This shot accompanied a background piece in Sunday’s NYT about the development of safer military vehicles. More significantly, though, it appeared simultaneously with the administration’s weekend PR offensive to somehow fashion a more positive message on Iraq.
After riding around Iraq last year in a steel-reinforced Rhino Runner (“designed to counter 7.62 x 39-millimeter and 5.56-millimeter ammunition, overhead airbursts and explosive devices up to 1,000 pounds”), one certainly wouldn’t expect Rummy to feel threatened ducking a weak shot or two on Meet The Press. The result, in fact, is that Rummy left Tim Russert licking his boots.
Every few weeks, an image appears that seems to subliminally capture some essence about the characters running our war machine. I’m sure the BAG’s analysts-at-large will see plenty of material here. From my view, I see some interesting physical and political metaphors.
Perhaps Rummy’s physical stance here bears the photojournalistic equivalent of the posture he adopted on the weekend interview programs: Put yourself front and center, look available, but at the same time, create a lot of distance. Of course, don’t hide the fact that it’s pretty messy on the ground. But keep one foot in their face if anyone has a problem with you over it.
Politically, just the footwear alone offers a wealth of associations. Why can’t the coalition defeat the insurgency? (…a fact Rumsfeld asserted while running Russert in circles). It’s because of the strategy he conceived failed to put enough boots on the ground. (The fact his happen to be “up” could also indicate where these folks “really stand” relative to taking true responsibility.)
Of course, the administration has been highly successful in confusing the issue of who’s war strategy we are following, as well as what it is exactly. (Sadly, the press continues to enable this obfuscation.) When you lay it on the line though, this war is Rumsfeld’s war, and the catastrophic mistakes are also his. In other words, when people look back on the military Iraq campaign, it will be Rumsfeld’s footprints that will be visible.
(David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images. June 26, 2005 in The New York Times)