There was a time in my life when I did a fair bit of work for the tempestuous Lucretia Stewart, then editor of the American Express travel magazine, . Together, we evolved a harmless satire of the slightly driveling style employed by the journalists of tourism. 'Land of Contrasts' was our shorthand for it. ('Jerusalem: an enthralling blend of old and new.' 'South Africa: a harmony in black and white.' 'Belfast, where ancient meets modern.') It was as you can see, no difficult task. I began to notice a few weeks ago that my enemies in the 'peace' movement had decided to borrow from this tattered style book. The mantra, especially in the letters to this newspaper, was: 'Afghanistan, where the world's richest country rains bombs on the world's poorest country.'Poor fools. They should never have tried to beat me at this game. What about, 'Afghanistan, where the world's most open society confronts the world's most closed one'? 'Where American women pilots kill the men who enslave women.' 'Where the world's most indiscriminate bombers are bombed by the world's most accurate ones.' 'Where the largest number of poor people applaud the bombing of their own regime.' I could go on. (I think number four may need a little work.) But there are some suggested contrasts for the 'doves' to paste into their scrapbook. Incidentally, when they look at their scrapbooks they will be able to re-read themselves saying things like, 'The bombing of Kosovo is driving the Serbs into the arms of Milosevic.
Fallujah was a Guernica with no Picasso. A city of 300,000 was deprived of water, electricity, and food, emptied of most of its inhabitants who ended up parked in camps. Then came the methodical bombing and recapture of the city block by block. When soldiers occupied the hospital, The New York Times managed to justify this act on grounds that the hospital served as an enemy propaganda center by exaggerating the number of casualties. And by the way, just how many casualties were there? Nobody knows, there is no body count for Iraqis. When estimates are published, even by reputable scientific reviews, they are denounced as exaggerated. Finally, the inhabitants were allowed to return to their devastated city, by way of military checkpoints, and start to sift through the rubble, under the watchful eye of soldiers and biometric controls.