Today is the fifth anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq. And I’m somewhat hesitant even to write this. This war has touched the lives of thousands of people directly and indirectly. We owe them our gratitude — and realistically, they are the only ones who have any credibility on this mess at this point. The rest of us are just sitting on the sidelines hoping for the best.
But there are some continuing lessons here in public relations and media. Last week in my ethics class at Kent State we looked at the video Toxic Sludge is Good for You. For those of you who haven’t seen it or read the book by John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton it’s a critical look at the public relations industry — to say the least. I’ve seen the video several times, but one section really jumped out at me last week. It’s the view that unethical and deceptive public relations practices essentially got us into the first confrontation with Iraq and the Gulf War during the administration of Bush Senior.
I really wonder if history hasn’t repeated itself. Even knowing and believing to be true what happened years ago, I trusted the Bush administration — and Colin Powell with his nifty presentation at the United Nations — again this time around. That, for me, ain’t likely to happen again. And the national news media didn’t from what I recall raise any red flags. So we are where we are five years later.
When I am thinking about these things while running I always manage to recall that scene from Animal House. You know, the one where the guy in the fraternity grabs the baton and leads the marching band down the one-way alley smack into the wall. I guess we can only hope that whoever grabs the baton in November can figure a way out. Doesn’t it seem like it is starting to get a little crowded in the alley?
And I am totally opposed to a military draft. Yet at some point someone is going to run that up the flagpole to see who salutes it. Particularly if John McCain is correct and we are going to be in Iraq for the next 100 years, give or take a decade or two. And maybe, ironically, a military draft would be a way out. Something tells me that would get a lot of us off the sidelines and back into the game. For those of you too young (or in my case sometimes too old) to remember, here’s a reminder that there was a time in this country when wars weren’t accepted quite as easily as they are today.