The key to winning a war in America is to distill a complex and terrible situation into a few inspiring images. A single grainy clip of a smart bomb crashing down a chimney in a foreign land can solicit emotions of patriotism so pervasive that they send citizens pumping their fists in defiance of a dictator they hadn't even heard of a few weeks before.
When President George W. Bush unleashed hell on Iraq, he no doubt had some pretty images in mind, like the streets of Baghdad lined with Iraqi citizens waving American flags or UN inspectors uncovering weapons of mass destruction.
All the administration had to do was manufacture a few good images and we could make the war seem great. This is why they ducked their heads and plowed through the international scorn. They fully expected to supplant the horror of war with images so patriotic that they would make France's and Germany's opposition seem shortsighted and propel the administration into a second term.
That's not to say the war on Iraq was about image. If you have a chance to stop Hitler at the Rhine, you do it. The same applies to Saddam. The man is evil. He was manufacturing biological and chemical weapons and desperately trying to build a nuclear bomb. He has used weapons of mass destruction on his neighbors and against his own citizens. (Is there any doubt he would do so again if given the chance?)
My point is that TV images hold sway over the masses and, therefore, dominate politics in a democracy. So it doesn't matter that the president said from the onset that this would be an arduous and lengthy campaign. The things that solicit knee-jerk responses from voters are the images plastered on their TV screens. Presently, they're seeing U.S. soldiers being shot and killed. Lacking those few good images to legitimize the preemptive attack, the war in Iraq now threatens to drag down the Bush administration into a PR black hole (regardless of the fact that the war in Iraq and Afghanistan made the world safer).
The administration admitted as much when they announced a new plan to solicit additional funds from Congress and ground support from the United Nations.
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