19 May 2006
HBO is to screen a documentary shot entirely at the 86th Combat Support Hospital in Baghdad's Green Zone. It is the main casualty station for troops wounded in Iraq. By all accounts it makes harrowing viewing.
The Bush regime has so far managed to keep this war off the television news. There has been little shown of dead and wounded Americans and even the coffins arriving home have been mostly screened from public sight. Of course, lots of images are available on the web, but it is unlikely that the average knuckle-dragging couch potato will have the wit to look for them.
Now that 60% of Americans have decided that the war was a mistake, we can expect more films like this. The media follows public opinion, it does not shape it.
Nevertheless, documentaries like this are of use because they might encourage the public to start demanding that American troops be withdrawn form Iraq. The opposition to the war may be strong, but it is still formless in the USA. If Baghdad ER helps that opposition to take shape, then it will have served some good.