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Two wars: the difference of 40 years

Earlier this year, there was a TV report from Afghanistan in which a correspondent from one of the big networks was traveling with US troops. As it happened, a favored officer among the Americans was shot dead in an ensuing firefight with Taliban forces, and it was hard to not empathize with the soldier's distraught comrades. More to the point, this close view of combat seemed unusually rare for an American news broadcast, particularly considering how the war with Iraq has been going on since 2003.

So while the lack of a draft goes a long way in explaining the disconnection that most of us have from the war, the media and its coverage (or lack thereof) have also played a prominent role.

I was reminded of this while reading Scott MacKay's look back at 1968, a tumultous year in which TV brought Vietnam into people's living rooms, and, as MacKay writes, "in which 500 US soldiers were now losing their lives each week."

For Iraq, the counterpart to the famous photo above would be, who knows? -- perhaps some of the images from Abu Ghraib. Yet for most Americans, thanks to media shortcomings, Iraq has been a big instance of out of sight, out of mind.

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