Wednesday, April 09, 2003
Brendan O'Neill wonders whether or not the US really care about taking Baghdad.
In wars gone by, it was usually after declaring victory that the winning side put on massive displays of 'symbolic force' and toppled symbols of the defeated regime. After winning cities, conquering armies would often drive through them in huge convoys to demonstrate their command of territory, and destroy statues in order to demonstrate the obliteration of the old.
Now, such gestures seem to be taking place before the war has ended. In a war where the very aims are to 'send a message' and project a positive image of the coalition forces, driving through Baghdad in displays of force is seen as being as important as actually taking control of Baghdad.
But why does the most powerful nation on Earth have to 'project' its power in Iraq, instead of asserting it? Why do mighty US forces 'show off' in central Baghdad, instead of taking the city from the inferior Iraqi forces that are half-defending it?