A Distorted View of War
By PATRICK COCKBURN
"....I used to get a certain amount of undeserved applause at book festivals by being introduced as a writer "who has never been embedded", as if I had been abstaining from unnatural vice. "Embedding" obviously leads to bias, but many journalists are smart enough to rumble military propaganda and wishful thinking, and not to regurgitate these in undiluted form. They know that Afghan villagers, interviewed in front of Afghan police or US soldiers, are unlikely to say what they really think about either. Nevertheless, perhaps the most damaging effect of "embedding" is to soften the brutality of any military occupation and underplay hostile local response to it. Above all, the very fact of a correspondent being with an occupying army gives the impression that the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, countries which have endured 30 years of crisis and warfare, can be resolved by force."