November 30, 2003

Euro Press Samplings The Nouvel

Euro Press Samplings

The Nouvel Observateur cover:

The headline reads "Inquiry on a Disaster." To be sure, there's much to criticize about the post-war going ons in Iraq. But nothing that has occurred in Iraq so far is, full stop, constitutive of a disaster (certainly not just yet anyway).

The magazine's "inquiry" includes quotes from U.S. soldiers on the ground like:

"Mon ami est mort pour quoi?, sinterroge-t-il aprs la crmonie. Ces gens ne veulent pas tre libres. Tout le monde nous hait. Je ne comprends pas."

"My friend is dead for what? he asks himself after the funeral. These people [the Iraqis] don't want to be free. The whole world hates us. I don't understand."

I understand this poor sergeant's frustration. I feel empathy. But I don't think his opinion is necessarily representative of the majority of our forces in theater. And when you read such hyper-gloomy articles, you wonder why a country with a sophisticated media like France can't be a bit more nuanced in its coverage.

Sure, one can turn the tables and poke fun at some of the bufoonish, ill-informed war cheerleaders on American media outlets like Fox (though, it should be noted, they do have some smart commentators well worth watching). But let's keep in mind that they very much have their opposite numbers in countries like France and Germany.

Speaking of the latter, the German magazine Stern has a depressing cover picture of Iraq as Vietnam up (not available on line, though like Chafetz, I'll keep looking).

The story linked to the gloomy cover picture simply asks: "The New Vietnam?" Here's a depressing photo gallery the editors have up that provides only one (very ugly) Iraq narrative. Again, I'm only asking for a bit of balance--not Panglossian whitewash. Is that too much to ask?

UPDATE: Still, there is some heartwrenching stuff here that we don't hear about as often in the U.S. media.

"Il y a quelques jours, un de ses hommes a eu la jambe arrache par un explosif alors quil tait au volant dun Humvee. CՎtait moi qui devais le conduire, mais jai t appel ailleurs. Quand jai vu ce gosse de 21ans amput jusquՈ la cuisse, je lui ai dit: "Oh Leo, si seulement javais pu tre l ta place!" Et vous savez ce quil ma rpondu? "Non, John, toi tu as des gosses et une femme, il vaut mieux que a me soit arriv moi"

"A few days ago, one of his men has his leg torn off by an explosive while he was at the wheel of a Humvee. I was supposed to be driving it, but I was called elsewhere. When I saw this kid of 21 years amputated up to the waist, I told him: "Oh Leo, if only I could have been there in your place!" And you know what he answered? "No John, you have kids and a wife, it better that it happened to me..."
(transl. B.D.)

Posted by Gregory at November 30, 2003 09:42 PM
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