October 17, 2005

Extreme Home Make Over: Iraq Edition


On Saturday, I took notice of a couple images revealing a heavier U.S. military hand in the Iraqi elections than we’ve been led to believe.  In retrospect, what surprised me most about these images was they existed at all.

It’s been a little surreal combing through the newswires in the midst of the Judith Miller/PlameGate controversy.  Apparently, its been popular lately for the MSM to reference how it shilled for the Administration in the lead up to the Iraqi invasion.  Interesting point, considering the situation remains virtually unchanged today.

While the newswires are filled with wonderful images of Iraqis with inked fingers, or Iraqi voters waiting in long lines to vote on a constitution that was effectively drafted by the U.S., why is there virtually no mention in the MSM of the desperate tactics being employed by the Bush administration against innocent Iraqi civilians in the name of a war that defies definition?

Just a quick turn around the blogosphere turns up reports of ongoing U.S. military bombing and terror campaigns throughout Anbar Province resulting in torrents of people having to abandon their homes and seek out refugee camps.  There are allegations by the U.N. that U.S. forces are depriving civilians of food and water as a military tactic.  Also, sites such as Back to Iraq (link) now conclude that Iraq is literally in a state of civil war.  (Despite its singular significance, the ethnic cleansing being carried out by the Kurds is usually cited among various pieces of evidence for this conclusion.)

If all this is true, however, how are we supposed to look at the pictures?

As with the images I posted on Saturday, what we are left to do (in the best tradition of I.F. Stone) is to seek out those images that manage to reveal a fuller story; identify those that clearly contradict the party line; challenge those that blindly reinforce what we’re supposed to think; and also take account of stories where images are notable for their absence (such as newswire documentation of bomb damage, refugee camps, or more than a photo or two from locations such as Tal Afar).



If you’re constantly being told that a coherent, respectful, systematic, logical and effective process of search and investigation is taking place in cities like Tikrit, it’s easy to consume these two photos at face value.  With that kind of reassurance, who would assume that these searches and interrogations aren’t earning the appreciation of the Sunni population, and that the people are happy for us to stop by, take a look around, blow a few things up, and just repeat it again and again and again?

(image 1: Tauseef Mustafa/AFP. US soldiers from Charlie Company 2/7 infantry division search a house during a raid in Tikrit, 175 kms north of Baghdad. September 18, 2005.  Via YahooNews. image 2:  Tauseef Mustafa/AFP. US soldier talks to an Iraqi man during a patrol of Tikrit.  October 2, 2005. Via YahooNews.  image 3: Tauseef Mustafa/AFP. US soldier from the Alfa company 2/7 infantry division questions an Iraqi woman during a raid in Tikrit.  October 2, 2005. Via YahooNews.)

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Michael Shaw
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