May 28, 2006

Field Of Dreams


What happens when, half a world away, you come face to face with the enemy … and its a flower?

With the arrival of Memorial Day weekend, the MSM is offering a range of stories on war and soldiering.  The NYT has a piece today summarizing where things stand in Afghanistan.  The gist of the report is that the situation is slowly getting away from Western forces.  Just one dimension of the problem has to do with opium, and how the effort to destroy these fields seems to only undermine the battle for hearts and minds.

This year, Memorial Day seems particularly wrenching, given the setbacks, frustrations and painful losses encountered by our military around the world.  Regarding the picture, The BAG is unable to isolate what tone or editorial stance it takes.  If the photo is beautiful (and even placid in a way), it also conveys tension.  (Anybody remember the opening scene from Blue Velvet?)  The title of the piece — “Springtime for Killing in Afghanistan”  –  only hikes the unease.

If the photo doesn’t exactly mock where we stand in Afghanistan, it is certainly wild with irony.  If tomorrow was Mother’s Day, this would have a much kinder, gentler feeling to it.  As it is, though, this shot goes off in too many unsettling directions in an imagined dialogue with memorial.

(Slightly revised: 5/28/08 8:42 am PST)

(Image: John Moore/Getty Images.  May 28, 2006.  Caption: DECEPTIVE. The beauty of the Afghan opium poppies belies the conflict they feed. Col. Paul Calbos survived a suicide attack days after this visit, part of a drive to curb the trade.)

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Michael Shaw
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