September 4, 2006

New Face Of The Armed Forces


For the longest time, patriotism (and the President’s “stay the course” meme) translated into “can do” MSM images of the American fighting machine.  Now, the reality of the Iraq quagmire and the growing rejection of the war are ushering in a new theme.  Call it: “Feeling the pain.”   

Consider the expressions above. 

These soldiers are members of the D.C.-based 4th Civil Affairs Group, a Marine reserve unit being shipped back to Iraq for the third time.  Like billboards, these faces advertise the war’s corrosive effect.  If doubt and worry are clearly present, the dominant sense is weariness.     


A feature in this weekend’s NYT Week In Review portrays similar sentiments, although more overtly. (In the accompanying photo, Staff Sgt. Ryan Poetsch stands in front of a door-turned-home made-memorial to a fallen comrade.)  In contrast to the week-and-a-half old WAPO story, however, “the grunts” are now openly questioning their mission.  In this short space of time, it seems, the tone has shifted from weariness to wariness.   

Also striking is the extent to which both images are awash in male energy.  You couldn’t have found better candidates for GWOT icons.  While its been pure testosterone that has propelled the Administration through it’s neocon crusade, however, it seems to have mostly dissipated.   


Allegiance to the will in the absence of logic will ultimately drive the strongest man to tears.  Worse still, if no brake is applied, the psyche will end up in the opposite condition, which is a state of humiliation.   

WAPO 4th Civil Affairs Group photo gallery here.

NYT Week In Review Multimedia: With The Troops In Hit

(image 1: Jahi Chikwendiu/Washington Post.  Published: August 26, 2006.  image 2 and 3: Jim Wilson/The New York Times.  Published: September 3, 2006.

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Michael Shaw
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