08/08/02: They pave the way for corruption, not personal responsibility
08/01/02: Believing the unbelievable
07/25/02: The congressional posse comitatus
07/18/02: Cosmopolitan Arab fashion
07/11/02: What the prez actually knows
07/04/02: The vindication of a truly original thinker
06/27/02: The perfect book for Hillary
06/20/02: To say that they were ordinary is not to slight them
06/13/02: Daschle must begin to act like an adult
06/06/02: Lack of "intelligence" --- and sheer stupidity
05/30/02: Revealing a carefully guarded media secret
05/23/02: In these times, thank Heaven for Clinton!
05/16/02: Fast Times at the Church of the Nativity
05/09/02: "Name the Prettiest Suicide Bomber"
05/02/02: Vindication for the Boy Scouts
04/25/02: A topic almost no other columnist will touch
04/18/02: 'Conventional Wisdom' --- and those who defy it
04/11/02: Let the Sun shine in
04/05/02: Hooded men of color in sheets
04/01/02: A McCain-Feingold Act for Hollywood
03/21/02: Yakkin' on Yates
03/15/02: No role for Paul Volcker in Enron: the movie
03/07/02: My membership in the Communist Party U.S.A.
02/27/02: This award is bestowed by 'contrarians'
02/21/02: Mike Tyson: Made for Washington?
02/14/02: Enron as underdog?
02/07/02: Freed from the presence of money -- hard or soft -- most politicians would be just as bad
01/31/02: Needed: Bush to make a preemptive strike against his enemies …. Ones who'd like to see him fail even during war
01/24/02: Hucksters will move on to make their next marks
01/17/02: Debonair prez should begin to do the High Life
01/10/02: Move over Twinkies --- "the acne medicine made him do it!"
01/03/02: Leaving the Nazis looking comparatively humane
12/27/01: A "self-made journalist"
12/20/01: Calamities and unanticipated benefits
12/13/01: America's grief ought not to give comfort to those who caused it
12/06/01: Leahy, the strict civil libertarian!? A short-term exploiter of the Constitution is more like it
11/29/01: Welcome to Afghan, Maryland?
11/26/01: So, why don't more folks hate us?
11/15/01: America's quagmire and other certainties
11/09/01: No longer the smug statists, the prodigal Keynesians?
11/01/01: The New Seriousness
10/25/01: Bright lights and the Taliban
10/18/01: Is bin-Laden propaganda from Western intelligence?
10/12/01: No yellow ribbons
10/05/01: Bubba's back --- again!
09/28/01: Exposing peacetime's frauds
09/21/01: So protected, we're vulnerable
09/14/01: At Barbara Olson's home
09/11/01: Duh! All conservatives are racists
08/31/01: Arafat's terrorists have created their own hell
08/24/01: Time for some political prophecy
08/16/01: They claim to be doing so much good
08/10/01: Visiting the source of the White House braintrust
08/03/01: Morality and reality
07/31/01: Blinded by success?
07/24/01: The latest Kennedy capitulation in Massachusetts
07/13/01: Talk about tawdry
07/06/01: Delighting in the Dictator
06/29/01: The G-dphobes
06/21/01: Fashionable Washington is sempiternally in a stew
06/15/01: The limits of hypocrisy
06/08/01: Flagging our general apathy

© 2001, Creators Syndicate